Children with ASD have fast shallow upper thoracic breathing which has long term negative effects on immune system function for the following reasons:
- Fast upper thoracic breathing upsets the body’s internal environment affecting homeostasis. Viruses, moulds, fungi, parasites and the like all thrive in this environment.
- Upper thoracic breathing does not fully oxygenate the lungs which are not often considered organs of the immune system.
- The oxygenation of the blood includes the oxygenation of the white blood cells which are responsible for the immune responses of the body. Their energy supply and killer agent is oxygen.
- Normal healthy breathing is diaphragmatic. The diaphragm is in contact with the lower part of the lungs where the greater abundance of blood vessels lies.
- The lung sacs (the alveoli) where the inhaled oxygen dissolves into the blood have thin walls allowing the white blood cells to squeeze into them where they eat up viruses, bacteria and dust. Shallow breathing hinders this process.
- The diaphragm also helps pump the lymph round the body. The lymph plays a vital role in the body’s defence system by removing unwanted proteins, micro-organisms and other foreign substances and by-products of the metabolism.
- About ⅔ of lymph is derived from the gut and liver. Therefore if the diaphragm pump is underactive, lymph flow is slow and so the removal of these substances from these organs will be slowed down affecting the health of the individual.
The exercises are gentle, well tolerated by the children and can be done with the child either asleep or awake. No pills can replace good breathing as a means to health.