Archive for the ‘Special Guests’ Category

I Watched Vaxxed

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

I am not against childhood vaccinations.

I have expressed that opinion in more than a few blogposts. Nonetheless, it appears that more information is needed, and controversies must be addressed, before the gods of modern medicine can simply dismiss the thousands of parents who feel that their child developed autism shortly after one of the childhood inoculations.


(L-R) Jenny, Jacqueline&Chris Laurita (housewives of NJ), Nico&Davida LaHood, Del Bigtree, Dawn&Ryan Neufeld, Jodi Gomes

This week, at the Autism Summit, Jenny McCarthy expressed that same opinion in her opening video, and throughout the panel discussion. Frankly, I would not have even written this story if there wasn’t a controversy when an Express-News reporter was prevented from attending the conference. He wrote, “The summit is being put on by Generation Rescue, a non-profit led by Jenny McCarthy, an anti-vaccine activist.”

One of the panelists was San Antonio area District Attorney, Nico LaHood. “In a promotional video filmed in his office, LaHood said “vaccines can and do cause autism,” and has made clear he doesn’t accept scientific evidence as proof to the contrary.” Another celebrity was Del Bigtree, the producer of Vaxxed.

So, I paid my four bucks, and watched the movie. Del Bigtree presents a compelling story surrounding the information supplied by CDC whistleblower, William Thompson, who claims that data that would have implicated vaccinations as a cause of autism was altered, so that the MMR would appear safe.

There is a fair amount of anecdotal and perhaps, overly dramatic presentations of individual case histories, which will turn off the ‘real’ scientists. Mr. Bigtree describes that as the conundrum as we, “…study the disconnect between science and parents.”

Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, founder of CARD, appears as a credible expert. A nobel prize winner weighs in, adding validity to the story. After reviewing the data, a traditional pediatrician and family practitioner seem truly amazed – and changed their opinion about the safety studies. Cool, calm, and well-spoken, Wakefield looks to be anything but a raving zealot. His conclusion is that if the MMR were separated, that would be best solution and the issue of ‘herd immunity’ would not be breached.

I’m not against childhood vaccinations.
Hillary has declared, “The sky is blue and vaccinations work.” She doesn’t know, for sure, if they are safe for all, however. Why deliver an increasing number of antigens to an immature immune system? Why do we have a vaccine compensation fund? Why does the package insert say ‘seizures‘?

If such a movie only adds fuel to the fire, why not just refute the questions that are raised with a prospective, randomized, double blind study, considered to be the gold standard for proving efficacy and safety? Rather, people who even view the film are marginalized and considered kooky, conspiratorist, poorly informed, and ignorant.

The movie is considered to be the problem. Andrew Wakefield is the problem. Leo Kanner, a Freudian from the first half of the last century, assigned the diagnosis to the realm of psychiatry. Bruno Bettleheim, a media darling at the time, popularized the ‘refrigerator mom’ theory that persisted for another 30 years. We are still arguing if there even IS an epidemic. There is plenty of blame to go around regarding our confusion about this mysterious illness.

I’m old enough to have experienced neighbors, relatives and patients who have suffered serious consequences from childhood diseases, such as polio, measles, and congenital rubella. Furthermore, I am aware of the mountain of ‘scientific evidence’ that documents a lack of association to Autism Spectrum Disorder. In my own practice, the majority of parents do not feel that vaccines caused their child’s autism, and there are many children with ASD who never received any inoculation.

However, great concern is raised when there are stories, such as the mismanagement of vaccines in public clinics, and issues with government oversight connected to Big Pharma (documented in this movie).

This is one of the most polarizing issues that impedes real progress in our understanding of the epidemic of childhood autism. In the present circumstance, perhaps it was the fault of the conference organizers, not allowing a possibly negative story to emerge. This highlights the need for both sides to step back and listen to each other in order to uncover the truth.

Finally, I want to document that, I’m not against childhood vaccinations.

Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs – Fall 2016

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

This week, the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs held its semiannual conference in downtown Atlanta, GA. This is ‘Ground 0’ for practitioners, researchers and professors from all over the world to meet, learn, explore and discuss a myriad of relevant topics.

Members who have been returning for 100’s of lecture hours generally choose the advanced courses. For some, the conference has become a group of ~50 experienced and knowledgeable practitioners who meet to discuss ‘workups’, basic science, relevant research and treatment protocols for those who are most affected with ASD.

Notes and Observations
Day 1 – Tough Cases
I really enjoyed our lectures by the plain-speaking Dr. John Green, of Portland, OR. Dr. Green not only reviewed those who improved because of his medical expertise, but those who got better in spite of him, those who haven’t gotten better, those who got better but he can’t figure out why, and the most frustrating – patients who improve only to suffer frequent relapses.

Dr. Sid Baker, a pioneer of the biomedical movement, described his early medical experiences in Africa that morphed into his lifelong dedication to treating patients with ASD. He expressed his disappointment that so many conventional colleagues disagree with our practice.

Dr. Baker elucidated how he initiates care with new patients. He discussed increasingly resistant cases, covering topics from severe speech apraxia to the approach to children with injurious behaviors.

The first day was filled with the most frustrating and difficult cases you can imagine. Eminent practitioners Drs. James Neuenshwander, Michael Elice, and Julie Buckley challenged our diagnostic and therapeutic knowledge, attempting to navigate the complicated courses of those who improved and those who didn’t.

Day 2
Dr. Daniel Amen‘s morning lecture was entitled “3D Brain SPECT Imaging”. The takeaway message was that SPECT scans – technology – could/should/will become a mainstay for a multitude of CNS disorders. His manner and stories of research, technical evaluation, and clinical practice, were positively spellbinding and inspirational.

Dr. Theoharides presented his research and extensive knowledge about the important role of allergy in ASD. Dr. Theo continues to publish a mountain of monumental works, not only on the topics of autism and the role of mast cells, but treatments, as well.

Toxins were the subject of the afternoon’s lectures. We learned about the identification of substances in the environment that are dangerous, how they are measured, how damage is done, and the means to control and treat. For the skeptical reader, there was a plethora of supporting scientific evidence of the relationships to autism (and many other modern conditions).

As has become customary, Dr. Dan Rossignol rounded up the day with a roundup of all of the latest scientific research. Rapidly.

Day 3 – Advanced Clinical Cases
Severe behaviors and speech apraxia. For patients who are most resistant to conventional and alternative treatments, essential oils, acupuncture, and even worms were explored as possible solutions.

Throughout the afternoon, cases got even tougher! Lyme, Persistent Lyme, Non-Lyme Lyme, PANDAS, PANS, parasites… an increasing number of reasons to have signs and symptoms that are called autism. Such information extends our knowledge and leads to better diagnoses for our patients, and possibilities for treatment.

Dr. Green discussed biomarkers. Though these ‘labs’ are not specific to ASD, per se, this will become a necessary next step to document level of involvement and response to treatments.

A brand new treatment, repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation was presented by Dr. Arun Mukherjee. The jury is still out on this expensive intervention.

One important reason that I return to this meeting, is simply that I feel at home among like-thinking practitioners. Members don’t agree on every subject, but we are respectful and actually enjoy our practices.

In traditional medicine, conferences are basically show-and-tell affairs, where researchers report their data, previously published in medical journals. When doctors think outside the box, practitioners with diverse skills, who are scattered over the globe, discover improved results by networking in this fashion.

Patients, parents, and families can feel confident that progress is being made (slowly), as serious, dedicated doctors continue to try to unravel this modern mystery.

Finally, I am proud to report that, at this meeting, I was awarded Fellowship status in the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs.

Evidence-Based Pediatric Special Needs Medicine

Monday, March 7th, 2016

EvidenceAt an autism fundraiser lately, I took the opportunity to speak with one of the leaders in our local treatment community. I felt that his understanding of complementary and alternative protocols was limited at best, and looked upon with suspicion and even derision at worst.

When I stated to the Director that I was a pediatrician who treated children with autism, he exclaimed, “Well, we do evidence based medicine. What’s with that Wakefield fellow?” “Ummm,” I replied, “that was, like, over 15 years ago. Why am I responsible for that stuff?”

“And, what about that Bradstreet guy? I went to hear him speak once, and the information about secretin was already in, and he was still lecturing about it’s value? What makes you different?” asked the gentleman.

“Well, we do a suitable medical workup, and, depending on the findings, treat patients with safe and often effective interventions.

Perhaps we could go to lunch and talk about the manner in which doctors, such as myself, practice? And by the way, what about that decision by the AAP that early autism screening isn’t supported? They claim that more evidence is required. Do you subscribe to that?”

Evidence Based Medicine
Certainly, the goal of modern treatment is to follow best-practices protocols, which have been documented as safe and effective, and evaluated with scientific scrutiny. The gold standard for medications has been a repeatable and repeated, double-blind (examiner not aware if drug is med-in-question or placebo), crossover (give real med to one group then reverse), randomized (who gets, who doesn’t), controlled (follow specific protocol) trial of sufficient number of patients (determined and crunched by statisticians).

A noted expert has written in the British Medical Journal, What it is, and what it isn’t:

It’s about integrating individual clinical expertise and the best external evidence.

The conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.

Good doctors use both individual clinical expertise and the best available external evidence, and neither alone is enough.

Evidence based medicine is not “cookbook” medicine.

May raise rather than lower the cost of their care.

It will continue to evolve.

As noted in Wikipedia, “A 1994 study concluded that 58% of life science companies indicated that investigators were required to withhold information pertaining to their research as to extend the life of the interested companies’ patents… A major flaw and vulnerability in biomedical research appears to be the hypercompetition for the resources and positions that are required to conduct science… seems to suppress the creativity, cooperation, risk-taking, and original thinking required to make fundamental discoveries. Other consequences of today’s highly pressured environment for research appear to be a substantial number of research publications whose results cannot be replicated…”

This past week, a mom reported that her 5 year-old child with signs and symptoms of autism was taking “some type of sleeping pill” given by a respected local psychiatrist. The medicine was Buspirone – an antipsychotic. Where is the evidence for that? Another child had just gotten a sleep study – from another physician – with no history of any sleep problems. Antibiotics for colds, Tamiflu for upper respiratory infections, and anti-seizure medications, are all routinely prescribed with less-than-solid evidence. Not to mention the complete lack of a laboratory investigation.

For several years now, the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs has stressed that conventional therapies combined with a proper medical evaluation and appropriate intervention results in better ASD outcomes. There is a large body of evidence to support the protocols that are so successful in reducing unusual behaviors and prompting communication. Dr. Dan Rossignol has led an organization that stresses the use of evidence-based research and applying that knowledge to patient care.

Anyway, it’s not simply complementary and alternative medicine that we practice. Nor is it holistic, integrative, allopathic, osteopathic, Western or Eastern. It’s the provision of safe and effective interventions that ASD families seek. It’s medicine.

Patient Testimonials about Biomedical Autism Treatments

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Every so often, my beautiful and patient wife, Jackie, reminds me that the service websites that she searches contain letters and feedback from clients. “It’s not just advertising,” Jackie points out, “there are key comments that help me make my decision.”

In the spirit of helping other potential families decide about providing biomedical interventions for their non-typically developing children, here is some recent correspondence concerning the work at The Child Development Center of America. (names changed)

Letter from a teacher:
♥ …Also, just wanted to let you know-Billie is doing AMAZING! Therpist2 is wonderful with him. Therpist1 was lovely and worked well with Billie, however, Therpist2 has been getting him to do things that I did not see last year at all. He is trying to communicate more with me and with the other students. Billie is happy and engaged in learning when Therpist2 works with him. She is a lovely lady and so good with him. I am so pleased with what he is doing in class. Tomorrow we are going to show his science project during class – he did a great job on the assignment.
Therpist2 and I were brainstorming ideas for Billie to participate in the event at the end of the year….
Posting on Facebook:
♥ Doctors don’t know everything.
In February of 2011, the lead neurologist… told us that our oldest son (then 2.5 years old) would only continue to regress to the point where he’d become so aggressive we’d have to medicate him (which he showed no aggression at the time) and that he threw up every day bc he was autistic, cried all night bc he was autistic, and while he didn’t have a crystal ball, he said he’d probably eventually need to be institutionalized. He said he was 100% confident in his diagnosis.
Through reading and research, a second opinion and holistic approach guided by Dr Brian D Udell, extensive tests on food sensitivities and bacteria imbalances (due to antibiotic abuse from his previous pediatrician) a radical change in diet, faith and determination we reversed that diagnosis and restored his health.
♥ Fabio is responding well to the B12 shots. We are at 0.08ml three times a week for two weeks now and he is doing well. The better days are the days of the shot, then 2nd and 3rd day in between shots, he gets a little silly and extremely sensitive at the mouth area (he puts all his fingers in his mouth). Would it be ok to give him a shot every other day? I feel the effect of the shot wears out the days in between and as a result we see the silly behavior and sensitivity…
♥ Hi Dr. Udell, just wanted to show you an example of a good day for Bobby outside of all the movement you constantly see in your office… On a different (positive) note, see pic below at the School Award Assembly. Bobby walked up from the back of the cafeteria and up the ramp on to stage by himself, waited for all the other kids to get in position for pic and walked down. Huge difference from last year, he had someone with him the whole time. It was great to see all that independence growth from one year to the next!
♥ I just wanted to give you my perspective on what I am observing with Pat so you can understand why I am so adamant about increasing her dose back to the 3cc’s on Fluconazole.  She was a straight A student last year on this dose and is now struggling this school year.  I don’t know what it is about this medication but, it is magic for Pat and keeps her focused and on track.
Thanks for your help…
♥ Hi Dr. Udell. I wanted to update you on Darien’s behavior, constipation and my opinions on the Diflucan. We last saw you Sept 15.
On Sept 16, his behavior got him sent home from preschool for the day.
He was miserable Sept 17-19, constantly repeating “you didn’t say something?” and “nothing hurts?” And having tons of outbursts. The 19th was the worst. I took him to a first visit with his new play therapist and he was screaming and throwing things.
I started the Diflucan on Thursday the 18th. Stating Saturday the 20th, I have had my kid back again. He has been happy. The sensory stuff is still there but very toned down from last week. Overall, I have seen a HUGE improvement this week.  Huge…
♥ We are out of probiotics and have been for a week. We have noticed an increase in crying and pain with Robert. He also had loud farts with terrible smells.
♥ Jose is doing good. He pooped with the magnesium…
♥ I wanted to share this with you, it is about Henry and his horse riding therapy. He is doing a little better every day. Thank you for being part of our journey.
♥ Just some pics of Stan…he really is doing so much better with the htp. (5-hydroxy-tryptophan)
♥ Hello from Nassau! Sheena has been doing quite well since our visit. The Benefiber is WORKING !!!! She has a poop most days. It is formed but not hard, just pointy! … So she is doing well and we are grateful. Take care and see you in May.
♥ From a non-profit foundation “dedicated to providing …children in foster care with enriching activities, opportunities and experiences.” Here’s a great resource for all of us! “10 things every pediatrician should know about children in foster care”
♥ From Dr. Robert Melillo, author of Disconnected Kids, many tweets about “10 Things All Pediatricians Should Know About Autism” and “The Law, Antibiotics, and Autism“.
Comments about this blog:
♥ Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the issues.
It was definitely informative. Your website is very useful.
♥ I like the valuable info you provide in your articles.
I will bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.
I am quite sure I will learn a lot of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!
♥ I read a lot of interesting articles here. Probably you spend a lot of time writing.
Patient services:
♥ Hi Dr Udell, Karen & all your wonderful staff… for your help in the process of getting Maria switched to a bus that has AC/Heat capability… We are so thankful to God for good people like you guys that care and have helped us in the journey of advocacy for our little ones so that they can have all the resources available to be able to become functional & exceptional adults someday…I demanded that they read the letter & reviewed the case again that they realized their mistake & even apologize for their ignorance. Maria can finally resume classes & continue to enjoy learning her ABCs. Thank you again, very much, for ALL THE WONDERFUL WORK YOU DO!
♥… We are just so eager to get his little gut ready for the LDN and B12 shots……again thank you for everything!!  Our regards to the whole staff….they are awesome. You definitely give parents hope…by taking the time answer all of our questions and concerns….we are so thankful… are amazing!!

Website inclusions:
♥ GraciesAutism
♥ Jacob Velazquez, pianist

Perhaps, I’m just ‘preaching to the choir’. For years, reknowned ABA guru, Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, has spoken about the improved outcome when parents combine ABA with biomedical techniques. Similarly, prominent researcher, Dr. Martha Herbert, has emphasized the whole body conditions that can be addressed in this manner.

By combining the time-tested improvements from ABA, OT, PT and S&L therapies, plus other emerging techniques, doctors can learn to successfully treat children diagnosed with ASD.

Notes from the Autism Education Summit

Sunday, September 27th, 2015
theo and me

September 26, 2015 Dr. Theoharides and me

In the beginning of the autism epidemic, conferences included practitioners and families interested in assisting patients in their journey toward recovery. As the information has become more extensive and complicated, the needs and expectations of various parties have spawned more specific meetings.

Tufts University professor, eminent autism researcher and program sponsor, Dr. T C Theoharides, invited me to lecture at this year’s Generation Rescue conference in Dallas. It was a chance to speak to, and with, a worldwide audience of over 700 parents whose children had an ASD diagnosis.

An Alternative Biomedical Approach to Autism Spectrum
A group of ~ 50 ‘newbies’ attended. The topic was chosen because I wished to simplify the issues and offer hope that, despite what the conventional doctors have declared, recovery is possible.

The take home messages were:
1. Traditional medicine only offers bandaids for very complicated signs and symptoms. When the only tool that a person has at hand is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The usual medications are very powerful with lots of side effects, and provide little in the way of genuine relief.

2. There is more than one way to skin a cat. Many of the other ‘DAN’ practitioners seem to utilize more complicated and expensive protocols, not necessarily superior to the approach that I find most successful. A basic workup was offered to identify laboratory variances indicating less-than-optimal health. Addressing those areas and improving energy with techniques that are not difficult to understand or institute, usually leads to significant progress.

3. Ultimately, autism really IS ‘rocket science’. There are multiple causes and a variety of presentations that even experienced practitioners are hard-pressed to understand and treat. By understanding the basics, parents can lead a team of professionals to get their affected offspring on the right track towards an optimal outcome.

Other Lectures
For 3 days, there was a full roster of presentations covering cause, effects and treatments. In addition to Dr. Theoharides, world-renowned researchers and practitioners, such as Drs. Dan Rossignol, Richard Frye, Jerry Kartzinel, and Anju Usman, gave their learned and extensive points-of-view about ASD.

It is my belief that sometimes the lectures were too demanding. Although the audience was quite intelligent and knowledgable, they seemed to expect more in the way of treatment options for their child, than basic science.

Jenny Group

Ryan Blair, Jenny, Jodi Gomes, Ryan&Dawn Neufeld, Jacqueline&Chris Laurita

Jenny McCarthy
Cue the music, lights, cameras, video screens and action! To this crowd, the lady is a rock-star. She definitely delivered a great message, filled with personal anecdotes, humor, empathy and hope. A panel discussion followed, consisting of famous, and not-so-famous, warrior moms and dads. This was certainly one of the conference highlights.

When I announced on Facebook that I was attending this conference, one of my ‘followers’ wrote, “I think I’m going to unlike this page now,” presumably because of the ‘misguided’ position of Generation Rescue regarding the issue of vaccine injury.  Talk about the polarized world of autism diagnosis and treatment.

Bottom line – I would definitely recommend this yearly conference to parents who have the time and resources.

Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs Fall 2015 Meeting

Sunday, September 13th, 2015
Hyatt Grand Regency Orlando, FL

Hyatt Grand Regency
Orlando, FL

I am proud to report my continuing perfect attendance at the meetings, since the organization’s inception 4 years ago. These semiannual conferences represent one of the handful of valuable expositions, such as SFARI, to advance the science of practical approaches to modern developmental conditions.

There are multiple courses covering a variety of subjects, up to 8 hours per day for three days, presented by the most highly respected professionals in the field.

Day 1
Take home facts of the day:
√ Depending on the practitioner (and geographic practice location), costs (especially lab $) can vary widely.

√ In unusual or resistant cases, the treating practitioners should be concerned about the gut, fungus, toxins (especially metals), PANDAS (PANS, PITANDS), and Lyme Disease.

√ Genes regulating metabolism and function are affected by methylation that leads to downstream behaviors consistent with signs and symptoms of ASD. Folic acid metabolism, including the regulatory genes (MTHFR), methyl B12,and the resulting pathways were stressed as targets of possible intervention.

√ These really creepy-looking worms could help.
HDCThe therapy is used to reset the immune system. There is a great deal of research and literature to support the claim of immune system improvement. Cases were presented where patients made remarkable progress. It doesn’t help that the ‘critters’ are harvested from insects and the name is Hymenolepis diminuta cysticercoides, HDC therapy for short.
Most important about this discussion is the fact that Dr. Sid Baker, founder of biomedical interventions and respected researcher, clinician, teacher, father figure, and guru – is the strongest proponent of this new protocol. Dr. Sidney BakerIn fact, he has a little farm that produces high quality, fresh product, at a fair price. Even so, the general consensus from the peanut gallery at this time was that it is a ‘hard sell’, except perhaps for the most trusting and/or frustrated parents.

√ Also, Dr. B recommended liberal use of magnesium and essential oils as safe and effective interventions. The group was definitely more comfortable with that advice.

Day 2


A most interesting discussion ensued when Dr. Dan Rossignol, our fearless leader, presented a ‘typical’ case of a toddler diagnosed with autism. The various ways that the experienced practitioners handled this child – from workup to treatment interventions – came to the fore. The doctors were all addressing the same problems, but went about it with fairly disparate protocols. There is no one way, at this time, to ‘skin this cat’.

Dr. Baker presented his fascinating background as an innovator in the biomedical treatment of autism. He stressed yeast problems in the GI system, and went on to explain his journey into helminthic therapy, which has produced significant results in his practice.

Complicated cases filled out the day.

A touching tribute to Dr. Jeffrey Bradstreet was presented at the Friday evening reception. Those who worked with him told their stories of an innovator, pioneer, and caring doctor.

Day 3
Dr. Stephen Genuis, Ob-Gyn, University of Edmonton professor, and the author of Chemical Sensitivity: Pathophysiology or Pathopsychology? was first to present at the plenary session, covering toxicity. He is knowledgeable and passionate about poisons in the environment. His lectures provided new ammunition to address skepticism, and the rationale for strategies to detoxify.

The toxicants of Dr. Genuis’ focus were Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs), which are ubiquitous in homes, on carpets, non-stick surfaces, and may cause metabolic disruptions with clinical effects; from cancer to headaches. After reviewing available and tested options, his conclusion was that the most effective treatment was periodic phlebotomy (removal of blood).

Supporting and related information was presented by Dr. Ken BockDr. David Quig, and Dr. Kenneth Stoller.

After 3 days of lectures, the bottom line is that the air, food and water is not safe, and the most exciting interventions are blood-letting, worms and special oils. It’s 2015?

A Real Autism Story

Monday, September 7th, 2015

My amazing journey in this practice of Special Needs Pediatric Medicine is about to take another interesting turn. Over a decade ago, I started researching, observing and testing children for ASD, then working at the county’s first autism clinic. It became clear that conventional medicine was not prepared for the present epidemic of developmental problems.

Karen Vossen

Karen Vossen

With the assistance of my wife, Jackie, and Karen Vossen, the mother of a child with autism, we started the Child Development Center of America. Karen, our Practice Administrator, is no ordinary mom of a special needs child (if there is such a person). She is knowledgeable and determined to help other families affected by developmental disabilities. Karen has pointed out that, in that pursuit, she is better able to assist in determining the best direction and outcome for her child.

JulianSeveral years ago, Karen suggested that the Clinic should train and hire a former patient who was attending college. Any reluctance on my part was met by Karen’s comment that, “If we can’t show that patients can join the workforce, what are we doing in this practice?”

Julian was first introduced to our office when he was already an older teen, who had been considerably affected by ASD in his earlier years. His parents had pursued biomedical intervention at a time when only a few saw the value, and it has produced significant positive results.

When you speak with this exceptional young man, who is working on his second collegiate degree, he explains that he “used to have autism.” And, he’s correct. Leftover issues from those earlier years are challenges in social interactions, which he manages just fine, and some sensory stuff, such as being a picky eater. He shines in his abilities to learn new tasks and stay focused on the job at hand.

The school that Karen’s son attends is associated with a not-for-profit organization to assist graduates beyond the age of 21. Karen contacted the principal to inquire about students who might be seeking some type of job training in a professional environment. She saw this as an opportunity for Julian to mentor. He was given the task to write a job description, which was reviewed and revised a few times, until Julian got it right.

Everyone was concerned – both moms, the administrator, Karen and myself. Everyone, that is, except the principle players. We were introduced to Steven, a twenty-one year old, bright individual who is shedding his earlier signs and symptoms of autism. He works hard at maintaining eye contact and social interactions, and is eager to get into the workplace.

Before the first meeting, Karen was explaining what tasks she thought Steven would need to learn in order to get started with work. Julian stated, “Wouldn’t it be better if we sat down and spoke for a while so that we get to understand each other?” And, the two of them had an amazing conversation that led to a successful day of work, camaraderie, and exchange of knowledge. Any supervisor would have been proud of how smooth-running that day went.

Karen has done an remarkable job. Both individuals adapted to the workplace situation just fine. They taught the rest of us about how to fit in as gentle, understanding, capable and happy staff members.

So far, these young men have given us as much as we have given them. Hopefully, there will be other businesses that choose to take advantage of this special work force. This experiment indicates that Karen’s son – and others with similar challenges – will be able to succeed, as well.

Learning About Autism

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Kelsey Bragg

Over the past five years, The Child Development Center of America has been fortunate to host a number of ‘interns’. These are bright, young people who wish to get experience in a medical setting, work with families, and learn about the challenges of raising children who have developmental concerns. Some have stayed with the practice or gone on to further their careers. This year, we are losing another valuable staffer to the outside world. I am proud to have mentored Kelsey and asked (coerced, cajoled, begged) her to tell her story:

After being introduced to Dr. Udell and hearing about his special needs pediatric practice, I was intrigued to find out more. I met with the office manager, Karen, and we spoke about interning for Child Development Center of America. I really had no idea what to expect. Aside from working with a special needs youth soccer league, my experience was limited. During my first several weeks, I was so nervous; everyone else involved in the practice had a child or sibling ‘on the spectrum’.

My other interning experiences had all been strictly, “by the book” medical protocols. I was introduced me to a different way of thinking, changing and challenging my previous cookie cutter methodology. The Center’s approach is unique and can be intimidating at first, especially paired with Dr. Udell’s sometimes intense personality, but I quickly realized that it comes from his burning passion and deep caring for his patients. How many other doctors take patients’ calls at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night?

The time that I have spent at CDCA has been a great learning experience. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn first-hand from someone who I’d like to emulate for my own patients one day, after attending Drexel – Hahnemann PA school in Philadelphia. Not only did I have the opportunity to observe a different approach, I learned to expand my thought process, to explore all possibilities, and to think outside the box. I believe this is an invaluable skill, which I plan to utilize when I begin practicing.

I have asked a multitude of questions of everyone at the office, and people always took the time to not only answer my questions but to fully explain and engage with me. I have learned how to interact with patients and parents; whether it is knowing when to take a sterner approach, when to be more lenient, to be empathetic and supportive to the new parents who are embarking on an emotional rollercoaster. I have been bit, hit, yelled at, and at times talked down to, just like everyone else who works here, but I have also had the great pleasure of interacting with so many truly amazing children and parents.

Understanding autism is extremely tricky because no two children are alike. It is not like other disorders where patient A presents with X, Y, and Z therefore their diagnosis is Q. I think this makes things even more difficult on parents because they see one child progressing in a specific area and tend to compare. This can be hard to explain to parents, but it is vital to keep in mind that cases vary and although one child may have strengths in one area, your child may have strengths in another. I believe it is important to keep this in mind and focus on YOUR child’s improvements; it takes time, but Dr. Udell’s protocol can get your child to progress. I truly believe in what we do.

It’s going to be hard to leave in a few short weeks because this staff truly feels like an extended family; extremely close and intertwined. We have become more than just coworkers and I am going to miss everyone here, but I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work with, and learn from, all of these wonderful people.

 LogoHeadAnd remember, as we say, “Are you a fun guy or do you have fungi?”


Reflections at the End of the School Year from the Mom of a child with ASD

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Some of you may remember me from my first guest blog entry a few years ago. This was where we were on our journey back then:

Here’s how incredibly far we’ve come…

This year, for the first time, the end of school and the completion of another grade does not scare me or send me into a frenzy of fear. In the past, the beginning of June sent me reeling about what skills Benji continued to lack and how unprepared he seemed for the next grade. Instead, this year, I reflect upon what a miraculous year it has been and look forward to what the next year will bring.

This year, Benji has learned that the world isn’t only black or white, but sometimes also gray.

  • He is now able to draw conclusions, especially when eaves dropping on my conversations.
  • He understands when he makes me angry, really angry and even tries to make it right. We argued one evening a few months ago before I left him home with my husband. All was forgiven when I woke him up the following morning for school and found, “I love my mommy and can’t wait to celebrate her birthday next week” written on the white board in his room.
  • He understood that his grandmother was dying although no one told him. He insisted on speaking at her funeral and spoke with the grace and eloquence of an adult, not a nine year old on the Autism Spectrum. He sensed his father’s sadness, as well as his grandfather’s loneliness and sought to help each one.

This year, Benji has gained the confidence to do things and go places without me. At first it was a restroom in a restaurant. Later, it was a birthday party. More recently, it was a roller coaster!

This year, Benji has established real friendships and finally feels comfortable enough in his own skin to go on ‘playdates’ without me. He knows exactly which children he feels comfortable with and has a knack for always finding the “calm, kind ones.”

This year, through hard work on all of our parts, more of the missing pieces were found and new connections were made in Benji’s brain. He participated in an autism research study that required him to attend both school and four hours of intensive therapy each day. That therapy was 65 miles from our house. Perhaps he has more resilience than certain experts predicted 4 or 5 years ago.

This year, after participating in the research study, Benji was evaluated by Dr. Udell. According to Dr. Udell, Benji has achieved the optimal outcome when one has ASD,  he is now considered in  ‘residual state.’  To us that means that he is no longer defined by his autism, but it is an important piece of the amazing kid he has become.

Is our work finished? Of course not… social issues are still a work in progress. Reading comprehension isn’t as strong as it could or should be. Overreactions are sometimes still a stumbling block. However, the issues that once seemed overwhelming and impossible to deal with are are all manageable now.

While watching Benji and his first real friend ride a roller coaster at Universal Studios a few weeks ago, I realized that Benji has learned to ride the roller coaster of life, and is now able to take the ups and downs as they come. Gone is the little boy who cried if I didn’t push his stroller in the same direction each and every time we went for a walk. Gone is the toddler who refused to drink from anything but the garden hose when we finally mustered the courage to throw his bottle in the garbage. Gone is the kid that didn’t sleep through the night for the first seven years of his life. That kid has morphed into one who is remarkably perceptive, compassionate and kind. Funny, several years ago (before meeting Dr. Udell), we were told that Benji lacked the capacity for empathy. We were told that we should take him home and love him rather than waste our money on unproven therapies. Thank goodness we opted to ignore that advice.

Food for Thought about Autism

Friday, May 17th, 2013

The goal of biomedical treatment is to optimize health in order to minimize inflammation, prevent disruptive behaviors, enable normal development, and allow the traditional therapies to take hold. This is the story of one of our parents who became a believer after getting rid of the offending nutritional fare.

After our son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, I spent about two weeks in a very dark place. As soon as I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I knew I needed to try to be as strong as I could so that I could help our son. About six weeks after our first visit with Dr. Udell, we received all of the test results for food sensitivities. My son had been a great eater (this is a story for another time) until we found out he was highly allergic to peanuts; then, after experiencing anaphylaxis at 17 months due to eggs, food became a MUCH bigger problem. He had pneumonia for the first time in February 2012, which was frightening. We were told that he suffered from Reactive Airways Disease and that he would be sick for quite a few years. I had such a difficult time just accepting this news, so I researched solutions. He was on a regimen of Singular, Xoponex, and Pulmicort in the nebulizer and, if it got severe enough, oral steroids. Our son was always ill. Sick so much that people did not believe us. This year, my son was on steroids (either oral or inhaled) from October until March, but he was still not better. One of the fill-in pediatricians proclaimed, “He is on too much medicine to be this sick!”

This past March, after our follow-up appointment for biomedical treatment, we started our son on a high dose probiotic and Diflucan. At that visit, we received a long list of items for our son not to eat. My husband and I decided to dive head first into this and get rid of his beloved bananas and Lorna Doones (cookies). I was skeptical about the food changes because any time you hear the word autism, GF /CF diets are soon to follow. I am not sure if the food, the probiotic or the Diflucan changed our son but something did and he has not had any more respiratory issues. I am not a Dr. but as we noticed our son changing with all of the new protocols, he became a healthy 3 and a half year old little boy. No steroids for 7 weeks and counting.

Back to my son’s food issues. He never got back to eating fish and chicken, as he did in his infancy. He eats a lot of pouches from Earth’s Best or Plum Organics. He drinks a smoothie in the morning but, since we had to change to rice milk, we provide Silk protein drink and soy yogurt. I went to my local health food stores (the big box ones are so expensive) and found Annie’s Gluten Free Bunnies, Crunch-master cinnamon sugar crackers, Enjoy Life sugar cookies and Home Free little sugar cookies. We had to bribe him with toys to get him to try new foods, but it worked. Now, we have a few items to take when we go out, so he can feel like a normal kid.

Quick tips for giant food changes. Talk to your local health food stores and see if they can order selected products for in-store purchase. Often, they will offer a discount if you order a case or more. Check out (it’s free) where you could get discounts on baby and kids items, make sure to sign up for their ‘subscriptions and save’ programs. The pouches from Plum Organics are $1.79 at Babies R Us and they are shipped to me for $12.46 per dozen, a savings of $9.02. The Enjoy Life cookies list for $4.69 a box, but through Amazon they are $2.84. Not everything is cheaper at Amazon, but with the expense of a GF/CF/egg/nut etc. diet, every little bit helps.

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Brian D. Udell MD
6974 Griffin Road
FL 33314
Office phone – 954-873-8413
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