In 2006, my son was two weeks from his third birthday when I learned the dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals/chemicals, how damaged and leaky his gut was, the gut-brain axis, the opportunistic gut pathogens, the vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and the high inflammatory foods that were contributing to his symptoms referred to as Autism.
How in the world can a nearly 3-year-old be this toxic? He was delivered naturally. I breastfed him until 14 months. I made EVERY SINGLE jar of baby food from local, organic foods. I was outraged. I was heartbroken. I was terrified.
Where is he getting these toxic heavy metals? Arsenic from treated lumber and rice products, Antimony from coal-burning power plants, and flame retardant materials (think baby crib mattresses, clothing, car seats- everything is made with flame retardant materials!), Mercury and aluminum from adjunct stabilizers in childhood inoculations.
Soon after our first Biomedical appointment, I watched the documentary Kilowatt Hours. The film says that mothers pass toxins to their developing children in the womb. At first, I was horrified to think I did this to my baby! Then I became enraged. Where am I getting all of these toxins?
Functional Medicine uses a timeline to plot out our genetic family history susceptibilities, ongoing exposures, and triggering moments that accumulate to create a patient’s unique and current circumstances.
Even though my child was too young to have an extensive history, my health history gave insight into what set the stage for Autism.
One of my earliest childhood memories was being buckled over and dropped to my knees with sharp, stabbing abdominal pains due to chronic constipation. I had recurring ear infections and was regularly on antibiotics. I ate Jif peanut butter, Kraft mac and cheese, and fast food, drank soda pop daily, started drinking beer early, and was placed on birth control when I was 17. I was your classic ADHD kid. Teachers couldn’t find me. My emotions were a treacherous roller coaster; my stomach chronically hurt, and I had terrible depression, acne, and the beginning of joint pain. I frequently burned bridges because I couldn’t foster healthy relationships. I was awful to myself; I had a harmful body image.
My point is that our children’s diagnosis is a wake-up call for the entire family. Our children are extensions of ourselves; their Autism is not an isolated case that appears out of nowhere. I credit my son for saving my life. By changing my habits and adopting a lifestyle that lowered our inflammation, I transformed into a more radiant version of myself. After all, functional medicine is a path of transformation.
After ten years of going through my change process and consistently evolving his dynamic root cause care plan, my son emerged from his Autism diagnosis. I felt compelled to turn around and help more families know what I had discovered, so I opened a Biomed/functional medicine-based multidisciplinary Autism Healthcare Clinic in October 2013 named Integrated Connections. My tagline was “Addressing the REAL Problems.” Root cause resolution was not yet a term in 2013. Before starting the child into medical and PT/OT therapy, our care plans worked with the parents on their mental, emotional, and spiritual health and daily habits. Parents were outraged. “What do you mean you want to work with me? I’m not the one that is sick; she is! With so many years of therapy, you would think she would be fixed by now.”
We explained that Integrated Connections was not another therapy where parents dropped off their children but a Family Care Plan. Conventional Autism services focus exclusively on the child’s behavior rather than addressing the child’s environment. Our environment is the most significant determinant of our health and well-being. Parents create the child’s environment and must be a part of the treatment plan. We discovered that it’s often the parent’s refusal to change what they eat that then makes their children resistant to changing what they eat. Even if the parents were willing to change their nutrition, we found that they were too afraid of their child’s reaction to not being provided their favorite foods to feel committed to changing their nutrition. Parents underestimate how addictive these high-inflammatory foods are and discredit their children’s reactions to withdrawal symptoms. In essence, the Autism was in charge, NOT the parents.
Our Family Care Plan also included the parents in the children’s therapy sessions, and what we found was that the parent’s anxiety inhibited the sessions from being productive. Therefore, we added more health coaching, energy, cranial sacral work, and counseling when appropriate to support the parents through their change process to reduce their stress and anxiety levels and balance their nervous system. Once we changed our program, therapy sessions became much more productive.
As we worked closely with the families who were sincere in taking a Family Care Plan approach and were willing to work with their past traumas, self-image and self-love, belief patterns, and spending habits, profound, miraculous healing occurred even with the most challenging cases. We witnessed marriages saved.
The Family Care Plan woke more families to becoming more environmentally conscious. Autism is a sign of the times and, in my humble opinion, a man-made disease. Our children are the canaries in the coal mine. They are clearly telling us our air, food, and water are too toxic for our human species to be fertile, develop, and age free from serious health complications. Just look at the alarming health statistics.
I believe Autism is a master teacher. It woke me up. It made me better than before. I turn around, extend my hand, and say, “Let this change you. I’m here for you.”
“Within every heartache, every adversity, there is a seed of equal or greater opportunity. “Napoleon Hill
It took ten years of 100% commitment to our family care plan for my son to emerge and his Autism symptoms to be in complete remission. I say remission because we must continue our low inflammatory nutrition and clean lifestyles and support our detoxification pathways and core clinical systems. Nearly twenty years from when we were first thrown into this devastating and horrifying reality, Parents are still receiving the same terrible message that Autism is a mental disorder. You can do nothing but love them, keep them safe, medicate them, put them into therapies, and plan for adult living situations.
My son remains one of the most severe cases I have seen in over a decade of working in functional medicine practices. It gives me the cold chills to think where we would be today if I had accepted the status-quo conventional child-focused treatment path, which suppresses symptoms with medications and keeps children in an unrealistic therapy schedule without addressing the core-clinical imbalances creating the symptoms referred to as Autism.
Creating comprehensive and coordinated care plans that match your current ability and create consistency and continuity of care is up to you. No medical provider or therapist can do this for you. To stick with the long transformation journey, developing and honing self-coaching skills is advisable.
Functional medicine is a change process, and each family’s process is unique. Learn crucial self-coaching skills to design, implement, and sustain your family’s care plan and place symptoms of autism into remission.
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