What is Autism?

What is Autism?

The word “Autism” comes from the Greek word “autos” meaning “self” or being absorbed into oneself. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is currently diagnosed based upon a psychological and behavioural evaluation and is characterised by moderate to profound difficulties in communication, social interaction and behaviours, including:

Delayed language

Unusual or repetitive language (echolalia)

Unusual and repetitive behavior such as flapping hands, tip toe walking lining up toys, spinning objects, watching moving objects, opening and closing doors, repeating words or noises

Fascination with objects or preoccupation with narrow interests

Poor communication

Poor social interaction

Absence of eye contact

Lack of friendships

Autism research studies along with parental reports reveal that 80% of autism diagnoses are linked to regression in seemingly neurotypical child between the age of 12 to 18 months, with an often sudden decline in functionality. Typical cases involve:

A loss of language or spoken words

A loss of eye contact

Development of repetitive behaviours

Disinterest in parents and siblings

Emotional meltdowns

Our studies at the TACGA have identified a number of genes associated with autism. The available research indicates a genetic predisposition, which is then triggered by environmental triggers. Other researchers have identified a number of possible neurological, immunological and biochemical genetic variations, including epigenetic changes (genes altered by toxins) that may increase susceptibility to autism through impaired abilities to react to potential environmental triggers.  In other words, it might be possible to avoid flicking the switch(es) that may “trigger” autism from appearing in the first place, or alternatively we aim to flick some of the switches back after the environmental triggers have happened.

Some of the many possible reported environmental triggers of autism include:

Nutrient deficiencies in the mother during pregnancy , especially lack of Vitamin D

C/Sections and lack of breast feeding – which reduces good gut flora

Distressed birth, wrapped umbilical cord/O2 deprivation

Drugs for induction


Glyphosate pesticides

Prenatal and pregnancy issues such as increased maternal toxicity from environmental, food and household chemical exposures

Amalgam fillings and amalgam dental treatment during pregnancy

Use of antibiotics, flu vaccine containing thimerosal (mercury), some recreational and pharmaceutical drugs.

Microbiome imbalances

Systemic infections,

Hormonal imbalances including elevated testosterone,

Epigenetic (genes altered by toxic impact)

Parents report the following possible triggers into Autism between 12 and 18 months of age:

Frequent chest, ear and gut infections

Overuse of antibiotics in the first year of development

Immature, compromised or suppressed immune system including Secretory IgA deficiency

Increasing fragility and susceptibility

Inflammation induced via vaccinations

Food and environmental allergens

Toxic chemicals in milk formulas and weaning foods

Anti inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen (paracetamol)

There are also often overlooked medical and health conditions which are common in children with autism:

Gut related problems including an imbalance in gut microbes (dysbiosis),

Gut related symptoms such as belching, flatus, diarrhoea, constipation, foul smelling stools, excessive mucus and inflammation

Pancreatic and enzyme insufficiency

Elevated bacterial and fungal toxins

Common nutrient deficiencies and a greater requirement for nutrients in particular vitamins, essential omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, selenium and folic acid required in the active form of MTHF

Copper overload and insufficient ceruloplasmin

Immune dysregulation, deficiency, hypersensitivity and autoimmunity

Elevated inflammatory responses in the central nervous system, brain and the gut

Metabolic issues

Hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances including GABA, serotonin, melatonin, dopamine and the stress hormones epinephrine, cortisol and DHEA

Mitochondrial dysfunction commonly associated with nutrient deficiencies and toxins including fluoride, mercury, arsenic and aluminum

Heavy metal toxicity and depressed metallothionein (MT) protein levels

Poor detoxification capacities

Elevated oxidative stress

Food allergies and intolerances

Opiate or “morphine” like by products derived from casein (dairy) and gluten (wheat, barley, oats and rye) foods


A really important point is that these health and medical conditions are commonly dismissed from a medical perspective, yet may account for many of the known behavioral and psychological symptoms associated with autism. The truth is likely that these health and medical problems may be the root cause of increased symptoms of pain and discomfort.

The following are a few of the many symptoms, not included in an autism diagnosis, but are very common in children with autism.

Holding and pressing abdomen,

Self injurious behaviour,

Head banging,


Crying for no apparent reason,

Laughing for no apparent reason,

Aggression and temper tantrums

Sleep pattern disturbances,


Heightened anxiety, fears and frustration

Sensitivities to light, sound, smell and touch

Stimming (self-stimulatory) behaviors such as hand flapping, spinning, and repetitively jumping up and down

A reluctance to eat or picky eating habits

Excessive thirst

Here at the TACGA we agree with a famous Autism Doctor in the United States Dr Elizabeth Mumper, MD, FAAP. Dr Mumper quotes: “Opportunities for improving quality of life and autistic symptoms are found by using a combination of detailed histories, physical exams and laboratory evaluations to uncover clues about underlying medical issues that need to be treated. The current prevalence of autism and the suffering of the children and families involved call for action by primary care physicians working in collaboration with researchers, specialists and parents if these children are to receive appropriate medical care” (From July 2012 A Call for Action: Recognizing and Treating Medical Problems of Children with Autism).