Been working on this for a while. As this is my first full draft, it does not include all of my resources. I assure you, however, that they can (and will) be provided and they are credible, published evidence from very different and wide-ranging fields of research. With that being said, I submit to you What Autism Is and Where It Comes From.
What Autism Is and Where It Comes From
By Alicia Novoa
(FIRST FULL DRAFT)
Understanding Stress and Oxytocin
Oxytocin, nicknamed ‘the love molecule’, is a neurotransmitter and hormone that’s released from the body during periods of stress, and its release is indicative of a physiological need. The exact mechanisms of oxytocin production/delivery are unknown, but I do know it is unique from other systems in the body, as it is constantly fluctuating between growth and decay, or function and dysfunction. What determines whether the system, from here referred to as “OTDS” or “the system”, is regular or irregular, has to do with the basic mechanisms of the system (detailed in section: The Mechanism is Simple), and mechanisms of this system are strongly affected by environmental factors. Most people understand that environmental factors are in part responsible for autism, but they don’t understand the depth through which they are connected.
The environmental factor most closely correlated with autism is when an individual experienced a need, indicated by stress, and that need was not met. This idea is best understood by examining the physiological process of stress.
Stress has been proven to be a biological and physiological response from the body, signaling some form of a need. This need may arise from environmental conditions or a stimulus. Hunger is a form of stress, demonstrating a need for nourishment. **At the risk of sounding elementary, I use this example because this is in part why explaining “the other half” has escaped people much smarter than me. Anyway,**
For the purpose of this explanation, “needs” include but are not limited to the following categories: physiological, safety, social, esteem, self-actualization. Additionally, the categories of needs fall into a hierarchy. Higher order needs cannot be met to satisfaction unless needs in all preceding categories are met first.
- “Met to satisfaction” refers to a context in which an individual responds to stress from a place of worthiness.
- “Not met to satisfaction” refers to a context in which an individual responds to stress from a place of shame.
The Mechanism is Simple
When a human experiences stress (from any category of need) and the need is met to satisfaction, that human will experience a subsequent boost in oxytocin.
When a human experiences stress (from any category of need) and the need is not met to satisfaction, the human will experience a different response including 1. No subsequent boost in oxytocin and 2. Alteration to their oxytocin production /regulation system. The alteration inhibits their ability to cope positively with future stress, which in turn further deprives the body of oxytocin and damages the system permanently.
**The exact mechanisms of regulating the oxytocin product/delivery systems are unknown, although this basic concept is enough to support the explanation.**
Worthiness vs. Shame
Back to the concept of how an individual responds to stress (i.e. from a place of worthiness or a place of shame). This will no doubt be the biggest leap for the scientific community to hurdle in order to fully understand the biological mechanisms that lead to autism. It is here that the process becomes not only of mind and body, but also of spirit. And it is only with the acknowledgement of the spiritual essence can we make strides in moving forward. **The second biggest leap for the scientific community to hurdle is that prevention will be holistic (incorporating mind, body, and spirit), and not simply a vaccine or prenatal test to be performed.**
To have the capacity to meet needs to satisfaction, a human must embrace and demonstrate a faith that they are an individual worthy of living, aka “wholehearted living”. While this idea is a Universal truth, in the human experience it is a belief; instilled in some, innate in others, and unknown by many. Evidence to support this idea is found in Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability and shame. Free Will
Individuals have the capacity to choose to believe they are worthy, and are capable therefore of earnestly meet the needs they experience throughout life. Individuals who struggle to believe they are worthy of living are more likely to choose coping mechanisms that seem to satisfy needs in the short run, but over the long run create dysregulation of the oxytocin mechanism, and leave the person feeling insecure. Negative coping mechanisms include those which temporarily numb the pain associated with shame and isolation. Positive coping mechanisms include those which acknowledge pain, but meet the need with a faith in worthiness and connection to other humans. Genetic Preposition Explained
The way we cope with stress affects our DNA. (Research from Tulane University) Humans who experience shame and live from a place of unworthiness and shame are less able to choose to positively cope with stress. It weakens their will. When a human being lives life from a sense of shame, their DNA is altered. That persons DNA is altered, and when they have a child, that child starts life with it written in their DNA that they are less able to cope positively with stress. That child lives life on a different playing field. Depending on their environment, they could overcome the initial impairment and exercise the system positively, growing up to believe they are worthy and deserving of connection to other humans. Or, they could struggle with the ability to cope with stress, choosing numbing mechanisms, further altering their DNA and fostering their sense of shame and isolation. And passing it down to their kids.
I’m not sure how many generations of this it takes before a child develops autism. I’m inclined to think that different factors weigh in differently. For instance, someone born from three generations of people living from a sense of shame (and appropriately genetically prepositioned) may or may not develop autism, depending on the environment they grew up in (abusive /unstable home vs loving/stable home). However, they’d be more likely to develop autism than a person who comes from generations of people living from a sense of worthiness and connecting to other people.
In the same way that a child who comes from generations of alcoholics will have a higher likelihood of issues with substance abuse, a child who comes from generations of isolating/ashamed individuals will have an increased likelihood of issues with connection. Research has also circulated closely around this concept without ever hitting it on the head. Autism
An article I read stated, “Autism, which affects one in every 100 people, inhibits the ability to communicate, recognize emotions and socialize.” This is a misconception.
Autism does not inhibit these things.
People are autistic as a result of their inhibited ability to communicate, and connect to others.
What is inhibiting these specific abilities? A constellation of factors, environmental and innate, that results in permanent dysregulation of oxytocin production and delivery. At its most basic; people with Autism Spectrum Disorder have/had particular needs that went unmet at a crucial point in their development, and has therefore altered the physiological regulation mechanism for oxytocin, OR they were born (genetically prepositioned) with an impaired oxytocin production/delivery system.
I’d like to make a point here that all the research on oxytocin has circled around the idea of oxytocin as the key to connection. Oxytocin is the mechanism in the body that Allows humans to connect with each other. It’s the most necessary neurotransmitter/hormone for connection with another human being. Please think of the ramifications of permanent damage/dysregulation to the oxytocin production/delivery system. That person is literally starved for connection, unable to produce the necessary ingredient. After generations of isolation, disconnection, and needs left unsatisfied, the system shuts down. The result is a person with impaired or no ability to connect with another human. It is spiritual de-evolution.
What I’m proposing is that most people can choose to connect with others or isolate themselves, when experiencing periods of stress. Children afflicted with autism is a tragedy because their mechanisms to experience connection when under stress were impaired, and by no fault of their own.
Their OTDS was weak to begin with. Their person was born with that much less ability to cope with stress, and at that point environmental factors indicative of their most essential needs (physiological and security) become the determinant in a strengthening or distinguishing of the OTDS. With the cards stacked against them, “a single grain of rice can tip the scale”. Vaccines Explained (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and acellular Pertussis) Common and mild side effects from DTaP vaccine include…
- Tiredness or poor appetite (up to about 1 child in 10)
- Vomiting (up to about 1 child in 50)
These can last from 1-3 days after the shot. Infancy is a critical development period and 1-3 days of an inability to satisfy their most foundational physiological needs of food, water, sleep, and excretion can do major damage to the OTDS, especially if it wasn’t the strongest to start out with. Up to about 1 in 4 children experiences a fever as the result of a vaccine, one of the most well-known stress responses to occur, and it is dangerous to assume the child will be able to adequately cope with that stress.
Environmental Factors Explored Because the scope and range of contributing environmental factors are as deep as they are wide, it is not feasible nor wise for me to detail them in this paper. That being said, I have many examples of well-documented contributing environmental factors, and can explain how they fit in to and support my explanation.
Autism is an inability or impaired ability to connect with other humans, by way of a permanently damaged and or dysfunctional oxytocin production/delivery system. Factors contributing to the damage/dysfunction can be both genetic and environmental, with either carrying different weights. The outcome is the same, however; when the individual, through no fault of their own, is not having their foundational needs met and unable to cope with the stress associated, they become ineligible to meet higher order needs. They are unable to produce the necessary hormone/neurotransmitter that results in a feeling of connection. From there, they are incapable of meeting higher order needs such as love and belonging – as those needs can only be attained through communication, and a connection to other human beings. They are unequivocally disconnected.