This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Laboratory Testing in Autism and Related Disorders

I recently got an iPod and have been amazed at the amount of free, useful information out there.  This is really the best of the information age and is a reminder of how different things are for my family than they were for families of children with autism spectrum disorders even 10 years ago.  Roo's healing simply would not have been possible without the internet.  Heck, we wouldn't even know that he has Hyperlexia if it weren't for the web!  I am humbled and grateful for how much help I've received from others online, usually other parents but also some dedicated professionals, and this blog is my small attempt to "pay it forward". 

General Resources:

Lab Tests Online

Lab Tests Plus

The Great Plains Laborotory

Doctor's Data

Walk-In Lab

Are Unreliable Lab Tests Stealing Your Money?

Information About Specific Lab Tests:

GPL Mycotoxin test 

Liver Function Tests (LFTs) usually include measuring levels of ALT, AST, and sometimes Alk Phos.  ALT measures the amount of an enzyme in the blood that is used in cells to make energy, and which is released into the blood when these cells (mostly cells in the liver) die.  It is a way to check and track damage to the liver.  AST measures the level of another enzyme that is also released into the blood when liver cells die, but this enzyme is more common in other cells as well so an elevated level can indicate problems in other areas of the body as well and so is less specific to liver damage.

Metametrix lab has a series of podcasts available for download for free, including this one in which the chief science officer (I think his name is Richard Lord) discusses the various testing options for people with ASDs and what information those tests can provide.  Interspersed within this discussion is quite a lot of useful information, so while the podcast starts out pretty dry, it's worth sticking with it.  Below are my notes on this podcast (with my thoughts in red).

-He clarifies that he is mostly talking about regressive autism.
-Almost always see severe gastrointestinal abnormalities, testing shows abnormal gut bacteria and presence of opportunistic infections such as candida and parasites (he says they see LOTS of parasites in these kids)
-Their immunological barrier is compromised, broken down
-Gut problems produce inflammatory stress, clinicians like to check for level of inflammation (neopterin and biopterin levels )
-OAT asses quinolinic acid, which rises in parallel with neopterin, which also shows direct effect of inflammation in the brain (quinolinic acid is a sign of infection)
-Gut brain connection indicated when kids improve temporarily from fevers or GI treatment (Roo would become more lucid and calm when he had a fever, but he rarely had the immune fortitude to get one)
-Immune system is dependent on the normal flora in the gut to maintain it's status- if you disrupt the normal flora, you immediately get immune system difficulties and trigger inflammation
-Inflammation manifests as oxidative stress which depletes glutathione
-glutathione is connected to the methylation cycle and regeneration of folic acid
-System of making glutathione is linked to what's happening in the gut
-We've had several generations of people exposed to increasing mercury contamination in the environment, and this accumulating mercury load gets passed along through pregnant women to their babies (I had a very large damaged amalgam during pregnancy with Roo)
-Can test for mercury and other metals via urine challenge test (don't do this!) or in blood test (whole blood toxic elements)
-Mercury testing is challenging because mercury tends to be sequestered in body and is NOT being excreted, tests tend to look at excretion, for example people with autism tend to have LOWER levels of mercury in hair tests than non-autistic controls
Porphyrin testing shows if the mercury is causing poisoning.  Porphyrin pathway is where red blood cells and heme come from, toxins bind to enzymes in this pathway and cause blockages
-Elevated levels of mercury are always a concern and should be lowered
-Nervous system of children is more susceptible to mercury because it is still developing, susceptible to lower levels than adults
-Autism may be more common in boys than in girls because girls myelinate neurons sooner than boys
-Myelinated neurons necessary for forming memories and other cognitive functions such as speech
-Leaky gut accompanied by degradation of mucosal lining and hyperplasia
-Can help heal leaky gut by figuring out what is causing loss of tight junctures between epithelial cells and eliminate the stress, often food allergies/sensitivities (IgG)
-Rotation diet can rest immune system and help the gut barrier to heal, let immune system focus on other things
-Immune system places tremendous demand on amino acids when forming immunoglobulins for response to foods
-Low vitamin D levels related to leaky gut as well as s poor immune responses
-In addition to healing the gut, methylation cycle must be addressed as well as other biochemical pathways
-Need to ask question where autism came from?  We're in the third generation of nutritionally degraded diet, so children being born today are born without proper nutritional status
-Need to look for MTHFR gene which causes people to need additional folic acid, more common on the spectrum.  Also test for glutathione s-transferase gene.
-Also can check for celiac