When I heard these words: “This student demonstrates developmentally appropriate articulation skills and is eligible to attend kindergarten August 2004,” I teared up. Harriet and I were attending a meeting for our five-year-old son Lenny’s dismissal from our school district’s Exceptional Student Education program. Why the tears? Three and a half years earlier, our son had been diagnosed with late onset autism and he could no longer speak.
Our story, at least the first part of it, is no different than what many other parents have experienced: a normal child developmentally regressing between his or her first and second birthdays. At thirteen months, Lenny began “spinning” like a little tornado, and he felt no pain. At 15 months, he began seemingly endless tantrums. At 17 months, he had constipation and sleeping problems. At 18 months he began to act like he was deaf, and he stopped using words. At 19 months, his obsessive-compulsive behaviors and unusual fixations were driving us nuts!
Harriet and I experienced the full gauntlet of emotions during this difficult period, including questioning each others’ parenting skills. It was actually a relief for us when we got the autism diagnosis. Harriet was soon engrossed with the traditional “educational” based therapies. She even learned how to do discreet trial therapy, a helpful cognitive-behavioral approach by Lovaas, and she was able to devote over 20 hours a week to teaching Lenny. I set out to learn as much about autism as I could.
“No known cause or cure.” “A severe developmental disorder usually requiring lifetime support and care.” The more I read, the more the knot in my stomach tightened. It was as if our son had died.
I worked in a hospital and started networking with physicians about autism. Soon, I received a call from a doctor who had an autistic son. I told him all about Lenny. His response was, “Your son has a leaky gut from a vaccine injury and you should immediately take him off wheat and milk.” He explained that proteins from gluten (in some grains) and casein (in milk products) were leaking through the intestinal wall undigested and were acting like an opiate in my son’s brain. I dismissively thanked the good doctor for calling.
Later on, I told Harriet about the “wacko” doctor’s call. I mentioned that he said Lenny would probably sleep better if we took him off wheat or milk. My exhausted wife’s eyes widened as she responded, “You know, it won’t hurt him to take him off wheat or milk for a couple of weeks.”
“He’s got to be dead! Get up!”
“OK, I’m up!”
“Did you get up last night with Lenny?”
“I didn’t either!”
We had just started the gluten- and casein-free (GFCF) diet. Harriet rushed to Lenny’s bedroom and found him sound asleep. For the first time in over a year, both Lenny and Harriet had slept all night! I was instructed in no uncertain terms to call that “not so wacko” doctor and find out what we needed to do next.
He reiterated that Lenny was most likely damaged by the mercury in his vaccines. He suggested we take him to a doctor who used the Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!) protocol and address this issue.
Mercury? “Why, is there mercury in vaccines?” I questioned.
“It’s in some vaccines as a preservative called thimerosal, which is 49 percent mercury (by weight).”
A month later we were sitting in Dr. David Berger’s office in Florida. A pediatrician who follows the DAN! protocol, Dr. Berger believes that children with Lenny’s profile have been neurologically damaged and can often be helped with appropriate biological interventions.
Dr. Berger initiated an individualized treatment plan for Lenny that included chelation therapy to remove heavy metals from his body. For this, medications are administered which bind to the metals and are excreted. Other interventions included correcting problems such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies, addressing intestinal yeast overgrowth and dietary issues, testing and treatment for myelin basic protein antibodies, and more.
I added up Lenny’s mercury exposure from all the vaccines he’d received by the age of 12 months, and it came to over 237.5mcg of mercury. I’ve read expert opinion that many babies have received at least 125 times in excess of allowable mercury standards. Knowing the brain’s affinity for mercury and the immaturity of the blood brain barrier in infants, I have no doubt that neurotoxic mercury damaged our son’s brain and resulted in his “late onset” autism. We hoped chelation therapy would remove this mercury and allow his brain to heal.
The GFCF diet, along with Dr., Berger’s biological interventions, resulted in remarkable progress. Lenny stopped throwing tantrums and began making eye contact with us once more. He was quickly potty trained. His sensory-stimulating behaviors and obsessive-compulsive tendencies were progressively lessened. His constipation improved. And words! Sweet sounding words flowed from his lips. After every episode of chelation, our son made huge gains. A behavior specialist who was working with Lenny had to keep adjusting her plans because the goals were being mastered so quickly. Harriet and I were amazed!
A year later, at age three, a talkative Lenny was re-evaluated by our local school district to determine any needs for special programming. Lenny now had no developmental delays except for an “expressive language/articulation problem.” He no longer needed discreet trial therapy (we had already stopped, as it was obvious he didn’t need it) and he began attending speech classes at our local elementary school.
This August, our son will be entering regular kindergarten in our town of Royal Palm Beach, Florida. He is no longer on the GFCF diet and has no symptoms of autism.
Recently, the Institute of Medicine released a report stating that there is no link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and neurological developmental disorders such as autism. Harriet and I, and thousands of other parents, know better.
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