Autism: understanding the spectrum and naturopathic therapeutic approach

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The number of people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has increased over the last 20 years, higher estimates suggesting a current prevalence of 2% of the population. Improved diagnostic techniques are thought to account for only some of this increase in diagnosis. The aetiology of ASD is no longer a complete mystery, as research into the neurobiology, neurochemistry and genetic predisposition has expanded to reveal explanations for common characteristics of the spectrum. These advances are critical to one's understanding of the complexities of individuals with ASD, and paramount to exploring better ways to support people whose lives are affected by it. During this presentation, I will explore the evidence that gastrointestinal dysfunction has a key role to play in those challenged by ASD, leading to possible therapeutic approaches. I will discuss how the sensitivities the ASD patient has affects how they respond to their internal and external environment, and how clinicians can make their consultation space conducive to a supportive therapeutic relationship. People with ASD are unique, and while we as practitioners find the best ways support their growth and development, we must also celebrate the achievements their differences make possible. ASD children particularly require a multidisciplinary approach, and the herbalist and/or naturopath is a critical part of this team. The therapies the herbalist/naturopath employs also serve to support other key therapeutic approaches, helping to maximise the potential of those challenged by ASD.

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