Last week I had the opportunity to listen to an autism researcher whom I greatly admire speak about a new potential theory regarding what causes autism. Dr. William Shaw of The Great Plains Laboratory offered a free online seminar entitled “Unraveling the Cause of the Autism Epidemic: Identifying the Single Most Important Factor.” Having spent more than fifteen years engaged in autism research, I was intrigued by the topic and immediately signed up for the webinar. The evening of the presentation, I armed myself with my laptop computer, headphones so that I could listen to the lecture carefully, a notepad, and four-in-one ink pen so that I could take notes in various colors for emphasis. Although the webinar was originally scheduled to last two hours, the significant amount of data and explanations given in the slides and his narration actually took about two and a half hours. Nonetheless, I sat transfixed by Dr. Shaw’s engaging and compelling lecture, madly scribbling notes to review later.
Since children with autism often have the inability to rid their bodies of toxins, Dr. Shaw explained the various ways the liver normally works to detoxify the body. We know that Alex has detoxification problems because test results showed that he had various toxic metals in his system: mercury, lead, arsenic, and aluminum. When we discovered he had these toxins, we began a chelation regimen, using oral DMSA, a sulfur-based compound that binds with these metals and removes them from the body. For Alex, chelation took about three years. In fact, the last year of the therapy proved most helpful because his doctor had discovered that a much more aggressive protocol of round-the-clock chelation was necessary to keep from going, as she explained, “Two steps forward, one step back.” Once his test results finally showed his levels to be in the normal range, we were able to stop the chelation treatments. As Dr. Shaw detailed the ways that the detoxification system can be hindered by bacterial infection, inborn errors of metabolism, and insufficient levels of the amino acid glutathione, I took copious notes and tried to assimilate all the information, hoping to figure out something that might help Alex. Essentially, Dr. Shaw’s research has led him to suggest that a possible cause of autism is acetaminophen (commonly sold under the brand name Tylenol) often given in conjunction with vaccinations to treat fever. While he plans more specific research to test this theory, he offers quite a bit of data that makes his argument very convincing.
As I listened to his explanation of how acetaminophen could affect an infant’s liver, I vividly recalled sitting in the pediatricians’ office with Alex as a baby, waiting to get his immunizations. Because we were meticulous about doing everything exactly right for Alex, we made certain that he received all of his shots on schedule, and we followed the doctor’s instructions to the letter. I remember that the nurses always recommended that we give him Tylenol after his shots to ease any discomfort and fever that might follow the vaccinations. In fact, they often gave us samples of liquid infant Tylenol and suggested that we give it to him there in the office instead of waiting until we got home. Not wanting Alex to suffer the least bit for any moment, we gave him the pain reliever/fever reducer as directed. Perhaps he would have been better to have run a fever and been a bit uncomfortable, if, indeed Dr. Shaw’s theory holds true about the connection between autism and acetaminophen. If anyone is interested in hearing Dr. Shaw’s lecture, he will be repeating this presentation on Friday, January 20, 2012, at 7:00 P.M. Central Standard Time/8:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time. To register, go to The Great Plains Laboratory website at http://www.greatplainslaboratory.com and click on the link for the free webinar. In addition, Dr. Shaw has created a Facebook page entitled Acetaminophen and Autism, where he plans to share information regarding research on this topic. In the meantime, I plan to have Dr. Shaw’s lab run the organic acids urine test on Alex in the near future so that we can see how his metabolism is currently working, as compared with previous times we have run this test on him. With each bit of new information we gain through research and test results, we pray that doctors are one step closer to healing children with autism and preventing other families from having to deal with the struggles this disorder brings. In addition, I thank God for doctors and scientists like Dr. Shaw who tirelessly keep seeking ways to help these precious children with autism; may their work be blessed and their efforts be rewarded.
“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves led out to pasture.” Malachi 4:2