PREGNANT AND ANXIOUS
Q: A few of my wife's friends who are pregnant or have newborns are really anxious about all the news they read about the increase in autism in America. Should they be worried? What can I say to reassure them?
Posted by: Jerry L.
In general, there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of childhood diseases and disorders over the past 10 years, including autism, asthma, allergies, AD/HD, bipolar, and learning disabilities. One in every six children is at risk for a developmental, behavioral, or learning problem. This is very worrisome. The question we must ask is: is this due to genetics, exposure to toxins found in the environment (such as water, air, food, and vaccines), failures in the functioning of various bodily systems (immunological, gastrointestinal, and metabolic), or a combination of the three? Until we know conclusively what causes autism (or any of the other diseases and disorders) parents should be prudent in what they put in (or on) their bodies, homes, and lawns. This is particularly important for children who are far more vulnerable while their brains are developing.
Instead of worrying and doing nothing, parents should be forewarned and armed if they have young children or are planning to get pregnant. They should become more knowledgeable about the ingredients in all products and the potential harm to their body or baby; be vigilant about monitoring their baby’s key social, emotional, and communication milestones from birth through school age; have their child’s development screened beginning at 4 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months; and when in doubt, they should check it out!
Nancy D. Wiseman
WHERE CAN I TURN FOR HELP?
Q: I have a 6 year old son that no doctors will help with. We have tried to get Adam help since 3 when easter seals was done with him. I finally got Adam in pre school by the grace of god watching us and running into a old friend who helped. Adam has never slepted a whole night in his whole life. He ws found that at 9 months he had acid reflects and that helped for a while. He didn't speek till around 4 from 2 to 3 we did sign lanuage which we learned from easter seals. He is in kindergarden now and doing exceptionally well considering I didn't knowif he could do it he is reading and comumeticationg well with his teacher. I am very proud we need basically how to control tempers and outbursts. Is there a book with ideas and help to work around all these things
Posted by: kathy bell
I can imagine how upsetting and frustrating this must be for you when you know in your heart something is wrong with your child and no one will step up to the plate and help. Whether it is autism or a related disorder, my new book (The First Year: Autism Spectrum Disorders) can give you the information and tools you need to get started. It will teach you how to assemble a team of professionals that can identify what is wrong with your child and recommend the types of treatments, supports, and program you need for your son. It will also help you to navigate your local school district and insurance company to get the supports and services you need.
Ideally, your son should have a multidisciplinary evaluation consisting of a developmental pediatrician, gastroenterologist, child psychologist, speech and language pathologist, social worker, and educational specialist. The team approach to diagnosis and treatment is vital, as autism can manifest itself in a wide variety of ways (behavior, speech, ability to learn and relate, etc.). The reason I am suggesting a gastroenterologist is because of your son’s reflux, sleeplessness, outbursts, and temper tantrums. Often this can be due to food allergies, yeast overgrowth, or immune dysfunction. Once the team is able to identify the reason for your son’s problems, they can recommend the most appropriate course of treatment. Then you can take an active role in advocating for his needs. Best of luck to you!
Nancy D. Wiseman
ARE VACCINES OKAY?
Q: I'm pregnant now and thinking ahead about vaccines my baby will need, but I've read a lot of conflicting information about the link between vaccines and autism. Can you help me navigate through the arguments both for and against vaccines? I want my baby to be as healthy as possible, but I'm not sure whose advice to follow.
Posted by: Karen B.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! You are smart to be thinking about this issue now so you can plan ahead. As I’m sure you’ve seen all over the news, there is a great deal of controversy over whether or not vaccines are safe and it’s very unsettling. As I said in an earlier response, until we know conclusively what causes autism, you should be prudent in what you put in (or on) your body, home, and lawn.
The fact of the matter is, no vaccine is completely free of risk. We know that many children with autism are physically ill and once tested, they are found to have compromised immune systems, abnormal detoxification systems, and imbalanced gastrointestinal systems. Evidence shows that families of children with autism also have higher rates of autoimmune disease. This suggests that children with autism may have a genetic predisposition for immune system weakness. Immunizing a child with a weakened or dysfunctional immune system can lead to more serious health and developmental problems. One thing you should look at is your family history (and that of the baby’s father). Are there any neurological, immunological, or other health problems that run in either families (including allergies, asthma, AD/HD, and autism)?
Vaccines can be administered safely to children who are healthy. You can space them out in a way that will not overload your child’s immune system. And when it comes to boosters later on, you can conduct a simple blood test to check your child’s titers. If the test indicates your child is immune to measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, or other diseases, there is no need for a booster. This is a personal decision you will have to make, but I suggest you read the book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations by Stephanie Cave, MD, so you can make an educated decision.
Nancy D. Wiseman
JUST GOT DIAGNOSED
Q: I am a mother of a child that was diagnosis with autism within the last month. It has not only been a struggle for us to hear the news but also the support and services available for children with Autism. The doctors give their diagnosis and recommendations and we were on our own from there. I am well educated within the Autism Spectrum and yet I am having difficulty finding answers to all my questions. Where do we turn? What do we believe? Does the diets of autistic children really have an effect on their learning capacity? What can I do for my child besides therapies and diets.
Posted by: Abbey Turner
I encourage you to read my new book (The First Year: Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed Child), as it will answer many of your questions and walk you through the most essential steps that will lift you out of your confusion and frustration, including understanding and accepting the diagnosis, how to become informed and well-connected, establishing your professional team, understanding your child’s unique profile, putting the proper supports in place, knowing and exercising your legal rights, obtaining key evaluations and reports to get the supports and services you need, learning which treatments are most appropriate for your child, and how to advocate. This journey can be very overwhelming for families. I wrote this book for parents, like yourself, who are just starting out.
Parents often ask: “how do I know which treatments will work for my child?” Well, you won’t, unless you first understand your child’s individual profile (since no two children are alike), know the issues to target, the pros and cons of each treatment, and the potential side effects. Some parents put all their eggs in one basket thinking that one method will provide the total solution, while others try everything at once. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. What seems to be most effective is finding the right balance of approaches (medical, therapeutic, and educational) that work for your child and family, and then trying them slowly and methodically.
For many children on the autism spectrum, dietary interventions can be very effective. As Kenneth Bock, MD, says: “It’s a mistake not to treat the underlying biomedical problems…to do what we can to help the neurons function so they respond to all the therapies.” I highly recommend his book, Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies.
Best of luck to you!
Nancy D. Wiseman