Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Functional Disconnect Syndrome

Published: 25th September 2009
Views: N/A

A major part of Hemispheric Integration Therapy and the functional neurology approach to the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders deals with the term "Functional Disconnect Syndrome." A Functional Disconnect Syndrome is a situation where connections between neuronal pools do not work at a level synchronized enough for normal behavioral and executive function of the human brain to take place. This may result in difficulty with language, social skills and learning among others. Allow me to attempt to clarify that in plain English. The disconnect refers to different areas of the brain not being connected in the sense that the areas do not communicate well with each other. This suboptimal communication relates to the fact that "the wires are there, they just are not working well. That is to say, if the wires between brain circuits were cut, then we would have a physical disconnect syndrome as there would be a literal disconnection. In this case, the wire are there, connected but they are not functioning well. This under functioning causes poor communication between the areas as though there were some physical damage when in reality there is not. It is for this reason that if we perform an MRI of the brain of a patient with Autism Spectrum Disorder it seems relatively normal. That is, there is no tumor, infection or vascular accident for example present to explain the child's symptoms. Think about it, if the child did have a tumor, then his diagnosis would be "brain tumor" or "mini stroke" not autism. You would have a concrete answer for his symptoms. Something that you could see and touch and get your hands around.

What makes the human brain superior and able to conceive higher thoughts is the synchronous firing of its parts. If the brain becomes desynchronized or parts begin to underfunction then its ability to perform these higher functions such as speech and do calculus may be lost. Basic functions such as eating may be preserved but depending on the level of desynchronization and underfunctioning thing such as digestion, bowel movements, immune responses (allergies, asthma) and sensory processing may be lost or diminished. Like a Ferrari, a high performance car, if our high performance human brains, need a tune up, they may still run but not at 180 mph and depending on how bad the timing and firing is, maybe not at 50mph.This is the heart of the Functional Disconnect Syndrome. Much of these concepts have come about as a result of the fact that in the 1990's,"the decade of the brain" imaging such as functional MRI and SPECT scanning allowed us to look at brain function and not just brain structure. We now know that even though brain structure may appear similar between the hemispheres, the brain function of the hemispheres is different and specialized.

So in the Hemispheric Integration Therapy model we strive to balance under connected electrical activity in the brain hemispheres and or/neural networks as well as strengthen weakened pathways. When areas of the brain can no longer communicate optimally, compare and contrast information, even if good information reaches the brain through its receptors, there is a problem with interpretation. If the two sides of the brain become unbalanced then this functional disconnection can cause conditions such as ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome, Sensory Integration Disorders, Tourretes Syndorme, O.C.D., PDD and Autism with an underfunctioning right hemisphere. While learning disabilities such as Dyslexia and Dyscalculia as well as Depression are associated with left brain deficiencies. Yes, we hate labels but this is the language of the system. At our office, we treat what we find regardless of the diagnosis. Realize also that there is much overlap in these disorders i.e. A.D.H.D. with O.C.D. or A.D.H.D with tics. What areas do we stimulate? The ones we find are weakened. I can not say this enough, we treat what we find. Are there certain areas that are more common to find problems with? Yes, but each child is different and must be evaluated on and individual basis. These finding may also change throughout the treatment program as the patient with Autism spectrum disorder or a learning disability progresses through this treatment.

Two of the most common questions I hear on an almost daily basis are "What is Hemispheric Integration Therapy and how does it work?" And of course, this one I hope I have answered for you today, "What is this thing you refer to as a Functional Disconnect Syndrome?"

Dr Nelson Mane is a chiropractic physician certified in both chiropractic orthopedics and neurology. He has sub specialty training in childhood neurobehavioral disorders as well as vestibular disorders and electro diagnostics. He was one of 11 doctors out of 60,000 chosen by the American Chiropractic Association to start the first Chiropractic neurology board back in 1989.Dr Mane is a D.A.N (Defeat Autism Now) doctor. He is considered a pioneer in the use of Hemispheric Integration Therapy for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders. For more information regarding Dr. Nelson Mane and his unique approach combining functional medicine with Hemispheric Integration Therapy go to

For more information about Dr. Nelson Mane, D.C. and his treatment approach for ASD go to

Report this article Ask About This Article

More to Explore