Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder currently affecting as many as one out of 100 children in the United States. Characterized by impairments in social interaction, difficulty with communication, restrictive and repetitive behaviors, it affects children from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. Previous to the 1990s, autism was considered a rare condition occurring in approximately one in 2,500 children.
However, according to the U.S. Department of Developmental Services, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders increased 556 percent from 1991 to 1997 and is now more common than childhood cancer, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, spina-bifida, and cystic fibrosis. In addition, it is found throughout the globe and the occurrence worldwide is increasing 33.8 percent per year.
Autism is not completely understood, but now we are beginning to unravel some of its mysteries. Ongoing clinical research reveals that reduced blood flow to certain areas of the brain, most notably in the temporal areas, specifically relates to deficiencies in language comprehension and auditory processing. Reduced blood flow also affects areas of the brain that regulate behavior, communication and social interaction, which correlates to clinical features associated with autism.
Other characteristics of autism are cerebral inflammation, nerve inflammation and increased levels of oxidative stress (abundance of heavy metals in the brain) and some of the suspected causes of the condition are:
- Vaccinations (preserved in mercury)
- Environmental Toxins;
- Lack of glutathione;
- Viral infections;
- Foods containing Genetically Modified Organisms;
- A hiatal hernia that disrupts protein digestion;
- Type A milk protein.
There are many types of autism, however the three main types are:
• Autistic Disorder or True Autism, which impairs social interaction and is the most serious and results in stereotyped behaviors, interests, and activities.
• Pervasive Developmental Disorder (P.D.D.), commonly referred to as atypical autism and less serious than trueautism. People with this type of autism tend to think literally, and do not understand humor.
• Asperger’s Disorder (High Functioning Autism), which is characterized by impairments in social interaction and is the least serious.
One of the most effective therapies in treating children with autism and other neuro-developmental disorders is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). Clinical studies show HBOT has been used successfully, at varying pressures, to treat a range of conditions by increasing the blood flow to the brain and reducing oxidative stress. Each HBOT treatment involves breathing 100 percent oxygen (the air we normally breathe consists of 21 percent oxygen) in a pressurized cylindrical acrylic chamber for a regulated and prescribed amount of time.
The therapy plan includes depth of pressure, length of treatment time and frequency of treatment, and is prescribed by the attending hyperbaric physician. HBOT has a cumulative effect and current treatment protocol for autism requires 20 to 40 sessions or “dives”. Sessions are done five days a week for at least four weeks.
HBOT is a commitment for both the parents and the autistic child and it requires faithful dedication to keeping appointments for the entire course of treatment. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a medical modality that has been in existence since 1936. Through the efforts of a handful of dedicated health care professionals HBOT has escalated form obscurity to an accepted therapy in mainstream medicine.