Autism Specialist

Chelsey Lahr, PMHNP-BC -  - Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Intrepid Mental Wellness, PLLC

Chelsey Lahr, PMHNP-BC

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner located in Denver, CO

With her advanced psychiatric training, Chelsey Lahr, PMHNP-BC, of Intrepid Mental Wellness offers compassionate and effective care for treating autism. Not only does Chelsey offer in-office visits at her Englewood, Colorado practice, she also provides telemedicine sessions, so you can communicate with her from home, school, or work. Book your initial autism evaluation either online or over the phone.

Autism Q & A

What causes autism?

Autism spectrum disorder is an umbrella term for several brain development conditions — including what was previously known as Asperger’s syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder — that impact how you socialize with others.

Because your perception of behaviors is affected, autism can lead to problems with social interaction and communication. In some cases, autism is also linked to limited or repetitive patterns of behavior. While the exact cause of autism isn’t known, medical experts believe that both genetics and environmental factors play roles, including:

  • Viral infections
  • Air pollutants
  • Medications during pregnancy
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Poor DNA methylation
  • Decreased folate absorption due to leaky gut syndrome or other gastrointestinal issues

Autism can even be linked to an MTHFR gene mutation. The MTHFR gene is responsible for helping with amino acid production. When the gene has a mutation, proteins and other important compounds required for cell function aren’t produced normally.

Plus, with a MTHFR gene mutation, folate (folic acid) processes are interrupted, which affects cells ability to divide and disrupts normal continuous DNA production. When this occurs, healthy brain growth and development could be affected.  

Are there symptoms of autism?

Yes. Typically, autism begins in early childhood. It’s uncommon for children to show symptoms during their first year of life, though sometimes there may be symptoms before 12 months. These symptoms are usually less obvious. Generally, babies with autism may be described as being really "good babies," however they may not be as reciprocal when interacting with mom or dad.

For example, a baby with autism may not respond to social cues such as smiling back when smiled at, and may start babbling at a later age, or not at all. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of autism include:

  • Repetitive movements such as spinning or rocking
  • Poor eye contact or lack of facial expression
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Repeating words or phrases
  • Specific food preferences
  • Inappropriate social interactions
  • Difficulty adjusting to change
  • Poor attention and focus
  • Sensory sensitivities or aversions or sensory seeking
  • Self injurious behaviors such as head banging or hitting themself
  • Sensory aversion

Each case of autism spectrum disorder is different, with some children being low functioning, while others are high functioning. Plus, some children have difficulty learning, although alternatively, your child could have high intelligence. Since each case of autism is different, recognizing signs and symptoms and seeking early medical intervention are important to ensure your child progresses to their fullest potential.

How is autism treated?

While no cure exists for autism, with early intervention at Intrepid Mental Wellness, you can minimize common signs and symptoms. For instance, if your child displays severe behavioral problems, they may benefit from antipsychotic drugs.

Antidepressants are often beneficial for anxiety, while certain types of stimulants can stabilize episodes of hyperactivity. Or if your little one has a folate deficiency, often from an MTHFR mutation, getting them started on folic acid supplements could be beneficial.

Autistic children often have adverse or unusual reactions to these medications (depending on whether your child is under or over methylation). Be sure to ask Chelsey about these drugs and how they might affect your child.

Treating autism often involves a collaborative approach with several different types of practitioners depending on your child’s specific diagnosis. Chelsey can work with other providers if your child needs highly structured educational programs, behavioral therapy, or communication therapy, among other treatments.

Get help managing autism at Intrepid Mental Wellness. Book your initial evaluation by using the online booking feature, or by calling the office.