Just Autism

MBGBlogHer1Dear Ms.  SLP, 

You told us our son's food sensitivities and chronic illness was probably "just autism." You assured us there was nothing we could do or explore biomedically that would change the outcome of his development. You said, "it's probably just autism." Well, you were wrong.

You see, he has congenital hypothyroidism. His condition, well...it's NOT "just autism." Unfortunately, because of his hormone deficiency in the first 30 months of his life, he will likely be non-verbal his entire life. Not as a result of autism, but as a result of a biological process that was interrupted when he wasn't treated appropriately with thyroid hormone replacement.

"If the thyroid hormone deficiency occurs early in pregnancy, the offspring display problems in visual attention, visual processing (i.e. acuity and strabismus) and gross motor skills. If it occurs later in pregnancy, children are at additional risk of subnormal visual (i.e. contrast sensitivity) and visuospatial skills, as well as slower response speeds and fine motor deficits. Finally, if thyroid hormone insufficiency occurs after birth, languageand memory skills are most predominantly affected."

J Neuroendocrinol. 2004 Oct;16(10):809-18. Timing of thyroid hormone action in the developing brain: clinical observations and experimental findings. 

Now that we have a better understanding of our son's condition, we can focus on his strengths and seek out therapies to help him based on his skillset. We know what areas of his brain need exercise and what areas he may have difficulties with. 

So, the next time you tell someone that their child's medical condition is probably "just autism," please don't discourage them from looking further into possible causes for non-behavioral conditions like growth problems, GERD, or food sensitivities.  Undiagnosed congenital hypothyroidism doesn't happen often, but when it does, the results are never "just autism."


Parents who didn't listen to you. 


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