Archive for the ‘Diets’ Category

Autism Un-Awareness

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

March 27-March 29, 2014. The meeting of Special Needs Pediatricians in California.

Friday, March 28, 2014. The CDC announcement that “about 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)…”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014. Autism Awareness Day (and Month).

Pretty much, such news should have set off a call to action, don’t you think? Yet, there seems to be very little traction. We’re already into the 3rd week of the month, and it doesn’t seem that publicized questions go beyond, “So, do you really think that there is more autism, or have we just changed the criteria?” And, as always, the vaccination issue… Or, nothing.

With deference to those with autism who are pleased with their life and lifestyle, what other childhood epidemic has gotten so little attention? In my youth, polio created summertime panic for our mothers and we were often kept indoors (and that was pre-ac, where I lived). In 1952, at its highest incidence, combined cases (paralytic and non-paralyzing) occurred in ~58,000 out of a population of 158 million people, with approximately 37 million susceptible youth. That was a risk of 1 per 2000 children.

Some may argue that, “Polio carried the risks of death or paralysis, this is just autism.”
“Just autism,” is not a term that I have heard any parent express.
Ergo, we need to erase Autism Un-Awareness.

Knowledge and experience will get us beyond this rhetoric. The first part is expanding daily. The associations between autism and inflammation, G-I heath, environmental toxins and genetic susceptibility continue to be re-confirmed in the conventional scientific literature.

Parents now request much more information about pre-pregnancy and maternal health. Families bring younger and younger children for evaluation. Developmental delays that were previously considered as ‘minor,’ or ‘normal’ may get evaluated and addressed. Sadly, the pediatric community continues to follow a more traditional course in the diagnosis and treatment of this epidemic. Children, nowadays, don’t appear to simply ‘outgrow’ slow language development in the presence of some repetitive or unusual movements. Medical evaluation and intervention does not appear to be consistent with their version.

With so few practitioners willing to learn about and tackle this condition in an aggressive and non-traditional manner, experience is evolving at a slower-than-expected pace. Technological tools, such as relational databases, can play a significant role as conventional medicine catches up with the explosion of cases in such a disparate group of patients and practitioners. is a great example. (Thank you, Dr. Baker)

I’m not quite certain what percentage increase it will take to sway the general population that we have a real problem on our hands. Maybe it won’t be a percentage at all. President Roosevelt’s story warned a previous generation about polio. In 1963, the plight of President Kennedy’s premie spurred the development of NICUs with trained specialists to solve the problems of prematurity, while preserving healthy development. It took Magic Johnson to get the public riled up about HIV and the risk to the entire community. Angelina Jolie exposed the BRCA gene, etc.

Real autism awareness will come when we stop asking the old questions and start considering the condition(s), as it (they) is (are). What we call ASD is a new disorder in a new century. Autism was around and has been creeping up on us.
Speaking of polio, epidemics were virtually unknown in the US until the 20th century.

New shit happens.

Vitamin D for Autism and ADHD

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

One of the more common out-of-range laboratory findings in the children who come to our clinic is a low vitamin D level. Learning about the myriad effects of this important nutrient ought to encourage parents to ask their pediatric specialist to check the blood concentration when evaluating patients with ASD or ADHD.


  1. Vitamin D enhances the intestinal absorption of:
    1. Calcium
    2. Iron
    3. Magnesium
    4. Phosphate
    5. Zinc
  2. It is involved with the immune system:
    1. Normal functioning
    2. Inflammatory response
  3. There are effects on neuromuscular functioning.
  4. Bone mineralization is influenced.
  5. The vitamin is involved with modulating genes that regulate cell growth, proliferation, differentiation and death.

The sequential manner in which this hormone-like vitamin gets into the body, and becomes active, helps explain possible reasons for insufficiency, and observed effects.


Dietary Sources:
According to an interview on WebMD, “Surprisingly few foods contain vitamin D…” Dr. DeNoon lists “Super foods,” such as (wild caught) salmon, mackerel, shellfish and mushrooms. Mostly, though, humans were built to get our vitamin D through the skin, so foods are now fortified to make up the difference.
Based on bone health, and given acceptable calcium levels, dosages of 600 IU/d for non-seniors “meet the requirements of at least 97.5% of the population…” BTW, the RDA for vitamin D was derived based on conditions of minimal sun exposure.
There is apparently conflict among the experts, however, about the definition of standard levels. Recommended intakes for infants and children vary from 400IU to 1000IU per day, with unanswered questions about increases.

You can take too much:
This is a fat soluble product, meaning that it can accumulate and become toxic. That is why a doctor should evaluate and follow levels, especially in high-risk children.

The laboratory evaluation is usually done by testing for blood levels of 25-hydroxy Vitamin D, which is NOT the active form. A calcitriol (1,25 di-hydroxy Vitamin D) level must be ordered separately. The results, and variation from the standards vary, depending on the laboratory. Calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium may be checked, as well.

Autism and ADHD
ASD patients do not represent a ‘normal’ population. RDAs are, in my opinion, the amount below which some neuro-typical people can get symptoms. It seems to me, “Low normal,” is “low.”
There are numerous reports of children spending less and less time outdoors in physical activity,
especially those ‘on the Spectrum’.
Many kids are picky eaters or have been placed on restricted diets
that might affect absorption and levels.

The dermatologists have warned about the dangers of ultraviolet exposure, so SPF 188 was invented and applied copiously.
Often, children have eczema and other skin conditions that
might interfere with normal metabolism.

The conversion of chemicals to the active form assumes a healthy circulation, liver and kidneys. Many of the patients do not appear in optimal health.
There are genetic disorders of calcium metabolism
that present with autism.
There is even evidence that maternal levels may play a role in ASD.

Mostly, however, I am not sure why
so many patients exhibit decreased vitamin D levels.

Children with values that are at, or below the low range of ‘normal’ (depending on the lab), are usually given”D3,” 1,000 – 2,000 IU extra per day.

Treated patients are re-evaluated by periodic testing, plus documentation of daily supplemental intake.
Positive effects, such as a healthier immune system, are usually noticed within a month or two of getting the correct dose. Sometimes, sleep improves (try giving at night). The other therapies appear to work more efficiently; there appears to be better cognition, focus, and eye contact as vitamin D levels are normalized.

It is difficult to sift through, and pinpoint, the specific biomedical intervention that leads to healthier and happier children. “Documentation,” as they say, “is lacking.” It certainly feels as if adding vitamin D3, when it is low or deficient, helps practitioners achieve improvements in signs and symptoms of ASD.

Oral supplementation is inexpensive, usually well-tolerated by the child, can be followed by documenting the course of treatment and laboratory confirmation.

Two Hundred Child Development Stories

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

This is my 200th official blog. Yay.

There were several reasons that I started writing back in 2011, and why I continue to produce these stories.

  1. To aid the constant Internet search that families go through in order to assist their developmentally-affected children. The reader’s ability to scrutinize the authority and basic science of medical information is proportional to the knowledge gained by “seeing it on the web.” Surfing is not research. I hope to provide a venue where readers can trust that the material is well researched and presented in a palatable form. Hyperlinks to the original articles are provided whenever possible. “Don’t argue with me,” I tell my skeptical colleagues. “Discuss it with the professors who wrote the paper!”
  2. My competition is the Internet. “My esteemed neurologist colleague,” who hasn’t changed his views on autism in the past 20 years, is still a respected professional. So, I write to enlighten and, hopefully, entertain, while making sure that is accurate and up-to-date. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
  3. Producing this blog is homework. Days, and sometimes even weeks, are spent thinking about, researching, writing and editing each story. I am encouraged to organize my thoughts and to learn about new subjects. To teach is to learn.
  4. I can refer to these discussions for patient questions and clarification. These stories can provide a valuable aid to understanding some very complicated subjects. Plus, I invite readers to ask their pediatrician and other medical specialists to examine this information.
  5. The Child Development Center is a single practitioner private practice. With a small, but interesting and interested support staff, we are busy taking care of the patients, not studying them. This is an effective setting to tell our stories.
  6. Through this website, families from all over learn about this enigmatic epidemic and explore effective treatment options. reaches a worldwide audience. More than 150,000 visits have been recorded, there are now nearly 10,000 views per month, and the site remains high in Google searches. Importantly, I have the honor of caring for patients from around the globe.

Personal Facts
My favorite posting is “Joe the Plumber“, one of my first literary attempts in this digital venue. It was an attempt to convince parents that there were doctors willing to assist in the recovery of their affected children.

The most difficult work was the HBOT series. Such a complicated topic cannot be understood by advertising, testimonials or word of mouth.

My most emotional stories are on Mothers and Fathers Day. One Dad told me that he keeps a copy of the 2011 posting by his desk whenever he needs a healthy reminder about how lucky he is.

The busiest single story is not even mine! I’m not sure how she does it, but this mother warrior tells a great tale and has attracted many readers.

The most popular over time is the information about methyl B12 injections. I continue to refine and update that page; as well as to report that, under professional direction, this is one of our most effective medical therapies.

I am rarely at a loss for words about the epidemic of childhood developmental issues. Loyal readers, have no fear: I have over 60 blogposts ‘in the can’, ready to be fleshed out, awaiting more information, and/ or more interest. There will be more conferences to report about, and new research to be presented and explained.

To me, these are more than just stories.

Autism Goals

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

An important barometer in the current treatment of ASD is the creation of an IEP and the achievement of stated goals. While it is necessary to document progress, the present mechanism may not always engender enough of the kinds of skills that are needed in the real world.

As children improve from the conditions that surround ASD, IEPs notwithstanding, these age-appropriate activities of daily living must be achieved:

  1. The ability to get ready in the morning.
  2. Getting out of the house, into the car, out of the car and into the school, without a major meltdown.
  3. Following the directions of school personnel.
  4. Being able to sit, fairly still, for varying periods of time. Or, at least stand there. Or, at least not be disruptive.
  5. Learn a new activity, or practice a necessary skill.
  6. Transition to another exercise, which may be more difficult (or impossible), or less-preferred.
  7. Kids learn how to be kids from each other. So, children need to show and share.
  8. As development proceeds, children display a desire to watch others play, engage in play, and even initiate.
  9. Getting out of the school, into the car, out of the car and into the house, without a major meltdown.

Academic achievement is the standard for neurotypical patients. For the autistic child, socialization will bring the maturity that can create significant progress.

Does my child meet the following criteria?

Does the child turn to voices and especially their name? “Your son won’t listen,” or “Your daughter doesn’t pay attention,” is a common concern. That is especially frustrating for those amazing kids who hear and take in everything, but are believed to be ‘slow learners’. The IEP goal? “Your child will turn to their name most of the time, when they are called, without prompting.”

Do they make eye contact with other children, not just family members? This important social skill is a major first step in normal play. If you watch a group of 3 or 4 year-olds, they don’t ask, “Who wants to play chase?” There’s no memo or adult prompting; they just look at each other, screech, and start to run around. Finding social situations where your child can practice is so much more important than how well they play Angry Birds.

The ability to speak is paramount. That doesn’t mean hours and hours of Speech and Language Therapy by itself. The Child Development Center has seen hundreds of children who developed speech by utilizing a combination of therapies with medical evaluation and appropriate, effective interventions. Our older apraxic patients have different problems.

For children who can speak, do they use their voice at the appropriate times (naming, answering) or only when prompted? Is there a great deal of echolalia, saying the same sentence as the questioner? Does scripting seem to make sense and, at least, be in context, or does the conversation seem to be gibberish? These rituals are practice, not to be discouraged, but the child must generalize language to appropriate situations. Kids judge other kids.

Sensory difficulties are a major hurdle for many ASD patients. Sounds may be too loud, lighting to harsh, and experiences so stimulating that children exhibit repetitive motor behaviors (stimming). For both the student and the classroom, addressing these issues (e.g., sensory diet) will make things go more smoothly.

Aggressive behaviors will not be tolerated for very long in any educational situation. Rather than making excuses for why your child behaves in a disruptive or violent manner (whether SIBs or directed at others), gastrointestinal health and ABA intervention is more important than any academic effort.

We are talkin’ ‘baby steps’ here. Autism is not someone’s fault. It is a condition of the 21st century that requires appropriate medical and therapeutic intervention.

Camel’s Milk for Autism

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Concerned parents continuously search for the key nutritional product(s) that might help their developmentally affected children. There are several reasons for this grail-quest.

Formost, in my opinion, is the paucity of useful information that has emanated, so far, from the medical community. If we were doing a better job, parents would be learning from their doctors, rather than the other way around. Not that we have been given much to work with. Far more money has been spent ensuring that Pediasure contains multiple flavorings than whether too much of it might be part of a vicious cycle leading to autism.

Next, is the relative ease with which sometimes rather exotic supplements can be acquired and administered. They don’t cost all that much money (compared to ABA, e.g.), might produce quicker results, and only have to be mixed with all the other stuff in the concoction that Junior calls his morning ‘smoothie’. Often, the logic is along the lines of the chicken soup theory. “It wouldn’t hurt,” in my grandmother’s vernacular.

The Internet is a magnet for inquiring families. How can you NOT just peek at a story that seems EXACTLY the same as your kid’s problem? Families don’t even need a doctor to give a diet a try. How can you NOT attempt to feed an affected child coconut oil, a FODMAPS diet, or omega3 fatty acid?

Sometimes, for various reasons, improvement could be related to the magic potion, or perceived changes could be merely coincidental. If a ‘miracle’ occurs, it can be broadcast on a world stage. That brings me to camel’s milkAt the last scientific meeting, this topic was covered in some detail. I didn’t come away wanting to put a dromedary in the office. However, I’m not opposed to it, either.

The Good
It’s a great source of nutrition, is usually well tolerated, and there is not much in the way of visible allergic signs or symptoms. The milk won’t lead to casomorphin production (leaky gut, making children addicted and looking ‘stoned’), and (in the raw form) it contains protective immunoglobulins.
There are reports of improvement, some remarkable.
For parents who have reached the end of their rope because their child doesn’t seem to tolerate any other reasonable form of nutrition, it could be worth a try.

The Bad
Camel’s milk affords no allergic advantage over cow’s milk as far as folate receptor autoantibody formation, which plays a role in some types of ASD.
It is difficult to obtain (in the USA, at least). You need to join a ‘club’ (~$25) and swear to hold the producers harmless, should there be any problem. Then, there are the questions of whether to pick the homogenized vs. raw version, fresh vs. frozen, with or without kefir (containing grains for yeast fermentation). 

The Ugly
Best advertised web prices, sans shipping:

Source Approx. price per oz.
Cow (whole, pasteurized) $0.11
Pediasure $0.20
Almond, Coconut, Soy $0.04
Goat (whole, raw, from farm) $0.26
Goat (pasteurized) $0.17
Goat (evaporated) $0.13
Camel (fresh) $0.88
Camel (frozen) $0.63
Camel (frozen w Kefir) $0.94

Specialized milk provides another potentially helpful alternative for certain patients. I firmly believe in optimizing nutritional support, but as long as there is no apparent harm, it’s just food. How does your child tolerate the various combinations of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals? Measurements need to be documented along with the most important parameter, your child’s relief from autism. Patients at The Child Development Center are tracked by somatic, allergic and metabolic markers, as well.

Breast milk is the best milk. After that, pick the one that the baby enjoys, is non-allergic, in reasonable volumes, and produces growth and development in your child.

BTW, if you do choose it, the children may start to have a slightly camel odor.

Vitamin B12, Reflux and Autism

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Periodic subcutaneous injection of methyl B12 is one of the most effective treatments for many children presenting with ASD. The vitamin improves autistic signs such as speech apraxia, ‘fog’, and low muscle tone. This therapy often addresses downstream symptoms such as aggressive behavior or solitary play.

So, the scientific paper that was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that details the deficiency of B12 in patients who use common over-the-counter antacid preparations begs the question of whether there is an iatrogenic cause to the growing number of patients, diagnosed in infancy with GERD, who now have a “Spectrum” condition and seem improve with MeB12 treatments.

This isn’t the first article declaring difficulties due to anti-reflux medications. In 2009, The Harvard Family Medical Guide asked the question “Do PPIs have long-term side effects?” Complications from such preparations include:
√ Decreased direct digestion because of a less acidic environment.
√ Pepsin, a digestive enzyme, requires an acidic environment.
√ Stomach acidity is a built-in barrier to infection.
√ Increase in Clostridia difficile, which has been implicated in autistic behaviors.
√ Affects the body’s absorption of calcium, affecting regulatory pathways and mitochondria, which has been implicated in autism, especially those associated with certain gene types.

There are many books about the subject, the most recent and popular one questioning lots of misdiagnosis that could be due to low levels of this crucial substance.

What makes the recent research important is that it details long term use. Researchers found a stronger association with PPIs and H2RAs in younger age groups. Use of more than 1.5 pills per day had a higher relationship than less than .75 pills per day. How many pills did/does your child take? Plus, this study considered adult patients.

Conventional medicine is used to assigning the diagnosis of low levels of B12 to a condition known as pernicious anemia. That is an extreme condition due to the absence of a special protein that is made in the stomach. The patients in the newly published study were diagnosed on low B12 levels alone. The vitamin helps make red blood cells that carry oxygen. Patients may feel tired, weak or have problems in other organs throughout the body.

As I previously reported, one possible cause of the increase in GERD is the practice of putting infants on their back, which has decreased the incidence of SIDS. However, infants may be more likely to regurgitate in that position, resulting in the medical diagnosis (GERD) and pharmaceutical intervention (PPIs and H2RAs).

There are many associations that require further investigation as we try to put this puzzle together. GERD, fungal overgrowth, poor muscle tone, poor sleep, loss of social interactions, and other autistic behaviors could be part of a vicious cycle.

This connection with pharmaceutical intervention for GERD needs to be highlighted. Pediatricians and other specialists should investigate the cause of GERD, use safe and effective interventions, such as probiotics and positioning, and avoid causing more potential harm.

Sit or Get Off the Potty – Toilet Training and Autism

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

iPotty @Amazon ~$35

As in many things ASD-ish, instructions that usually work in neuro-typical children are not certain to shape up as expected. For example, advising the mom of an autistic finicky eater, “Just let him sit there, he’ll eventually eat,” could be a big mistake. The affected individual may actually starve rather than consume “that smelly thing.” (The Reason I Jump)

According to the History of Potty Training, the age of acquiring this important skill has actually gone UP over the years, as the ability to dispose of the evidence has gotten more convenient. In the middle of the last century, Dr. Spock introduced the Gentle Training Approach in his famous child-rearing text. “Readiness” placed as the first criterion in that successful approach.

Another pediatric authority, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton later advocated his “Child Oriented Approach,” which has become the most frequently offered advice, in one form or another, by the modern pediatric community.

Dr. B suggested that success depended on “the child’s interest and compliance in developing autonomous control… This was in instituted at about 2 years of age… Daytime training was accomplished by 2-1/2 years, first children slower.” 80% nighttime training was completed by 3 years, and males took 2-1/2 months longer.

More recently, Dr. ‘Bob’ Sears has been oft-quoted for his Potty Training Tips. Helpful signals of ‘readiness’ are offered, and he discusses practical issues such as potty chairs, diapers, and the like.

With autistic toddlers, however, there are physiological and psychological differences. Caregivers are challenged with a task that, at it’s core requires “readiness,” which is so difficult to determine. In addition to speech apraxia and other communication difficulties, important differences in ASD patients include:

  1. G-I motility – low tone and slower transit times can lead to poor gut health, bacterial or fungal imbalance, poor nutrient absorption, and abnormal stools.
  2. Increased pain threshold – affected patients can withhold longer, or they might not even sense fullness correctly.
  3. Gut inflammation from bacteria, viruses, yeast or food allergy often leads to unhealthy stools.
  4. Medications,including PPIs and esp Miralax®, may mask, set off, or worsen G-I disturbances.
  5. A restricted or junk-food diet may lead to vitamin and other nutritional deficiencies and disorders.
  6. As a child ages, self-esteem and anxiety often compound the issue and confound effective training.

An informal survey around the office yielded some interesting opinions. Karen, our kind practice administrator (and successful mother of 2), suggested that bribery worked best in her son with autism. Lisa, our compassionate bookkeeper (and successful mother of 4), added that having older male siblings helped her child the most. That, plus bribery.

Our budding in-house ABA therapist, Bianca, experienced success at a trusted local ABA facility. She observed that, in a group of manageable size, those requiring toilet training are subject to frequent lavatory visits of short duration. We all agreed that the ‘newspapers-on-the-ground-with-a-nude-kid’ trick might work, but it takes a lot of effort.

My version relies on the patients’ overactivity and preference for schedules. I suggest that the number of bathroom visits be determined by the number of BMs plus one. One-to-three times each day, for example, a child would be placed on the potty, pants down, for only 3 or 5 seconds, counted down clearly. Each day, that time can be increased until 30 seconds or so. If it takes 15 minutes, it is taking too long. Try bribery.

Ultimately, however, the single most important item to consider when faced with potty training a developmentally challenged child is a thorough, accurate evaluation and assessment of gastrointestinal integrity. If the gut is not healthy, the task may not only be unsuccessful, it could further influence many other behaviors, as well.

The Earliest Earliest Signs of Autism

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

There has been a lot of recent news coverage about a study demonstrating that young infants who display certain problems may be presenting with the earliest sign of autism. Not the first such research, not the last. Three months prior, an investigation into the number of folds in the placenta correlated with risk of ASD. Two years previous, there was an article about early MRI findings.

What is medical science doing with this information? The state-of-the-art seems to be stuck at the corner of whether there is an epidemic and not much can really be done. Given the well-accepted view that ASD is a mostly genetic disorder, only the traditional therapies are believed to demonstrate value. There is a disconnect when the question comes to, what treatments are out there that might be working, and how can they be evaluated?

Whenever a new report surfaces describing such information, how should clinicians respond? The ASD diagnosis depends upon considering the core domains of ‘speech/language’ and ‘repetitive movements’; signs and symptoms that, in infancy, are as-yet undeveloped behaviors. The loss of eye tracking, which was the finding in the study, could be associated with losing the third global delay, socialization, and might represent a problem with communication, as well.

New information of this type will be most helpful when earlier suspicion leads to prompt medical interventions. A less publicized but equally important article appeared this week in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, where researchers “… found that gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, diarrhea and sensitivity to food occurred six to eight times more often in those with autism than in other children.”

With such knowledge, the doctor might order blood work to scrutinize a weakened immune system, anemia or earlier nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin D. Comorbid conditions, such as eczema or asthma, should take on a more serious investigation, perhaps with more complicated treatment options. A heightened index of suspicion might lead to the provision of interventions, such as OT and PT, to address low tone, or feeding.

Given a possible diagnosis as early as 6 months, it is no longer enough for the doctor to say, “Let’s wait a year, or two, and we’ll see what does (or doesn’t) develop.” Rather, the pediatrician should advise, “These may be the earliest signs of this autism problem. Let’s dig more thoroughly into the medical history and try to address other problems, such as GERD, constipation, or ear infections.”

With newer information, parents might be more likely to listen to advice about optimal nutrition, limited antibiotic use and environmental toxins. Once early risk is assessed, additional studies involving children at risk should be undertaken. A comparison of projected vs. observed risk could answer questions about all sorts of compounding factors; from challenging the immune response, to dietary alterations, to G-I disturbances, to CNS function and behaviors.

An exciting part of the research about eye tracking appeared in the conclusion, “…the observation…offers a promising opportunity for early intervention…” The explanation that followed was complicated. Thanks to the authors, though, for offering hope for specific treatment. This represents valuable research into other interventions that could prevent onset or severity of ASD.

For now, this week’s news should provide increased incentive for doctors to take early signs of autism and risk more seriously. Future research into early accurate diagnosis of childhood developmental abnormalities should address parents’ concerns and provide professionals with more effective tools.

The Polarized World of Autism Diagnosis and Treatments

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Last week, Forbes’ science writer, Emily Willingham, decided to spice up Halloween with one of her usual autism-themed stories. How timely. The 5 Scariest Autism ‘Treatments’ warned readers that there are money hungry snake oil salespeople posing as caring practitioners, who are scheming to steal your money without a shred of scientific proof that their protocol is either safe or effective.

The story might have actually been newsworthy had she been more up-to-date by including such controversial protocols as Fecal Transplantation or Worm Therapy. Anyway, I felt the need to write that we can’t merely dismiss families with overwhelming problems as misguided idiots who can’t figure out that dipping a kid in chlorine is probably not a good idea. Don’t worry Emily (and the other “pro-science commenters”), MMS never had any real traction.

I replied that her ‘Scary Story’ was missing the point. Autism leads to desperation, born of mis- and missing information, about everything ASD; from diagnosis, to incidence and prevalence, to DSM IV vs. DSM-5, to… What the hell, when are you doctors gonna get your act together and help us?

The re-replies displayed a surprising degree of vitriol. All or none, black or white. Do I support Dr. W’s position or not? is an entire website consisting of hundreds of pages of hyperlink-supported information about all of my experience over a 36-year medical career. I address as many of the controversial and cutting-edge protocols as I can research. I figure that castrating your child is going to be pretty extreme to any parent, so I don’t cover it unless queried.

I wrote that the conventional medications are not only ineffective for correcting core signs and symptoms, they may be harmful and even deadly. That leaves families concerned about believing the ‘regular’ doctors who suggest giving potent CNS drugs to their young child. Many feel that exploring alternative treatments is their only alternative.

How many patients have I listened to, who have complained that, “We have been doing ABA, S&L, PT, OT, etc., and we hoped to see more progress”? That’s it? No fighting for your kid. No trying to figure out why your beautiful child isn’t keeping up. That’s what one of the commenters commented. “As a doctor you should know that conventional, evidence based medicine has no interventions that address the core symptoms of autism. Parents do not “turn to unconventional therapies.” They are persuaded that conventional medicine is wrong about autism by purveyors of therapies.” Even if he actually believes what he wrote, if he had an affected child, his spouse (or vice versa) would seek further information.

Shortly, the comments turned to a discussion about vaccinations. I was accused of “pandering to my base” and “shamelessly trying to steal readers” from the Forbes blog. Parents of special-needs children will continue to search for answers and help. Pedantic warnings from non-practitioners and ESPECIALLY the non-involved are not welcomed advice. Working with a trusted professional is their best hope.

I thought that my reply was completely noncontroversial. Who could argue with the dilemma faced by today’s affected families? The Home page of this website states “I hope that my essays and our discussions breathe a breath of fresh air into the polarized world of autism diagnosis and treatment.”

It seems that there is still more work to be done in order to bring all interested parties toward a more reasonable and compassionate position.

Really Scary Autism Treatments

Thursday, October 31st, 2013
E. Willingham

E. Willingham

Emily Willingham, a Forbes blogger who frequently waxes less-than-sympathetic in her stories concerning autism, recently posted her Five Scariest ‘Treatments’. While I do not disagree with some of her picks, I take issue with the tone of the blog and the absence of recognition about the real culprits in autism treatment debacle.

Willingham displays an apparent lack of understanding about the frustrations suffered by the autism community, the paucity of useful research and treatment options, and the desperation of parents seeking answers. “Autism invites its share of quacks. In fact, it might have more quacks in its vicinity than a duck pond,” was her preamble to the story-in-question.

What about the most common treatment options? How scary are they? Although the conventional ‘autism meds’ may reduce some behavioral signs and symptoms, even proponents make no claim regarding improved speech and language, cognition or social isolation (that is, many of the core symptoms of autism).

  1. Risperdal – side effects include “agitation, anxiety, constipation, dizziness, drooling, drowsiness, enuresis, fatigue, hallucination, headache, increased appetite, increased/reduced blood pressure, increased serum prolactin levels, indigestion, insomnia, rapid or irregular heartbeat, restlessness, runny nose, sleepiness, vomiting, weight gains, withdrawal dyskinesias.” PLUS, it “…may mask signs and symptoms of drug overdose and of conditions such as intestinal obstruction, brain tumor, and Reye’s syndrome, may also cause difficulty when swallowing, which in turn can cause a type of pneumonia, may cause… a condition marked by muscle stiffness or rigidity, fast heartbeat or irregular pulse, increased sweating, high fever, and high or low blood pressure. Unchecked, this condition can prove fatal…”
  2. Abilify -”can cause the following side effects: headache, nervousness, drowsiness, dizziness, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, weight gain, increased appetite, increased salivation, and pain, especially in the arms, legs, or joints. More seriously, it can sometimes cause seizures, slow, fast, or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, changes in vision, unusual movements of your body or face that you cannot control, high fever, muscle stiffness, confusion, sweating, rash, hives, itching, swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, lips, tongue, throat, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs, difficulty breathing or swallowing, tightening of the neck muscles, tightness in the throat…A small number of children, teenagers, and young adults who took medications for depression during clinical studies became suicidal…”
  3. Prozac and Zoloft are the new kids on the block. I treat numerous youngsters who have been put on non-FDA approved medications by child neurologists and psychiatrists. The side effects are similar to those listed above, without any formal path for reporting adverse events. I suppose that the conventional doctors don’t have to play by the same rules as they espouse (as in, “there are no studies showing safety or efficacy…”).
  4. Pepcid, Prilosec, Zantac and Miralax®. I have included these gastro-intestinal preparations because, a) The need for such medication is an important, often ignored, clue to the type and cause of many presentations of autism, and b) Instead of exploring G-I signs and symptoms, traditional medicine often minimizes their significance or even compounds the situation with inappropriate drugs.
  5. Stimulants, including Focalin, Concerta, Vyvanse, Ritalin, and Adderall in various combinations, dosages, and frequencies. These are medications targeted to ADHD (hyperactive or focus) symptoms. Many ASD patients do not have autism AND hyperactivity (as a comorbidity); rather, they have signs and symptoms appearing as ADHD because of their delayed social development and resulting immaturity. Just because your child is stoned and more compliant, it doesn’t mean that the medicine ‘worked’.

Dr. Willingham is personally touched by, and has previously demonstrated understanding and empathy toward ASD patients and families. However, the autism community is not as ignorant, simple-minded, gullible or unaware as this expert cautions. It’s the vaccine effect. Anyone who doesn’t understand that all vaccines are good for all children all the time must be in need of her advice on all things concerning ASD.

If families experienced more genuine understanding from the medical profession, and if the scientific community could spend more time on useful research into current and future treatments, there would be less need for all of those self-important warnings about which treatments NOT to explore.

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Brian D. Udell MD
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