Sunday, May 3, 2015

Autism: Something Old, Something New

This week, the Huffington Post published an outstanding article online entitled “Autism: Maybe It’s Not What We’ve Been Told.” [To read this article, please click here.] Written by an autism dad with a degree in biology, he explains how his three-year-old son with autism made significant sudden improvements in his speech, eye contact, behavior, and motor skills after being treated for a strep infection with antibiotics. Amazed by the positive changes in his son, John Rodakis began studying medical research regarding connections between antibiotics and improvement in autistic symptoms and was surprised how little research has been done in this area.

As he points out in his article, nearly all of autism research focuses upon genetics instead of biomedical causes. However, as he notes, recent medical research indicates that gut bacteria has been linked to ulcers, food allergies, and possibly diabetes. By focusing almost exclusively upon autism as a strictly genetic disorder instead of a medical condition, scientists may be missing the real cause of autism, one that could actually be treatable and perhaps even cured. John Rodakis asserts the need for research to pursue connections between autism and metabolism, immune function, and the microbiome (the bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other organisms that live on and inside the human body). He states, “The encouraging thing about this view is there is reason to believe that many of these children can get better.”

Also in the news this week, the U.S. government has changed its recommendation regarding how much fluoride should be put in drinking water, lowering the amount for the first time in more than fifty years. [To read a news report on this issue, please click here.] In 1962, fluoride began being added to drinking water supplies as a way to prevent tooth decay. However, apparently some children are getting too much fluoride, causing their teeth to develop white splotches, which are now found in approximately 40 percent of adolescents. This change of policy has made me wonder about what other recommendations the government has offered that may have negative effects upon children. While the white splotches appear to be only cosmetic, could fluoride or other substances our children are given for health reasons be responsible for unexplained increases in ADD/ADHD, allergies, asthma, and autism? As parents, we must pursue the unanswered questions behind what is causing our children’s health issues.

In previous blog entries, I have noted that we have followed the research done by doctors and scientists whose own children have autism, knowing that they will actively search for ways to make their children better but will not engage in risky treatments that could harm their children. While some of the methods we have tried with Alex under doctor supervision have had little or no effect upon him, others have certainly made him better. After tests showed that he had sensitivities to the proteins in milk (caseins) and grains (glutens), Alex has been on a gluten-free and casein-free diet that has kept him healthy and without digestive issues that plague many people with autism. Other tests revealed that he had heavy metal poisoning, specifically arsenic, mercury, and aluminum, and we treated this condition through chelation therapy with DMSA, a sulfur compound that binds to the toxic metals and removes them from the body. Had we left those toxins in his system, he could have developed serious health issues, such as cancer, in the future. One of the most significant improvements we observed occurred when we treated him with methyl vitamin B-12 shots, which we believe treated nerve damage. Within a few weeks of starting twice a week B-12 shots, Alex was finally able to toilet independently after ten years of unsuccessful potty training. To us, that was a miracle cure. Had we simply assumed that autism is a genetic disorder that could not be treated medically, we would not have seen the progress we have celebrated over the years.

Currently, we are still struggling with recurrent Candida yeast overgrowth in Alex’s digestive system, a battle that has been fought throughout his life intermittently but especially vigilantly in the past three years. Using a variety of antifungal medications and nutritional supplements, we keep trying to get rid of this stubborn invader. Over time, we have learned to recognize the signs, which I have dubbed ABCD: A-acne outbreak, B-behavioral decline, especially an increase in OCD and anxiety, C-coating of mouth and tongue in the morning which makes swallowing pills difficult, and D-dandruff outbreak. When the Candida is under control, all of these symptoms disappear. When the Candida is out of control, Alex’s negative behaviors escalate, even to the point of aggression; therefore, we must begin treatment as soon as we see the early warning signs. Hopefully, we will finally get the yeast under control so that Alex doesn’t have to suffer the annoying symptoms that bother him.

Consequently, like autism dad John Rodakis, I fully believe that autism is not what we’ve been told––a strictly genetic disorder that affects the brain––but a medical condition that needs to be investigated further so that our children can be treated and get better. If they have digestive conditions such as leaky gut or fungal and/or bacterial infections or nerve damage or heavy metal poisoning or allergies, to ignore these conditions is simply wrong. As John Rodakis states, “We need to fund this kind of research. Our children deserve better answers.” Indeed, they do.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:13

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