A Different Road to Recovery
Crazy. Nutcase. Right winged sadist. Psycho. These are some of the names that “mainstream” medicine has branded us with. “Us” are the parents who have chosen a different route to healing our children with autism. We have chosen the path that we feel is, not only, healthier and safer, but also, lends opportunity to provide our children with the life they deserve. We have chosen alternative and complimentary medicine as defined under the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a component of the National Institute of Health. The primary difference between mainstream medicine and alternative medicine is its focus on medical and dietary interventions like: nutritional supplementations, restricted diets, hyperbarics, and chelation. Mainstream medicine offered me a prescription for an antipsychotic and stimulant and sent me on my way. My daughter was 2 1/2 years old. They told me she would never talk, would never know her parents , never say “I love you” and never be in general education classroom. I watched my little girl regress in front of my eyes, yet the smartest and brightest physicians in the country had nothing to offer my angel but drugs and a “good luck”. I am happy to say that thanks to many of the alternative medicine interventions below- BOY WERE THEY WRONG!
Most children with autism have co-morbid conditions that one would not normally expect, but, are quite common among the ASD population. In addition to the social and language criteria, the child would have to have to be diagnosed as autistic. They also have very real physiological problems that need to be addressed. These include things like allergies, gastrointestinal inflammation, diahrrea, constipation, poor sleep, reflux, seizures, hypotonia, candida (yeast), strep, eczema and sensory dysfunction. Unfortunately, it appears our mainstream society still sees autism as a “mental” disorder instead of what it really is- a neurologically, brain based disorder. Some psychiatrists and psychologist see the co-morbid conditions and say “it is just part of autism”. BULL. It should be the duty of our physicians to treat and manage these conditions just as they would any other child. We should not be satisfied with allowing kids to suffer just because they are labeled “autistic”. This is where mainstream medicine has failed its children and alternative medicine has provided hope.
Mainstream medicine focuses on pharmaceutical management of symptoms. This may include: anti-psychotics for aggression, self- injury, tantrums, SSRI’s for anxiety and depression, medications such as Luvox, and Anafril for OCD, and stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin for hyperactivity and focus. Most of the medications available are used off label and have not been approved by the FDA for use in children. There are also many, many side effects. It is the belief from those that prefer the alternative approach, that medications are managing the outward behaviors, but, neglecting the core medical problem that is causing it. The Autism Research Institute (www.autism.com) has exhaustive information on biomedical protocols for autism and autism related disorders. It also has a Parent Rating Survey where parents have rated success with interventions. Everyone knows the saying “if you have met one autistic child…you’ve met one autistic child”. That is why this approach is so important. Through blood, urine, stool labs and EEG or SPECT scans, a customized nutritionally balanced program is developed to help your child. It can identify biomarkers for environmental exposures, detoxification abilities, mitochondrial dysfunction (gross motor problems, low energy, and hypotonia) , hormone irregularities (boys are 5:1 more likely to have autism) and immune system problems.
In general, the “big picture” consists of lowering the toxic load ( heavy metals, food allergies, artificial colors and preservatives, MSG, gluten and casein which are neurotoxic to some children), healing the gut (though probiotics, digestive enzymes and gastrointestinal support), increasing nutrients ( a broad spectrum multivitamin and specifically targeted vitamins and minerals), and detoxing the system (chelation through DMSA,DMPS or EDTA or natural detox with such asliposecutical glutathione, NCD,NDF or PCA –Rx). These can be done transdermally, orally, by suppository or intravenously.
Today’s food is so processed, and filled with preservatives, that the nutritional value is lost. Since most ASD children are such picky eaters, this is very important. Upon diagnosis, children have been found to be nutritionally deficient, have a history of antibiotic use, have GI problems and failure to thrive issues. Addition of supplements such as B12, essential fatty acids ( Cod Liver Oil or EPA/DHA), calcium/magnesium/ zinc and probiotics have remedied some of these deficiencies. Some have pre-existing mitochondrial dysfunction, while some have been triggered by environment insult. Our environment contains absurd amounts of mercury, lead , cadmium and arsenic which are potentially harmful to a fetus or young child. If our children have impaired detoxification abilities at birth and then have an excessive environmental exposure, this could be devastating to a developing brain and trigger a series of immune system and gastrointestinal dysregulation .
Other interventions which have been found to be beneficialinclude:
- Gluten-Casein Free Diet (or other diets such as Specific Carbohydrate Diet or Low Oxalate Diet)
- Chelation – determined appropriate through hair, blood, urine and/or stool tests
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (both hard chamber at 1.5 ATA at100% oxygen and mild at 1.3 with oxygen concentrator)
- Anti-fungal therapy for candida
- Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy- IVIG
- EEG biofeedback
- Craniosacral therapy
- Auditory integration Therapy (Sound therapies)
- Infared Saunas
- Vision therapies
- Chiropractic Medicine
Those of us who have leaned away from traditional medicine did so for lack of choice. It is not that some of the traditionally recommended therapies are not helpful. Those such as speech language therapy, occupational therapy , physical therapy and ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) are helpful, but did not address what was believed to be the root cause of the autistic symptoms. Nearly 1/3 of children diagnosed with autism follow alternative medicine protocols. Children are recovering from autism. Are they “cured”? No. Are they better than they were before the biomedical interventions and “outside the box” therapies? In most cases, yes. I thank my daughter’s physician (Dr. Jeff Bradstreet-www.icdrc.org) and his dedicated staff everyday that I look at my daughter. She is beautiful, smart, and funny. There is not a day that goes by that everysweat, tear or dollar that went into her continuing recovery is not worth it. She is worth it and so is every child affected by autism. Hopefully, word will get out that these treatments exist and parents will take a “leap of faith” to explore their options outside “mainstream medicine”.
For more information about physicians who treat autism go to www.autism.com and find a DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!)Physician near you.
Other books addressing alternative and complimentary medicine in relation to autism:
- Healing and Preventing Autism by Jenny McCarthy andDr.Jerry Kartzinel
- Healing the New Childhood Epidemics- Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies by Dr. Kenneth Bock
- Enzymes for Autism and other Neurological Conditions by Karen DeFelice
- Children with Starving Brains- by Dr. Jacqueline McCandless
- Questions to ask prior to receiving “Alternative Treatments”
- A Natural Education: What You Need to Know Before Using Natural Remedies
- A Complete Guide on Positive Behavior Support for Children With Special Needs
- Benefits of Special Diets for Special Needs Children
- Ditch The Chemicals Start The Year Off Healthy
- Right Question, Wrong Doctor: How can Medical Education Influence a Doctor’s Acceptance of Complementary Medicine
- Your Aura and Its Connection to Alternative Medicine
- Searching for Natural Alternatives to Prescription Medications?
- Eat Your Medicine