Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Reflections on Health, Autism as an Illness
I was asked recently about Leo and the possible causative factors that contributed to his Autism. It got me thinking. How has my recent experience with Leo's younger sister Sydney's chronic illnesses changed what I know about Leo? Sydney has chronic Lyme, Bartonella, and Babesia, and carries an "out of range" high load of Strep. She, like Leo, has atypical responses to disease such as facial tics and fatigue. Many of her symptoms, like Leo, are very subtle. An outbreak of 5ths disease or a flu sends most kids home with high fevers and other traditional symptoms. Not my kids. They come home blinking their eyes like a pinball machine with no other symptoms.
Sydney and Leo both have "out of range" low levels of Immunoglobulins. They cannot normally detox and have GI and immune deficits commonly seen with ASD children. Sydney's slow and challenging healing response to her Lyme is indicative of this, as is what improves her symptoms (supplements/homeopathy that address these deficits).
My daughter's illness has indeed added Lyme to the list of potential causative factors. Did Leo always have an undercurrent of Lyme and other bacteria like Strep that caused his symptoms from day 1? Did I, Leo's mom, contract Lyme as a college student? Were my chronic fatigue and "colds" Lyme all along? I jogged on hiking trails in the Santa Monica Mountains for years. Leo has always been a "bacteria kid". His high load of strep, and the recently diagnosed Mycoplasma Fermentans keeps us on our toes with our protocol.
As we all know there are so many parking spots on the Autism Spectrum. My family is no different, a blend of genes, GI/Immune deficits, and numerous environmental factors. My father and his brothers all suffered from social problems. Mental health red flags on my mother's side too along with your garden variety alcoholism for self-medication. I always estimated Leo to be 80% environmental and 20% genes.
Leo needed and received both therapeutic and biomedical intervention to maximize his potential. Chicken or the egg? Did Leo need ABA to catch up to what our biomedical protocol was addressing? Or were his social deficits "stand-alone" problems that were addressed and ultimately overcome by ABA-NET? Or a blend of both?
Leo still needs his bio protocol to keep him "normal", whatever that is. He continues to have visual/spacial deficits, that for now don't affect his life but could in the future, especially with geometry or other academic challenges. We'll never know and really what matters is that my son GOT what he needed - we filled in the missing pieces and rewired his brain on both therapeutic and biomedical levels. My hope is that every child on the spectrum gets what they need, an individualized program of therapeutic and biomedical intervention designed for their blend of ASD. My motivation for posting.
As I sit at the tip of the swine vax windup for the fall, I am despondent over the state of our kids. 10 years into this, we still seem to be rudderless as a society, reactive to things and not looking at the causative factors. Here is a list of what I can, at best, estimate as ours:
Maternal Causative Factors
1) HSV1 - I have "cold sores" since my college years - saw my daughter at 3yrs old on a sunny vacation get a herpes spot on her chin. Although it was barely noticeable and passed for a tiny bit of "ezema", I could see that's what it was.
2) Leo's grandparents had sexually transmitted diseases. I believe but don't have proof that both my parents as certified 70s "swingers" contracted Gonorrhea and/or Syphilis. I feel they did so because how could they have been spared (1), and (2) I have responded beautifully to homeopathic remedies made from these diseases called Nosodes in aiding my own chronic health problems. Traditional science now admits that disease can be passed on to children (see article on Roseola).
3) Processed foods diet. T.V. dinners and McDonalds were our staples.
4) Toxic water. From elementary through most of high school I grew up in a San Joaquin County town where tap water always had "flakes", tiny white flaky floaty things. When I asked what they were (at 13 years old) if they were okay, people always blew me off, shrugging their shoulders saying it was probably okay, not going to kill me. My light blonde hair always had a "chlorine" look to it, when I didn't swim.
5) High exposure to pesticides. The San Joaquin Valley was and still is a major agricultural area. I routinely saw and smelled pesticides being sprayed regularly.
6) Strep-B positive when Leo was born, and was put on a round of antibiotics when I went into labor.
7) Los Angeles fish diet - for years I ate only seafood.
8) Computers and bad air quality in giant corporate building where I worked for years.
9) Antibiotics abuse. During my college years I became chronically ill with somewhat benign illnesses - little colds here and there and fatigue, seasonal allergies.
10) Urban lifestyle
Paternal Causative Factors
1) Urban lifestyle, raised in NYC
2) Raised on bagels and pizza.
3) Leo's dad had chronic asthma and environmental allergies from day 1.
4) Leo's father's extended family show spectrumy signs.
5) Alcoholism and chronic illness with paternal grandparents
6) Antibiotics and other chronic prescription abuse.
7) Leo's father lived and worked in traditional corporate environment - lots of computers and bad air quality.
Something noteworthy, both me and my husband have dramatically responded in a positive way to alternative medicine and eating whole/organic foods. We are much healthier than we've ever been, although we continue to have chronic issues.
Interesting list, and I am sure not at all uncommon.