No, I didn’t mean Las Vegas! If you clicked to read about Autism link to Las Vegas, then you will be disappointed!
Actually, I want to discuss the similarities of Vagus Nerve dysfunction (or our parasympathetic nervous system) and Autism traits. Also, we will look at the possibilities the how proper stimulation of the vagal nerve could help children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder!
Autism is not one disorder! It is a complex spectrum of varied etiology which mostly manifest in neurodevelopmental challenges. Autism affects almost 1 in every 50 children in the world. So if we extrapolate the last few years data, by 2050, we may have at least half of the Millennial population diagnosed with a spectrum disorder. Even with the growing body of research in all avenues of science, the cause remains unknown.
Autism may be of scientific interest and solving this conundrum may be exciting for scientists, however, parents and caregivers often feel that they are in flux, as no one seems to really know what to do.
Last few years of technological advances, with Google at our fingertips, have exploded information into our lives. There seems to be an overload of information available to parents. However, sorting through and making sense of this information is like finding a needle in a haystack, especially if you find the wrong needle after all the effort you put in!
The availability of abundant information does not necessarily transfer into a good treatment. The problem I have found with this overload of information is that most of the information seems to have little or no scientific basis nor has it been researched well. Almost everyone seems to be an “Autism Expert” by the virtue of having heard or read about the term “Autism”. And everything seems to be ‘Miracle Cure for Autism’ luring parents into the trap of thinking that their child will be cured magically and possibly overnight.
A Magical cure for Autism is as preposterous as ‘Refrigerator Mother’ theory was when scientists blamed mothers being cold enough to cause ‘Autism’.
Autism isn’t one disorder, hence in my theory, maybe wrong (only time will tell!), is like an evolutionary step to human development.
AUTISM OR EVOLUTION
In the last 30 years, we moved from being a community living to nuclear families. And now we have turned into reclusive individuals, and love spending time with our gadgets instead of family or friends.
The evolution theory proves that the constant use or disuse for an organ or the processing of organs, can mutate and make the changes permanent over time. Evolution follows the ‘Use it or Lose it’ Law.
So use something consistently, we strengthen it, if we do not use it nor need it, eventually, we will lose it. Sounds like something Nanny McPhee would say, Right?!
Before the advent of Mobile phones, people remembered everything. My dad still remembers all Birthdays, anniversaries, festivals, important dates, even calculates math mentally. However, most people in “Mobile Generation” cannot remember their own schedules. To such an extent that many even needing a reminder for taking their pills and eating food on time!
OUR BRAIN ON SOCIAL MEDIA
According to Science, our body sends around 11 million pieces of information to our brain per second but our brain can only process 50 pieces of information every second!
So when we bombard it with irrelevant information from the latest social media craze, you can only imagine what the brain’s processing center may look like!
Coming back to our topic, in Autism, the Central Nervous System is definitely affected. Especially the amygdala, which is an important Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) component of the neural network that underlies social cognition.
CAN THE POLYVAGAL THEORY BE RIGHT?
According to Neuroscientists and the Polyvagal Theory, “physiological mind-brain-viscera communication seems to be the road to affect regulation, hence we must also shift o