Hypotonia, or low muscle tone, is common in autistic children. Some studies have shown that over 50% of children with ASD experienced hypotonia. Because of its prevalence among autistic children, hypotonia often serves as an early indicator that your child may fall on the autism spectrum.
Early Signs of Hypotonia
Signs of hypotonia can be seen in newborns but are more often noticed during later infancy and into the toddler years. Some common signs of low muscle tone are:
- Difficulty feeding
- A “floppy” feeling when holding your child
- Delayed gross and fine motor milestones (grasping, crawling, sitting, walking)
- Poor posture
- Overly flexible
- Slow reflexes
- Low endurance for activity
- Speech difficulties
- Eye movement disorders (crossed or wandering eyes)
Mitochondria Health Can Affect Hypotonia
Mitochondria are powerhouses of energy production in human cells. Since our muscles need energy to move, if your cell’s mitochondria aren’t working properly you may experience an energy deficiency which can lead to low muscle tone.
It stands to reason that healthy mitochondria will lead to optimal energy production and appropriate muscle tone. To perform optimally, mitochondria need a variety of nutrients including:
- B vitamins
- PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone)
Mitochondria Affects More Than Muscle Tone
Mitochondria affect the function of many systems in our children’s bodies including:
- Immune function
- Hormone signaling
- Brain function support
To understand how one thing (mitochondria) can affect so many functions within our bodies it’s helpful to think of our body system as a spiderweb instead of separate compartments.
Since all of our systems are interconnected (like a spiderweb) when one system is affected multiple other systems are affected. These interconnected effects can be positive like improved methylation, constipation, brain function, and sleep from additional magnesium – or they can be negative, like impaired gut health, immunity, mood, and behaviors resulting from constipation.
Approaching your child’s issues from the viewpoint of integrative or functional medicine helps you understand the “why” of what’s happening and affords you the opportunity to make a lot of progress with targeted but minimal changes.
Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing a great job.
I hope this information has been helpful to you as part of creating Your Autism Game Plan.
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