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Autism Coach

Autism One Conference

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Conferences, such as the  Autism One Conference in Chicago in May, 2005, represent a turning point in the understanding, treatment and prevention of autism spectrum disorders.  I was very impressed with the caliber of the presenters and how well organized this conference was by the hard working parents of the Autism One group.

Outstanding autism researchers presented their recent findings and theories, including  Dr. Jill James, Dr. Mady Hornig, Dr. Mary Megson, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, and Dr. Richard Deth. Many of their findings have recently been featured in Newsweek, Time, Science News and other publications as well as having been presented to Congress.  It was also a thrill to hear Temple Grandin speak and share her insights on visual thinking - she was, perhaps, the most brilliant presenter of all.

A massive amount of information was presented and this posting is an initial report fresh from the conference.  As I analyze the data, I will post more detailed information about current findings and theories. 

At this conference,  the single theme running through every bio-medical presentation was:  autism is mercury poisoning.  Mercury poisoning disrupts all of the body's metabolic processing, inhibiting the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, pruning neuron and stunting synaptic connections, compromising the immune system, contributing to a leaky gut and leaky blood/brain barrier.

Typically young children with autism have virtually no mercury detected in their hair samples, while neurotypical children have significant amounts of mercury.  This is theorized to be the case because the neurotypical children are able to excrete the mercury they receive in their vaccinations from their bodies, while the children with autism cannot get rid of the mercury and instead retain it in their tissues.  Mercury has an affinity for binding to fat and the area of an infant's body containing the most fat is the brain.

According to Dr. Mady Hornig, there do seem to be several genetic markers that when present singly or in combination put children at considerably greater risk for mercury toxicity.  These markers effect how efficiently the children produce the raw materials they need to detoxify and how vulnerable their metabolic processes are to disruption by mercury.  Those children who are not as efficient at detoxifying or preventing mercury from binding to tissues are predominantly the group of children who become autistic.  These genetic markers run in families with conditions including a history of night blindness, color blindness, arthritis, colitis, chronic fatigue, lupus, celiac disease, Parkinson's Disease, and Alzheimer's.

Another theme running through the presentations was  was an important metabolic process that is disrupted by mercury - the methylation pathway.  Methylation is the primary mechanism by which the body removes heavy metals and other toxins from the body.  One of the molecules produced during methylation is glutathione, a primary detoxifier of the body.  Dr. Jill James has found that children with autism have considerably lower levels of glutathione in their blood than neuro-typical children.  She has found that a combination of supplements that includes methylated forms of B12, B6, folinic acid, TMG and DMG (tri- and di-methyl glycine) provide the methyl groups (one carbon atom linked to three hydrogen atoms)  that are badly needed to complete the methlyation process.  These are needed, part to produce the glutathione which in turn is used to create the metalothionein, both of which bind to heavy metals and help to remove them from the body.  This combination of supplements was successfully used by her to raise the levels of glutathione in the blood.  In addition, a new form of glutathione, called lipoceutical glutathione is now commercially available.  Prior formulations of glutathione were not as well absorbed in the body.   Providing sulfur through Epsom salt baths helps to support the methylation pathway as well, as does supplementation with zinc and selenium.

Because mercury is so tightly bound within the tissues of the brain, it is difficult to pry the mercury lose.  It is easier to get mercury out of younger children than older children.  Various chelators are used to bind to the metals and excrete the mercury.  Currently, one of the most popular chelators is trans-dermal DMPS, a cream that is typically applied every other day.  On the days the cream is not used, beneficial minerals are supplemented with (such as zinc, selenium, magnesium, and molybdenum), as chelation tends to remove all minerals.  A Dr. Rashid Buttar discussed his propietary TD-DMPS formulation, which is according to some other physicians, the most effective trans-dermal formulation for removing mercury.

According to Professor Boyd Haley of the University of Kentucky, Parkinson's Disease also seems to result from mercury poisoning.  It is the theory of some researchers that Parkinsons, Alzheimers and autism are all manifestions of mercury poisoning - the only difference is the age of onset.  A film clip was showed of a neuron of a snail growing, making a neural connection - the feeder end of the neuron is virtually evolutionarily unchanged for human neurons.  A healthy growing snail neuron was contrasted with a snail neuron in which a minute amount of mercury was added to the solution in the range of parts per million:  when the mercury was added the sheath surrounding the neuron disintegrated and the neuron curled up.  This curled up neuron is exactly as same as the neurological tangles found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and children with autism.

According to Professor Haley, a relatively new intravenous chelation therapy using a form a vitamin C and a form of glutathione is having remarkable results with some Parkinson's patients.  Apparently mercury binds better to Vitamin C than to tissues.  First infusing the patient with Vitamin C, followed by Glutathione seems to flush the mercury out of the brain in a form that does not redistribute in the body - when done correctly, large amounts of mercury come out in the stools.  Some Parkinson's patients who have gone through this therapy have had their tremors completely stop.   It has not been tried with autistic people as of yet.  This technique was apparently pioneered in part by a Dr. David Perlmutter and government studies are commencing in the treatment of Parkinson's with intravenous glutathione.

It was recommended that mercury dental amalgams need to removed before doing intensive chelation.  I have read elsewhere that extra zinc and Vitamin C are important to use during chelation.

Dr. Mary Megson successfully uses Cod liver oil  and bethanechol to reopen neurological pathways.  Dr. Boyd Haley also recommended Krill oil as a good source of natural vitamin A and essential fatty acids.

Mercury tends to shut down enzymatic processes, which help the body metabolize and use food, so living foods and enzymes are recommended, as was the gluten and casein diet.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a gastro-enterologist, has had his findings corroborated by other researchers, including a Dr. Buie from Harvard, indicating that in biopsies of the intestinal tract, comparing autistic kids to neurotypical kids,  somewhere around 80% of the children in the autism spectrum had a form of autistic colitis that includes the titre for the strain of measles that comes from the MMR shot is in the lining of the children's intestinal tracts, while the neurotypical kids do not have this present.

There are many more subtleties to diganosing and treating autism, as practiced by the physicians specializing in autism.  The child is typically checked for viral, parasitic, bacterial and yeast overgrowth and these issues are addressed with probiotics, nutitrional supplements or prescription drugs.  Blood panels for immunological abnormalities are recommend as are tests for thyroid function.  One has to carefully pick and choose the physician one chooses and the tests performed - physicians and tests can be expensive.  Always look for the physicians who are getting good results.  Also bear in mind that one approach may be more beneficial for a particular child than another.  These are considerations all parents must weigh when deciding what intervention protocols to put into place for their children.  Typically, kids make more progress in all of the non-medical therapies (aba, speech therapy, sensory integration, auditory integration, visual integration, etc.)  if they are on the gluten and casein free diet and have a nutrional/medical intervention protocol in place that is working for them.  We, as parents, have to use our best judgment and intuition when deciding to try or terminate a therapy.  In general, a reasonable rule of thumb is to keep doing a therapy if it is helping and to drop it if it is not helping.

It's worth noting that, according to one presenter, all immunizations still have trace amounts of mercury, even those that purportedly have the thimerisol removed.  Mercury poisoning can take time to manifest itself and work its way into the brain. A delayed but slow decline in regression in development after an immunization could be a typical scenario.

Currently 1 in 166 children are diagnosed as autistic; 1 in 6 have a diagnosable learning disability.  1 in 68 families in this country have an autistic child.  1 in 3 families have a child with a learning disability.  Clearly something is wrong.  Our children are being damaged and mercury may be one of the culprits (as well as the many other neurotoxins now present every where).

According Dr. John Green, other culprits can include the 60,000 or so man-made compounds that abound in our environment but have not been tested for potential harm.  Our kids can be sensitive to and effected by house paint, new carpet, pesticides, herbacides such as Roundup (which combines with other toxins to kill of frogs in even minute amounts), plastics which emit estrogen-like compounds that can lead to increased feminization of boys and the early puberty of girls.  High levels of arsenic found in some of our kids can come from the arsenic typically fed to non-organically raised chickens to fatten them up quickly.  Children are getting low doses of antibiotics through the meat they consume of animals given antibiotics.  Tap water often contains trace amounts of anti-depressants and other brain-chemistry-altering pharmaceuticals recycled through the water treatment plants.

As if all this wasn't enough, according to Dr. Green,  commercial non-organic fertilizers can contain industrial by-products such as heavy metals, pesticide residues and even low-level radioactive waste. Apparently the chemical manufactures pay the fertilizer manufacturers to incorporate their hazardous waste by-products into commercial fertilizer for home and farm, converting much of our country into one, big toxic waste dump.  I would find this hard to believe if I had not heard another report from a friend of mine from India, who has been following a similar major public scandal taking place in India, where  people are trying to stop Pepsi from disposing of toxic by-products of their manufacturing process by selling it to farmers as fertilizer, as this "fertilizer" is rendering their fields barren. Until proven otherwise, it would be a good idea to avoid chemical lawn services, commercial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides around kids in the spectrum. Understandably, after listening to Dr. Green's presentation, I decided to go organic whenever possible.

Granted, we don't want to go crazy obsessing about these things, but given that our kids basically don't detoxify, anything we can do to reduce their toxic load will help them.  At some point, for the sake of our children and their children, we just might want to look at what we're letting spill unregulated into our environment and consider advocating for our government to become environmentally responsible at both a national and global level.  The United States is the single biggest consumer of natural resources and polluter on the planet.  Our country is rapidly approaching the level of toxicity of the most polluted countries of Eastern Europe, with the attendant poor health, cancer, and higher incidence of children with disabilities.  As of this past year, environmental regulations of industry have been weakened to the extent that it is now officially legal to burn  mercury in incinerators.  A recent study from Texas shows that children living near coal burning power plants, which send mercury into the air as a by-product, the rate of autism was 6 times higher the national average.  The rate of children with autism and other disabilities born to soldiers who served in Gulf War or in Iraq and were exposed to many toxic substances, including multiple immunizations and depleted uranium, is also higher than the national average. 

In my opinion, it doesn't have to be this way. If we, as parents of children in the autism spectrum, have been able to unite to form wonderful groups such as Autism One, and raise the funds to quickly take autism research this far in five years, we can do the same thing to lead the way in creating a sustainable planet and future for our children. 

In conclusion, as many parents in the autism community have known all along, the current research seems to indicate that the majority of our children were injured by the vaccines, in combination with other environmental assaults.  The autism puzzle is not completely solved, and most of our children are not completely cured, but if the  government finally acknowledges that vaccines played a huge part in the autism epidemic and takes action, this could be the turning point in stemming the tide of the epidemic of autism.  We could then focus on preventing additional children from being damaged by vaccines and work toward developing effective treatments to heal those who have been damaged.