Archive for the ‘>ALL<’ Category

The Dress Color Debate and Sensory Processing in Autism

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Image Credit: J. Jastrow (1899)

It became headline news, this week, when Wired magazine reported “The Science of Why No One Agrees on the Color of This Dress.” The usual reaction by those involved in the autism community has been, “Tell us something we don’t know!”

The terms visual-, auditory-, and sensory- processing ‘disorder’ have all been invented to describe conditions that patients experience. Rather than representing separate maladies, unusual patterns of filtering are part of the fabric of ASD.

Part of the hoopla is the controversy surrounding the ‘correct’ color of the dress. Colorblindness is mostly attributed to the lack of color-producing rods in the retina, not a processing difference in the brain. In this example, ‘normal’ people disagree.

The other factor is that the present conundrum is unlike the old-time Rabbit-Duck optical illusion (pictured). Once you are told what to look for, the type of animal makes sense. In this case, it is almost impossible to understand how the dress could be any other than the colors that we perceive.

The Wired article explains how light enters the eye and is reflected, wiring in the brain, ambient light, etc., and concludes, “… your brain tries to interpolate a kind of color context for the image, and then spits out an answer for the color of the dress.” With all of those parameters, it is difficult to understand how there is ever any agreement.

Little is explained about how we arrive at an individual conclusion. This example highlights the paucity of information explaining why humans see the dress color differently. Such a situation underscores the difficulties understanding already-altered sensory processing in people with ASD.

How many times have parents, therapists and teachers asked, “Didn’t I just tell you that color?” Or, “I can’t understand why he’s such a picky eater.” “She smells everything.” It rarely occurs to us that an affected child senses a common item differently.

The controversy about the tint of the dress and the frustration of those who see it differently is but a tiny example of the sensory processing differences experienced in the face of ASD.

Whatever the underlying reason for variation in the response to the pictures of those dresses, it helps remind the neurotypical world how differently we all see the world.

10 Successful Strategies for Children with ADHD

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Winter holidays are over. Things are back to normal at home (yeah, right, normal). School is ramping up and children with developmental concerns become even more challenged.

There is a constant stream of parents, these days, seeking relief because they are told that their child has Attention Deficit – Hyperactivity Disorder. They ask, “How do we get through the rest of this year,” and “What should we do about the next semester?”

Every child should have an appropriate workup leading to a clear, accurate diagnosis. ADHD can be a part of autism, thyroid disorder, gastro-intestinal problems, allergies, asthma, vitamin deficiency, etc. By properly diagnosing and managing a primary condition, many of the behavioral concerns may abate.

Make sure that inappropriate conduct is not due to something the child is receiving by way of medications for another condition, e.g., steroids or ‘cough and cold’ preparations.

Before becoming too aggressive with pharmaceuticals, consider the age of the child. A three- or four-year-old has time to mature and achieve self-control, while there are more academic demands on a eight-year-old.

Evaluate the difficult behaviors to better decide which intervention(s) will have the optimal chance for success with the least side effects. Occupational therapy is great if there are major sensory issues, neurofeedback might be helpful for focus, and behavioral intervention (ABA) might be more appropriate for disruption issues. Even if a parent still has to resort to medical intervention, lower doses and less frequent changes may be a result of this strategy.

Consider that inattention and poor focus could be due to mixed, missing and/or crossed signals in the CNS. With such a situation, non-preferred activities are much more difficult and therefore resisted even more than in typical peers. Until improved methods for overcoming learning disabilities are discovered, more patience and practice is required – and less criticism.

adhd bullett4dFor children who take stimulant medications, those who are able to tolerate drug ‘vacations’ will suffer less of the consequences of decreased appetite, sleep and linear growth. Sometimes, it is only for summer vacation, and other children are able to experience drug-free weekends.

Children who do not appear to be listening, are often simply listening without looking. That is not acceptable in a large, general education classroom. Nevertheless, medications that supposedly help focus and distractibility, might not do that, either. Anti-anxiety medications, starting with Intuniv, and sometimes even escalating to Prozac, are often suggested. If possible, the best improvement should come when the reason for gaze difficulty is understood.

Once parents make the decision to give medication a try, expect the most successful outcome when there is a clear understanding about positive and negative effects. It takes time to get the most desired results, and that knowledge can help the family withstand rocky periods. An ability to contact the responsible practitioner leads to increased compliance.

Be careful (and appreciative) when a treatment plan is working. Attempting to fine-tune a lingering shortcoming can lead to disastrous results. External stresses, from an ear infection to visiting relatives can disturb the calm. The child who maintains a healthy diet and necessary supplements is better prepared to weather the storm.

Inconsistency is the most consistent parental frustration. While it is in our nature to admonish the negative behaviors, remember to reward the good, as well.

DIY Autism Treatment

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

One day, you look up and notice that there is a wet spot in your ceiling. Inch by inch the spot is getting larger and even starts to drip on to the floor. What is the next thing that most people would do?

You would, I assume, call the plumber – right? Now, perhaps you would look on the Internet to find the name of a local service, instead of the yellow pages, as in the “olden days”.

How many would search the web for “drips in the ceiling,” try to understand all the possible causes of the moisture, open up the drywall and attempt to weld the hole in the pipe (or maybe it’s the joint, or something else altogether)? Yes, there is always someone who would attempt to perform this task, but it sounds pretty foolish to me. Plus, you could actually make things worse (think FLOOD).

However, when parents suspect their child might be exhibiting developmental delays, they often search the Internet for a diagnosis and even a cure, NOT a doctor! At the time of this writing, an Internet search for autism returns 74,9oo,ooo results.

Which page(s) should you believe? Which ones contain information that is incorrect, and could make things worse, or waste time and money? That is what a pediatrician is for – to take an extensive history and perform a thorough physical examination, then give you a precise diagnosis (or possible diagnoses) and work with the family to come up with a plan to get the best possible care.

Why do so many people try to “fix the leak” themselves? I’m afraid to say that the medical community should take a great deal of the responsibility when parents try do-it-yourself autism treatment.

The pediatrician who proclaimed, “he’s a boy, so they speak later… there is a new baby in the house… you speak two languages… he’s spoiled,” but didn’t comment about the lack of eye contact or toe-walking, has suffered a loss of confidence.

The professional who examines 6 patients per hour has no time to consider conditions that are not routine. Neurologists are frequently viewed as cold and unsympathetic to the devastation that an ASD diagnosis creates.

Another contributing factor is the complexity of autism itself. There are often multiple terms and the parents are caught trying to understand why the pediatrician writes “PDD-NOS” and the neurologist puts “ASD”. Too many acronyms, not enough information, and so the patient turns to the web. Finally, there are the non-doctor doctors out there who offer claims of cure and magic bullets to fix the child. Who wouldn’t want to get a completely “cured” child – even if it costs your home and future?

What is the answer?
Find a really good plumber!

The most accomplished doctors for Autism Spectrum Disorder are physicians who have specialized in the diagnosis AND treatment of affected individuals, and attend frequent conferences including the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs community of physicians.

If you try to ‘research’ autism by yourself, you may occasionally get some results, but you also might create a flood.

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

The measles outbreak that started in Disneyland has generated a fair amount of activity at The Child Development Center lately.

Many of our patients are either un- or under- vaccinated, according to the Vaccine Gods, so an increase in a preventable childhood disease in the U.S. is a very important healthcare issue.

In response to the media stories, and with the intention of addressing parents’ concerns, The Center emailed our patients.

The advice that was offered:
a. If the child has never had a vaccination, it is best to “bite the bullet” and go ahead with an MMR. We’re in the middle of an outbreak and it’s a very small world.

b. If the child has been previously vaccinated for MMR, you could get  “measles-mumps-rubella titers”. This is a blood test to determine if the child is still immune to the diseases, so it may be OK to hold off for now.

There were a variety of interesting responses.
Parent: “Thanks, Dr. Udell, for the heads up.”
Dr. U: You’re welcome. I’m just a messenger. Parents are the ones who have to make the final decision.

Parent: “What if the child has antibodies to eggs (allergy)?”
Dr. U: That is a big problem. I would look over the most recent laboratory tests and, depending on the child’s present state of health, and other findings, possibly still have to recommend. For what it’s worth, two of the products are actually grown on chick embryo, and almost all of our yolk-and/or-white-positive patients are negative to chicken. The German measles strain is grown on lung tissue derived from human fetus. We don’t test for that.

Parent: “Can’t you break up the shots?
Dr. U: No, the company that used to produce separates stopped years ago.

Parent: “My child was severely damaged by that shot. I’m surprised that you made this recommendation.”
Dr. U: It’s situational ethics, in a medical setting. I sympathize with your plight. Not only is there conflicting research; cases, such as yours, are completely ignored. Nevertheless, measles carries a 1/1000 chance of encephalitis (brain infection). 

Discussion:
After listening to so many complaints of proximate injury to an inoculation, it seemed that the best advice was to hold off vaccinating until the child improved, and/or the cause(s) of inflammation was discovered. There was little evidence of a rise in disease, so I felt less concern for the ‘herd’ than the family sitting in my office. The plan was to vaccinate a healthier child in 1-2 years, utilizing a judicious make-up protocol, if the parents agreed.

Each family will address this news differently, and act on their decision based upon what they consider as their child’s best interest. Questions and concerns persist. An epidemiologist just published a York Times editorial suggesting that there would be increased compliance if it were more difficult to obtain an exemption.

The line between the ‘good of the many’ and the ‘good of the one’ has shifted. Once the seal is broken, so to speak, and fewer than ~90% of the susceptible population is protected, there can be no accurate prediction of whether/where/when/how severe another outbreak will occur. The choice returns to the ‘good of the one’, so prevention is paramount.

The reality is that, if the AMA, AAP, FDA and CDC would express less dogma, become more sympathetic to those who claim injury, make fewer errors, and perform prospective studies to demonstrate efficacy and universal safety, parents wouldn’t be forced to make such a crucial decision on their own.

Ten Noteworthy Observations about People with Asperger’s

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

reitman1Recently, I had the honor and pleasure of being interviewed by Dr. Hackie Reitman, an orthopedic surgeon, ex-prize fighter, and now author and producer. My role was to provide additional clinical information about his newest endeavor to address the difficult challenges met by people with Asperger’s syndrome.

The eclectic doctor has written and produced a soon-to-be-released movie entitled The Square Root of 2. Plus, he is in the process of publishing his enlightening book, “Aspertools: The Practical Guide to Understanding and Embracing Asperger’s, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Neurodiversity,” to assist patients, families, and the public in understanding what it is like to live with Asperger’s, and helpful strategies for success.

Notwithstanding the official demise of the oft-used moniker describing a like-group of individuals, this compilation covers some frequent questions and observations:

10. As with autism, which is due to a variety of causes with varying presentations, there isn’t one kind of Asperger’s syndrome.

9. The appearance of any lack of cognition or empathy often does not reflect the affected individual’s reality. They experience emotions, like the rest of us, but do not necessarily exhibit them in a typical manner. Sometimes their frustration can boil over into extreme anger.

8. People ‘on the Spectrum’, who are able to communicate and aren’t aggressive, are considered ‘high functioning’. When Dr. Asperger described the first cases, however, earlier cognition and language differentiated his patients from ‘regular’ ASD.

7. Everyone who doesn’t get a joke doesn’t have Asperger’s, and many Asperger’s patients have a sense of humor.

6. Eye contact can be fairly difficult in Asperger’s. Patients often complain, “Do you want me to talk-listen to you, or look at you?”

5. Sensory issues are a major problem, and difficult for the neuro-typical individual to appreciate. Fluorescent bulbs are a distraction, certain sounds can be like chalk-on-a-blackboard, perfume may be nauseating, taste can be very picky, and just the thought of touch may become frightening.

4. Individuals can learn from a trusted friend, family member, or teacher.  However, many educational environments produce a distracting cacophony of sensory issues. Knowing that a highly social situation will be very anxiety producing makes the sufferer easily distractible and leads to poor focus. It’s not necessarily ADHD.

3. A narrow range of interests and repetitive behaviors are not always obsessive-compulsive behaviors, they are part of the condition. That is why the usual psycho-schizo-antianxiety medications are often ineffective in Asperger’s patients.

2. This is not a diagnosis ‘du jour’. People who experience this condition know it, and are usually relieved when they find out the reason(s) for their differences.

1. As with other ‘Spectrum’ patients, there are often additional somatic issues involving the gut, allergies, and nutritional deficiencies. A thorough medical workup with appropriate medical intervention is frequently quite helpful in relieving some core signs and symptoms.

Dr. Reitman, who is the father of an Aspie, is helping to design a better understanding and treatment of this mysterious condition. It’s comforting to know that, like Dan Marino, Ernie Els, and Jim Kelly, the autism community has another true champion on our side.

Autism, Inoculations, and Fantasyland

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Recent news about the increase in measles that has sprung up in California, has brought about the usual media finger-pointing, claiming that the cause is unvaccinated children whose parents unnecessarily worry about the risk of autism.

As documented in my previous posts on this topic, this physician believes in the value of those twentieth century miracles. Nonetheless, a lingering question remains, “Are all of the vaccinations safe and effective for all young children?”

The Three Main Reasons for the Measles ‘Outbreak’

Lack of Knowledge

We really don’t know the reason(s) for the newest episode. The increase may have little to do with lack of compliance by anti-vaccination zealots. Many of the infected individuals were Disney workers who had probably already been vaccinated, and were no longer immune. Plus, the venue is an international attraction, with visitors from all over.

The Wakefield Effect – Any time there is any story involving vaccines and ASD, the controversial and now-infamous British study that implicated measles virus as a possible cause, seems to mar all perception and reason. Media pundits are quick to avail themselves of that ill-fated research.

Conventional medicine is still debating whether increases are merely due to changes in diagnostic criteria. Every week a new association pops up; including maternal weight, paternal age, environment and toxins, stress, and circumcision. If compliance is the issue, certainly such confusion shakes one’s faith in the ‘science’.

Polarization

The experts would have a great deal more validity and success, if they could add more understanding and kindness to their approach. Those who question the status quo are considered kooky, ignorant and ill-informed. That creates more polarization, with fewer parents possibly choosing to vaccinate.

Pro-vaccination declarations are rarely equivocal, and conclusions no longer contain the statement, “The topic deserves further study.” Anti-vaccination supporters suffer a similar shortcoming, and conspiracy theories are a scientific distraction. There doesn’t seem to be any compromise position.

Issues, such as the recent CDC whistle-blower case, or reports of safety violations have not been adequately addressed.

There still aren’t any definitive, prospective, randomized, controlled, double-blind crossover studies with long-term outcomes evaluating various vaccine schedules to document safety. Holistic medicine is frequently chastised by the establishment for such an omission in alternative protocols.

Lack of Confidence & Trust

A great deal of money is handed to drug manufacturers to manage these vaccination programs. Concerns abound about whether large multi-national companies always have our best interests in mind.

The Flu vaccine fiascos that permeate each winter do not engender a great deal of confidence about how our medical establishment handles the inoculation issue.

The government continues to send out inaccurate and conflicting messages regarding our public health. Antibiotics in our food are proven unsafe, but the practice continues. There were 2 cases of ebola and Congress appointed a ‘czar’, but they couldn’t confirm a Surgeon General.

Public trust in the FDA and CDC has been eroded by frequent lapses in judgement and execution.

Conclusion:
The vast majority of the scientific literature is quite insistent that there is no relationship between the present vaccine schedule and ASD. To all of the experts, ‘true’ scientists, and colleagues – I get it!

That fact remains that there are too many parents who have noted developmental regression proximate to a childhood vaccination. They deserve better answers.

Autism, ADHD and Circumcision

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

New information has been forthcoming from a Danish database lately, specifically involving autism. This study represents data involving more than 1/3 million children, entered from 1994 to 2003 .

As might be expected, an eye-catching array of media headlines followed the paper entitled, “Ritual circumcision and risk of autism spectrum disorder in 0- to 9-year-old boys: national cohort study in Denmark”.

The Results:
In both the older and younger groups of circumcised boys, there was an increased relationship to ASD. Some adjustments (birthweight, APGAR score, etc.) were accounted for, while other known, possible associations were not (pain relief, living near pollution, diet, e.g.).

Additionally, circumcised boys in non-Muslim families were also more likely to have an ADHD diagnosis.

Other Research:
A 2013 study looked at the increasing incidence of ASD since acetaminophen (Tylenol) has been routinely used for pain relief during circumcision. The authors suggested “… the need for formal study of the role of paracetamol in autism.” In other words, they looked at the problem from the other direction; and when pain relief was provided, autism increased.

Discussion:
The Danish investigation contains a most glaring conclusion that makes the data-in-question eminently quotable, “We confirmed our hypothesis that boys who undergo ritual circumcision may run a greater risk of developing ASD.” I wrote to ask the principle author, Dr. Morten Frisch, about this.

The doctor took the time to respond to a number of questions about the information. He seemed to be somewhat sensitive that such controversy has surrounded these (admittedly) two highly emotional topics, and he is taking plenty of outside criticism. Furthermore, Dr. Frisch has assumed an “I’m-just-the-messenger” attitude about the conclusion.

For me, a major sticking point is a design anomaly which brings the entire report into question. Specifically, children who hadn’t been circumcised but were autistic were considered as not autistic until they got the operation, for the purposes of the data analysis.

For example, a seven-year-old who already had autism didn’t get classified that way, until he was circumcised at 7, (which is clinically impossible).
My question, “If a study shows that I am an architect, not a doctor, isn’t the study flawed?”
Dr. Frisch’s response, “No, in your example the methods would not be ’flawed’, but ‘imprecise’.” Either word – it’s inaccurate. The product only represents a mathematical reality.

Conclusion:
Male circumcision and autism are both very controversial issues. Supporters for various points-of-view will use self-selected segment(s) of the data to fit their particular pro or con argument.

The practice of male foreskin removal is decided according to family, friends, folklore, culture, customs, and cosmetics. The present medical evidence is far from conclusive.

Regarding the cause and prevention of autism, the more significant medical information is that vigorous scrutiny and intervention in a young infant’s nutritional and developmental status is the most successful means to fend off possible delays.

As for the present study? “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” (Mark Twain)

Anti-fungal Treatment for Autism?

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

According to the medical establishment, any autism treatment that does not chemically pollute the brain is ‘off-label’. However, less controversial is the topic of poor gut health in children with ASD.

Eight of the eleven originally-described patients with autism (circa 1940) had G-I symptoms. Scientific literature is fairly established (1*,2*,3*, 4*,5*, 6*) about this association.

The Theory:
Somehow, the sticking point for real scientists is the association between gastrointestinal disturbance and autistic behaviors. Those would be the real scientists who never cared for a child with autism. Or, those who never ate some bad Chinese food.

Given that the association is genuine, then, what better way to help a child recover from hyperactivity, poor focus and attention, continuous repetitive movements, ineffective sleep, chronic constipation or diarrhea, or grouchy mood, then to address that condition?

It was along that line of thinking that successful biomedical treatments were undertaken, over 50 years ago. Despite the continuing controversy of impersonal science and scientists, the remaining question for those involved with helping patients is, “What’s the best way to heal the gut?”

The Findings:
Toward that endeavor, research has documented associations with eosinophilic esophagitis, GERD (reflux), intestinal lymphadenitis (think big tonsils, but further down), and colitis. These are medical conditions with actual, established therapeutic interventions.

The Treatment:
The cause and prevention of that inflammation along the G-I tract poses an attractive therapeutic possibility. The offending agents could include food allergies, toxins, viruses, bacteria and fungus, including some imbalance of those forces, in susceptible individuals.

Some of the protocols, such as addressing toxins, avoiding allergenic agents, or prescribing antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal products, have held up better than others.

The Experience:
Gut health is evaluated in each of our patients by CLIA approved laboratories. Findings consistent with fungal presence, or signs and symptoms assigned to that condition, were treated with brief courses of low dose fluconazole in patients throughout 2014. Their regular visits were documented and reviewed, including appropriate periodic laboratory studies.

This was performed under a physician’s care, with the parents’ full understanding and consent – and usually their trepidation and reluctance.

The bottom line is this: within 2 or 3 short courses, a simple, oral, antifungal medication was well-tolerated, and effective in reducing many symptoms that are generally assumed to be ‘autistic’.

Warnings:
Fluconazole can have serious side effects and drug interactions. Present practitioners should follow a written, rigorous protocol and document progress. Other sources of inflammation should be explored and addressed, as well.

Disclaimer:
This information is to be submitted for publication. This is not a recommendation for patients. Further studies are warranted and validation requires more scientific scrutiny.

Addendum:
Here’s a (typical) email that arrived as I was typing this story, “Hello Dr. Udell,
<<Jane>> is showing issues related to yeasty behavior. Last time we saw you a month ago, she seemed to have grown out of it. We then took a trip that seemed to have disturbed digestion and she has loose stools, some silly behavior etc. She was on diflucan till Dec 1st week. Do you think we need to get her on the antiyeast again?
Meanwhile, she has showed progress in other respects, increased eye contact and need to communicate more. Her babbling has increased but still no consistent words…”

Autism Treatments from A to Z

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Largely due to conventional medicine’s ineffectiveness in dealing with the autism epidemic, parents search the Internet for remedies to treat their affected offspring.

This is just a representative list of available products; allopathic, homeopathic and naturopathic. Some are quite helpful, some can mask underlying problems, some may be unhealthy, and others are of little value.

Abilify (apiprazole) – This anti-psychotic medication is one of the few that are considered “on label” for autism. Aggressive behaviors may abate somewhat in some of the patients. However, it frequently becomes less effective over time, and carries significant risk.

B12 (methyl vitamin B12 injections) – Doctors who successfully treat children with speech apraxia find a great deal of improvement with this valuable, inexpensive vitamin. The gut must be in relatively good health, and continuing S&L therapy is a must.

CatCarnosine (L-carnosine) – A useful, safe, amino acid supplement that can help articulation, especially after speech gets started. Dosages can be slowly increased to lessen any initial, short-lived surge in activity.

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) – The active form is remarkably low in many patients with ADHD and ASD. Correcting this vitamin deficiency often results in improvements with eye contact and cognition.

Early Intervention (Applied Behavioral Analysis, Speech and Language) – In the search for an autism ‘pill’, these proven treatments are often overlooked. As patients improve, such therapies become even more important.

Fluconazole (diflucan) – Whether it is due to the removal of yeast from the gut, or some other effect, this is an excellent off-label product to help behavior, sleep and concentration. Appropriate testing to document a healthy liver is a necessary step with this anti-fungal medicine.

Glutathione (GSH)This is one of the most effective oral supplements to get things started on the road to recovery. Some formulations are better tolerated, and some seem to be more effective. Normalizing G-I health prior to administration is paramount.

Hydroxy-tryptophan (5-HTP) – A precursor of melatonin and serotonin, this safe amino acid can be an effective supplement to reduce anxiety and aggression, and to enhance sleep.

Intuniv (guanfacine) – Originally produced as a blood pressure medicine, it has been helpful in reducing anxious behaviors in some patients. Side effects include sleepiness, so dosage and timing are important.

Vitamin J (choline) - In the form of lecithin (phosphatidylcholine) and now, Vayarin (phosphatidylserine), high doses of this product may be helpful with repetitive (‘OCD’) and ADHD behaviors.

Kapvay (clonidine) – A heart-blood pressure medication, similar to Intuniv, that can be effective for severe sleep difficulties.

Lamotrigine (Lamictal) – A potent anti-seizure medication for aggression related to ASD. Side effects include, “Serious life-threatening rashes, including … death… more often in pediatric patients than in adults.”

MonkeyMelatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) – A natural hormone that can be very effective for children who won’t go to sleep. Dosages of 1-3 mg. are well tolerated and safe.

Naltrexone (Low Dose Naltrexone) – A narcotic antagonist medicine given in very low dosages, usually as a cream that is applied late at night. This is often helpful in reducing oppositional behaviors and improving immune function.

Oxytocin (Pituitary Hormone) – A naturally-occuring brain chemical that works peripherally on female organs, and centrally on the brain of males, as well. The literature and experience about its effectiveness on improving socialization is mixed.

Probiotics (live microorganisms)A safe, inexpensive, and effective supplement to assist in the normalization of the G-I milieu known as the ‘microbiome’. Because the cells die as they pass down the gut, the higher the density of bacteria, the more effective the product.

Quercetin (Flavinoid) – A plant pigment, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to treat various and sundry medical conditions, with varying reports of effectiveness.

Risperdal (Risperdone) – Another anti-psychotic medication approved for use with ASD. Side effects include tics, overeating, and breast tissue development.

Strattera (Atomoxetine) – Medication for ADHD. Because it is not in the same stimulant category as Adderall or Ritalin, it is considered less toxic. However, the package insert carries this warning, “Increased risk of suicidal ideation…”

TurtleTumeric (curcumin) – An herbal remedy that suppresses yeast in the G-I tract. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-cholesterol effects.

unicornUbiquinone (Co-Q10) – A natural supplement that has antioxidant properties to improve energy metabolism. This co-enzyme is fat soluble (often mixed with omega-3-fatty acids), and has few side effects.

Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) – A next generation stimulant medication for ADHD. On the positive side, the pill can be opened for ease of administration. However, the package insert carries this warning, “… a high potential for abuse and dependence.”

Wellbutrin (bupropion) – One of the many antidepressant medications prescribed to treat the apparent anxiety and ‘obsessive-compulsive’ behaviors that ASD patients experience. Such preparations include Prozac and Zoloft, other potent drugs with serious and significant side effects.

Ex-lax, Miralax, Pedialax (and other laxatives) – When ASD patients suffer from constipation, it should stimulate the doctor to discover the cause and intervene with healthier alternatives; such as diet, probiotics and lifestyle.

Yeast (saccromyces boulardii) – As opposed to Candida (‘bad’ yeast), these are the ‘good’ fungi that can assist in producing a healthy gut. Many patients are allergic to baker’s and brewer’s yeast, however, making this intervention impractical.

Zovirax (acyclovir) – For those who ascribe to a mostly-viral etiology for many cases of autism, the logical treatment is an antiviral medication. There are many potential serious side effects, and quite variable results, anecdotal reports notwithstanding.

All of those medications and supplements, and many more that are not listed. Nevertheless, to date, there is still so little real progress in the core deficiencies of communication, awareness and cognition.

What Causes Autism – 2014

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

A question and an answer. This is number two on the list of most-asked questions of this pediatrician. Number one = “Is there really more autism?” Number 3 = “It isn’t connected to the vaccinations, right?”

Here is this year’s evidence implicating our polluted environment:

Pesticides – One expert said, “Until about five years ago, virtually all research on autism assumed that the disease was entirely genetic in origin, and that environmental exposures did not play a role… Rising rates of autism and failure to find genetic causes despite a multitude of very large genetic studies have led to a major shift in focus in the field. … These chemicals are a solid lead that needs to be followed.”

In June, Scientific American published an article entitled, Autism Risk Higher Near Pesticide-Treated Fields.

Glyphosates (Roundup, by Monsanto) – Not only could the ubiquitous use of this toxin, used to increase the yield of harvested wheat, contribute to a dangerous load for susceptible fetuses, newborns and toddlers, it could explain the reason that so many feel improvement from a “gluten-free” diet.

Genetically Modified Foodstuffs received a stamp of approval, on the other hand, from the Genetic Literacy Project.

Environmental Factors, in general, have shown a relationship to autism in a recent research.

Electromagnetic Fields and Radio Frequency Radiation  – Based on the recent information provided by the remarkable Dr. Martha Herbert, these international authors felt compelled to write to the Pediatric Journal of Neurosciences, “An epidemiological study is warranted in order to explore the possible link between the prevalence of autism and the extent of electromagnetic pollution.”

The overuse and injudicious use of antibiotics continues to raise concern. Gastrointestinal health is being actively studied as a key cause of autistic signs and symptoms.

Exposure to steroids continues to make its way into the literature. Our offspring did not recently mutate, and there are a myriad of reasons why there has been increased pre- and post- natal exposure.

Prenatal exposure to anti-seizure medication was reported as a cause of autism.

Childhood Vaccinations – The controversy regarding the pros (they DO) and cons (they DON’T) rages. The most compelling answer would be provided by a prospective, randomized, controlled, double-blind, cross-over study. Who wants to put their child in the control group?

Heavy metals were reported as an environmental toxin associated with ASD in Dr. Rossignol’s thorough literature review.

This epidemic is due to the perfect storm of susceptible individuals in a poisoned environment. Now, if we could just figure out who carries the highest susceptibility and which agents are the most toxic.

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Brian D. Udell MD
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