Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appears in the first two years of life, and typically causes communication problems and repetitive behaviors. About 20-30% of cases are genetic, and the rest are the result of environmental and inheritance factors. Children with ASD commonly have intestinal symptoms which are sometimes treated with antibiotics. At other times, they are treated with probiotics to improve the intestinal microflora.
A 12 year old male was examined who had a diagnosis of autism and celiac disease. The celiac diagnosis was not supported by testing, and the gluten-free diet was not of benefit. The intestinal diagnosis was changed to irritable bowel disease and probiotic therapy was started.
The probiotic used was a combination of a variety of bacterial species called VSL#3. The child’s abdominal symptoms were relieved in a few weeks. The child continued on the same rehabilitation program he had been on for six years while he was taking the probiotics. Improvement in the ASD symptoms was noted after a few weeks on probiotics. ADOS-2 testing for autistic symptoms was done regularly for several months at the same time. The child showed definite improvement in symptoms of autism, and the improvement persisted. The explanation of how this could happen is unknown at this time.
CONCLUSION: A patient with autistic spectrum disorder was treated with a mixture of probiotic beneficial bacteria called VSL#3. There was unexpected improvement in the cognitive functions of the autistic patient after 4 months treatment with probiotics.
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