Autism Spectrum Disorder is a disorder that makes learning, socializing and daily living much more challenging for affected children and adults because of their atypical behaviors. A few examples of these behaviors are repetitive movements, impulsive actions, inability to communicate in a social setting, and many more. There is a stigma behind autism that is caused by those who are not well informed on the disorder. These people lack information, and in the past, it was assumed that the disorder is caused by "bad parenting." The parents are then afraid of social shame brought upon them by their child and neglect or avoid a diagnosis for their child's disorder. This becomes a vicious cycle that has negative effects on the affected individuals and their loved ones. Neglect of a diagnosis may also be caused by misinformation interpreted by the parents as their child develops. The parents do not realize this child developing outside of normal behavioral patterns. Years of research have been done to attempt to alleviate the symptoms of autism and cure the disorder. The Autism and Asperger's Program at ASU has developed a year-long dietary plan that increases supplementation to alleviate nutritional deficiencies in participants with autism. These deficiencies include vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, sulfate, carnitine, and digestive enzymes such as sucrase, maltase, and lactase. The participants were also put on a gluten-free casein-free diet toward the end of the study. To test the effectiveness of the treatment, the Severity of Autism Scale (SAS) and Social Responsiveness Scales (SRS) were used. The SAS tested the overall severity of ASD participants by rating them from one to ten, ten being "very severe" in terms of ASD symptoms. The results of this scale were compared at the beginning of the study (day 0) and at the end of the study (day 365). The SRS tested the social responsiveness of participants in the form of overall SRS and five subscales that included awareness, cognition, communication, motivation, and mannerisms. These results were also compared at the beginning and end of the study. After analysis of the data, there seemed to be no correlation between age and severity of autism/social responsiveness of participants. There was also no statistically significant data to suggest that there was a correlation between gender and severity of autism/social responsiveness of participants. However, there was statistically significant evidence that the treatment group did improve over the non-treatment/delayed treatment group in both the SAS and SRS. Neither age nor gender had a significant effect on the effectiveness of the treatment. These positive findings suggest that the integrated dietary
utritional therapy was beneficial, and future research on dietary treatments for autism and other disorders is recommended. This may also further discoveries of affected epigenomes with regards to nutritional treatments in disorders like ASD. The epigenome is the methylation and demethylation of the genome that mediates gene expression.
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