We believe there are many types of autism… some are genetic and some are triggered by environmental factors. Some types of autism have nothing to do with health and some have everything to do with health. When referring to health induced autism, we agree with Mark Hyman, MD, who said in his book The UltraMind Solution, “Autism is a hologram for chronic disease. Remove the diagnostic labels from a patient with autism and a patient with Alzheimer’s, and you will discover the same biological forces at work — inflammation, oxidative stress, impaired protein synthesis and detoxification, mitochondrial dysfunction, and damaged DNA.”
Just like there are different treatments for various types of cancer, we believe the same should be true for the types of autism. In our opinion, it is wrong for the medical community to ignore the real and devastating health symptoms of a subset of children with autism (e.g., food intolerances/allergies, viral markers, bacteria and yeast overgrowth, encephalopathy-like symptoms, frequent ear infections, seizures, gastrointestinal issues, eczema, hives, fatigue). Because autism is labeled a developmental disorder (rather than a disease), parents are told, “well, that’s just his/her autism…there’s nothing you can do” when they inquire about their child’s health symptoms.
We strongly disagree…we believe there is a lot you can do! Which is why we developed our website, Health Induced Autism (www.healthinducedautism.com). According to Harvard’s Martha Herbert, “the evidence suggests that between 3 and 25 percent of children reportedly lose their ASD diagnosis and enter the normal range of cognitive, adaptive and social skills.” We believe the majority of the children who lose their ASD diagnosis are children who have health induced autism. As their parents improved their health, the symptoms of autism went away. Will improving health “cure” or “recover” every child with health induced autism? Unfortunately, the answer is no. This type of autism is so complex, so unique to the individual, and so few people are trying to figure out the causes that sometimes, the right combination of treatments cannot be found. But… will improving health better the quality of life and overall happiness of every child with health induced autism? To that question we can give an emphatic YES!
Taking this a step further, we believe that health induced autism may not really be autism at all. While they share some of the same symptoms, Children with the health induced autism (that emerged in the 1990s) have key differences from those with Classic Autism (Kanner’s Autism) such as:
- gross or fine motor problems
- regression (the loss of previously developed skills)
- affection (one of Kanner’s two main criteria defining those with autism was they avoided affection)
Instead of focusing on the symptoms that didn’t fit the diagnosis of Classic Autism and investigating whether a new disease was attacking our children, the definition of autism was simply broadened. Thus, the “autism spectrum” was born.
We believe that health induced autism (not just better diagnosis) is one of the main factors driving the rise in autism– from 1 in 10,000 children in the 1980s to the latest CDC statistic stating that, on average, 1:110 children have autism spectrum disorder in 2011. While plenty of people dispute it, we believe an epidemic affecting the youth of today truly exists. We don’t know if it should be called an autism epidemic or given another name. Time will tell which side of the debate had it right…we don’t care to devote the energy to arguing. But if we’re right and there is an epidemic, it is important to recognize that science says epidemics cannot be genetic or developmental in nature. They can only be caused by disease. Therefore, we believe that an equal amount of the funds allocated to autism should be spent on figuring out what is triggering the diseases seen in children with the health induced type of autism versus spending the majority of the dollars on early intervention, behavioral treatments, and finding a genetic cause as it is today.
We have come to believe that health induced autism should be given a new name. Perhaps “Neuro Immune Disease” as some have proposed (http://www.nids.net/). We used to say, “who cares what you call it… just focus on treating it so it will get better or go away all together”. But now we realize we need to care what it is called. If Neuro Immune Disease (health induced autism) continues to be lumped in with Classic Autism or Asperger’s Disease, children who are seriously ill will never get the treatment they need. As Dr. Michael Goldberg says, “children diagnosed with autism should have the same right to quality medical care as any other child diagnosed with a disease. Continuing to ignore this epidemic is unfair to the children who are ill, to the parents who provide for their care and comfort, and to the society that must bear the financial consequences of what could turn out to be the most disabled generation the world has ever known.”
We have always been the type of people who believe that “things happen for a reason”. When we ask ourselves what possible reason there could be for all the pain and suffering that accompanies the autism epidemic, the only answer we can come up with is that we are supposed to learn something from these children. It all made sense when we read article called Autism’s Puzzle by Pamela Weintraub that said, “Autism might just be our wake-up call. Some experts now posit that individuals with autism are early indicators — canaries in a coal mine of pervasive health threats that are affecting increasing numbers of us. If we can unravel the immune, metabolic and genetic problems at play, we may have a head start in treating not just autism but a great many other chronic and environmentally triggered forms of disease”.
If we continue to ignore this wake up call, we shudder to think about the implications for civilization as we know it. Please join us on our journey to figure out what caused this health crisis for our children and how to fix it. The only way we can do this is by “refusing the status quo and rethinking what we’ve been told.”
“The Myth of Autism: How a Misunderstood Epidemic Is Destroying Our Children” by Dr. Michael Goldberg