• Dr Sushie

Hello Blog

So this is where I will be sharing any thoughts, information, resources and interesting articles I've come across related to autism, ADHD and forensic SLT.

To start us off, stories about autism are often in the press, and stories about surprising cures are pretty standard and should always be read with caution.

The gut and digestion link to autism is one that pops up at regular intervals in the tabloids. This is the story that you may have seen in the Daily Mail amongst others

The article itself can be found here. It's free access if you want to read it yourself

I was all set to tell you what the limitations of the study are but luckily the good old NHS has posted this which has saved me a job

To which I only feel the need to add that the assessment instrument, the Childhood Autism Rating Scales, tends to show improvements anyway in its scores over time. Also, therapeutic interventions were not listed as variables in the study. It would be strange in modern day America I think if no therapies of any kind were carried out with a child with autism. Either of these could have caused a perceived improvement in the autism symptoms. Also, Daily Mail, you know well enough that 18 participants is not enough to derive any serious conclusions.

Still, it's an interesting article and the authors are open about the limitations, though mainly they focus on the gut aspect rather than the autism bit. I guess my working interpretation of their findings is that gut health is absolutely important to anyone's daily functioning, and for someone who has autism and hence struggles to reflect on feelings and express they might be in discomfort, or who has poor awareness of their feelings (interoception is the sense of awareness of internal body states, often a problem in ASD), may make them feel much better and hence reduce expression of their autism symptoms.

The most troubling of autism symptoms are usually a reaction to or exacerbated by stress of any kind, and guts are the places where stress is felt by everyone - having a bad stomach before an interview or a date are pretty common experiences - so probably not that surprising if improving gut health reduces ASD symptoms. Everyone acts better when they feel better. People with ASD often wear their hearts on their sleeves behaviour wise when they are unhappy sensorily speaking.

I'm not sure I would be able to persuade my child to have a faecal transplant. I don't really know what they involve and I'm a bit afraid to google it, but I'm guessing there is some discomfort involved. Hats off to anyone participating in studies involving poo transfer for the sake of science.

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