The causes of autism are unknown in most cases. Approximately 5-10% of cases are mostly due to a single severe genetic abnormality, such as Fragile X. Approximately 12% of cases are associated with maternal antibodies that attack the fetus’ brain. Most cases are complex, involving a combination of many genetic and environmental factors. Some of the important environmental factors appear to be exposure to toxic metals (especially mercury), toxic chemicals (especially pesticides), excess oral antibiotic use, oxidative stress, and nutritional deficiencies. In 2009 the incidence of autism reached approximately 1 in 100 children in the US, far higher than levels 30 years ago, and most of the increase appears to be real (not due just to better diagnosing).
Many children with autism have low levels of glutathione (the major defense against toxic metals), so they are vulnerable to even low levels of toxic metals. It is important to investigate the underlying medical problems that these children often have. For a detailed summary of biomedical treatments, see Summary of Biomedical Treatments at http://autism.asu.edu Treating these underlying medical conditions often results in improved behavior, and improved ability to learn language and build social understanding.
Many families are overwhelmed with all of the many treatments currently available. There is an effective tool created by the Autism Research Institute to help evaluate treatments called the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC).
Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC)
The ATEC is a one-page form designed to be completed by parents, teachers, or caretakers. It consists of 4 subtests: I. Speech/Language Communication (14 items); II. Sociability (20 items); III. Sensory/ Cognitive Awareness (18 items); and IV. Health/Physical/Behavior (25 items).
Unlike most of the scales, it is not copyrighted and may be used free of charge by any researcher. Copies are available on request from the Autism Research Institute or at the ARI website.
Users of the ATEC may have it scored free (4 subscores and a total score) by entering the responses via computer to the ATEC form on the website for immediate and free-of-cost scoring. ATEC forms are only accepted online.
Results of research using the ATEC will appear in future issues of the ARRI (only with the express permission of the researchers who use ATEC, of course).
For more information on research, please visit www.autism.com.