Module 4: Autism Spectrum Disorders

This module continues the Brain Developmental Blueprint and the progression from the bottom up through the brain (from the brain stem to the cortex). Here we will focus on the full spectrum of Autism Spectrum Disorder from the most severe cases to the highest functioning.

Autism is the fastest growing mental disorder in the world. It is also one of the most confusing. Dr. Melillo has spent the last couple of years focusing on developing protocols for the youngest and most severe children with ASD. He will present many video cases and he will give you specific protocols of how-to examine a nonverbal autistic child. This is the only course where these protocols of how to examine autistic kids, how to develop treatment plans and how to train the parents to do this at home will be taught. These are the most effective and powerful tools today. In this module we review the increasing prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Autism, Asperger’s, PDD and other disorders that make up Autism Spectrum Disorders. We review the use of the DSM IV of the diagnostic criteria, including behavioral checklists and history. We discuss in detail the concepts of epigenetics and environmental factors and their role in ASD. We review the idea of genetic predisposition and an Autism trait and how this relates to cognitive style and hemispheric dominance. We will study in detail the Functional Disconnection Syndrome and its relationship to the symptoms of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. In the progression through the Brain Developmental Blueprint we will focus on the development of the oculomotor systems. We will discuss the OPK reflex, smooth pursuit and saccades and the areas of the brain that control these movements. The cerebellum, the inner ear and the prefrontal cortex along with areas of the brainstem are intricately involved. We will go back to the primary networks discussed in the previous modules, focusing this time on the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the cerebellum. We will also discuss specific eye movements and the role of the oculomotor muscles. We will go through oculomotor and cerebellar testing and treatment protocols. We will discuss the use of sensory, motor and cognitive based stimulation to remediate ASD. We will also discuss the role of the insula cortex and its effect of smell, taste and metacognition. We will conduct a practicum with demonstration and review of all primitive and postural reflex testing and remediation exercises, as they specifically relate to Autistic Spectrum disorders. We also do a specific hands-on protocol for dealing with very young, and/or low functioning children. We will look at other treatments and theories of autism and will go through an extensive review of the literature. We will also present various live and video-taped cases of autistic children and discuss as a group the various treatment options. We will also review any specific lab tests and nutritional considerations. As in each module, we will also look at the specific Digital Health tools for ASD, such as the use of virtual reality, computer games, frequencies of sound and vibration and laser.