What Is Autism?

By Dr. Tony Ebel

“We don’t know what causes autism, and there is nothing you can do to help it. Just keep doing all the therapies you already have and hope for the best, but you’re probably going to have to put him into a special home when he’s older since you will be too old and not able to handle him, and he’ll never talk or walk normally.” 

That was the prognosis and explanation of things Evan’s parents received from the doctor following their full day neuropsychiatric evaluation just after his 3rd birthday. No answers, no hope, and not a very helpful action plan. 

Every day Evan had constant meltdowns and tantrums. Every day he was clumsy and would fall and hurt himself. Every night he struggled to sleep more than 1–2 hours. And every day they waited for more words to come, but he struggled to say even 1–2 words now even by his third birthday. And on top of all that, Evan’s gut and immune system were a constant struggle, even after all sorts of diet changes, supplements, and detoxes. 

But Evan’s parents knew in their gut that what the doctor was telling them was not the whole story. They knew that there had to be more hope, answers, and help out there, outside of the traditional medical system that had failed them—and Evan—thus far. 

Thankfully that day from the hospital parking lot where they had just received such heartbreaking news and a dismal prognosis, they made a phone call that would start them down a completely different path. A path where they’d discover exactly what had caused Evan’s struggles, and exactly what it would take to get his brain and body calm, regulated, and back on track again! 

Those explanations, answers, and action steps for autism are exactly what you’re going to learn in this article. We’ll walk you through what autism is, the causes of autism, and finally how to find the help and care your child needs. 

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder? 

Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological condition that affects how someone communicates, learns, and interacts with others. Autism is a lifelong condition, but most often the signs appear in the first few years of a child’s life. Autism is considered a spectrum condition, which means that the signs and symptoms each person experiences can vary. Most often, those with autism will experience difficulty communicating and interacting with those around them, restricted interests, repetitive behaviors, and other symptoms that affect their family, social, or school performance. 

Factors vs. Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The medical community doesn’t identify the cause of autism. Instead, they discuss the factors that could make someone more likely to develop autism or to start showing symptoms. These are some of the factors that doctors might consider as risk factors for autism: 

  • Having an immediate family member who’s autistic
  • Having certain genetic mutations
  • Having a fragile X syndrome and other genetic disorders
  • Being born to older parents
  • Being born with a low weight 
  • Having metabolic imbalances
  • Experiencing exposure to heavy metals and environmental toxins
  • Having a maternal history of viral infections
  • Being exposed as a fetus to the medications valproic acid or thalidomide

In addition to these risk factors, autism is more common in boys than girls. Autism doesn’t occur more in any particular race or ethnicity—and social background like family income or education also doesn’t increase autism. There is a myth that vaccines can cause autism, but this claim has been proven false. 

The problem with looking at autism through the traditional medical lens is that it’s outdated. It is an improvement that the medical community now acknowledges that both environmental and genetic factors could lead to autism, but little research has been done on the main environmental triggers: prenatal maternal stress, birth trauma, and early use of medication and toxins. Focusing on the factors of autism then limits how the traditional medical community tries to help those with autism. Like Evan’s parents, you might find yourself faced with limited options and few answers. 

Instead, it’s more helpful to look at some root causes of autism. Here at PX Docs, we can help identify some of these root causes—and then we use those to provide better help and care. Essentially, autism can be caused by a “perfect storm” combination of subluxation, the Vagus Nerve, and dysautonomia. Dysfunction in the nervous system and misalignment of the vertebrae can lead to built-up stress in a child. Then when environmental and life stress comes into their lives, it can push a child to a point where new things can be perceived as threats or lead to a system overload. That’s what we call a “perfect storm,” and it’s important to fully understand how that works to help and care for children with autism—which is why our Perfect Storm webinar is extremely helpful for parents looking to understand the causes of autism better. 

Symptoms of Autism

Symptoms of autism usually start appearing in the first few years of life when a child begins communicating and interacting with others more often. These are some of the symptoms of autism you could notice: 

  • Not pointing at objects to show interest in them 
  • Not looking at objects when another person points at them
  • Having trouble being interested in other people or with listening to them
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Wanting to be alone 
  • Having trouble trouble talking about their feelings
  • Having trouble trouble understanding other people’s feelings
  • Avoiding physical contact like cuddling or holding—or preferring not to be held when they don’t want to
  • Looking unaware then someone talks to them but responds to other sounds 
  • Showing interest in people but being unable to know how to talk or play with them
  • Repeating or echoing words or phrases said to them
  • Having trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
  • Repeating actions over and over again
  • Having trouble adapting when a routine changes, even slightly
  • Having unusual or strong reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
  • Losing skills they once had—like a child forgetting words they used to be able to say
  • Having a lasting intense interest in specific topics, such as numbers, details, or facts—or regularly fixating on interests and then switching quickly
  • Having trouble sleeping

These are some general symptoms a child might show, but there are a variety of symptoms that could occur on the autism spectrum. If you want more specifics on the signs a child might show, check out our Early Signs of Autism piece. 

Treatment vs. Care of Autism

The medical community approaches autism like it’s a psychiatric condition and uses “treatments” for children with autism. There are two main ways doctors might “treat” autism: therapies and medications. Medications may be used to suppress symptoms like anxiety, irritability, repetitive behaviors, hyperactivity, attention problems, aggression, and other similar symptoms. Therapies might include behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, and communication therapy.  

The problem with this “treatment” approach is that it treats autism as a psychiatric condition and justifies having children use psych-treatment medications. In reality, autism is complex and a disorder of neuro-gastro-immune access and should be cared for as such. Here at PX Docs, we are focused on caring for children and providing them with help and their families with hope. So instead of psych medications, we use gentle, effective, and safe pediatric and neurologically-focused chiropractic care. 

To begin, our pediatric chiropractors will use our INSiGHT Subluxation Scanning Technology. In just a 10–15 minute exam, these scans can find, measure, and locate dysautonomia and other elements of subluxation. From there, we create individualized care plans for your child to help them feel better than ever before. So instead of treating autism, we care for the children and help them find help and healing. 

Finding the Care Your Child Needs

To return to the story of Evan, his parents made a quick call to PX Docs. Working with our pediatric chiropractors, they created a care plan for Evan and began helping him. Within a matter of days, Evan was finally sleeping through the night! And within a matter of just a few weeks, his 1–2 words had already begun putting 1–2 sentences as well as so much more happiness, joy, and a sense of calm! 

Flash forward many years — since Evan’s parents never gave up hope, sought out better answers, and took different action steps, he’s long past his diagnosis. In time, not only did he move past the severe daily struggles, but he also learned to overcome his Sensory Processing Challenges as well. Evan now thrives in school, socially, and even in sports! 

There are many things that parents can do for their children, but in the case of autism, the best care and help are facilitated by having a professional at their side. Together, parents and pediatric chiropractors can work to provide thorough care for a child with autism and help them achieve their best in school, socially, and more.  Visit PX Docs to find a pediatric chiropractor near you. 

Challenges Covered: Autism


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