Autism Spectrum Disorder


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are diagnosed today more than ever before: autism statistics have gone from 1 in 10,000 children in 1990 to 1 in 88 children in 2012.

How Amen Clinics Can Help

The Amen Clinics have been doing sophisticated brain imaging studies on this population for the past 21 years. All children, teens, and adults with ASD are individuals and have unique brain patterns—we know that one size does not fit all when it comes to ASD, and we treat all ASD patients as individuals.

SPECT Imaging

SPECT imaging (which stands for single-photon emission computerized tomography) is a special kind of photograph we take of the brain to help us better understand how it works and what is going on inside of it. SPECT can specifically help children and families with ASD by:

  • Helping evaluate whether or not the person has ASD
  • Helping determine the type of ASD to inform treatment decisions
  • Seeing how well treatment is working
  • Finding out if there are other co-occurring conditions that need treatment
  • Reducing emotional pain and stigma by demonstrating that symptoms and behaviors are not imaginary
  • Increasing treatment compliance by showing pictures of results
  • Helping families gain a better understanding of the disorder through visuals
  • Possibly helping with special services or legal issues

Common SPECT Findings

In our many years of work with both adults and children who have ASD, we have identified common brain activity and blood flow patterns. Here are the most common:

  • Increased activity in the anterior cingulate and lateral prefrontal cortex (causing them to get stuck on negative thoughts)
  • Smaller, less active cerebellums (poor coordination and thought coordination)
  • Decreased posterior hemisphere activity, especially in the parietal and temporal lobes
  • Often a “Ring of Fire” pattern of overall increased activity, which may be associated with inflammation
  • Overall decreased activity, scalloping, which is associated with environmental toxicity
  • Sometimes a head injury pattern
Seth’s Story
Seth was 16 when his mother brought him to the Amen Clinics for violent outbursts, rigid and inflexible behavior, incessant worrying, and poor social skills. His scan revealed a toxic appearance (lack of oxygen at birth) and increased anterior cingulate activity (causing his inflexible, rigid behavior). His treatment included hyperbaric oxygen therapy as well as a customized regimen of natural supplements. After several weeks, follow-up SPECT images showed improved brain activity, and Seth reported that he didn’t worry as much and was better able to shift his attention when he needed to.

 Remember, all patients are different. Knowing the specific ASD pattern of individual patients helps better inform treatment decisions. Call us today at 1-888-564-2700 or tell us more to schedule an appointment. 


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