holdingtomorrow

our journey of hope and healing through autism

The Biochemical Train Wreck (and what we are doing about it)

“Boyd Haley, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky, describes our children (with autism) as having a “biochemical train wreck”. No one would claim that if you knew what you were doing, you could fix the wreck with one tool”
(from John Pangborn, Ph.D. and Sidney Baker, MD’s book: Autism: Effective Biomedical Treatments)
I’ve always been a girl with lots of hobbies. Yesterday, I cleaned my corner of the basement, where I house my sewing and crafting supplies, as well as my photography props, backdrop and gear. My mind wandered back to life two years ago. One of my favorite ways to spend my down time was scrapbooking. Fast forward two years, and I have a new hobby- reading medical journals to read the results of research that involved medical and dietary approaches to healing the “biochemical train wreck” that is autism.
While I’ve rarely used my BS in Human Biology for career purposes in the past 13 years, I’ve never regretted it either. After all, it’s useful to have a general understanding of how the body works, AND I hooked up with Nathan through chemistry class. 🙂 But I’ve never been more grateful than now. When I read books that mention studies published in medical journals, I can look them up (ok- actually Nathan looks them up since his position at MRU gives him online medical journal access). I can read them for myself, look at methods and data, and make decisions for my child. And you know what, folks? There is amazing research going on that suggests that children are benefited by dietary and nutritional interventions.
It takes a lot of data to form solid enough evidence to elicit new standard medical protocols, and that’s okay. But one of the beautiful things is that I don’t have to wait for that to happen for my child. When there are interventions that are simple and safe that research suggests help children with ASD, I can try them.
Here are a few of things that we’ve implemented with Hannah over time. My explanations are brief, and for each sentence, I’ve probably spent an hour or more with clinical journals understanding why these are plausible things to try.

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet- started 13 months ago

Specific Carbohydrate Diet- started 7 months ago (We’ve seen huge benefits from this one- most notably in Hannah’s sleep, mood, sensory sensitivity, and tolerance of different foods.)

Dechlorinated Drinking Water- about 3 months ago (when we were trying to make the homemade yogurt suggested by the Specific Carbohydrate regimen, we noticed the good yogurt bacteria wouldn’t grow in chlorinated water. It sounds crazy, without me explaining the whole theory behind it, but current research suggests that ONE part of biochemical goings-on in autism is overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. Improving the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract may help with that)
Probiotics-(Acidophilus- for the same reason mentioned above)

Fermented Cod Liver Oil- (FCLO is a natural source of Vitamin A) We’re just getting started with this one, so I have no report yet. Because of the digestive tract disturbances that often accompany autism, many individuals with autism have a hard time absorbing Vit A, leading to deficiency. Some inviduals with autism who take FCLO have great improvements in language. I’m still trying to find a way to get the yummy (NOT!) stuff into Hannah in an appropriate dose. 🙂

Hannah still has autism, but is making fabulous progress in some areas. Lately she has been playing more cooperatively with the other kiddos at preschool and imitating their play ideas more too. (Imitating in play is a great step toward social reciprocity). I know that her progress is partly due to the intensive therapy she receives, but I can’t help but feel that the biomedical interventions are playing a big role too.

And for those of you who made it to the end of this wordy post- a picture of my girl making her own unique recipe “bathtub soup”.  🙂

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4 comments on “The Biochemical Train Wreck (and what we are doing about it)

  1. Donna J. Dingwall
    November 9, 2012

    Becky….thank you for sharing this. I am very interested in Hannah’s progress and knowing you have a blog is GREAT. Hannah (and her siblings) are so blessed to have you as their Mom. xo

    • holdingtomorrow
      November 10, 2012

      Thank you, Donna. 🙂 I started the blog not knowing if I would ever share it publicly, since I share my heart more openly on my blog than I do in person. Recently I decided that I am learning so many things that I can’t help but share it.

  2. sarah
    November 9, 2012

    There is so much we still need to learn about the human body. How grateful I am for moms like you who research and find means of helping their kids!

    • holdingtomorrow
      November 10, 2012

      Hannah’s diagnosis is so much more manageable for me emotionally now because I have concrete things I can do to help (in addition to all the occupational and speech therapy). Thank you for taking the time to read my post, Sarah- it means a lot to me!

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