Visual symptoms like side glancing represent untreated medical issues in autism. When children have trouble making eye contact or use side glancing to support visual processing they are clearly suffering from a medically caused visual impairment. For that reason, biomedical treatment focuses on repairing visual processing as a first step in recovery.
To understand why children diagnosed with autism have side glancing and following symptoms….
- Trouble making eye contact or avoidance of eye contact
- Looking out of the sides of their eyes
- Head shaking
- Repetitive behaviours like “stimming” in front of their eyes
- Covering their eyes
- The desire to watch shows, parts of shows or even credits over and over
- Lining up toys or grouping toys together
- Laying down and looking closely at toys and objects
- Have trouble looking at faces
- Body movements that are like a camera lens moving in and out
…. You need to understand the energy required to support visual processing and visual motor planning.
Energy production and distribution are central to understand the visual symptoms in autism. Lack of production due to mitochondrial impairment leads to predictable slow down in certain areas. Below is an image of a homunculus. A homunculus is a visual representation of the energy requirements of different parts of the body.
Mitochondria’s role in eye contact:
The brain uses 40% of its energy to support visual processing. ATP is the energy molecule in our bodies and it is made by the mitochondria. In other sections of this website you can learn how toxins and microbes can impair mitochondrial function negatively impacting motor planning. If we focus on the visual aspects of autism, we can see (from looking at the homunculus) that energy deficits will have a big impact on visual processing because there is not enough ATP to power the visual system..
Integration of visual information has been identified as problematic in autism. Children with autism have significantly diminished ability to track visual information. Tracking dynamic visual information allow the brain to create patterns and then to generalize information. Visual integration is not possible if visual motor planning is impaired.
Dr. Meg Megson’s research and clinical experience identifies that visual deficits in autism are related to damaged G proteins. The cell danger response occurs when there is damage to the cell membrane or mitochondria due to toxins. G proteins are part of the cell membrane and for that reason become a focal point of biomedical treatment. Damaged G proteins will cause or contribute to the cell danger response which reduces mitochondrial functioning and impairs motor planning. Her research and clinical experience has led to using a special form of vitamin A to improve visual motor planning, which will improve eye contact, reduce visual stimming, reduce side glancing and often improve verbal communication and social interaction.
Methylation’s role in visual processing:
90% of children diagnosed with autism have methylation impairment. The optic nerve requires support from methylation for optimal function because of the production of myelin. Myelin is an insulating layer that surrounds nerves that allows electrical signals to travel quickly.
So, impaired methylation will result in delayed or reduced myelination of nerves leading to difficulty with processing information. This includes visual information. Impaired methyation results in impaired processing of dynamic information causing increased focus on objects instead of people. The small movements or micro-movements people make with their facial muscles are very difficult for a person with autism to process. Improving methylation and treating visual processing impairments improves social interaction.
Biomedical treatment of autism has high success rates because it treats visual motor planning impairment. First of all by improving the body’s ability to remove harmful toxins that can damage the G proteins. And then by healing the cell and membrane, supporting myelination and providing the visual processing centres with enough fuel.
Biomedical treatments for eye contact, side glancing and visual processing include:
- Methyl B12 injections
- Cod liver oil containing natural vitamin A
- Dietary intervention
- High dose fat soluble vitamins
- Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
Treating visual processing can result in other developmental gains because language, social and cognitive skills depend on vision. In terms of language, seeing someone’s mouth move when you are learning to speak important.
Optimal social interaction depends on seeing people’s facial features. And cognitive skills rely heavily on vision due to the need for focus. Another key feature in learning is the ability to use visual tracking when reading or matching. And lastly, behaviour will escalate when visual processing is dysfunctional. All of the symptoms of autism depend on the brain’s ability to take in visual information and organize it properly.
Autism is a medical disorder with symptoms of visual impairment:
In summary, children with autism are experiencing a visual disorder. For that reason visual stimming is a medical concern because it is an attempt to repair or heal this part of the brain. Motor planning improves with therapies that use repetition. Using biomedical interventions improve quality of life because visual processing improves resulting in enhanced eye contact and awareness. Furthermore, reduced side glancing and visual self-stimulating behaviours increase opportunities for language, social and cognitive improvements.