Incredible Horizons' Autism and the Neurodivergent Approach Page
Autism plus II

New Chatter About Autism

I compiled a huge website in 2001 that converted medical publications into common english that parents could understand. Today, that information would be classified as a website for neurodivegant people. This is my attempt to update that information.

My neurodivergent daughter is in her first trimaster of pregnancy and we will soon have a grandaughter that according to the statistics may be neurodivergent as well. Her father is neurodivergent too.
So Sky will have both parents and and grandparents that are familiar with neurodivergent parenting and treatments.

Incidentally, this page is dedicated to Sky, incase she needs it.
Here is a picture of my Sky Doodle at her twelve week untrasound.

One of the first treatments that Hope used was The Listening Program (TLP) by Advanced Brain Technologies in Utah. It is a passive treatment that can be completed at home and is safe to even the littlest ears. When pregnant women sing to their babies or listen to music on loudspeakers during their pregnancy, their babies are born with a enhanced ability for neuronal encoding of speech sounds.

Once Hope is 18-20 weeks, Sky will start developing her auditory system and Hope will begin at the beginning of the Listening Program. The sounds and vibration follow down Hopes spinal column to Sky in the womb to nourish her while Hope drifts off to wherever the amazing and extrodinary music takes her. 

The Benifits of The Listening Program
and Neurodivergancy

Neuroscience-based music listening therapy to help neurodivergents achieve optimal brain and central nervous system's health. Researching and developing sound-based cognitive training programs since 1998.

The Listening Program® Customized, scientifically-designed music programming.

For Professionals Get certified and offer The Listening Program®

The Music The Listening Program® music is effective and a joy to listen to.

Audio Equipment for TLP Headphones for your TLP experience. The Listening Program headphones.
Don't forget to check out their newer programs as well.

(¯`*•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:* 𝚰𐓣𝖼𝗋𝖾ᑯ𝗂ᑲᥣ𝖾𝐇ⱺ𝗋𝗂ƶⱺ𐓣𝗌.ⱺ𝗋𝗀 *.:。.✿`°¤,¸.•*´¯)

New Chatter about
Neurodivergent Peeps& Programs

This concept let me know that I needed to update my concept of Autism.


Wondering what autistic masking is and  what it looks like?

At 21 years old, I came to the realization that I’m autistic. After hearing the term ‘autistic masking’, I learned that I’d been subconsciously doing it my entire life. For the first time, I saw how the mask I never knew I was wearing had helped me survive in a world where I’d always felt so different, but never knew why.


So, what is autistic masking? Autistic masking is defined as either consciously or subconsciously hiding autistic traits to blend in and appear neurotypical. Masking is also used to gain friendships, relationships, careers, and social status.

Some autistic children are taught to mask by their parents, teachers, and therapists. For those like me who didn’t know they were autistic until adulthood, masking was subconsciously learned by observing other people’s body language and conversation patterns.

Autistics are really good at recognizing patterns.. and deep down, even as undiagnosed autistic children, we know we’re different. Desperate to fit in however we can, we learn to watch others and copy what they do.

Their handshakes, facial expressions, the inflection they use in their voices.. and so on and so forth. It often takes time for us to perfect these behaviors, but we do, and we blend right in.


Autistic people aren’t the only ones who mask. To a certain degree, everybody masks to survive. It’s just that autistics rely more heavily on their masks to survive, and they mask in ways that are specific to Autism. Those with neurotypes like ADHD, OCD, and Bipolar mask their differences too, but in different ways.



As a kid, this was so me. I only felt safe to be myself when I was at home with my family. No matter what, I knew that they’d always love me.

I didn’t have this same feeling at school, church, or pretty much anywhere I went outside of my house. I instantly felt anxious around anyone I didn’t know well. I was especially timid and withdrawn in groups of more than 2 or 3 people.

Yeah, school wasn’t a great time for me. I learned to manage the constant state of anxiety I experienced by being quiet, following the rules, and blending in.

I barely spoke unless it was necessary. My teachers were concerned and mentioned this to my parents, who couldn’t understand it. I was constantly talking to them at home! My teachers still weren’t convinced, and I was moved from kindergarten and put back in preschool that year.

Looking back, I now understand this as selective autism. The stress and anxiety of being at school was just too much for my anxious little self to handle. As a result, talking felt terrifying! So, I saved it all for when I got home. I was so careful to do everything as perfectly as I could at school, because I was driven by the anxiety to not stand out at all costs.


The perfectly behaved, quiet, patient girl at school often became the irritable, depressed, lethargic girl at home. Especially as I started puberty at the early age of 9 (which did not help by the way). I took the anxiety I didn’t realize I was experiencing out on my family all of the time.

The anxiety of wearing the mask was taking a toll on me, and I didn’t even know I was wearing it. The older I got, the more I learned to be the peppy, happy girl who was always okay. While I could wear that mask around other people, I couldn’t maintain it at home.

It was just too damn exhausting. From about 8 to 12, I spent a lot of time alone feeling lethargic and depressed. I slept constantly. I was becoming more aware of my differences, but I couldn’t make sense of them… or if there was even any justification for why I felt the way I did in the first place.


If you don’t know, stimming is a form of self-regulation for autistics. Stimming is any form of repetitive movement that’s used to soothe or calm. Everybody stims, but autistic people just stim a lot more! If you’re looking for calming stim ideas, check out my post, 11 Calming Stims for Autistic Adults.

When neurotypicals think of the concept of stimming, many think of the stereotypical hand flapping stim that represents many autistics, but definitely not all. We all stim differently. Some stims are socially acceptable, and some aren’t.

It’s each person’s personal choice to choose their stims and whether or not they do them in public. Personally, I stim very discreetly when I’m around other people. For example, doing things like rubbing my nails against my fingers and rubbing my fingers together helps me stay more present, focused, and grounded.


I’ve faked being okay sooo many times. Too many to count. As a kid, I didn’t understand how florescent lights affected me, or why it was so easy for me to zone out in groups of people. I didn’t know how to manage my energy, and I’d be on the verge of a shut down.. but somehow, I’d hold it all in until I could find a quiet space alone.

As autistics, many of us are able to hold up our masks so fucking well. So well that many people often doubt us when we tell them we’re autistic.

“But do you don’t look autistic! You look so normal!” they say. Many have been told similarly invalidating statements by doctors who insist they’re ‘fine’ and not autistic, because they’re married, hold a job, or have kids.


We’ve learned to fake being okay so well. Because for a while, it was the only way we knew how to survive. We wanted to be able to be okay with all the things that neurotypicals are usually okay with.. like attending parties with ease, making eye contact, driving, meeting new people, etc.

Whatever we felt like we had to be to fit in, we did our very best to become it. Even when it didn’t feel right for us, we did it anyway. Because more than anything, we just wanted acceptance. Yet, we still struggled to meet neurotypical expectations, we very often fell short of them.

Looking back, I now realize that my motivation behind my masking was driven by my desire to ‘feel okay’ and accepted. Not only by other people, but to myself, too. I needed to convince myself that I was okay, ‘normal’, and not broken. When I cried, this was always the deepest fear that came back to me, and I never knew why.


Because I learned social rules, cues, and expectations by observing them in other people, it felt more and more natural for me to blindly trust all the things that didn’t make sense to me. Subconsciously, I believed that other people always knew better than I did.

I looked to them, and I learned how to replicate social greetings, facial expressions, a different tone of voice.. The older I got, the more I perfected these behaviors until eventually, they just became a part of who I am.

I used to pretend to like hugs and actually feel things when people hug me. But I didn’t like them, and I felt bad for not liking them – because I was supposed to like them, right?


Autistic masking is a different experience for each autistic person. But, I think those are a lot of the ways they’re most similar. Sometimes autistic masking is learned, and sometimes it’s taught. While it can be used as a tool to protect autistics against abuse and bullying, wearing the mask can also create a lot of depression, stress, anxiety, and burnout.

To an allistic, masking looks effortless. But to autistics, it’s anything but effortless. It takes so much effort, and often, no one but autistic people and those closest to them are aware of just how exhausting it truly is.

¤¸¸.•´¯`•¸¸.•..>> 𝗜𝗻𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗛𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘇𝗼𝗻𝘀。𝗼𝗿𝗴 <<..•.¸¸•´¯`•.¸¸¤



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(¯`*•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:* 𝚰𐓣𝖼𝗋𝖾ᑯ𝗂ᑲᥣ𝖾𝐇ⱺ𝗋𝗂ƶⱺ𐓣𝗌.ⱺ𝗋𝗀 *.:。.✿`°¤,¸.•*´¯)

Therapy & Treatment Directories

 "We strive to do this based on evidence-based medicine and the use of biomarkers, where we add treatments either based on underlying biochemical testing (for example, giving carnitine and coenzyme Q10 when there is laboratory evidence, using biomarker measurements, of mitochondrial dysfunction) or evidence-based treatments (for example, giving nutritional supplements or medications that have been studied and proven to help symptoms such as speech delay, attention, hyperactivity, etc.…).

We do not believe that patients with certain conditions, such as autism, should be told that the condition is hopeless or that no testing or treatments are available. Conditions such as autism are defined by a subjective group of symptoms, and therefore a diagnosis of autism does not reveal the underlying cause(s). We strive to identify what may be causing abnormal functioning of cells in persons with autism and other disorders using biomarkers that are objective, testable and treatable."

Dr. Dan Rossignol -SoCal, Florida  Rossignol Medical Center

Finding a therapist can be a challenging task, here are some directories where you can find clinicians who are affirming and supportive of neurodivergent individuals.

✦ ND Therapists is a Neurodivergent Directory of openly neurodivergent therapists (newer, but grows weekly!)

 Association of Neurodivergent Therapists (a UK directory!) An organization created by neurodivergent therapists advocating for neurodivergent rights. They are anti-ableist and anti-racist, and support gender and sexual diversity. You can find their directory here.

✦ Inclusive Therapists is a Directory of justice-oriented therapists. You can filter by specialties, insurance, and whether or not they provide a sliding scale. Click here for autism.

✦ Therapy Den is a directory of progressive therapists. You can use our search tools to find therapists who specifically identify as "neurodiversity-affirming." You can also filter your search by other specialties and accepted insurance.

✦ Directory of Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) Affirming Providers

✦ Neuroclastic has a global directory of assess

More than a Hyperbaric Chamber, an integrated system- 
H-BOT For Neurodivergent Therapy & Autism 


The Biomedical & Integrative Approach


"When we use the term integrative medicine in our practice, we are referring to molding (integrating) the latest laboratory research with treatments to hopefully improve clinical outcomes. We strive to do this based on evidence-based medicine and the use of biomarkers, where we add treatments either based on underlying biochemical testing (for example, giving carnitine and coenzyme Q10 when there is laboratory evidence, using biomarker measurements, of mitochondrial dysfunction) or evidence-based treatments (for example, giving nutritional supplements or medications that have been studied and proven to help symptoms such as speech delay, attention, hyperactivity, etc.…)."

Download Informational PDF For your own benifit or for your medical professionals to become familiar with and order related health tests

(¯`*•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:* 𝚰𐓣𝖼𝗋𝖾ᑯ𝗂ᑲᥣ𝖾𝐇ⱺ𝗋𝗂ƶⱺ𐓣𝗌.ⱺ𝗋𝗀 *.:。.✿`°¤,¸.•*´¯)

and Autism

(¯`*•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:* 𝚰𐓣𝖼𝗋𝖾ᑯ𝗂ᑲᥣ𝖾𝐇ⱺ𝗋𝗂ƶⱺ𐓣𝗌.ⱺ𝗋𝗀 *.:。.✿`°¤,¸.•*´¯)

In a flower garden the water and nutrients in the soil combine to allow the seeds to germinate, then the sun comes in so the stems will be sturdy enough to hold our beautiful blooms.

Just like in Autism, the biomedical approach will allow the gut and nervous system to heal for germination... only then can a integrative treatment plan can be strengthened
and joy and success can be enjoyed...
and your children can flourish...(or bloom). 

(¯`*•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:* 𝚰𐓣𝖼𝗋𝖾ᑯ𝗂ᑲᥣ𝖾𝐇ⱺ𝗋𝗂ƶⱺ𐓣𝗌.ⱺ𝗋𝗀 *.:。.✿`°¤,¸.•*´¯)

What is Autism?

The first thing you need to understand is that most of you think you know about autism is probably wrong. If I was to set down to a conference table with 10-15 random medical professionals,  and ask them to write down what they think autism looks like in a child and what resources and therapies are available for treating Autism in todays world that they would have very little to write.
Yet one out of forty of their clients have Autism of one type or another.
Misconceptions about autism are prevelent in todays America and around the world in society and in the medical profession. So it is crutial that both the medical professions and our citizens become aware of the following research and information on Autism.
It is a growing field and the more that we learn the more we realise that this is more prevelant now, than ever before.  

Now, the second thing you should know is that ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorder (SPD), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), very often overlap. So when doctors see something that they are familiar with, that is what they know and are trained in treating. So, rather than treating the whole body and mind as one unit. They splinter a few skills that never mesh together because they are not seeing the root cause.


For example, hyperlexia can have ten other diagnosises depending on what type of professional that you met with. Here are 10+ common diagnoses a hyperlexic child might also have (besides autism).  ADHD is the same way. 

Autism is like a bouquet of flowers:
they both have many varieties and combinations.
When we can treat them at the roots, they can flourish.

(¯`*•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:* 𝚰𐓣𝖼𝗋𝖾ᑯ𝗂ᑲᥣ𝖾𝐇ⱺ𝗋𝗂ƶⱺ𐓣𝗌.ⱺ𝗋𝗀 *.:。.✿`°¤,¸.•*´¯)

Medical doctors simply haven't had the experiences, and the training to diagnose it, no less treat it. Everyone seems to have an image of what it looks like in a nieghbor, a family member, or even a friend or their children. Doctors try to make sense of alot of sensory, psychological, digestive and physical anomalies that seem linked to other illnesses. So they miss the diagnosis of autism and assgn a few of the symptoms to something they are familiar with. So this is really a huge problem that medical professionals have yet to take on. Left untreated as a whole diagnosis, is detrimental to ones development and can lead to:

  • Problems with social interactions, communication and behavior

  • Problems in school and with successful learning

  • Employment problems

  • Inability to live independently

  • Social isolation

  • Stress within the family

  • Victimization and being bullied

Autism is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction, behavior and communication.

The disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behavior. The term "spectrum" in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity. 

Autism spectrum disorder includes conditions that were previously considered separate — autism, Asperger's syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and an unspecified form of pervasive developmental disorder. Some people still use the term "Asperger's syndrome," which is generally thought to be at the mild end of autism spectrum disorder.

  While there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, intensive, early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.
For More information See The Mayo Clinic's Autism Pages

Professionals CLICK HERE for Rossignol Medical Center

(¯`*•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:* 𝚰𐓣𝖼𝗋𝖾ᑯ𝗂ᑲᥣ𝖾𝐇ⱺ𝗋𝗂ƶⱺ𐓣𝗌.ⱺ𝗋𝗀 *.:。.✿`°¤,¸.•*´¯)

Am I autistic?

Many of us at Autistic Parents only discovered we are autistic in adulthood, often after our children were identified. We frequently get contacted by parents who are currently going through this process and, although our main focus is providing peer support for parents who positively identify as autistic (including self-diagnosis), we’ve created this blog post to signpost anyone who finds themselves in this situation to helpful resources.

If your child is the first one in the family to be identified as autistic it can be surprising and confusing. You may not have realised there was anything unusual about your child’s behaviour because you did those things when you were little. It can be a surprise to realise things that are normal for you, are actually autistic traits. Maybe you see your child struggling and you can relate to them more easily than others, because you struggle in similar ways.

This then leads you to question: Am I autistic?

What is Autism?

The first thing you need to understand is that everything you think you know about autism is probably wrong.

Currently, there is no scientific consensus on what autism actually is. There is no blood test or brain scan that can identify an autistic person. The medical definition of autism, as found in diagnostic manuals, is based on observations of autistic people and how they behave when they are stressed. Discussions around autism have been dominated by non-autistic professionals and parents, which has created a very negative view. Mainstream knowledge about autism is based on outdated stereotypes.

Today, thanks to the work of autistic adults who have shared their lived experience, we have much more information and understanding of what being autistic actually means. We know that autism is not an illness or tragedy, it’s just a difference in the way someone experiences the world and communicates with others.

Autism Epidemic?

Rates of autism diagnosis have drastically increased in recent years. This is not because there are more autistic people than there used to be, it’s simply due to the fact that medical professionals are slowly getting better at identifying us. The most recent diagnostic criteria for autism were published in 2013. Professionals have also started to realise that girls and women can be autistic too. These factors mean that many people who would have been missed in childhood are now getting diagnosed as adults.

Heritability of Autism

We know that autism has genetic factors and tends to run in families. A 2017 study showed the heritability of autism to be 83%. A family history of autism means you are more likely to be autistic yourself. If you have a child diagnosed as autistic, there’s a high probability that you are too.

Online Tests

There are many online tests for autism that can seem appealing because they are quick and seem to offer an easy answer. If you decide to take online tests or quizzes, be aware that these tests are generally created by non-autistic people and are often based on stereotypes of autism, such as being obsessed with trains or being brilliant at maths. Some of the questions can also be ambiguous and open to interpretation. While they can be helpful to get an idea of whether you have some autistic traits, you can score highly on a test and not be autistic, and you can also score low on a test and still be autistic. They can’t tell you for definite whether you are autistic.

Autistic Lived Experiences

What can be more helpful is learning about the experiences of other autistic adults, and seeing if they resonate with you. These stories share what it actually feels like to be autistic, rather than what it looks like to non-autistics. Following the #ActuallyAutistic hashtag on social media is a great way to start connecting with and learning from people who are autistic themselves. There are also many online groups for people who are exploring whether they could be autistic, as well as blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and books based on lived experience.

Formal Diagnosis

If you have been thinking about whether you could be autistic for a long time, you may be considering whether to go through the assessment process to get a formal diagnosis. Whether you decide to pursue this or not is entirely up to you. There are pros and cons to getting a formal diagnosis and there are barriers to getting a diagnosis which may make it more difficult for some people. At Autistic Parents UK we feel that self-diagnosis is valid. If you positively identify as autistic and you are a parent in the UK you are welcome to access any of our peer support services.

Resources to Explore

Here are some resources our volunteers at Autistic Parents UK found helpful when they were exploring whether they may be autistic. These links contain a wealth of information and are all created by autistic people. Whether you are autistic or not it’s always worth taking some time to get to know yourself better and you’re going to learn a lot about autism too!

Related Links




Blog Post


Close up of light bulb

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

(¯`*•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:* 𝚰𐓣𝖼𝗋𝖾ᑯ𝗂ᑲᥣ𝖾𝐇ⱺ𝗋𝗂ƶⱺ𐓣𝗌.ⱺ𝗋𝗀 *.:。.✿`°¤,¸.•*´¯)

The Neurodivergent

Neurodivergent is a nonmedical term that describes people whose brains develop or work differently for some reason. This means the person has different strengths and struggles from people whose brains develop or work more typically. While some people who are neurodivergent have medical conditions, it also happens to people where a medical condition or diagnosis hasn’t been identified.

What does it mean when a person is neurodivergent?

The term “neurodivergent” describes people whose brain differences affect how their brain works. That means they have different strengths and challenges from people whose brains don’t have those differences. The possible differences include medical disorders, learning disabilities and other conditions. The possible strengths include better memory, being able to mentally picture three-dimensional (3D) objects easily, the ability to solve complex mathematical calculations in their head, and many more.

Neurodivergent isn’t a medical term. Instead, it’s a way to describe people using words other than “normal” and “abnormal.” That’s important because there’s no single definition of “normal” for how the human brain works.

The word for people who aren’t neurodivergent is “neurotypical.” That means their strengths and challenges aren't affected by any kind of difference that changes how their brains work.

Why does this term exist?

The term “neurodivergent” came from the related term “neurodiversity.” Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist, coined the word “neurodiversity” in 1998 to recognize that everyone’s brain develops in a unique way.

Like a person’s fingerprints, no two brains — not even those of identical twins — are exactly the same. Because of that, there’s no definition of “normal” capabilities for the human brain.

For most areas of modern medicine, defining what’s normal is critical. In many circumstances, healthcare providers determine a person’s health based on the yes-or-no question, “Is this normal?” Depending on the answer, a person is either sick or well based on symptoms they do or don’t have or things they can or can’t do.

An example of this in everyday life would be comparing the following two people with a special talent for drawing.

  • Person #1: A 12-year-old child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who struggles in social situations. The child’s main ASD-related issues are social problems, unusually high interest in drawing and being strictly dependent on a daily routine. The child is naturally better at drawing without taking classes or accumulating experience.

  • Person #2: A 40-year-old neurotypical adult. The adult learned to draw at the age of 17, and their talent took hard work and time to develop. They’re very social and make friends easily.

No one would consider the adult abnormal or defective because they can’t paint as well as the child. Likewise, autism spectrum disorder is a condition that can take many different forms, many of which happen in people who don’t have ASD.

Describing the child as neurodivergent acknowledges that they’re “differently abled.” Neurodiversity means it’s natural for both the adult and the child to develop differently and have their own abilities and struggles.

Is being neurodivergent a disability?

Some neurodivergent people struggle because of systems or processes that don’t give them a chance to show off their strengths or that create new or more intense challenges for them.

  • Example #1: Many people who are neurodivergent struggle in social situations, which can make it hard to find work because they struggle during job interviews. However, they can still get the job if the hiring process emphasizes their abilities, such as screening potential hires with a skills test. Once on the job, their attention to detail means they’re an outstanding accountant or record-keeper because they can easily process data that others might find more tedious.

  • Example #2: Some who are neurodivergent struggle in noisy environments or situations. That means a busy office can feel overwhelming to them. However, a pair of noise-canceling headphones might give them the quiet they need to make them the most productive person on their team because one of their strengths is the ability to focus on their work intensely.

In both examples, accommodations helped the person overcome their particular struggle. For someone with a disability, an accommodation is a way to accept that they’re different or have challenges, and then give them a tool or a way to succeed. For the people who are neurodivergent in the examples above, the accommodations were the hiring process and the headphones.

Accommodations for people with disabilities isn’t a new idea. Some examples include:

  • Physical disabilities: Ramps and entrances with automatic doors for those in wheelchairs.

  • Sensory disabilities: Crosswalks with a loud tone for those who have vision problems to let them know it’s safe to cross the street.

Why use the term neurodivergent to describe people?

Some people oppose the idea of neurodiversity as being about differences instead of deficits. Many who take that stance say they’re against it because some who are neurodivergent have true medical conditions that need treatment.

However, research shows that knowing about the idea of neurodiversity doesn’t mean people who are neurodivergent ignore or deny that they have struggles. Instead, the research shows people who know about the idea of being neurodivergent use that knowledge to adapt and help them succeed.

Experts’ research also shows words and language related to neurodiversity make a difference in how people live. People who are neurodivergent and learn that it means they’re different — not sick or defective — are more likely to be happier and aim higher in their careers.

An example of this is someone who has dyslexia. People with that condition struggle to read because their brain doesn’t process written language like the brain of someone without dyslexia. However, people with dyslexia usually have brains that are better at processing or mentally picturing 3D objects. That makes them much faster at identifying optical illusions, and they have a natural talent for jobs like graphic design and arts, engineering and more.

What are the symptoms of being neurodivergent? What are the possible causes?

“Neurodivergent” isn’t a medical term, condition or diagnosis. People who are neurodivergent have differences in the way their brain works. This is still true even for people with the same medical diagnosis. That means people with very different signs and symptoms can still have the same diagnosis.

What conditions can a neurodivergent person have?

People who identify themselves as neurodivergent typically have one or more of the conditions or disorders listed below. However, since there aren’t any medical criteria or definitions of what it means to be neurodivergent, other conditions also can fall under this term as well. People with these conditions may also choose not to identify themselves as neurodivergent.

Some of the conditions that are most common among those who describe themselves as neurodivergent include:

How can I find out if I’m neurodivergent or if my child is neurodivergent?

The first step to finding out if you, or someone you care for, are neurodivergent is to talk to your healthcare provider. They can refer you to a specialist or other providers who can determine if you have a medical disorder, condition or other brain-related difference that might explain why your brain works differently.

Is it possible to prevent, treat or cure being neurodivergent?

Neurodiversity refers to the unique way that each person’s brain develops. That means it’s not preventable, treatable or curable.

Some of the conditions that cause a person to be neurodivergent are manageable. If a specialist or other healthcare provider diagnoses you (or someone you care for) with a condition like those mentioned above, they can also talk to you about resources for people with that condition. There’s a wide range of possible management options, therapy programs and more.

For some people, such as those with ADHD, behavioral therapy and medication can positively affect their quality of life. For others, therapy programs can help you “play to your strengths,” meaning they show you how to make the most out of your abilities. They can also show you how to adapt to your challenges, minimizing their interference in your life.

Can people who are neurodivergent be successful?

Yes, many people who are neurodivergent are accomplished and successful.

More and more people who are neurodivergent are talking about their experiences. Some examples of famous and successful people who are neurodivergent include:

  • Animal scientist and author Temple Grandin.

  • Oscar-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins.

  • Musician and singer Florence Welch.

  • Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles.

  • Climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Experts also believe several accomplished historical figures were neurodivergent based on evidence from their lives. Those include:

  • Nobel Prize-winning physicist and chemist Marie Curie.

  • Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist Albert Einstein.

  • Artist Vincent Van Gogh.

  • Inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla.

  • Author F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Business leaders also have a growing understanding of the value of being neurodivergent. In 2017, the magazine Harvard Business Review published “Neurodiversity as a competitive advantage.” The article details the benefits of hiring people who are neurodivergent and why more businesses are doing so.

That same article noted that several major national and international corporations have hiring processes that can accommodate people who are neurodivergent. Those corporations include some of the largest names in information technology, the automotive industry, the banking sector and more.

Where can I learn more about what it means to be neurodivergent?

People who are neurodivergent often excel at communicating in online spaces. That’s because nonverbal communication — such as eye contact, facial expressions and body language — doesn’t have to be a part of online interaction. Experts often compare computers and other digital devices to prosthetics for those with difficulties in social communication.

There are several online spaces where groups of people who are neurodivergent gather, exchange information, discuss their experiences and struggles, and offer advice and resources to each other. Some of the most popular spaces are in plain sight, with neurodivergent communities, groups and information-sharing on some of the most popular websites and social media platforms.

What are some things I can do to support someone who is neurodivergent?

There are many things people can do to be supportive of neurodivergent individuals. Some of the most important things you should keep in mind include:

  1. Listen. People who are neurodivergent may feel misunderstood or left out. Be willing to listen to them. Let them know you hear them and respect them and their choices.

  2. Communicate in ways that help them. Sometimes, people who are neurodivergent prefer written communication such as instant messaging, texting or emails over a phone call or face-to-face conversation. Give them the time and tools they need to communicate.

  3. Avoid value-based labels. Experts recommend against using the terms “high-functioning” and “low-functioning” to describe conditions like autism. They often assume a person’s level of function based on how much they behave like someone who’s neurotypical.

  4. No two neurodivergent people are the same. The personalities and preferences of neurodivergent people can be widely different, even when they have the same underlying condition.

  5. Don’t assume that anyone is incapable or unintelligent. People who are neurodivergent often have conditions or preferences that make them stand out or appear different.

  6. Treat everyone with respect. You can “normalize” and provide others with accommodations in a way that honors their human dignity.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

“Neurodiversity” is a word used to explain the unique ways people’s brains work. While everyone’s brain develops similarly, no two brains function just alike. Being neurodivergent means having a brain that works differently from the average or “neurotypical” person. This may be differences in social preferences, ways of learning, ways of communicating and/or ways of perceiving the environment. Because of this, a neurodivergent person has different struggles and unique strengths. People who are neurodivergent can benefit from education and programs that help them develop their strengths using them to their benefit to live happy, healthy lives.

Other related departments in the Cleveland Clinic

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The Neurological Institute is a leader in treating and researching the most complex neurological disorders and advancing innovations in neurology.  They are set up for online medicine Appointments

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How are Autism and Trauma Related?

I had a friend and business partner that was a child psyschologist. and behavior analysist. We were pretty close for the last 20 years of her life. Her motto that she used repeatedly was "Do it, just because you can". Our teachers and providers celebrated our students mastery, with that phrase daily. It's like a bell that goes off in mine and my daughters minds everytime we see a child succeed in something new.  

Anyway, despite founding and directing a private school together, I never took her calling me a Aut-tie seriously. I had no genetics, no obvious studder or inability to speak nor any stimming issues so I thought she was just teasing. But as I was researching for this blog, I focused in on alot of things that made me realize that... 
I really am a Aut-tie. 

Hiding any kind of abuse in the family is going to cause harm psychologically when you have to pretend nothing bad is happenning.  The most difficult thing for me was dinner time and I had to share a table with him just a few hours afterwards. I had to act normal so I learned to "mask". I also had very loving men in my life, so he was the only one that repulsed me. I didn't generalise that to all men. That saved me alot of psycho-drama.

I totally get that holding all that in, caused physical and neuralogical damages that affects the way you express and process launguage, trust, the way that your body and sensory systems functions etc. I totally see that correlation between Autism and trauma and PTSD.  

I now totally see why she called me Aut-tie. I never saw any research on trauma causing Autism until this year. So call me intrigued.

¤¸¸.•´¯`•¸¸.•..>> 𝗜𝗻𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗛𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘇𝗼𝗻𝘀。𝗼𝗿𝗴 <<..•.¸¸•´¯`•.¸¸¤

Autism and trauma co-occur at really high rates. Despite how commonly trauma and autism co-occur, there is limited research on this, and it is rarely talked about in clinical training.

Autistics are more at risk of PTSD due to several factors:

  • We have more vulnerable neurobiology (more reactive nervous systems)

  • Increased risk of victimization

  • Sensitive sensory profiles that encode memory with more intensity

  • The stress of navigating an allistic world.

The Neurodivergent Nervous System (Personal Use)

The Neurodivergent Nervous System (Personal Use)  $16.99

Women and gender queer people are particularly vulnerable to PTSD (Haruvi-Lamdan, 2020). Following is a summary of the research cited in the above image:

  • Rumball et al. (2020) study found that approximately 60% of autistics reported probably PTSD in their lifetime (compare this to 4.5% of the general population).

  • Haruvi-Lamdan et al., 2020 study found that 32% of their Autistic participants had probable PTSD compared to 4% of the non-autistic population.

  • Fenning et al, 2019  research demonstrated that autistic children had more reactive nervous systems. This aligns with similar research that has identified the autistic nervous system to be less flexible (Thapa and Alvares, 2019). Less flexible nervous systems have a more difficult time coping with acute stressors and may contribute to increased hyperactivation of the nervous system following trauma.

  • Neurodivergent (ADHD/Autism) neurobiology is more vulnerable and reactive: (Beauchaine et al., 2013)

  • We are more vulnerable to social victimization and marginalization. In the Haruvi-Lamdan et al., 2020 females with autism (but not males) reported more negative life events, particularly social events, than typical adults.

  •  Brown-Lavoie et al., 2014 found that 70% of Autistic adults reported experiencing some form of sexual victimization after the age of 14 (compared to 45% of the control group).

Additional Considerations

  • High-maskers are more likely to be diagnosed with PTSD while their Neurotype goes missed. This means they are less likely to receive Autistic adapted treatments for their PTSD.

  • Undiagnosed Autistics are less likely to receive education about our increased risk (we have increased risk of both victimization and of developing PTSD following the stressful event). It is for this reason that I always say accurate and timely diagnosis of autism is trauma prevention.

When a person’s Autistic identity is combined with other marginalized identities, the risks, stress, and strain of the above factors increase.

¤¸¸.•´¯`•¸¸.•..>> 𝗜𝗻𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗛𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘇𝗼𝗻𝘀。𝗼𝗿𝗴 <<..•.¸¸•´¯`•.¸¸¤

Autistic Adapted Trauma Treatment

While exposure therapy is typically seen as the “gold standard” for PTSD treatment, such treatment may not always be appropriate for the Autistic individual. Research has shown it does not work as well for Autistics. When exposure therapy is used, it is important it is adapted & be client-led.

Sensory experiences outside of our control are completely dysregulating; we must control the sensory experience. Trauma treatment must attend to a person’s sensory experience and engage more grounding, bodywork, encouraging natural forms of movement, etc. Good trauma treatments for Autistics may include Somatic Therapies, EMDR, Internal Family System's Theory.

Printed Resources

My Favorite Autism Reads: Divergent Minds, and Aspergirls (#affiliatelinks)

Good resources for Trauma: The Body Keeps the Score

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Amazon

Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger SyndromeBy Simone, RudyBuy on Amazon

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There is no one-size-fits-all treatment. The goal of treatment is to maximize your child's ability to function by reducing autism spectrum disorder symptoms and supporting development and learning. Early intervention during the preschool years can help your child learn critical social, communication, functional and behavioral skills.

The range of home-based and school-based treatments and interventions for autism spectrum disorder can be overwhelming, and your child's needs may change over time. Your health care provider can recommend options and help identify resources in your area.

If your child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, talk to experts about creating a treatment strategy and build a team of professionals to meet your child's needs.

Treatment options may include:

  • Behavior and communication therapies. Many programs address the range of social, language and behavioral difficulties associated with autism spectrum disorder. Some programs focus on reducing problem behaviors and teaching new skills. Other programs focus on teaching children how to act in social situations or communicate better with others. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) can help children learn new skills and generalize these skills to multiple situations through a reward-based motivation system.

  • Educational therapies. Children with autism spectrum disorder often respond well to highly structured educational programs. Successful programs typically include a team of specialists and a variety of activities to improve social skills, communication and behavior. Preschool children who receive intensive, individualized behavioral interventions often show good progress.

  • Family therapies. Parents and other family members can learn how to play and interact with their children in ways that promote social interaction skills, manage problem behaviors, and teach daily living skills and communication.

  • Other therapies. Depending on your child's needs, speech therapy to improve communication skills, occupational therapy to teach activities of daily living, and physical therapy to improve movement and balance may be beneficial. A psychologist can recommend ways to address problem behavior.

  • Medications. No medication can improve the core signs of autism spectrum disorder, but specific medications can help control symptoms. For example, certain medications may be prescribed if your child is hyperactive; antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to treat severe behavioral problems; and antidepressants may be prescribed for anxiety. Keep all health care providers updated on any medications or supplements your child is taking. Some medications and supplements can interact, causing dangerous side effects.

Managing other medical and mental health conditions

In addition to autism spectrum disorder, children, teens and adults can also experience:

  • Medical health issues. Children with autism spectrum disorder may also have medical issues, such as epilepsy, sleep disorders, limited food preferences or stomach problems. Ask your child's doctor how to best manage these conditions together.

  • Problems with transition to adulthood. Teens and young adults with autism spectrum disorder may have difficulty understanding body changes. Also, social situations become increasingly complex in adolescence, and there may be less tolerance for individual differences. Behavior problems may be challenging during the teen years.

  • Other mental health disorders. Teens and adults with autism spectrum disorder often experience other mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Your doctor, mental health professional, and community advocacy and service organizations can offer help.

Dietary considerations

The food you eat is important. The food your autistic child eats is important.  has a great list of recommended foods. I will just summarize and list some of the most popular and more known food.

  • sauercraut

  • pickles or pickled vegetables

  • yogurt

  • kefir

  • kombucha

  • flaxseeds

  • banana

  • asparagus

  • onion/garlic

  • jerusalem artichoke

  • fruits

  • vegetables

  • brown rice

  • lentils

  • beans

  • blueberries

  • grapes

  • plum

  • red berries

  • red kidney bean

  • probiotics

  • prebiotics

  • digestive enzymes

After cleaning up my diet, getting rid of sugar and gluten, as well as taking Plexus supplements my life and body have changed. I’ve benefited from some amazing side effects. Such as weight loss (yes!), and my acne has disappeared! I’ve also gotten rid of stomach issues I didn’t even realize I had!

We still have a way’s to go with how we eat together as a family. My goal is to go gluten free and perhaps dairy free with the whole family and see if those help my son as well. But one thing at a time, right? Start with one small change and go from there. You got this mama!

See Marvelously Set Apart for more blogs like this on Autism

Planning for the future

Children with autism spectrum disorder typically continue to learn and compensate for problems throughout life, but most will continue to require some level of support. Planning for your child's future opportunities, such as employment, college, living situation, independence and the services required for support can make this process smoother.

(¯`*•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:* 𝚰𐓣𝖼𝗋𝖾ᑯ𝗂ᑲᥣ𝖾𝐇ⱺ𝗋𝗂ƶⱺ𐓣𝗌.ⱺ𝗋𝗀 *.:。.✿`°¤,¸.•*´¯)

Physiological Benifits for H-BOT

The Hyperbaric Chamber produces strong hyperoxia that generates different benefits for the organism.


Repair of peripheral neuronal fibersOxygen promotes nervous system plasticity.


AngiogenesisHyperoxia stimulates and promotes the formation of small blood vessels, thus improving perfusion.


Collagen synthesis stimulationHyperoxia induces proline hydroxylation and fibroblast proliferation. Thus, it promotes collagen synthesis, which is essential for wound healing and tissue repair.


Bactericidal activityHyperoxia generates reactive oxygen species that increase the activity of antibiotics. It is also active against bacterial biofilm.


Regulation of oxidative stress and inflammatory responseHyperoxia acts on regulators and mediators of the inflammatory response and decreases oxidative stress. This results in an anti-inflammatory effect and decreases cell damage.


Increases cerebral blood flow and neuroprotectionIt improves perfusion thanks to the formation of new vessels and cerebral oxygenation, decreases edema and inflammation of the central nervous system.


OsteogenesisHyperoxia stimulates the differentiation of bone-forming cells, promotes osteogenesis and bone repair.


Decreases ischemia-reperfusion damageIt improves tissue microcirculation, decreases the production of reactive oxygen species and increases their degradation by stimulating the expression of antioxidant enzymes.


Analgesic effectIt has an anlgesic effect in nociceptive and neurophatic pain, through tissue repair, recovery of functionality and reduction of inflammation.

Global Presence

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HBOT (hyperbaric chamber) and GI function

We used this and it was amazing if I could I would give this a 12 out of 10.  See Dr. Rossinal

Because HBOT possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties,98,99 it may be useful in ameliorating inflammatory conditions of the GI tract. Several published models of IBD have demonstrated that HBOT can significantly lower inflammation in the GI tract and improve IBD.99-104 Other studies have reported improvements using HBOT for Crohn’s disease105-108 and ulcerative colitis. In addition, HBOT can kill clostridial species, because these bacteria are anaerobic.

In my clinical experience, children with evidence of clostridia often have significant improvements in GI function (especially in diarrhea) with the use of HBOT. HBOT and brain function HBOT may help improve brain function in certain conditions. In animal models, HBOT improves learning and memory. In healthy young adults, the addition of 100% oxygen when compared with room air significantly enhances memory, cognitive performance (including word recall and reaction time), attention, and picture recognition.

Several studies have shown improvements in traumatic or chronic brain injury with HBOT. In a recent study of 16 individuals who had traumatic brain injury, individuals exhibited significant improvements with the use of HBOT in their neurological exam, IQ, memory, post-traumatic stress symptoms, depression, and anxiety; they also displayed objective improvements in brain perfusion. Studies also have reported behavioral improvements in children with ASD using HBOT may bring about improvements even in conditions where permanent brain problems are thought to be present, including cerebral palsy and fetal alcohol syndrome.


The evidence for a gut-brain connection has become stronger over time.

Abnormalities in the GI tract, including dysbiosis, and abnormalities caused by intake of gluten and cow’s milk proteins may contribute to abnormal brain function. Mitochondria play an important role in the gut-brain connection, and abnormalities in mitochondrial function are found in many neurological and psychiatric disorders. Mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to GI abnormalities and brain dysfunction.

Ultimately, mitochondrial dysfunction can have adverse effects on the gut-brain connection. Treatment of mitochondrial dysfunction with modalities such as carnitine and HBOT may be beneficial in maintaining and/or improving the gut-brain connection. Additional studies examining the gut-brain connection in neurological and psychiatric disorders are warranted.

¤¸¸.•´¯`•¸¸.•..>> 𝗜𝗻𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗛𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘇𝗼𝗻𝘀。𝗼𝗿𝗴 <<..•.¸¸•´¯`•.¸¸¤

The Miracle of Hyperbarics in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can struggle with numerous issues like cognitive problems, motor difficulties, inflammation response, neurodevelopment concerns, and gastrointestinal issues. Increased oxygen uptake to the brain can help improve these health concerns in autistic children. Hyperbaric chamber autism has gained prominence in the recent past due to its impact on critical areas of the brain. Here are some ways HBOT therapy can help treat autism:

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Explained

HBOT involves the use of pressurized oxygen in a chamber for medical treatment. This therapy treatment method is non-invasive and helps enhance the human body’s natural healing process. The oxygen-rich environment within the HBOT chamber increases oxygen solubility in the patient’s blood and transfers it into body cells and tissues.

Our experts at Aalto Hyperbaric use HBOT to treat conditions like:

  •   Wound Healing

  •   Psoriasis

  •   PTSD

  •   Neuropathy

  •   Radiation injury

  •   Mental conditions like Autism and Alzheimer’s

Over recent years, many medical professionals have utilized hyperbaric oxygen therapy to aid symptoms that autistic patients may experience. The procedure is generally considered safe for autistic children unless they have other pre-existing conditions like lung damage or claustrophobia. Autistic children with these disorders should not be exposed to HBOT to avoid undesirable side effects of the procedure.

HBOT Use in the Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Aalto Hyperbaric recommends getting HBOT treatment in a clinical setting for the best results. Our clinics use medical-grade chambers with 100% oxygen concentration, increasing success chances in treating ASD symptoms. Some of the potential health benefits that autistic children experience include:

Helps Manage Neuroinflammation

One of the underlying causes of ASD is neuroinflammation, an inflammatory response in the patient’s spinal cord or brain. Neuroinflammation causes cerebral hypoperfusion, which involves limiting blood flow to the brain. Lesser blood flow to key areas in the brain causes oxygen deficiency and failure in brain parts that help with communication and social interaction. Children with autism may experience problems interacting, paying attention, and communicating.

HBOT sessions at Aalto Hyperbaric can help reduce cerebral hypoperfusion. By dealing with the inflammation, hyperbaric therapy allows oxygen-rich blood into the critical areas of the brain. Increasing oxygen content in brain cells may help improve social interactions and communication.

Improves Behavior

ASD patients can grapple with cognition and movement problems due to sensory disturbance and the destruction of capillaries in the brain. This may lead to overstimulation in autistic children.

Aalto Hyperbaric Medical Group’s experts can recommend HBOT to reduce sensory disturbance. Our sessions can increase the body’s ability to create new capillaries in the brain, making ASD children calmer. Your child may experience improved sleep patterns and an overall improvement in behavior.

Helps Manage Oxidative Stress

An imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the human body can lead to oxidative stress. Some of the side effects of oxidative stress coincide with the clinical symptoms of ASD, including:

  •   Inflammation, which causes brain tissue damage

  •   Metabolism Reduction

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy induces oxidative stress, offsetting some symptoms linked to autism. Attending an HBOT session at Aalto Hyperbaric will help your body boost antioxidant enzyme production. More antioxidants may relieve oxidative stress and help with overall mood, memory, and social interactions.

Enhances Mitochondrial Function

Mitochondrial dysfunction is a common problem in many children diagnosed with autism. Autistic patients with mitochondrial weakness experience low energy, which slows down many bodily functions. This can affect the autistic patient’s balance and motor skills.

Oxygen therapy helps enhance mitochondrial function for improved cognition. Your HBOT session can improve the brain’s synchronization to enhance cognitive functioning in your autistic child.

Deals With Gut Problems

Autistic children often experience gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain. Gut microbes may be more prevalent in ASD patients and can cause leaky gut issues. Hyperbaric therapy helps deal with the unhealthy bacteria within the gut, alleviating such problems. This allows autistic children to be more comfortable and enjoy the improved digestive function.

Strengthens the Patient’s Immune System

Children with ASD experience immune system deregulation, making them more likely to get sick. Autoimmune problems like diabetes (type 1), celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis are commonly associated with autism. They may experience asthma or allergies, in which case, it is ideal for the immune system to be as strong as possible.

Increasing oxygen concentration in the body helps tissues resist infection. Hyperbaric therapy within our clinic can help strengthen the ASD patient’s immune system.

Aalto Hyperbaric Medical Group’s specialist will review your health concerns and recommend the necessary HBOT sessions. Over time, the sessions can help prevent the action of disease-causing and harmful bacteria. As an ASD patient, HBOT will help you keep autoimmune problems at bay.

Reduces the Frequency of Seizures

Individuals with ASD often experience seizures since it is a neurological disorder caused by neuroinflammation in the brain. Lack of proper blood flow in one area of the brain may cause loss of awareness and focal seizures.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy addresses neuroinflammation concerns in the brain and spine area. Our clinical sessions can improve cerebral circulation, offering more oxygen to the brain. With HBOT, you may experience a gradual reduction in the frequency of seizure activity in autistic children.

Allows For Detoxification of Heavy Metals

Heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium can infiltrate the body during early developmental stages and cause neuroinflammation. An overload of heavy metals from foods and the environment can cause ASD and deficits in brain synchronization.

Exposure to high oxygen concentrations in your clinical HBOT session at Aalto Hyperbaric helps eliminate toxins in the body. By helping autism patients get rid of heavy metals through metabolism, they may experience better brain synchronization.

Hyperbaric Chamber Autism Can Potentially Deal with ASD Symptoms

When done in a proper medical environment, hyperbaric therapy can help treat autism in children. HBOT manages cell and tissue deficits in autism patients by improving oxygen concentration for better function. By dealing with the challenges ASD patients face, hyperbaric chamber autism can help patients by easing challenges and improving symptoms.

Hyperbaric providers across the globe assist parents with autistic children another to treat ASD symptoms. Our treatment sessions are done in a clinical setting, increasing the treatment’s efficiency. We have trained technologists who monitor patients while in treatment to make sure they remain safe. Contact us today to start your hyperbaric treatment.

(¯`*•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:* 𝚰𐓣𝖼𝗋𝖾ᑯ𝗂ᑲᥣ𝖾𝐇ⱺ𝗋𝗂ƶⱺ𐓣𝗌.ⱺ𝗋𝗀 *.:。.✿`°¤,¸.•*´¯)

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Gut-Brain Connection

Researchers have found that a lesser known nervous system in our guts (our "second brain") communicates with the brain in our head. Together, "our two brains" play a key role in certain diseases in our bodies and overall health. Behavioral medicine can help.




How could a behavioral medicine specialist help me with my gastrointestinal (GI) problem?

The conditions of anxiety and stress provide a simple example. Anxiety and stress are psychological concerns. We know that gastrointestinal (GI) problems can create anxiety and stress. We also know that anxiety and stress can make GI problems worse. It’s been shown that psychological treatment techniques can help ease GI distress or at least help a person cope with their GI symptoms.

Researchers are learning more and more about the connection between different parts of our body’s nervous system. People are most familiar with the body’s central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and spinal cord. This network of nerves, neurons (nerve cells) and neurotransmitters (chemicals that help pass along nerve cell signals) extends from the brain to all the major organs of the body.

There is also a lesser known part of our body’s nervous system located in our gut. It’s called the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system’s network of nerves, neurons and neurotransmitters extends along the entire digestive tract – from the esophagus, through the stomach and intestines, and down to the anus.

Because the enteric nervous system relies on the same type of neurons and neurotransmitters that are found in the central nervous system, some medical experts call it our “second brain.” The “second brain” in our gut, in communication with the brain in our head, plays a key role in certain diseases in our bodies and in our overall mental health.

Excitement in the field of gut-brain research

This “crosstalk” in communication between the brain and digestive system is opening up new ways to think about diseases. Not only do the gut and the brain communicate through the nervous system, but also through hormones, and the immune system. Microorganisms in the gut help regulate the body’s immune response. Medical researchers who are studying depressive symptoms, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, autism, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, pain, anxiety and other “neuro” conditions are beginning to look at what is going on in a person's guts. Researchers who are investigating ulcers, constipation and other GI conditions also now have a reason to focus on aspects of brain functioning.

What are some examples of how the network of neurons in our gut and brain communicate with each other?

There are several familiar examples. When a person feels danger, the “fight or flight” response of the central nervous system is triggered. At the same time, the enteric nervous system’s response is to slow down or stop digestion. This is done so that more of the body’s energy can be diverted to the situation causing the threat.

The fear of public speaking also causes the digestive system to either slow down or speed up depending on the GI disorder and can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other symptoms. Emotions, feelings of excitement, or nervousness can cause the familiar churning in the stomach – the so-called “butterflies in your stomach” feeling. The gut-brain connection works in both directions too. For example, GI problems can create anxiety and stress.

What types of people with GI disorders might benefit from seeing a behavioral medicine specialist?

People with a wide array of GI conditions can benefit, including:

  • People with moderate to severe functional symptoms who have not responded to medical management. (“Functional” GI conditions are ongoing or recurring problems that interfere with the function of the GI tract. “Functional” conditions are not tumors, masses or chemical abnormalities.)

  • People whose stress or emotional factors are worsening their GI symptoms.

  • People who are interested in non-drug treatment of their functional GI symptoms.

  • People newly diagnosed with chronic GI illnesses, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic pancreatitis and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

  • Any person needing assistance with coping with chronic, uncomfortable GI symptoms.

What types of people with GI disorders should NOT be referred to a behavioral medicine specialist?

People who are not good candidates include:

  • People who have significant psychological symptoms that are not related to their GI condition.

  • People who have current severe psychiatric symptoms (suicidal ideation, psychotic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder).

  • People who have an active eating disorder.

  • People who have little awareness or acceptance of the role of stress on their GI condition.

  • People who are not highly motivated to try behavioral medicine.


What types of behavioral medicine treatments are available to people with GI disorders?

Several types of psychotherapies may help ease persistent gastrointestinal distress or at least help people learn to cope with such symptoms. These treatments include:

Relaxation therapy. This approach uses several techniques to help people relax and reduce their reaction to stress. Techniques include progressive muscle relaxation, visualization and restful music. Research suggests that these therapies are most effective when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The goal of this approach is to help people with GI disorders change their thoughts, behavior and emotional response as well as learn coping skills to better manage anxiety and stress.

Gut-directed relaxation training. This is a combination of deep relaxation with positive suggestions focused on GI function. An example would be a person placing hands on his/her abdomen while being asked to feel warmth and imagine they had control over their GI function. This approach may be helpful for people whose symptoms occur even without obvious stress.

Biofeedback. This treatment technique teaches a person how to control automatic body responses. An example would be learning how to control heart rate or temperature with the assistance of an electronic device that provides feedback on these functions. Research has shown that biofeedback, in combination with other stress and illness management techniques, has produced positive health effects.


Are there other benefits to behavioral medicine treatments besides helping ease GI symptoms?

There is evidence that as stress, anxiety and physical symptoms improve with treatment so do mood and quality of life. Also, although treatments may require greater time input by people with GI disorders initially -- both in the clinic and on their own -- there is the benefit of less frequent physician visits, medical procedures and medications.


Are visits with a behavioral medicine specialist for GI disorders covered under health insurance?

It’s always wise to check with your insurance carrier before you receive care. However, it’s important to note that some behavioral medicine treatments provided by a behavioral medicine specialist can be billed under a person's medical insurance using health and behavior billing codes.

(¯`*•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:* 𝚰𐓣𝖼𝗋𝖾ᑯ𝗂ᑲᥣ𝖾𝐇ⱺ𝗋𝗂ƶⱺ𐓣𝗌.ⱺ𝗋𝗀 *.:。.✿`°¤,¸.•*´¯)

Understanding Brain function

Your brain is an essential organ that controls many body functions. Your brain receives and interprets all the sensory information you encounter, like sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Your brain has many complex parts that work together to help you function.


What is the brain?

Your brain is an essential organ. All of your emotions, sensations, aspirations and everything that makes you uniquely individual come from your brain. This complex organ has many functions. It receives, processes and interprets information. Your brain also stores memories and controls your movements.

Your brain is one component of your central nervous system (CNS). It connects to your spinal cord, the other part of your CNS.


What is the brain’s function?

Your brain receives information from your five senses: sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. Your brain also receives inputs including touch, vibration, pain and temperature from the rest of your body as well as autonomic (involuntary) inputs from your organs. It interprets this information so you can understand and associate meaning with what goes on around you.

Your brain enables:

  • Thoughts and decisions.

  • Memories and emotions.

  • Movements (motor function), balance and coordination.

  • Perception of various sensations including pain.

  • Automatic behavior such as breathing, heart rate, sleep and temperature control.

  • Regulation of organ function.

  • Speech and language functions.

  • Fight or flight response (stress response).


What are the main parts of the brain?

Your brain’s structure is complex. It has three main sections:

  • Cerebrum: Your cerebrum interprets sights, sounds and touches. It also regulates emotions, reasoning and learning. Your cerebrum makes up about 80% of your brain.

  • CerebellumYour cerebellum maintains your balance, posture, coordination and fine motor skills. It's located in the back of your brain.

  • Brainstem: Your brainstem regulates many automatic body functions. You don’t consciously control these functions, like your heart rate, breathing, sleep and wake cycles, and swallowing. Your brainstem is in the lower part of your brain. It connects the rest of your brain to your spinal cord.

What are the lobes that make up your brain?

Each side of your brain has different lobes (sections). While all the lobes work together to ensure normal functioning, each lobe plays an important role in some specific brain and body functions:

  • Frontal lobes: The frontal lobes are in the front part of your brain, right behind your forehead. This is the largest lobe and it controls voluntary movement, speech and intellect. The parts of your frontal lobes that control movement are called the primary motor cortex or precentral gyrus. The parts of your brain that play an important role in memory, intelligence and personality include your prefrontal cortex as well as many other regions of your brain.

  • Occipital lobesThese lobes in the back of your brain allow you to notice and interpret visual information. Your occipital lobes control how you process shapes, colors and movement.

  • Parietal lobes: The parietal lobes are near the center of your brain. They receive and interpret signals from other parts of your brain. This part of your brain integrates many sensory inputs so that you can understand your environment and the state of your body. This part of your brain helps give meaning to what's going on in your environment.

  • Temporal lobesThese parts of the brain are near your ears on each side of your brain. The temporal lobes are important in being able to recall words or places that you've been. It also helps you recognize people, understand language and interpret other people’s emotions.

  • Limbic lobes: The limbic lobe sits deep in the middle portions of your brain. The limbic lobe is a part of your temporal, parietal and frontal lobes. Important parts of your limbic system include your amygdala (best known for regulating your “fight or flight” response) and your hippocampus (where you store short-term memories).

  • Insular lobes: The insular lobes sit deep in the temporal, parietal and frontal lobes. The insular lobe is involved in the processing of many sensory inputs including sensory and motor inputs, autonomic inputs, pain perception, perceiving what is heard and overall body perception (the perception of your environment).

What is the difference between the left and right brain hemispheres?

Your cerebrum divides into two halves: the left and right cerebral hemispheres. The two halves of the brain are connected by nerve fiber bundles (white matter) called your corpus callosum. The right side of your cerebrum controls movement on the left side of your body and vice versa.

Your left brain hemisphere is often the “dominant” hemisphere — but this doesn’t apply to everyone. Most people who are right-handed are usually left hemisphere dominant. Some patients who are left-handed are right hemisphere is dominant. Typically, the dominant hemisphere is responsible for your speech and language functions. Your non-dominant (which is the right hemisphere in most individuals) is responsible for your spatial awareness and processing of what you see.

About 1 in 10 right-handed people and about 1 in 3 left-handed people have dominance in the right hemisphere. This means that their speech functions are mostly centered in the right side of their brains. Many times this is a normal variant but in some people with brain tumors or epilepsy, the dominance can be shifted through a process called brain plasticity.

What are the bones and tissues that protect your brain?

A bony structure called your cranium surrounds your brain. Your cranium is part of your skull. All the bones of your skull protect your brain from injury.

Between your brain and skull, you have three layers of tissue called the meninges:

  • Dura mater: The outermost layer lines your entire skull. Parts of the dura mater form folds that separate the right half of your brain from the left.

  • Arachnoid: The middle layer of the meninges is a thin, fragile layer of tissue that covers your entire brain.

  • Pia mater: The innermost layer contains blood vessels that run into your brain’s surface.

Between your arachnoid and pia mater tissue is a clear substance called your cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF also surrounds your spinal cord, which runs through the vertebrae (bones of your spine). CSF cushions and protects these vital nervous system organs.

What is the gray and white matter in the brain?

Substances called gray and white matter make up your central nervous system. In your brain, gray matter is the outermost layer. It plays a significant part in your day-to-day function.

White matter is your deeper brain tissue. It contains nerve fibers that help your brain send electric nerve signals more quickly and efficiently.

Which nerves send signals to and from your brain?

Your brain contains several types of nerves. Nerves carry messages by sending electrical impulses back and forth between your brain, organs and muscles. The nerves in your brain are called cranial nerves. You have 12 pairs of cranial nerves from the brain to parts of your head and face. These nerves are responsible for specific sensations, such as hearing, taste or sight. White matter is the fiber bundles that connect brain cells. There are numerous white matter tracts that connect one area of your brain to another, as well as structures deep in your brain. These white matter tracts can also travel to your brainstem and spinal cord so that information can be relayed from your brain to communicate with the rest of your body and information from your body can travel to your brain.

What other parts of the brain send and receive signals?

Although most brain cells reside on the surface of your brain (called gray matter) and the cabling (white matter) is deep and connects various parts of your brain, there are some nuclei (collection of brain cells) that reside deep in your brain. They include:

  • ThalamusYour thalamus is a structure residing deep in your cerebrum and above your brainstem. This structure is sometimes referred to as the switchboard of the central nervous system. It relays various sensory information, like sight, sound or touch, to your cerebral cortex from the rest of your body.

  • Hypothalamus: Your hypothalamus sits below your thalamus. It's important in regulating various hormonal functions, autonomic function, hunger, thirst and sleep. Your hypothalamus and pituitary gland are important structures involved in the control of your hormonal system.

  • Pituitary gland: Your pituitary gland sends out hormones to different organs in your body.

  • Basal gangliaYour basal ganglia are a group of nuclei deep in your cerebrum that is important in the control of your movement, including motor learning and planning.

  • Brainstem nuclei: There are a number of nuclei situated in your brainstem involved in a variety of different functions including cells that give rise to a number of important cranial nerves, normal sleep function, autonomic functions (breathing and heart rate) and pain.

  • Reticular formation: Your reticular formation is a part of your brainstem and thalamic nuclei. These are a part of your reticular activating system (nuclei plus the white matter connecting these nuclei), which lies in your brainstem, hypothalamus and thalamus. The reticular activating system (RAS) mediates your level of awareness, consciousness and focus. They also help control your sleep-wake transitions and autonomic function.

How many brain cells does a human have?

For many years, scientists thought the human brain had 100 billion nerve cells (neurons). Today, we know the actual number is closer to 86 billion.

Your brain contains two types of cells:

  • Neurons send and receive electric nerve signals.

  • Glial cells help maintain your brain, form myelin (a fatty, protective substance found in white matter) and provide nutrition to your brain.

How does your brain relate to hormone production?

Within your thalamus sits a small structure called your hypothalamus. Your hypothalamus is part of your limbic system, which controls your emotions. It sends nerve signals to your pituitary gland. It helps control functions such as:

  • Appetite.

  • Body temperature.

  • Emotions.

  • Hormone production.

  • Sleep and wake cycles.

In your brain, you also have a pineal gland, which secretes the hormone melatonin. Melatonin controls how melanin gives your skin pigment. Melatonin also plays a role in regulating your sleep and wake cycles.


What conditions or disorders can affect the brain?

About 1 in 6 people have some type of brain condition. There are many types of brain disorders and conditions that vary in severity, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementiaProgressive loss of cognitive (brain) functions, such as memory, problem-solving or language.

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)A neuromuscular disorder where the nerve cells in your brain break down.

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)A developmental disorder that can affect your ability to communicate, regulate behavior or interpret social cues.

  • Brain tumorIrregular mass of cells that starts in your brain and grows uncontrollably.

  • EpilepsyA brain disorder that disrupts the activity of your brain’s nerve cells, leading to seizures.

  • Parkinson’s diseaseA progressive nervous system disease that often starts with tremors (uncontrollable shakes).

  • StrokeAn interruption of blood supply to your brain, either because of an artery blockage or artery rupture (burst).

Can you be born with a brain condition?

Some babies are born with a brain condition. Inherited conditions, genetic differences or injuries in the uterus or at birth can cause these conditions.

Can a head injury cause a brain condition?

Injuries can lead to brain damage. When you experience a blow to your head, you may suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion.

Rarely, severe brain injuries may lead to a condition like epilepsy or dementia. Many people heal from a concussion or brain injury. Repeated head injuries can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition that causes progressively worsening thinking problems.


What are some tips to keep my brain healthy?

Some lifestyle habits can keep your brain healthier. To support your brain health, you may:

  • Sleep at least seven to eight hours each night.

  • Exercise consistently.

  • Drink alcohol in moderation only.

  • Eat a diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats.

  • Practice puzzles, such as jigsaw puzzles, crosswords or word searches.

  • Quit smoking.

A strong social network can also improve your brain health. Healthy relationships can help decrease stress, lower your blood pressure and increase your life span.

What should I ask my doctor about my brain health?

You may also want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • What are the signs or symptoms that tell me something could be wrong with my brain?

  • What tests will I have to diagnose a brain condition or injury?

  • What lifestyle changes should I make to improve my brain health?


How much does the human brain weigh?

When you're born, your brain weighs about 1 pound. Throughout childhood, your brain grows to about 2 pounds. As an adult, your brain weighs around 2.7 to 3 pounds, depending on your sex and body size.

When does the brain stop developing?

Most brain development happens between birth and your teenage years. But your brain continues developing throughout your 20s. Brain development typically peaks by middle age.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Your brain is an essential organ that allows you to perceive and interact with the world around you. It receives and interprets all the sensory information you encounter. A range of conditions can affect your brain. You can support your brain health by sleeping well, eating a healthy diet, exercising and making other healthy lifestyle choices. If you suspect that you or a loved one has symptoms related to a brain condition, speak with a healthcare provider.

Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, affect the way we think, feel and behave. There are more than 200 types of mental illnesses. Symptoms of mental health disorders usually improve with treatment, which may include medication, psychotherapy, alternative therapies or brain stimulation therapy.


What is mental health and why is it important?

Behavioral health (sometimes called mental health) includes a person’s psychological, emotional and social wellbeing. It shapes the way you think, feel, behave and interact with others. Your mental state also affects how you cope with stress. It’s a vital part of your life, from infancy through adulthood.

What is a mental health disorder?

Mental (behavioral) health disorders, or mental illnesses, affect the way you think and behave. They change your mood and can make it difficult to function at home, work, school or in your community.

It’s important to note that having poor mental health doesn’t always mean you have a behavioral health disorder. You can also have a behavioral health disorder and still go through long periods of good mental health.

Are there different types of mental health disorders?

There are more than 200 types of mental health disorders. A few of the most common types of mental health disorders include:

Who gets mental health disorders?

Anyone of any age, sex, background or ethnicity can get a behavioral health disorder. People designated female at birth (DFAB) more commonly experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. While people designated male at birth (DMAB) are more likely to experience substance abuse and antisocial personality disorders. Behavioral problems and ADHD are more common in adolescents.

How common are behavioral health disorders?

Behavioral health disorders are common in the United States. About 1 in 5 adults and adolescents live with a mental health disorder. About half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14 and three-quarters begin by age 24.

Suicide, which is often associated with mental illness, is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. It’s the second leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 34.


What causes mental health disorders?

Behavioral health disorders can have many causes. They might be the result of abnormal genes. You may inherit those genes from a parent, or genes can change during your life. Chemical imbalances in your brain can also lead to mental illness.

Your risk of mental illness increases if you:

  • Use alcohol or recreational drugs.

  • Don’t get proper nutrition.

  • Don’t have a support system of friends or family members.

  • Had a traumatic birth or were born from a high-risk pregnancy.

  • Have a chronic medical condition such as cancerdiabetes or hypothyroidism.

  • Have a family history of behavioral health disorders.

  • Have a neurological disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

  • Have a sleep disorder.

  • Have extreme stress in your life.

  • Have had a traumatic brain injury.

  • Have had a traumatic life event or a history of abuse.

  • Struggle with your spirituality or beliefs.

What are the symptoms of a behavioral health disorder?

Mental health disorders can lead to a broad range of symptoms, including:

  • Use of recreational drugs or alcohol.

  • Avoiding social situations and friends.

  • Changes in sex drive.

  • Difficulty perceiving reality, including having delusions or hallucinations.

  • Excessive worrying or fear.

  • Fatigue or sleep problems.

  • Feelings of sadness or isolation.

  • Inability to gauge or interpret other people’s feelings or emotions.

  • Intense irritability or anger.

  • Obsession with your physical appearance, weight or eating habits.

  • Problems concentrating, learning or completing everyday tasks.

  • Sudden mood changes, going from “lows” to “highs.”

  • Suicidal thoughts or self-injury.

Behavioral health disorders in children tend to affect their functioning. You might notice:

  • Changes in their performance at school, or how they interact with other children.

  • Disinterest in activities or hobbies they used to enjoy.

  • Excessive worry or anxiety, such as fear of going to bed.

  • Frequent temper tantrums, disobedience or aggression.

  • Hyperactive behavior, such as problems concentrating or sitting still.

  • Nightmares.


How are mental health disorders diagnosed?

It’s important to get a diagnosis from a healthcare provider who specializes in behavioral health disorders. You need an accurate diagnosis to receive the right treatment.

A healthcare provider will carefully review your symptoms to evaluate your mental health. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider:

  • If there are any specific triggers that make your mental health worse.

  • If your mental health problems are chronic (ongoing) or if they come and go.

  • When you first noticed changes in your mental health.

There aren’t any medical tests that can diagnose mental illnesses. But your healthcare provider may perform tests, such as blood work or imaging exams, to rule out other conditions that can affect mental health.


How are mental health disorders treated?

Treatments for mental health disorders may include:

  • Medication: Some mental illnesses respond well to medication, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics. These medicines change the chemicals in your brain, so you experience fewer symptoms. It’s very important to take medication exactly as your healthcare provider directs. Never stop taking medication for a mental illness without consulting your healthcare provider.

  • Psychotherapy: Talking to a mental health professional can help you work through the challenges of an illness and manage its symptoms. Psychotherapy can be in a one-to-one setting with a healthcare provider or a group setting. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy. It focuses on helping you change negative behaviors and thought patterns.

  • Alternative therapies: Some mental illnesses, such as depression, may improve with alternative therapies. Examples include herbal remedies, massage, acupuncture, yoga and meditation. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any herbal remedies or supplements. They may affect other medications.

  • Brain stimulation therapies: Not all disorders improve with medication. If that’s the case, your healthcare provider may recommend brain stimulation therapies. These treatments change the way nerves and other cells in your brain process chemicals and respond to stimuli. Examples include electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).


Are behavioral health disorders preventable?

There’s no way to prevent a behavioral health disorder. But you can manage symptoms better with the help of a healthcare provider. Contact them as soon as you notice there’s a problem.


What’s the prognosis (outlook) for people with a behavioral health disorder?

Most people with behavioral health disorders can manage their symptoms. They lead full, fulfilling lives with the right treatments. Some people will need to manage a mental illness for the rest of their lives. Others find that symptoms improve as they get older. Overall, mental illnesses tend to peak in young adults ages 18 to 25, then diminish greatly after 50. Mental illness can also increase your risk for certain health conditions such as stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


When should I contact my doctor?

Get help right away if you’re having suicidal thoughts or notice suicidal behavior in someone else. You can call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. This hotline connects you to a national network of local crisis centers that provide free and confidential emotional support. The centers support people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In an emergency, call 911.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Behavioral health disorders, which affect about 20% of people in the U.S., impact how you think, feel and behave. They can make it difficult to function at home, school or work. But there are treatments. Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step toward managing a mental health disorder. Talk to your healthcare provider if you or your child show any signs or symptoms.

Asperger Syndrome

People with autism spectrum disorder previously called Asperger's syndrome may benefit from early diagnosis and use of support networks. Children with this condition who attend school may be eligible for individual education programs (IEPs).

Cleveland Clinic




What is Asperger's syndrome?

Asperger's syndrome (sometimes called high-functioning autism) is part of a wide diagnosis called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Since 2013, Asperger’s syndrome is replaced by the broader diagnosis of ASD within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) revised criteria.

People with ASD have difficulty with socializing and social skills. They tend to have narrow range of interests, rigid routines and will often show repetitive behavior (such as flapping their hands).

Asperger’s syndrome, as defined before 2013, was different than other ASDs because people with Asperger’s have average or higher-than-average language and intelligence levels.


Who diagnoses Asperger’s syndrome?

An ASD diagnosis should be made by professionals specifically trained for it. Often pediatricians are best equipped to accurately examine a child’s pattern of development and their relative strengths and weaknesses. These professionals include:

  • Pediatricians (doctors specializing in treating children).

  • Child psychologists or psychiatrists (both can specialize in ASD).

  • Neurologists (doctors specializing in the brain and nerves).

  • Therapists (clinical or behavioral).

You may need to see one or more of these specialists while trying to get a diagnosis. The process may take some time, but it can help you learn more and find additional support networks.


What types of treatments are available for Asperger’s syndrome?

Treatment for ASD should be designed to meet you or your child’s needs. The best treatment in the world won’t work if a child or adult doesn’t agree that it’s best for them. A good treatment plan builds on their strengths and encourages growth in areas where they have difficulty. Progress should be continually monitored and treatment adjusted as necessary to continue to help them succeed in school, work and life.

Can medications treat Asperger’s symptoms?

There are no drugs specifically prescribed for ASD. Some people with Asperger's or related conditions are able to function well in life without taking any medications. Whether or not your healthcare provider prescribes medication depends on you or your child’s symptoms. Focusing on treating only the problematic symptoms also helps to lower the number of medications you or your child is taking.

Certain types of medications can help manage severe Asperger’s symptoms or related conditions. These medications include:

These and other medications have potentially serious side effects so speak with your provider about whether they’re right for you or your child.

How can children with Asperger’s syndrome be more comfortable in school?

Children and teens with Asperger’s syndrome and related conditions often struggle at school. It can be difficult to learn while having trouble focusing or staying calm. To help them learn more easily, some children with these conditions can benefit from (or need) special education or accommodations at school.

For example, parents and teachers can work together to create an individual education program (IEP). Based on your child’s symptoms, their school will decide if an IEP is needed. IEPs allow for a more suitable classroom environment including:

  • Regular daily routines (to help students focus and keep calm).

  • ‘Milestone’ academic goals (passing physical education, or getting a certain score on major tests).

  • Study guides or customized lesson plans (using headphones with audio lessons, for example).

  • Social skills (joining groups and not interrupting others).

  • Self-control techniques (not having tantrums or hitting).

Depending on their difficulties at school, children may also be eligible for special education services including counseling and special dietary needs. Learn about IEPs and other at-school support by asking your child’s teacher, guidance counselor or principal.

Is there a cure for Asperger’s syndrome?

Currently there is no cure for ASD. Nor are there any home remedies or herbal supplements proven to cure Asperger’s syndrome or related conditions.

But several non-surgical treatments exist to help manage many of the condition’s symptoms including depression, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Therapy (including speech therapy for young children and cognitive behavioral therapy for adults) is another good alternative for exploring ways to improve quality of life for you, your child or your students.

Many people with Asperger’s syndrome say that therapy helped them to deal with their symptoms or other problems. Therapy providers for children and adults with Asperger’s syndrome include:

  • Physical therapists: Physical therapy can help improve coordination and balance. It can also help them to focus better when faced with distracting noises or sights.

  • Speech therapists: Speech therapy can improve your ability to speak clearly and at appropriate volumes.

  • Occupational therapists: Occupational therapy can help you learn job skills needed to become and stay independent.

  • Family or relationship therapists: This type of therapy can help children and adults have healthier relationships with friends and loved ones.

Your healthcare provider can give you suggestions or referrals to these kinds of therapists.


How can someone with Asperger’s syndrome live the best life possible?

Many people diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and related conditions achieve success in their lives. Others may need some help in finding or keeping work, living arrangements and social relationships. If you have Asperger’s syndrome, you might do best with structured, predictable environments and routines.

Many children, teens and adults with Asperger's syndrome benefit from social skills groups and behavior intervention, like that offered by Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). This form of behavioral therapy helps to teach positive behaviors in everyday life.

Is Asperger’s syndrome a disability?

Everyone has a unique personality and different strengths. People with Asperger’s syndrome are no different. But if you or your loved one are finding it difficult to get or keep work due to Asperger’s syndrome symptoms, there is help. You may be able to qualify for disability under the Disability Evaluation Under Social Security Section 12.10, Mental Disorders. For more information, check with your provider and social security contact person.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

If you think that you or your loved one might have Asperger’s syndrome, or if you’re a teacher or caregiver concerned about someone you know, your first step is to contact your healthcare provider. In addition to discussing this with a professional, there is a lot of information about ASD and Asperger’s syndrome that is available, along with information on support groups. It helps always to be open-minded and realize that everyone has strengths and opportunities to improve.

Learning Disabilities: What You Need to Know

It is estimated that children with learning disabilities make up 15 percent of the school-age population. About 20 percent of children with learning disabilities have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

Cleveland Clinic


What is a learning disability?

Federal law states that a learning disability (LD) is a permanent neurological disorder that may be subtle to severe. It limits the brain’s ability to store, process, and produce information and affects a person’s ability to speak, listen, read, write, or do math. A child with a learning disability has average to above average intelligence, but he or she falls below his or her academic potential to a significant degree. The current estimates indicate that children with learning disabilities make up 15 percent of the school-age population.

What are the risks factors?

The most common risk factor is family history. Less common risk factors include poor nutrition, severe head injuries, child abuse, and pregnancy-related factors. (National Center for Learning Disabilities)

Lead poisoning, infections of the central nervous system, or treatment for cancers, such as leukemia, can also increase the risk for learning disabilities.

What factors are not considered risk factors?

Blindness, visual problems, deafness, physical or motor handicaps can cause difficulties with learning, but are not a cause of learning disabilities. Likewise, intellectual disabilities (formerly called mental retardation), autism spectrum disorders, or low intelligence quotient (IQ) all may be associated with learning difficulties, but are not considered learning disabilities. Environmental, cultural or economic disadvantages do not cause learning disabilities but may co-occur with learning disabilities. Similarly, behavioral disorders or emotional disturbances may also be present with learning disabilities.

What other problems might children with learning disabilities have?

About 20 percent of children with learning disabilities also have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children with learning disabilities may become frustrated, lose interest in school, and avoid challenges. They may have low self-esteem and emotional problems, such as withdrawal, anxietydepression, or aggression. It is also common for children with learning disabilities to have social problems. Children with undiagnosed learning disabilities can become angry and frustrated. These feelings may lead to emotional problems.

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is one of the most common forms of learning disability. Dyslexia is a language-based disorder that affects reading, writing, spelling, and often handwriting. Although letter or word reversals may be a concern for children with dyslexia, they are not the primary markers for dyslexia.

Who is likely to suspect a learning disability?

The child’s parents and teachers are most likely to suspect a learning disability since they spend the most time with the child. The child’s physician may also suspect a learning disability.


What are the signs of learning disabilities?

The following signs may signal that a child has a learning disability:

  • Dislike of or difficulty with reading

  • Poor handwriting

  • Difficulty with math

  • Difficulty organizing thoughts to express what they want to say

  • Memory problems

  • Trouble with coordination

  • Difficulty with language such as following directions, remembering words, rhyming, and expressing oneself

  • Difficulty with reasoning

  • Difficulty with spelling

  • History of delayed speech

What are the signs of dyslexia?

The early signs of dyslexia include:

  • A delay in spoken language

  • Difficulty "finding" the right word

  • Difficulty with rhyming

  • Difficulty with short-term auditory memory

  • Subtle mispronunciations, particularly of words with more than one syllable

After a child enters school, the following signs of dyslexia may appear:

  • Difficulty learning the names of the letters of the alphabet

  • Difficulty learning how to write the letters of the alphabet

  • Difficulty learning whole words for reading and spelling

  • Difficulty using phonics

  • Difficulty with comprehension related to difficulty reading words


How are learning disabilities treated?

Learning disabilities are treated educationally, preferably with early intervention. An educational specialist can teach effective learning strategies to help a child overcome his or her learning problems. In addition to ensuring that schools provide diagnostic testing, federal laws require that remedial services be provided to all children who qualify for them. Private tutoring may also be beneficial to maximize progress. Repeating a grade is typically not recommended and may be associated with poor long term outcomes.

Children and their families may benefit from psychological counseling. Understanding and emotional support are needed for children with learning disabilities so they can feel good about themselves. It is also essential to provide opportunities for success in areas where the child may shine. Finally, children with learning disabilities sometimes have problems with peer relationships and may benefit from counseling to help improve their social skills.

Learning disabilities are not treated medically; however, children with learning disabilities who are also diagnosed with a co-existing disorder such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may benefit from medication. Physicians should follow the academic progress of their patients as part of their overall medical management.


What is the outlook for children with learning disabilities?

Even though children don’t outgrow learning disabilities, they can learn to adapt and improve their weak skills. If learning disabilities are identified and treated early, children with these disabilities are more likely to learn to overcome their difficulties while maintaining a positive self-image. They can also learn to develop their personal strengths and become very productive and successful adults.

Where can I find more information on learning disabilities?


What should you do if you or your child’s teacher or physician suspects a learning disability?

Parents should formally request testing through their school system. Schools are required to evaluate a child (age 3 to 21) if he or she is suspected of having a disability that is affecting his or her learning or educational performance. This evaluation is provided free of charge to families and must, by law, involve more than one standardized test or procedure.

It is important that school personnel, families, and the family physician work together to establish the diagnosis and treatment plan for children with learning disabilities. The sooner learning disabilities are detected, the better, so the child can start receiving the educational help he or she needs.

What can parents do?

Parents should make sure that their child receives help for his or her learning problems. They should also monitor the child’s progress to make sure adequate improvement is being made in skill development. Parents should foster communication between outside specialists, school personnel, and the child’s physician. It is also critical that parents provide an atmosphere at home that encourages learning.

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