Parents: Autism curable
By Yunmi Choi Daily Journal Staff
These days, 8-year-old Sophie Horn is singing songs with a little more melody. It’s a nice change of tune for a child who was diagnosed with autism when she was 2.
For decades, it was commonly thought that autism was an incurable state. Now a growing legion of parents nationwide say their children are making complete recoveries and San Mateo resident Elizabeth Horn — Sophie’s mother — is documenting them in a new film.
It’s a topic loaded with controversy, with no definitive findings about why the number of autism cases has exploded in recent years. Between 1997 and 2002, the number of autism cases jumped 87 percent around the state — a trend that’s being echoed around the world. Doctors and special education officials can’t agree on the causes for the sudden spike, however, let alone whether it’s possible to “cure” an autistic child.
In fact, some say these recovered children may never have been autistic in the first place. Jim Cox, special education director in the San Mateo-Foster City School District, said many of these children have other disorders that led to “autistic-like conditions.” Although children with autism can be taught, Cox said it is essentially an “existential state” — meaning that’s just the way kids are glued together from birth.
San Mateo doctor Jeff Bradstreet, who works closely with Horn, said autism is curable, however. The condition is linked to the growing amount of toxins children have been getting in recent years, he said, mainly through vaccines.
Bradstreet maintains a Web site called the “Good News Doctors Foundation.” According to the Web site, the foundation is “a Christian ministry that provides hope and information on how to eat better, feel better, and minister more effectively as a result of a biblically-based, healthy lifestyle.”
However, doctors at the Mind Institute, a leading research institution on autism, say there is little to no evidence linking autism to vaccines.
A holistic cure
Autistic children get an onslaught of intervention in the San Mateo-Foster City School District. Occupational, behavioral and speech and language therapy are just some of the ways the district intervenes to help children become functioning adults.
To truly recover, however, Horn said it’s critical to treat the child holistically — meaning parents should look at the biological and chemical conditions that might be playing into the condition.
“Is there yeast in the gut? A gastrointestinal problem?” she said.
For example, there’s a particular neural pathway that commonly shows aberrations in autistic children. When that pathway is treated with Vitamin B12, Horn said it can kick start a recovery. Since her daughter started getting the treatment three weeks ago, Horn said she’s seen significant improvements in Sophie’s attention, language and behavior.
Other completely nonverbal children start talking in full sentences the day after getting the treatment, she said. That’s just one of the treatments that can lead to recovery.
“Every kid is different,” she said. “There’s nothing definitive out there, so parents have to be really motivated to find a cure — they have to be self starters.”
Horn is encouraging doctors nationwide to create a database of children who have recovered from autism. Once recovered, Horn said the parents often don’t want anyone to know their children were autistic.
“There’s this whole underground of parents out there who are just starting to come out with their stories,” Horn said.
Many parents swear their children were fine before receiving vaccines.
“Thousands of parents will show you videotapes of normal kids. Then they get the MMR shot and they’re gone,” Horn said. “When you have number of kids who get very ill after getting a shot, it’s difficult to say the shot had nothing to do with it.”
Parents often assume vaccines are causing autism because the shots are typically given when children first start showing signs of the condition, said Cox.
“No, it’s not good to give mercury to kids, but that doesn’t necessarily suggest causation,” he said. “There’s little accepted evidence to show it.”
Cox said autism is a neurological condition that comes about when the neural tube is being formed between the 17th and 25th days of gestation. That’s when the fetus is most sensitive to alcohol, cocaine and other substances that cause neural tube defects, he said.
Sally J. Rogers, a senior scientist at the Mind Institute, said there is no evidence of a link between vaccines and autism.
“There have been a number of studies on the issue, but nothing showing there’s an empirical linkage. There’s just no evidence that vaccines have a role,” Rogers said.
That doesn’t mean vaccines can’t trigger an autistic condition for some children, however, she said. Primarily, she said autism is the result of an interplay of genes. Scientists are now researching how environmental conditions could affect existing genetic conditions to spike the number of autism cases, she said.
Although there’s no definitive understanding about the explosion of autism cases, some theories are more popular than others.
One of the leading and most controversial ideas is that a mercury preservative in many vaccines, thimiserol, can have detrimental effects on children who have genetic conditions that make them susceptible to mercury. The U.S. government began phasing out the preservative a few years ago, but it remains in some vaccines.
It’s not a single shot that parents are blaming, however. When Horn was a child, she said she only got about eight vaccines. These days, she said kids are subjected to dozens.
“Over the past 20 years, the number of immunizations rose so dramatically,” Horn said. “We never actually calculated how many micrograms of mercury kids are taking.”
Whether the increased number of vaccines are to blame, one thing is clear in the foggy world of autism.
“The San Mateo-Foster City School District is up to its neck in autistic kids,” Bradstreet said.
Yunmi Choi can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 109. What do you think of this story? Send a letter to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: San Mateo Daily Journal