Autism Spectrum Disorder



Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder diagnosed among children in Canada today.  There are various risk factors that have been identified which may influence the development of autism in children.  These include genetic as well as environmental risk factors and events that can occur in the prenatal period, in-utero and in early infancy.

Research has shown that people with autism can suffer from various biological problems which are not always visible on the surface or easy to detect but which may affect their behaviour, impact severity of autism and undermine their quality of life.  Some of these medical co-morbidities can include allergies, gastrointestinal problems, immune system dysregulation, autoimmunity and seizure activity.


Dr. Matusik attends medical and research conferences on ASD on a regular basis.  These include conferences and continuing education events organized through Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS) as well as Autism One among others.  MAPS offers a comprehensive education & Fellowship to Medical Professionals who care for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and related chronic complex conditions.


Through detailed history taking (prenatal, pregnancy and post-natal) as well as functional lab testing families can determine underlying health concerns, treatment  that may be beneficial for each individual patient.

Functional lab testing may include:

  • nutritional status of a patient, levels of important micronutrients and minerals for neural development and function
  • stool microbiota assessment, to look for microbiota diversity as well as presence of pathogenic bacteria and candida
  • urinary peptides: to identify inadequate breakdown of gliadin and casein
  • environmental health assessment for presence and metabolism of various environmental toxins
  • mitochondria function assessment, looking at activity of complex I/IV and/or kerbs cycle metabolites
  • anti-folate receptor antibody testing
  • immune system assessment looking for underlying infections and inflammation markers
  • antibodies to neuronal proteins or other tissues
  • hormonal assessment: thyroid
  • mycotoxin exposure assessment
  • urine testing for markers of clostridia that produce proprionic acid
  • food sensitivity testing
  • SNP testing for MTFHR genetic mutations
  • whole exome genetic study

Some initial blood work may be done with the child’s pediatrician or family doctor and Dr. Matusik will provide a list of these tests for each family.  Realizing blood draws may be traumatic for our patients, we try to minimize the number of lab trips that may need to be taken by collaborating with other health professionals.  Referral to specialists may also be required for further studies such as expanded genetic screen studies, EEG or MRI and possibly others.


Research increasingly shows that autism very likely consists of many diverse subgroups of individuals who are affected by autism for different underlying biological reasons, and suffer from different comorbid health problems. It is therefore not surprising that NO SINGLE APPROACH IS RIGHT FOR EVERY CHILD or adult.  Detailed history taking as well as testing provides a roadmap as to how to best support each child and family.


Dr. Matusik encourages her patients to become involved in scientific research studies that aim to promote greater understanding of this complex neurodevelopment disorder.  She can help connect families to various resources if they are interested.



Pacific Family Autism Network

Autism BC