Sensory Processing Disorders
By Dan Gleason, DC
Sensory processing disorders, autism and Asperger’s occur when the nervous system has become overly sensitized and is easily overstimulated by everyday actions. To understand the underlying causes, it is recommended to explore three contributing factors: dysbiosis, mitichondrial dysfunction, and neural inflammation/central sensitization.
Dysbiosis translates as “Bad Bugs.” This is a condition when the normal intestinal flora has been disturbed. Common causes include:
The overuse of antibiotics in food production and medicine,
The Standard American Diet (SAD) that is full of preservatives and toxins, and
Nutritional deficiencies due to the way our food is produced, processed and transported.
The nervous system has a relationship with intestinal bacteria. Dysbiosis can lead to Leaky Gut Syndrome and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Those with Sensory Processing Disorder/Autism/Asperger’s often suffer from digestive problems and may respond to oral herbal antimicrobials and/or probiotics. This indicates a connection between gut flora and neural inflammation.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction: Mitochondria are the “power plants” of our cells and brain cells have some of the highest concentrations of these. The causes of mitochondrial malfunction fall into two categories: Toxic exposure and nutritional deficiency.
In addition to environmental toxins, dysbiotic compounds from the intestines are major sources of mitochondrial damage. These include hydrogen sulfide, d-Lactate and lipopolysaccharides. Typical symptoms of these toxins include constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and abdominal pain as well as the atypical symptoms of autism.
Mitochondria require nutrition for optimal function, including coenzyme Q10, carnitine, essential fatty acids as well as normal insulin and glucose function.
Neural Inflammation is the third contributing factor. Excitatory nerves become activated due to up-regulation of the glutamate receptors. Chemically-altered glutamate in the form of MSG and aspartame are known as excitotoxins. Many parents note that consumption of such additives often lead to worsening of autistic symptoms. The author of The Feingold Diet also notes that a group of chemicals in foods called salicylates may provoke problems of hyperkinesia. These nerves can be responsible for hypersensitivity. This excess glutamate can be converted to the “good” neurotransmitter GABA by supplementing with the natural form of vitamin B6, magnesium and Vitamin B2.
Physical measures can also help, and some physical and occupational therapists are specially trained in massage techniques for those who may be initially too sensitive to tolerate much touch. Chiropractic adjustments can help balance the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems. Cold laser therapy applied to specific areas of the brain can reduce inflammation and improve neural function.
Individuals with these conditions come to their condition in their own unique way. Testing to determine, quantify and set a baseline is the foundation for developing an individualized treatment protocol. Comprehensive tool testing is the best way to see what is going on in the gut. Functional medicine blood and urine testing are essential to discover what deficiencies and toxins are related to mitochondrial dysfunction and neural inflammation. This testing can also help discover genetic predispositions, hidden infections, detoxification defects and food sensitivities.
Dr. Dan Gleason is the owner of The Gleason Center located at 19084 North Fruitport Road in Spring Lake. For more info: go to TheGleasonCenter.com or call 616-846-5410. See ad page 12.