According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Everything from vaccines, genetically modified foods, and gluten have been to blame for the sudden pervasiveness of this condition. There is no doubt in my mind that all of these factors are a contributor to developmental abnormalities. Even if they are not the direct cause, plenty of evidence has emerged to suggest they exacerbate and worsen symptoms.
There is one possible link to autism and other developmental abnormalities that most doctors fail to investigate: Traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a child takes a blow to the head that causes the brain to get knocked around inside the skull. TBI can result in contusions, bruising, internal bleeding, edema (fluid build-up), and nerve injury.
The injuries often occur as a result of a car accident, a fall, sport injury, child abuse (link to childhood trauma article once it’s published), bullying, and even self-inflicted injuries. According to The International Brain Injury Association, 1 in 5 children sustain a TBI by the age of 15 years. It can be very easy for these children to “fall through the cracks” if the injury is unreported as there is a lack of prior behavior to form a baseline.
The incidents that result in traumatic brain injury are often subtle enough to go unreported. The child either doesn’t lose consciousness or does for only a moment or two and a cursory ER examination doesn’t reveal concussion. The child is sent home only to be diagnosed with ADHD or autism and placed on medication several years later.
According to an article published in Time Magazine, “Most of the deficits occurred in higher learning skills such as organization, planning and reasoning, because these are centered in the frontal regions of the brain, which are most often affected in head injuries.”
Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury and Autism
Some of the symptoms of traumatic brain injury and autism are so similar as to be practically interchangeable.
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Children inflicted with a TBI have an increased risk for seizures although only 5% experience them. Autistic children often have a higher incidence of seizures.
Hypotonia (low muscle tone) is very common in children on the autism spectrum. Children with mild TBI have also been shown to result in reduced muscle strength, unusual gait, and poor coordination.
|Traumatic Brain Injury||Autism|
Difficulties beginning tasks and setting goals to complete them is a common stumbling block for children with both TBI and autism.
Poor impulse control is a hallmark of autism spectrum disorder but is also a strong indicator of traumatic brain injury.
Poor short-term memory and inability to retain information can make communication and social interaction difficult.
Both TBI and ASD have a significant impact on learning and development. Information often has to be broken down into small, easy-to-digest chunks in order for the message to be understood.
|Traumatic Brain Injury||Autism|
Children with both TBI and ASD have marked impairment in the ability to socialize. Starting a conversation, being a part of a conversation, and following what is being said can make socializing awkward and confusing.
Children with ASD often take things literally and have difficulty understanding sarcasm and jokes. The same goes for children with TBI.
Children with both TBI and ASD often speak in an inappropriate tone of voice. They may speak in a monotone, flat tone or be too loud or too quiet.
They do not seem to be able to “see” the difference between the way they speak and the way others do even when this is pointed out to them.
Inability to read facial expressions and body language make socializing difficult for both those with TBI and ASD.
How Traumatic Brain Injury is Diagnosed
- Saccadometer Test
A saccadometer test measures cortical decision and reaction time with a small devise that fits atop the head and over the bridge of the nose. Built-in lasers are projected and move along a flat surface while eye movements following the lights are measured.
This test is a useful measure of cerebral function as it reveals abnormalities in each individual hemisphere based on how accurately the child is able to follow the light (or if she follows it at all). After this test, specific exercises can be given to heal the brain and re-integrate sensory function.
A saccadometer test is usually performed by a neurologist.
- Speech and Language Tests
Speech and language tests conducted by a speech-language pathologist evaluates strength and muscle coordination, comprehension of grammar and vocabulary, reading and writing skills, and social communication skills via role-playing scenarios.
- Neuropsychological Evaluation
A neuropsychological evaluation is important for any child with behavioral and developmental abnormalities. Behavior and the ability to function socially is assessed through a combination of observation and scenario-based testing. There is a task-oriented evaluation as well as testing conducted to measure cognitive, language, behavior, motor, and executive functions.
Endocrine Abnormalities Linked to Impaired Social Function
According to a study published in Pituitary, traumatic brain injury can result in hypothalamic and pituitary deficiencies in childhood. These hormonal changes can result in marked social impairment that resemble the symptoms of (ASD). A study released by Neurotoxicology revealed that abnormalities in endocrine function resulted in children with impaired social function.
These abnormalities, even when mild, present socioeconomic disadvantages into adulthood.
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, autism, non-verbal learning disorder, or a similar condition, an evaluation for traumatic brain injury may prove invaluable in treatment.
Too many children are diagnosed in a cursory fashion and placed one or more medications to treat their symptoms. This is a terrible disservice. Children with TBI have unique developmental problems that are best addressed before adulthood.
Overlooking these needs can result in a lifetime of struggles with social skills, impulse control, the ability to maintain gainful employment, and problems with substance abuse. If there is any possibility your child could have sustained a TBI, you can still have him or her evaluated even years after the fact. The damage is still there. Once it is uncovered, true healing can begin.
Confused About Autism?
Are you confused about autism? Well I am not surprised…
There are so many people talking about Autism, and just so little good quality helpful information available.
This is where the Essential Guide to Autism comes in…
It was written for those who are confused and maybe a little scared about Autism and how it may impact their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
And it is for anyone who wants to understand the options available to them to diagnose and manage any Autism.
Here is a quick summary of just some of the information you will
gain from reading The Essential Guide to Autism:
– The three main signs of autism – and how to quickly and easily
recognize each (Page 6)
– 13 simple questions all concerned parents should ask themselves
if they think their child may have autism – your responses to these
questions will ensure you know what step to take next (Page 9)
– 18 questions you should always ask before submitting your child
for a particular treatment (Page 13)
– The effectiveness of the most common alternative autism
treatments – plus, 14 things that you should always look for before
selecting an alternative treatment program (Page 24)
– How to use the diet to help control autism naturally – many
symptoms can decrease in severity and some may even disappear with
a change in diet … learn more here (Page 29)
– 6 tips for a successful supplementation program – these tips will
help you cut costs and ensure that your child adjusts to the
program (Page 35)
– How to cope with the stress of raising an autistic child – this
information will have you feeling better and more relaxed than you
have in years (Page 37)
– How to deal with an autistic adolescent – follow these tips to
safely navigate your way through this difficult time in anyone’s life (Page 43)
– How to plan for your autistic child’s transition to adulthood –
including 13 questions you should ask yourself (Page 46)
Plus, much, much more.
To Your Health,
Publisher – Health Scams Exposed