Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is autism spectrum disorder?

What is autism?

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex condition involving difficulties with social communication, repetitive behavior, and limited interests.  Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lifelong developmental disorder that varies between individuals.

Symptoms of ASD may include:

  • difficulty appreciating emotions (their own and others)
  • aversion to maintaining eye contact
  • interpreting abstract ideas literally
  • inflexibility or extreme difficulty with change
  • sensory hypersensitivity
  • immense focus of niche subject(s)
  • repetitive and restrictive behaviours
  • potential selfinjurious behaviour

Early signs of autism spectrum disorder can be seen at a young age by an individual’s parents, caregivers, or pediatricians but may go undiagnosed due to a lack of symptoms. Evaluations including observation, interaction, and interviews help rule out other disorders, and confirm an ASD diagnosis.

Asperger syndrome shows overlaps with autism, but language and cognitive development are often normal, and intelligence may be above average (Gaby, 2011).

The cause of autism is unknown, but is often connected with abnormalities in biochemistry and architecture of the brain (Gaby, 2011).


American Psychiatric Association webpage

Medical standard of care

The standard medical approach typically does not consider or address dietary, nutrient, and environmental contributors to autism spectrum disorder.

Conventional treatment for autism spectrum disorder works to improve an individual’s functioning, primarily at a young age. This treatment is individualized, and a structural behavioural plan is created to improve adaptive skills.

Common therapies/treatments include:

  • social skills training
  • speech and language therapy
  • occupational therapy
  • special education

The two medications approved by the FDA for children with ASD are:

  • Aripiprazole
  • Risperidone

Aripiprazole and risperidone are antipsychotic medications used to help reduce autism-related irritability. Other medications, such as antidepressants (SSRIs), stimulants, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants, may be used in individuals with additional diagnoses.

Why consider an orthomolecular approach?

Autism has numerous biological causes and contributors that have been identified through nutritional research and clinical practice. Each individual may experience autism symptoms for different reasons.

An orthomolecular approach:

  • identifies the drivers and causes of autism and focuses on understanding them
  • works WITH the body to restore balance and normal function, and considers the person with the autism vs. just the autism
  • addresses nutrient depletions that promote autism whereas medications do not
  • can be done SAFELY in conjunction with most medical interventions

Gaby, A. R. (2011). Nutritional Medicine (VitalBook file).