PAUL ISAACS: What in your view is the importance in understanding people on the spectrum who have very specific gut, metabolic and autoimmune disorders (as part of their fruit salad) like yourself?
DONNA WILLIAMS: More recent studies have been finding that around 30-50% of those diagnosed with classical autism have different gut, immune, metabolic disorders. Where any child is failing to gain weight, is not growing, showing signs associated with malnutrition, bowel issues, allergy symptoms, behaviors indicating possible neuropathic pain, headaches, migraine, unexplained fever or signs of autonomic dysfunction then gut, immune, metabolic disorders should be considered and checked out.
Neuro-immune dysfunction can present as autism but once the health issues are addressed on an ongoing basis the child has a change to restore some neurological equilibrium which may put development back on track for them.
Every person with autism deserves the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. For those with addressable health issues, addressing these may be a big part of that.
For those without addressable health disorders this may mean helping that person to stretch their abilities where possible, adapting to that person’s disabilities or teaching them to communicate or advocate about their differences.
It is essential we do not project any one size fits all health reality onto all people with autism. It is as inhumane and wasteful to project health issues onto those who don’t have them as it is to ignore the health issues of those who do have these through fobbing everything off as ‘that’s just part of their autism’.
Thanks Donna for your insight and wisdom 🙂
Paul Isaacs 2014