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Complexities of autism and how to improve it

BY Corey Deacon

Posted on , Reading Time: 2 min

When it comes to autism, there is hope. No matter how severe it may be, you can improve the functioning of the brain.

Autism is a complex, multifactorial disorder that’s a symptom of poor brain regulation. Autism has eight different subtypes that can actually be seen in the brain using a non-invasive technique called quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG).

Subtype #1: Inflammatory

People with this type of autism often experience gut issues, such as abdominal pain, food sensitivities, nausea, diarrhea, constipation and general bowel function difficulties. With this type of autism it’s important to address what is causing the inflammation, which could include such things as environmental toxins, food sensitivities, reaction to gluten and poor blood sugar regulation.

Subtype #2: Toxic  

People with this subtype tend to be more nonverbal, and in certain cases may experience severe developmental delays.

Subtype #3: Metabolic or nutritional

Nutrition plays a major role in this type of autism.

Subtype #4 Trauma related to the limbic system

In this type of autism, the brain’s threat detection system reacts to almost everything. The brain can’t focus because it’s paying attention to everything around it, which completely overwhelms it. This autism subtype can be accompanied by other conditions, such as anxiety, attention deficit disorder (ADD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and aggression, with the brain going into fight or flight mode.

Subtype #5 Mirror neuron system

The brain’s mirror neuron system, which is located at the crown of the head and forms part of the brain’s parietal cortex, allows people to learn by observing. It’s also what allows us to be empathetic and put ourselves in other people’s shoes. The mirror neuron system does not operate well in people with this autism subtype.

Subtype #6 Hypocoherence: poor communication

This type of autism sees poor communication within the brain’s networks, particularly the frontal lobes, which are involved in executive function, including such things as organization, motivation, and emotional and mood regulation.

Subtype #7 Hyperactivity

In this type of autism the brain can get stuck, which can manifest itself in obsessive-compulsive behavior. Hyperactivity in the cingulate, which is a part of the brain located in the cerebral cortex, often overlaps with feeling wired or anxious. This occurs when a person doesn’t break down adrenaline and noradrenaline, the stress transmitters, effectively.

Subtype #8 Undiagnosed epileptiform activity

This type of autism is subthreshold epilepsy and is often undiagnosed. There can often be a significant improvement in symptoms when any seizures are managed.

young boy with autism

Getting help

At Neurvana Health, the first thing we turn to is quantitative electroencephalogram, to determine which autism subtype we’re dealing with, because it’s difficult to know for sure from behavior alone. Autism and Asperger’s, a subtype of autism, can have symptom crossovers with other conditions such as attention deficit disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and learning disorders similar to dyslexia.

Is there a cure for autism? No. But can we dramatically increase functioning in someone with autism? Yes.