Great Smokies Medical Center of Asheville

Archive for the ‘Autism/Developmental Disorders’ Category

Autism Web Resources

Monday, September 12th, 2005

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned — unless it is a mother of a mercury toxic, autistic child. The tragedy of autism has been the birthplace of thousands of activists who want to spare other families from similar tragedies. Check out this small sampling of web sites that are excellent examples of informed activism:

Amy Carson, mother of an autistic son, is a self made one-woman political force to reckon with both nationally and in Western NC. She is unstoppable in her efforts to mandate safe vaccines for children:

Lujene Clark. RN, CPA and her husband, Alan Clark, M. D., parents of an autistic son, combine science and politics in their web site to educate consumers and help mandate safer vaccines for all children. Check out:

A parent group, the Coalition for SAFE MINDs’ (Sensible Action For Ending Mercury-Induced Neurological Disorders) web site is a source of terrific scientific and political data:

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny has produced a DVD that is a comprehensive overview of the use of vaccines titled Vaccines: The Risks, The Benefits, The Choices. Highly recommended and available at GSMC or from:

Could Autistics Be All Doped Up?

Monday, September 12th, 2005

Though autism is traditionally defined as a psychiatric disorder, we now know that autism has roots in genetics and immunology. Exposure to environmental stressors can profoundly affect neurological and immune development, particularly during the vulnerable times during gestation and early childhood.
Take, for example, the role of damaged intestinal lining present in many autistics. Compared to the general population, autistics have a higher incidence of adverse reactions to the proteins in wheat (gluten) and dairy (casein). These reactions are not primarily allergic in nature, but are a result of toxic byproducts of impaired digestion and metabolism.
Normal, healthy digestion breaks down the proteins gluten and casein into their smallest basic units, amino acids, which play several roles in critical body functions. Amino acids then link together to form peptides that profoundly influence how a person feels and functions.
However, when some autistics with impaired digestion eat wheat or dairy, they form abnormal peptides that function like opiates in the brain. These opiate-like compounds (gluteomorphins and casomorphins) enter the general circulation and can disrupt brain chemistry. Just like opiates, these mind-altering peptides result in the autistic person feeling pleasantly "doped up." While an opiate addict needs his fix of opium, an autistic child needs his fix of wheat or dairy, and a food craving is thus born.
Every autistic should have a trial of a gluten free/casein free (GF/CF) diet to see if there is benefit from avoiding these foods that can profoundly affect brain chemistry. Additionally, essential fatty acids, zinc, enzymes and beneficial gut-friendly organisms normally present in healthy intestines are often recommended for intestinal immune support.

Autism and Methylation

Monday, September 12th, 2005

Methylation is a very important chemical reaction in the body that is responsible for well-being, health, and longevity. It protects DNA, impacts brain function, regulates detoxification and reproduction, and determines the rate of aging by turning numerous chemical processes either on or off. The ability to methylate naturally slows with aging, but it can prematurely burn out in autistic children.
Most, but not all, autistics are poor methylators, resulting, in effect, in a biochemical "short circuit." When important biochemical circuitry in the body does not work, toxic metabolic byproducts build up and stop important biochemical processes from working. Specific nutrients can help correct impaired methylation circuitry, resulting in symptomatic improvement.
Subcutaneous injections of Methylcobalomin (vitamin B12) and sublingual dimethylglycine (DMG), plus oral supplementation of vitamin B6, folinic acid, MSM, choline, SAMe, selenium, zinc, inositol, and a wholesome, nutrient-dense diet form the nutritional approaches used to help autistics directly or indirectly support undermethylation. A two-month trial may be necessary to see a response.

Are Some Cases of Autism Really Mercury Toxicity?

Monday, September 12th, 2005

Few parents who are required to consent to the administration of vaccines for their children are aware that ethyl mercury, a known neurotoxin, is used as a preservative in many childhood vaccines. Parents aren’t the only ones unaware — many physicians also don’t know the long list of ingredients that comprise vaccines.

A growing number of articulate parents who are reliable observers of their child have reported that their child was “never the same” after receiving a vaccination. They report that their once happy, loving, interactive child is replaced by a child who has lost his former personality, speech, and socialization skills.

Several factors result in infants being more susceptible to mercury toxicity than adults. Due to their immaturity, infants lack a blood brain barrier (BBB) that is a barrier to the entry of toxins into a more mature brain. Once in the brain, mercury is difficult to move back across the BBB. Also, for the first six months of life infants do not make significant amounts of bile, nature’s built-in detoxification system by which most mercury is excreted from the body. Additionally, injected mercury is far more toxic than ingested (dietary) or inhaled environmental mercury. Add the fact that the mercury in thimerosal is ethyl mercury, a form of mercury that is especially toxic to nerve cells. Lastly, there are many opportunities for children to become mercury toxic: The 2005 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) vaccination schedule recommends 22 separate vaccine injections to be administered before age two.

We think the ideal tolerated level for intentional medical exposure to mercury, a known neurotoxin that has no biological functions in the body, is zero. In 1992, a child receiving the recommended vaccinations was injected with 187.5 mcg of mercury by age six months. All children who receive thimerosal-preserved vaccines don’t become autistic because it appears that a genetic predisposition that renders a child unable to excrete mercury is also necessary for mercury to bio-accumulate to toxic levels.

The facts that the symptoms of autism and mercury toxicity are very similar, that most physicians lack awareness of the problem, and that physicians do not receive training in medical school in the diagnosis and treatment of heavy metal toxicity often delay an accurate diagnosis.
The biological medical assessment of autism should include an assessment to rule out mercury toxicity. When addressing mercury toxicity, early diagnosis and treatment is important to achieve the best possible treatment outcomes.

GSMC is not anti-vaccine, but is a strong proponent of safer vaccines.

Autism: An Overview

Monday, September 12th, 2005

The word autism is derived from the Greek word "autos," meaning self. It was first used medically in the 1930s to describe a puzzling, self-absorbed behavioral disorder. The term autism is used now to describe a spectrum of illnesses called Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) that includes classic autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), and Asperger’s Syndrome.
The prevalence of autism has risen dramatically in the last decades. National Institutes of Health (NIH) statistics reveal that the prevalence of autism in the United States ranges from one in every 500 to 2,500 (depending on how autism is defined), numbers markedly increased from one per 30,000 in the 1980s.
About 83 percent of autistics are male. The average age at the time of diagnosis is 44 months. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical and tip the odds toward improved outcomes.
Autism has been described as a puzzle. Typically starting in the first three years of life, it affects neurological, immune, and social functioning. Autism stresses a family psychologically (from trying to cope with a complex, serious disease) and financially (from special education, social, and medical needs).
Some pieces of this tragic puzzle have been found during the last 20 years, taking autism from its originally restrictive psychiatric definition to its more rightful classification as a complex, biological, neurotoxic condition resulting from an interplay between genetics and the environment.
Each autistic child is unique in his expression of autism. In general, however, autistic children seem to be off in their own world. Some are advanced in gross and/or fine motor skills, while others may be normal or delayed. They may have either heightened or decreased responses to sensory input. Autistics live in a world where normal sounds may be painful, light touch may be painful, and firm, hard pressure may be comforting.
Some autistics may not do well with change and may find comfort in rigid routines or perform repetitious activities, a trait called perseveration. Repetitive behaviors including hand flapping, finger flicking, head banging or rocking, can result. A small number of autistics will have exceptional ability in specific areas such as mathematics or music, a condition called Savant Syndrome. Autistics often have some level of cognitive deficit.
Treatment of autism consists of intensive behavioral approaches such as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), pharmaceuticals, speech therapy, auditory integration, neurosensory integration, and special education settings. Alternative medical therapies targeted to address the deficits occurring from the impaired ability to detoxify environmental and metabolic toxins include nutrient-dense diets, vitamin B12, glutathione, magnesium, pyridoxine, carnosine, zinc, folate, cod liver oil, essential fatty acids, probiotics, homeopathics, and chelation therapy.
Autism is a complex illness that involves the gastrointestinal, immune and nervous systems. The biological treatment of autism is similarly complex and can take place over two years, in addition to ongoing support of biological processes.
Though there is no cure for autism, autistics can maximize their potential through enhanced detoxification and other supportive biological approaches from physicians who are specially trained in metabolic, nutritional, and chelation therapies.

Incidence of Autism on the Rise

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

by John L. Wilson, Jr., M.D.

Autism is a complex neurological/psychiatric condition that usually begins in the first 3 years of life. Autistic children often develop normal physically, but spend their time engaged in puzzling behaviors that are markedly different from normal children. They can stare into space for hours, throw tantrums, show no interest in people, and display repetitive purposeless actions such as hand flapping or head banging. They can be painfully sensitive to stimuli, including touch, taste, and sound, and frequently have little eye contact with others. They seem to live in a world by themselves. Adding insult to injury, in past decades families unnecessarily suffered from some psychologists’ erroneous beliefs that a cold unfeeling mother somehow caused autism.

For years the incidence of autism was 1 child per 2,000 births, but it has risen since the early 1990’s to current estimates ranging up to 12 children per 2,000 births. This increased incidence is, in part, due to a change from diagnosing only severe autism to also recognizing moderate and mild autism. This continuum of autistic disorders is referred to as Autistic Spectrum Disorders or ASD. There is a lack of consensus among doctors as to the cause of autism. However, medical professionals who are members of organizations such as the Autism Research Institute and Defeat Autism Now hypothesize autism is a brain disorder driven by immune system impairment linked to several factors, many of which are considered controversial. Some of those factors are discussed below.

As recently brought to the public’s attention by Congressional hearings, most childhood vaccinations contain Thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative. Children who have a defect in their ability to excrete mercury, a known toxin, can concentrate mercury in their central nervous system. The total cumulative dose of mercury a child receives from vaccinations prior to age two can be significant in susceptible individuals.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a prominent British pediatric gastroenterologist and researcher, has identified specific antigen markers from the MMR (Mumps, Measles, and Rubella) vaccine in intestinal lymph glands of autistic children not found in normal children, suggesting a possible relationship between autism and this vaccine.

Doctors who treat autistic children by addressing obstacles to normal brain and immune system function find that many autistic children have a history of taking repeated courses of antibiotics early in life. This can in turn lead to an overgrowth of yeast or abnormal bacteria in the intestines. Diarrhea can result, leading to nutritional deficiencies rising from malabsorption of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids needed to support vital nervous system functions, protein deficiency, and altered acid/base balances in the blood stream.

Increased sensitivity to inhaled substances, chemicals, and especially foods and food additives are often seen in autistic children. As the most common reactions are to dairy (casein) and wheat (gluten), avoidance of these foods is recommended and often results in symptomatic improvement. Many autistic children have a family history of allergic illnesses.

Whether severely or minimally affected, all autistic children deserve an opportunity to be evaluated for allergic, toxic, gastrointestinal and nutritional imbalances. Early intervention is preferred. Though some don’t respond to treatment, most autistic children respond with improvement, and some will respond very positively and can be mainstreamed and live more or less independently in community settings. Clearly more research is needed to help children affected by this complex illness.

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