Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Preventing Autism

November 28, 2014

Researchers have learned SO much in the past 10 years about risk factors for autism and other developmental delays that I included the word “prevention” in the title, and devoted a chapter to this subject in Outsmarting Autism. I was thus thrilled when a friend introduced me to a mother who runs a parent support group for families with members on the spectrum. She thought the group a good match as a host for me on my year-long book tour.

What a surprise when I received the following response: “Thank you so much for reaching out to me. To me, autism is not something that needs to be healed or prevented. I truly believe with all my heart that it is just as much a part of my boy as him having brown hair and hazel eyes, and I want folks to accept my boy and his neurology the way it is. I respect the fact that you have dedicated your life to what you believe in. But as you can see, I may not be the best person to help you reach your readers. Respectfully yours,”

At least she was civil; the next “push back” was not. The Executive Director of an autism support group cancelled an already scheduled and promoted book signing and talk, because I use the word “prevention” in the title.  She accused me of attempting to eliminate individuals with autism. Those who have followed my 40-plus-year career of counseling families of children with disabilities know that my goal is neither annihilation nor elimination, but rather rehabilitation.

Clearly, as British homeopath Alan Freestone points out, there are two very divided camps on autism:  Those who believe we can only increase autism awareness, but not function, and those whose goal is healing.  I belong to the second contingent. Parents know that their children with autism are medically sick, not just quirky.  Any parent whose autistic child has chronic diarrhea, sleep issues or unremitting epilepsy wants more than awareness.  Haven’t the awareness folks read the desperate Facebook posts from moms who have been up every two hours bathing a child covered in feces or are sitting a vigil at a hospital where doctors are trying to stop a young boy from constant grand mal seizures?  Maybe not. Well, I believe in prevention.  My beliefs in prevention are not the same as believing in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy.  They are based in science and I will continue to educate couples who are interested.  I do not need the naysayers in my ear. And here is what I tell them:

PRECONCEPTION

A year before conception, couples should start thinking about cleaning up their environments, changing their lifestyles, and getting rid of their body burdens. A full year out? Yes, because that’s how long it takes to replace the bad stuff, to   learn about the good stuff, and for the body to detoxify safely. The steps I recommend not only improve fertility, discourage complications of pregnancy, miscarriage, and problems during delivery, but also improve the chances of having a healthy baby. Run Laboratory Tests I love tests. For over 30 years I administered diagnostic tests to help parents understand and make informed decisions about their children’s education, health and functioning. Tests only give you information; what makes information powerful is your freedom to decide what to do with it. Here are some tests to consider BEFORE becoming pregnant.  None are routine; in most cases, you must discuss them with your doctor. If your doctor refuses to order them, you can also work with Life Extension Foundation, a membership organization.  This is a wonderful Florida-based company sells both lab tests and high quality supplements.  You have the blood work done at a local lab and one of their doctors interprets the results.  They make money by selling supplements, but their prices are good, and a bonus is a periodic magazine of research that is worth the price of membership.

  • Identify toxic elements – The earlier in gestation toxic exposures occur, the more detrimental they can be to development. Every woman should know what toxins her body is holding before she gets pregnant, and detox appropriately, to assure that her baby isn’t exposed in those early weeks before a positive pregnancy test.

Doctor’s Data Lab offers a hair analysis of over 30 potentially toxic elements, including lead, mercury, arsenic, aluminum, copper, antimony and cadmium to which we are all exposed.  According to Phillipe Granjean MD, internationally recognized environmental health expert, and author of the extraordinary book Only One Chance:  How Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development- and How to Protect the Brains of the Next Generation, this inexpensive test is very predictive of the toxic load a pregnant woman dumps into her unborn baby.  Shouldn’t EVERY woman have this test?

  • Screen thyroid function – Low levels of T4 or marginally elevated levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) can affect the unborn baby.  Environmental toxins are endocrine disrupters. Insufficient levels or even a mild drop of thyroid hormone in the mother at critical stages of brain development can affect cognitive function in the fetus. Have complete thyroid testing done. Once you know your levels, take natural measures, such as adding iodine to normalize thyroid function.
  • Measure vitamin D levelsEvery day we are learning about the importance of Vitamin D in health.  In 2009 researchers concluded that vitamin D deficiencies in pregnant women should be considered a risk factor for neuro-developmental disorders such as autism. Vitamin D regulates thousands of genes in the human genome. The importance of prenatal, neonatal, and postnatal vitamin D supplementation cannot be underestimated. Vitamin D during gestation and early infancy is essential for normal brain functioning.

Insufficient vitamin D is a universal problem. You want your number to be over 30, even though 25 is considered “normal.”  40 is even better!  If your level is low, start taking supplements at 2000-5000 units of D3 per day, preferably in more absorbable liposomal drops available from Biotics.  Recheck in 3 months. High doses are sometimes necessary for a short time to elevate levels. To learn more about vitamin D, check out the Vitamin D Council.

  • Run an ELISA IgG test for food sensitivities – Your doctor can order this from a local lab. Look for gluten, casein, soy, egg, garlic, and other intolerances.  Rotate mildly problematic foods and eliminate those with moderate to severe reactions. 
  • Know your genetic profile Go to 23andME and do a quick gene screening to pinpoint possible difficulties with detoxification. Work with a health-care professional to identify supplements that can remediate glitches called single-nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs . 
  • Run antibody titers Find out which diseases you are already immune to by running blood titers.  Make sure that you are not a hepatitis carrier.  Put that in writing to prevent your baby from getting the Hep B shot at birth.
  • Remove any mercury-containing amalgams – Even one or two “silver” fillings off-gas into the mouth with brushing, chewing and drinking hot liquids. Mother’s mercury load crosses the placenta, landing in the liver and kidneys of the fetus. Infants’ levels correlate with the number of amalgams in the mother. Later, mercury shows up in the breast milk, which may provide better absorption of mercury in the nursing infant.  Be certain to have amalgams removed safely by a biological dentist.
  • Detoxify the bodyMothers dump a good part of their body burden into their unborn babies. Consider a homeopathic detox program that clears out chemicals, metals, parasites, bacteria, viruses and radiation. The lower your toxic load, the lower the baby’s.
  • Check for retained reflexesThe Spinal Galant and Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) assist the baby in maneuvering through the birth canal.  Mothers who retain either of both of these reflexes may have difficulty giving birth naturally. The baby may not “drop,” be breech, or require a Cesarean section. Simple reflex integration activities for a month prior to birth can help the birth be smoother.

While Pregnant increase input in several areas:

  • FoodThe old saying that goes, “Eating for two,” is correct.  Make nutrient rich, not high caloric choices. Say “yes” to 75-100 grams of protein, organic fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, asparagus, spinach, nuts and free-range, antibiotic-free animals. Say “no” to sugar and its substitutes, wheat, dairy and hydrogenated fats.  Say “once-in-a-while” to small, cold water fish and soy products.  Take the time to sit down and eat slowly, chewing well.
  • Supplements While the right, good quality foods can provide much needed nutrition, eating adequate amounts of some nutrients is simply impossible. Contraceptives and other medications can deplete minerals. Calcium, mercury-free fish oils, iron, folate and B vitamins are essential for growing babies.  Work with a health care professional to determine the right amount for you.
  • Drinks At least eight cups of good quality water. No alcohol, sodas (especially diet), caffeinated tea or coffee.
  • Relaxation & SleepLearn meditation. Take a yoga class for expectant mothers. Practice daily, breathing deeply. Oxygenation of cells enhances their function. Releasing stress allows the body to put its energy into growing a healthy baby. Turn in before 10:00 pm and sleep at least nine hours.
  • ExerciseStretch to increase flexibility. Walk or attend a class two or three times a week.

How many sonograms do you need? It is really exciting to see a baby in utero, know whether it is a boy or girl, and then call it by name. But, no one knows the long-term effect of sonograms on the unborn baby. A sonogram is sound…sound as loud as a plane’s engines revving up in a baby’s ears. One study showed, the more sonograms, the more likely the baby is to have ear infections.  Another showed that babies later diagnosed with autism had endured three or more sonograms.  Consider limiting them unless medically necessary, and not do them just out of curiosity.

TAKE HOME POINTS

Know the risk factors for autism.  Limit exposures to toxins, while maximizing nutrition and health during preconception and pregnancy. Understand how your lifestyle choices support a baby’s health!  Every child deserves to be healthy, have the opportunities to develop language, have friends and learn! Autism is preventable! Let’s start now!  

Outsmarting Autism

July 6, 2014

Front Cover

With great excitement and pride I announce the release today of my second book, Outsmarting Autism: The Ultimate Guide to Management, Healing and Prevention.  It is available on Amazon in both an e-book and a paperback, as well as from the publisher.  As I watched the magnificent spray of fireworks brighten the skies over the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh last night, I secretly thought they were celebrating not just Independence Day, but also this momentous milestone of mine.

In 2008, I downloaded 40 years of experience and knowledge from my brain into EnVISIONing a Bright Future, my first book. It contains all that was known then about possible causes, treatments and management of autism spectrum disorders. I never dreamed that just as much NEW information would emerge in the next six years: genomic testing that explains in part why some kids become autistic, and iPads with amazing apps, are just a couple of additions.  So…I just HAD to write another book!

Outsmarting Autism, like EnVISIONing in 2008, is the most comprehensive book available on what is now called Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Whether you are new to the world of autism, are familiar with treatment options, or are a veteran who has “been there, done that,” this book is for you! Discoveries about possible etiologies and promising therapies are emerging so quickly that you are sure to learn something new.

Outsmarting Autism guides you step-by-step with practical information from a variety of fields that families, specialists, and educators can put to use immediately.

Step 1: Take Away the Bad Stuff, and Add Back the Good Stuff

♦ Clean up the environment ♦ Eat, sleep, and drink smarter ♦ Boost the immune system ♦ Balance hormones ♦ Detoxify

Step 2: Correct Foundational Issues

♦ Remove structural impediments ♦ Integrate reflexes

Step 3: Address Sensory Problems

♦ Improve sensory processing ♦ Develop vision

Step 4: Focus on Communicating, Interacting, and Learning

♦ Build language ♦ Concentrate on social-emotional skills ♦ Learn to read, write, and calculate ♦ Use technology

Step 5: Plan for the Future

♦Transition to independence ♦ Prevent autism from conception

Don’t let the book’s mammoth size scare you. Even though it is over 500 pages, I have made it extremely easy to understand, and Cindy Coan’s amazing index allows you to find anything you are looking for quickly and easily.

I hope you will read Outsmarting in sequence.  If you decide not to, at least read Chapters 2 and 3 on Total Load Theory and how today’s lifestyle has contributed to the autism epidemic, before jumping ahead. Autism did not just show up overnight. We now know the many risk factors, and how to be proactive and prevent more children from becoming affected. Individuals with autism are physically sick, and making healthy lifestyle changes, no matter how overwhelming they seem, can be the difference between management and healing.

This book could not have happened without the help and support of so many people.  To the owner and staff at Word Association, my awesome editor, Kendra Williamson, and all of my colleagues and friends who contributed material, proofed and edited, and stood by me while I worked every day for the past two years, my deepest gratitude.

Outsmarting Autism is meant to challenge some of your beliefs. If you have questions, I have answers. “Like” the book on Facebook, and write me a comment.  Go to Amazon and review it. Check out my website at www.OutsmartingAutism.com and see where I am speaking next.  I will be launching the book in Denver and Boulder on July 29th.  From 3- 5pm I will be at Proactive Wellness and at 7:30 pm at the Boulder Bookstore. In September, I am finalizing dates for New York City, Westchester and New Jersey.  Want me to include your town on my year-long book tour?  Let me know.

Now it’s time to get started. We can outsmart autism together.

 

Do YOU Need a Pediatrician?

November 27, 2012

 

Over the holidays I spent time with some friends and their grandchildren.  Two little boys, one a year old, and the other three, struck me as unusually healthy, vigorous, and happy when compared to the other whiny, pale, runny-nosed picky eaters at the dinner table.  I later learned that both were born at home, neither had ever seen a doctor or been vaccinated, and that both chow down the organic broccoli, carrots and squash that their parents grow in their urban gardens.  Just a coincidence or can we assume a cause-and-effect relationship?

Almost every day, I receive a request for the names of pediatricians who are flexible about vaccinations.  The abundance of demands is in reverse proportion to the paucity of doctors who are willing to consider each child’s individual needs.

When I told a friend about these amazing kids, her response was “disgusting!” Her fully vaccinated grandkids have each had several serious bouts of croup, unexplained viruses and several hospital visits, “Why is it disgusting?” I asked.  “They need a doctor,” she replied. “Why?” I asked. “They just do,” she replied. Hum… Do they?

In my 2006 article on how changes in society and medical practices have contributed to the autism epidemic, I cite, among other factors, the over-dependence on antibiotics, vaccines, insurance-covered managed care, and fast food. If families choose “old-fashioned” immune-boosting solutions such as homeopathy, fruits and vegetables, along with a clean lifestyle replete with long, uninterrupted sleep, movement and love, is that sufficient?

When I was growing up, my college educated parents knew a great deal about art, literature and history, and little about medicine or how the body works. In the fifties, Dr. Spock was the only available resource for distraught parents whose baby had a rash or fever, cried inconsolably, or didn’t sleep. We depended upon our personal pediatricians to help us when Dr. Spock’s advice failed to alleviate suffering.

Today, few have a pediatrician who even knows their name. At the same time, newsletters and TV shows bombard us daily as Drs. Oz, Mercola, Gupta, Hyman and other experts on health and well-being educate us about eating our greens, ingesting essential fats, moving daily, and other dietary, nutritional and lifestyle issues.

Many parents I know, including those of the robust little boys I observed, have made the conscious decision to boost their children’s immune systems with minimal medicalization and good food, and to trust the body’s wisdom to heal itself. They minimize stress from environmental toxins, inappropriate demands, and lifestyle choices. They recognize the detoxification role of fevers and rashes, and the early signs of chronic immune dysfunction: food allergies, raw or bumpy skin, and “colds,” and treat them naturally. Their libraries hold books like medical heretic Dr. Robert Mendelsohn’s, How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child, by Zand, Rountree and Walton, Dr. Randall Neustaedter’s Holistic Baby Guide: Alternative Care for Common Health Problems and Dr. Aviva Romm’s Naturally Healthy Babies and Children: A Commonsense Guide to Herbal Remedies, Nutrition, and Health.  These great references advise parents on home treatments for routine childhood illnesses, allergies, and fevers, with clear-cut instructions for determining when a child needs medical intervention. They are my favorite baby shower gifts.

Healthy eating and other immune-boosting choices are the way informed parents assure good health.  Just like they choose to fix a drippy faucet themselves, but call a plumber when the basement is flooded, they are also smart enough to recognize when they need expert medical help. Then they could always go to the nearest “urgent care center,” a brilliant modern convenience.

Think hard before caving in to fear-mongering about disease and childhood illnesses.  Do you really need a pediatrician for a “well-baby” check-up consisting of a weigh-in and vaccination lecture, or can you trust your intuition that your child is thriving?  The wise pediatrician who trusts the wisdom of the body is going the way of the local department store, as documented on a recent Sunday morning news show. Gimbel’s, Higbees, Rich’s, Horne’s, Marshall Fields are all gone! Only Macy’s survives.

If you feel you still need a pediatrician, try to find one who supports health instead of treats illness. If your child is healthy, AND you are following healthy lifestyle, AND you know the signs of a medical emergency, ask yourself if YOU need a pediatrician. Maybe you don’t!

Prioritizing Revisited

September 3, 2001

“In raising your children, spend half as much money and twice as much time.”
Anonymous

The horrific events of 9/11 threw everyone into a state of counting blessings and reordering priorities. DDR shares the shock and grief of those affected. Because the editorial I wrote almost two years ago on Prioritizing Interventions received so much positive response, I’m using the terrorist attacks as an opportunity to expand upon that theme. I have categorized my thoughts into specific areas important for children with special needs. Let me know your ideas.

FOOD — Restaurants are half full. I hope that means people have rediscovered cooking. Take time to bake gluten-free bread (use mixes from Miss Robens or Gluten-Free pantry), make pureed soup (hide the vegetables and EFAs) and can tomatoes. We now have time to cook and eat. Try out some new recipes from the great cookbooks we offer. Sit down at the table to eat. Add a prayer. Children with the most severe special needs can benefit from sharing a meal with their families.

NUTRIENTS — Up the antioxidants. Vitamins C, E, DMG, Calcium and Magnesium are not only protection against the flu and other winter bugs, but could protect small bodies against biological warfare. At DAN!, Dr. Rimland toldof a rabbit study where those that took DMG and Vitamin C did not get anthrax. If your children do get sick this winter, try natural alternatives to antibiotics. If you need an antibiotic for an infection, always combine it with a probiotic to replenish the good bacteria in the gut.

EFAS — It is impossible to argue with the benefits of essential fatty acids. Fish oils are key to brain development, sound mental health and appropriate behavior. EFAs are probably deficient in most people with mental illness and in the breast milk of mothers whose children are delayed. DDR is honored to have Coromega as this issue’s sponsor. Buy their premiere product from Kirkman, the Apothecary Pharmacy or your local vitamin store. In his illuminating talk at last months DAN! Conference, Dr. Andrew Stoll shared information destined to rank among the most important biological findings to date. Learn more about Omega 3 from his new book. (See booklist.) Grandma was right! Take your fish oils. Use only products that are free of heavy metal contamination and have minimal oxidation, like Coromega.

EXERCISE — You don’t have to wait for the first of the year to start that fitness regime. Get a head start on the holidays by raking leaves and hiking in the fall beauty. Put well balanced backpacks on the kids. Keep them moving. Movement is food for their nervous systems. They’ll eat and sleep better after vigorous exercise. For those fortunate enough to live in the north, try some cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. You’ll be amazed how well our youngest children do downhill without poles. Their low centers of gravity help them stay balanced.

TV & VIDEO GAMES — Turn them off now more than ever. The endless news of terrorism, anthrax and potential vaccines is as toxic as the chemicals in the air and food.

REDISCOVER BOARD AND PARLOR GAMES — When was the last time you played Charades or Pictionary? Remember how much fun they are? Laughing along with family and friends is a boost for the immune system. Pull out the checker board or that dusty game of Clue. In addition to the obvious positive interactions, kids learn the wh questions, visual-spatial skills and taking turns.

HOMEWORK — Encourage exercise, not TV breaks. Play Mozart, not rap for background music. Remember proper positioning: feet touching the floor, desk hitting the middle of the torso. Provide supportive structure, then let children do their own work. You did fifth grade already; you don’t need to do it again. Communicate with teachers through e-mail or notes, rather than through the child.

SLEEP — Many of our children are sleep deprived. Teens need ten hours to function well; most are getting far less. Lack of sleep adds to total load risk factors. Tired bodies make less melatonin, which in turn confuses other hormones. Now is a good time to establish sleep routines for our youngest: bath, pjs, story, song, kiss, lights out, good-night. Allow older children to set their own alarms and awake on their own rather than depend upon parental nudging.

Turn today’s rage and fear into an opportunity to reconsider priorities at home and at work. To quote Billy Ray Cyrus’ country song, Busy Man, “No one ever died wishing they had spent more time at work.” Spend these precious days with your family!

[New Developments: Executive Director’s Column, Fall 2001]