Well, first, I don't see many autistic children anymore. But, as you know, I have seen many in the past. But here is what I found successful in the past.
By way of introduction (to others), I first met the to-be-Dr. Bill at an Autism Research Institute meeting, I believe, in San Diego in about 2002. At that time I used (and continue to use) an allergy-elimination technique called NAET, which is excellent at reducing IgE and IgG/M sensitivities. There is a published paper on the subject located at www.naet.com for those interested. At that time I wasn't using any other modality.
However, Dr. Bill and others showed me the wide range of modalities that were being used. In 2006 I attended a series of seminars on functional neurology conducted by Dr. Robert Melillo, author of a number of books including "Disconnected Kids" and "Autism". His approach was mutli-modal approach including functional neurology repatterning, nutrition and academics.
Dr. Melillo also developed Brain Balance Centers which now number over 50 throughout the US. I owned the first Brain Balance Center in Westlake Village, California, for three years. During that time we saw often miraculous changes in our autistic children.
All that having been said, this is what I found that had the most profound effects on autistic children:
1. Reducing gut/brain inflammation by reducing/eliminating IgE/IgG food reactions. So much research has come out to verify how the microbiota of the gut influence the production of gut neurotransmitters (and probably their counterparts in the brain). And how the downward spiral of inflammation => cytokine => hypothalamus and hippocampus affects the development of the brain, not to mention the immune system of the brain, the glial cells. Tremendous information I'm hoping Dr. Bill, who is on the cutting edge, will share with us.
2. Specific nutrition aimed at healing the gut and rebuilding damaged tissues. Determining what the child needs largely comes from Organic Acid testing through Great Plains Labs or Metametrix-Genova (or whatever else they call themselves these days).
3. Repatterning the nervous system, beginning with correcting primitive reflexes and stimulating the development of new neural pathways with modalities that reorganize the development of brain.
There are many excellent techniques largely developed by physical therapists and occupational therapists that, when used at the appropriate time in development can work miracles. What we came to discover, however, was that timing was the most important aspect.
We found (as have others) that children with autism can make huge gains, especially prior to puberty. After puberty, the gains become more linear but some gains can still be made.
Thank you Dr. Gary, that brought a ton of memories back about the early and very confusing days when my son was diagnosed with Autism. I remember well that I was quite in denial at first. After three specialists came back with the same diagnosis, I began to listen.
NAET is remarkable. I don’t understand how it works. Here is what I do know… I had a milk allergy and Dr. Gary treated me for it with NAET. After treatment I felt activated or wired as if I had consumed a triple espresso. It was as if there was a system inside me that was awakened and active. That lasted over the course of the evening and my reactions to milk were substantially diminished thereafter.
With regard to Autism, we have seen a gut, immune and brain connection. Children with Autism have been found to have a different set of immune cells lining the gastrointestinal tract. Gluten intolerance is found too frequently and there has been evidence of large changes in the GI flora that may lead to the differences in absorption and/or cytokine stimulation mentioned by Dr. Gary and responsible for the behavioral changes that come with kids getting regular colds, they may get worse and sometimes “clarity” with fever.
My experience with Autism is the same as that discussed by Dr. Gary:
1) Reduce inflammation – NAET, gluten free diets, anti-fungal and anti-viral medications have all shown effective changes, although not all at once. Usually by trial of one at a time looking for results and making small gains at a time. These treatments are, however, highly complementary to behavioral therapy.
2) Specific nutrition can be huge as our kids can be highly sensitive to dyes (Blue #1). Most of the time the cause of connectivity problems is unknown and can be anything from actual micro-structural changes (Fragile X or Rett) to neurochemical or even mitochondrial disorders. In these cases supplements such as carnitine have shown effectiveness. Again, there are many causes and some quite rare, so many causes remains elusive as there is no simple test.
3) Repatterning or remapping of the brain is the essence of most behavioral therapy for Autism. Autism is a lack of connectivity predominantly affecting frontal and association cortex resulting in the noted delays in speech, auditory integration, sensory perception and stereotypic behaviors. Regardless of the cause, loss of function is best treated with any therapy that helps remap functions. Relearning tasks in order to train areas of functional brain to compensate for dysfunctional areas is key to neurorehabilitation. Dr. Melilo’s method is one that has shown some promise and gets parents intimately involved in the process, all of which is very good.