Assist Homeless Individuals with Autism

August 2, 2010

Please help the Autism Research Institute attain their goal of establishing a new program for homeless individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Below is their announcement.

Aloha from Kauai,

Dr. Gina (Nick) Cushman

Help ARI Win $50k to Help Homeless Individuals with ASD

ARI was chosen to participate in the Pepsi Refresh Everything project and needs your support to win $50,000.  Only the projects with the highest number of votes are funded. Voting is free and it started this morning – can you help?

Vote now and take a moment to return each day this month.

We hope to establish a model program to provide information and support for homeless people who are on the autism spectrum. First, we will establish a small office in downtown San Diego for one year, and the office would be run by two part-time people.  They would meet with staff at shelters and missions to inform them about autism and suggest best ways to help those on the autism spectrum – for example, eat/relax/rest/sleep in a quiet, dimly lit or dark place. We’ll offer support and information on where to find vital resources including:

  • shelters and transitional housing
  • food and clothing
  • medical care
  • mental health services
  • referrals to agencies for case management & life training skills
  • referrals to agencies for government or other financial assistance
  • referrals for outpatient consultation, evaluation and treatment intervention
  • referrals to agencies providing skills assessment, job training & job coaches

We would also create a tri-fold brochure with relevant information and work to disseminate crucial information about the various support services available directly to those on the spectrum.

Click here to vote!

The Connection Between Autism and the Gut Discussed in Latest Issue of Pediatrics

January 6, 2010

Below is a summary report prepared by Rebecca Estepp for TACA (Talk About Curing Autism), an organization that LTP Natural Medical Center supports.  The report discusses two articles published in Pediatrics that make the association between gastrointestinal imbalances and Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I am pleased to see that mainstream medicine is beginning to acknowledge the connection between the gut and the brain.  100% of our patients with Autism are tested and treated for gastrointestinal imbalances.  There is no question that doing so generates positive results.  For more information on treating brain/biochemical disorders visit This site discusses the link between brain dysfunction and inflammation in the body, and ways to treat the condition using Naturopathic Medicine. One of the most significant ways to reduce inflammation in the brain is by testing for and treating digestive disturbances.

There is an old saying known in the Naturopathic Medical community that the gut is the second brain.  Modern research is now starting to validate this notion.

In health,

Dr. Gina

Pediatrics Looks at Gastrointestinal Disorders and Autism

January 4, 2010

Prepared by Rebecca Estepp

Two reports were released yesterday in the American Academy of Pediatrics medical journal, Pediatrics. Both articles focused on gastrointestinal disorders in individuals with autism. The first report entitled Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals With ASDs: A Consensus Report is a review of available medical literature surrounding autism and gastrointestinal symptoms from a panel of experts.  These experts came to the following conclusions:

• Medical disorders, including gastrointestinal problems, occur commonly in individuals with ASDs, but because symptoms may be atypical these medical conditions may be undiagnosed.

• Individuals with ASDs whose families report gastrointestinal symptoms warrant a thorough gastrointestinal evaluation.

• The care of individuals who are non-verbal or have difficulties in communication or who display self-injurious or other problem behaviors present special challenges. Nevertheless, the approach to evaluation and diagnosis of possible underlying medical conditions, in particular gastrointestinal disorders, should be no different from the standards of care for persons without ASDs. (emphasis added)

• The communication impairments characteristic of ASDs may lead to unusual presentations of gastrointestinal disorders, including sleep disorders and problem behaviors.

• Management of co-occurring gastrointestinal problems in individuals with ASDs usually begins with the primary care provider and may eventually warrant multidisciplinary consultation.

• Anecdotal reports that restricted diets may ameliorate symptoms of ASDs in some children have not been supported or refuted in the scientific literature, but these data do not address the possibility that there exists a subgroup of individuals who may respond to such diets.

• Integrating behavioral and biomedical approaches can be advantageous in conceptualizing the role of pain as a setting event for problem behavior, facilitating diagnosis and addressing residual pain symptoms to enhance the quality of life.

The second report, Recommendations for Evaluation and Treatment of Common Gastrointestinal Problems in Children With ASDs. provides health care providers guidelines in treating abdominal pain, chronic constipation, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. This report recognizes that the expression of gastrointestinal disease can be diverse in individuals with ASDs. It also concludes that unusual behaviors can be a result of gastrointestinal disorders.

TACA views these two reports as giant leaps forward for treatment of gastrointestinal symptoms that cause unnecessary pain to many individuals with autism and their families. This landmark paper will pave the way for pediatricians across the country to start treating children suffering through different gastrointestinal maladies.  We sincerely hope this is the first step towards individuals with autism receiving the medical treatments they need and deserve.

About TACA

Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) provides information, resources, and support to families affected by autism. For families who have just received the autism diagnosis, TACA aims to speed up the cycle time from the autism diagnosis to effective treatments. TACA helps to strengthen the autism community by connecting families and the professionals who can help them, allowing them to share stories and information to help people with autism be the best they can be.

Mast Cells, Sickness Syndrome Implicated in Autism

December 22, 2008

stomach-internallyResearchers Theoharis Theoharides and colleagues from Tufts University have identified a link between mast cells (immune cells that cause allergic sneezing) and autism.  The researchers found that among 400 people with mastocytosis (excess mast cells in the body) the incidence of autism was five to seven times higher that the rate in the general population.

Interestingly, mast cells are found in significant quantities in the brain and in the gut, where they play a role in intestinal permeability and the blood brain barrier.

I have found in practice that the majority of patients facing autism, ADHD, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia have intestinal permeability and a hyper-response to foods that are not digested properly.  Sickness Syndrome is a condition that involves the immune system and links disorders in the gut with inflammation in the brain and mental health disorders.

There is an old saying that your gut is your second brain.  This new research paired with the newly identified Sickness Syndrome condition, brings new light to this saying.

When treating patients with autism, it becomes imperative to supply specific digestive enzymes, and an autism-specific nutritional protocol that works to repair the gastrointestinal tract, optimize the integrity of the blood brain barrier and reduce inflammation in the brain.  By doing so you invariably decrease mast cell production, which can lead to a relief of symptoms related to this hyper immune response.

The diagnosis of autism has increased to approximately one in every 180 people.  It is time that physicians treating autism begin to integrate the basic principles of Sickness Syndrome (connection between stress, digestion and inflammation in the brain) into our treatment protocols, to serve the best interests of children, adults and the families affected by this condition.

In health,

Dr. G

Talk About Curing Autism

October 6, 2008

I just returned from the Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) fund raising event hosted by Jenny McCarthy and Lance Armstrong. What a fabulous event. It was wonderful to see so many people bidding on auction items, gambling in the poker tournament, sharing stories with one another about their experiences with autism and seeing the hope they have for the future of children challenged with this condition.

The highlight of the evening was hearing Jenny McCarthy say that regardless of the disagreements about the safety of vaccines and the opinions about treatments for autism that she has been up against in the media lately, the things that Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) practitioners are using to treat these kids (she used more explicit language) works – bottom line!

In our brief conversation I mentioned that LTP Natural Medical Center has signed up to donate DAN! treatments for under-served children selected by her non-profit organization.  Graciously thanking me she commented that she sometimes feels like she’s in a Star Wars movie – fighting off the darkness and ushering in the light. As a doctor treating autism in my practice, I support what she is doing 100%. She is a doer, raising awareness and genuinely offering hope to families and children affected by autism.

Thank you TACA, Jenny McCarthy and Lance Armstrong for giving a voice to the children, families and doctors working hard to bring light to this condition.

In health,

Dr. Gina

Ante Up for Autism with Jenny McCarthy and Lance Armstrong

October 3, 2008

On Friday October 3rd,  I will be representing LTP Natural Medical Center at the Ante Up for Autism fund raising gala with Jenny McCarthy and Lance Armstrong. They are teaming up to raise funds for TACA (Talk About Curing Autism).

Researchers and physicians are making exciting breakthroughs in ways to help children and adults with autism overcome their health challenges.  This celebrity-filled fundraiser is sure to draw a large crowd and many donations that will support the advancement of innovative, individualized and effective care for people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

LTP Natural Medical Center in Laguna Beach, CA, where I treat patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder, is donating $4500 worth of goods and services to this event.

Stay tuned for the post-event blog!

In health,

Dr. Gina

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