My daughter Vienna was vaccine injured, with distinct regressions and behavioral changes at 9 months and then again at 18 months of age. She suffered sensory processing disorder, social anxiety disorder, and high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder that was not present before these shots. Fortunately, our story has a happy ending, because we consider her 90% recovered. Through biomedical approaches, almost all children with autism will heal or improve to varying degrees. A few rare kids will recover “off the spectrum” entirely. While most recovering kids will still maintain some “quirks,” any gains made are worth celebrating. Would these kids have had these quirks anyway? Maybe. Was it irreversible damage-done, like someone who has recovered after a stroke? Maybe. Either way, all children will see improvements in their Autism and co-morbid conditions with the right treatments. I write to share what worked for US, but every single child with autism has a different biological set of circumstances. And I urge every parent working towards recovering their child not to give up finding what might work for your child.
Here’s what we did with our high-functioning ASD daughter to start:
- Organic. By the age of 2 we switched Vienna to an organic diet, got her an organic mattress, and began using homemade household cleaners instead of chemicals. We increased fruits and vegetables, especially “brain foods” like avocado (smoothies especially). And we ate curry weekly with spices like turmeric, cayenne, pepper, cilantro, and cumin (many Indian spices have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties).
- Quality daily vitamins – we switched her from vitamins that had cheap forms of B12 and folic acid to those with quality methylcobalamin B12, and folate.
- Milk thistle, which supports the liver.
- Probiotics and probiotic-rich foods for the gut, in turn helping the immune system.
- Heavy metal removal. We used chlorella and spirulina, as well as fresh cilantro in our cooking.
- Cod Liver Oil, filtered. The adrenals use up extra DHA when the body is toxic. Additionally, Omega 3s decrease inflammation – commonly seen in those with autoimmune disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Here’s what I’d do differently now that I know more:
- I would have searched for an educated doctor familiar with autism recovery to guide us and choose the right labwork to test for early on.
- I would’ve taken detox supplements at a slower pace, while increasing liver support. When Vienna’s meltdowns got worse (in the two months prior to our major leap towards recovery at age 3), I probably should’ve slowed down the chlorella and spirulina, and added more essential detox vitamins/ minerals (A, B12, C, E, Folate, Magensium and Zinc, B2, Selenium, and Glutathione). And we should’ve considered taking a break from anything that detoxes during any periods of stress (like during the holidays).
- I would’ve added a supplement for Adrenal support, as detoxing can take a toll on the adrenal glands.
- I would’ve followed my gut on some of these protocols. For example, they say to increase B12 in those with autism, but my daughter wasn’t deficient and it made her aggressive. Andy Cutler Chelation protocol of giving Alpha Lipoic Acid every 3 hours around-the-clock left my daughter and I sleep-deprived and cranky. And following the recommendation to push amino acids was back-fired, as we later learned that she had high levels of Glutamine (thanks to a gene mutation called GAD), so giving it to her was not a “detox reaction,” but simply excitotoxic. We changed doctors after that poor recommendation. Listen your gut and pay attention to your child’s behavior.
- I would have had more testing done for Mitochondria, Metabolic Dysfunction, and Nutrtitional Deficiencies early. Specifically, had I ordered a NutrEval, GI Effects, and Neurotransmitter testing for both my daughters when they were young, it would have put us ahead by years.
Vienna was 3 years old when we saw what seemed to be a spontaneous “recovery” over a 6-week period. She began hitting missed developmental milestones like pretend play, attaching to her stuffed animals, and talking back to characters on the TV. Behaviors and abilities we’d never seen were suddenly apparent. Her eczema and food intolerances disappeared completely. She began to look me in the eye again. Empathy and consideration for others began to develop. Sensory processing disorder became more manageable, and meltdowns subsided (for the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown, click here). Our daughter was coming back to us.
At 7 years old, Vienna has almost no trace of Autism Spectrum Disorder as we’d known it. However, like those still on the spectrum, she has Sensory Processing Disorder, which has been primarily maintained through supplements and coping strategies. In our case, these supplements were required daily to keep her happy and healthy. First, minerals. Low Zinc or Magnesium is common in children who are vaccine injured and/or autistic, which can contribute to sensory issues. Especially picky eating (zinc-copper balancing). As an added bonus, since adding zinc, she gets sick far less frequently and fights off illness more quickly. Vienna also continues to have adrenal issues, common in those with heavy metal toxicity and autism.
High cortisol. External situations, detoxing, illness, and other factors can cause cortisol levels to get high and stay there chronically. It can cause the fight-or-flight response and easily being startled (commonly seen in ASD kiddos and those with PTSD). With our daughter, high cortisol means her body is eating up the DHA/ Omega 3s, so extra Omega 3’s are necessary in this case. If she went 72 hours without omega 3’s we would notice aggression; a marked decrease in her ability to control her behavior when frustrated; and disappointments would last hours. When she’s on her omegas and cortisol-lowering herbs, she is a well-behaved kid with a pretty impressive ability to control her frustration and bounce back from it in minutes (considering her age of course – all kids get angry and lose their cool sometimes).
At the age of seven, she is a well-mannered and considerate kid that is an adrenaline junkie. 🙂 She makes friends easily on the playground, reads 3 or 4 chapter books every night before bed, and loves animals. In most situations, Vienna is indistinguishable from the other kids on the playground. Vienna still has social anxiety, SPD “quirks” and takes some extra time to prepare for changes, but is all manageable now with a low-stress routine. I am extremely grateful for the progress we have made.
When Vienna was 7 1/2, we finally got specialized labwork back showing that her liver was not functioning optimally; she had signs that her ATP and Glutathione were very low, and she had some nutritional deficiencies (NutrEval can show this and more). So on the advice of a Functional Medicine Doctor, we began Designs for Health VegeCleanse. While it was more pricey than I anticipated, as I compared buying the supplements separately, this was the best option. There was an almost immediate improvement in her moods and she told me she’d never been happier! We also went gluten, sugar, soy and dairy free. A few months later, we began Occupational Therapy, including exercises focused for for Retained Infant Reflexes.
After 3 more months, for the first time in her life Vienna’s sensory avoidance turned into sensory-seeking. She hated music and loud noises before, but now she was having dance parties with her sister. She began asking for cuddles and hugs all the time. And, like a preschooler that has to learn boundaries, she was going through a phase she’d missed because her sensory issues stopped her from getting too close to people. Now, we are happy to report having to teach her boundaries like not poking people, and asking for affection instead of just aggressively smothering people with affection. 🙂
Vienna is 10 now. We completed labwork earlier this year and saw major improvement as it pertains to methylation (liver detox) and gut health. We also found some off-balance Neurotransmitters, low Selenium, D3, B2, and B3 (despite supplementing). So her current supplements include: VegeCleanse, Adrenal Edge, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Omega 3’s, Selenium. For serotonin we added Lithium Orotate, which was a key to her moods and low appetite (some suggest 5HTP for low serotonin, but those with MTHFR 1298 genetic mutation may see irritability with that, as we did). We give her zinc when symptoms arise. For us, this means eye contact decreases and chewing on things increases. During times of high-stress, CBD helps. As she becomes more motivated to be independent, she has pushed through her social anxiety as well. She has the ability to pretend play with others, too. We actually find that artistic and pretend play result in better moods all-around! I believe that OT, horseback riding and gymnastics has improved her motor coordination so well that she may not return to OT next year. She can tolerate different clothes now, like jeans for horseback riding. Her hugs used to be rigid and awkward and over the course of the therapeutic horseback riding, those hugs have become more comfortable and natural. She recently told me: “I didn’t know how good a hug could feel because it was so uncomfortable before.”
I believe the struggles as a toddler-preschooler caused brain imbalances; her mathematical and spatial reasoning intelligence reached extraordinarily high levels, while other areas such as social-emotional intelligence, suffered. This kind of brain imbalance is not uncommon with kids on the spectrum.
We are still dealing with anxiety as well as some subtler signs of High Functioning Autism (also known as Aspbergers), in her social relationships. As a high functioning, gifted female she is borderline ASD. If evaluated, there is no black-and-white answer. She may, or may not, qualify as having autism depending entirely on who is evaluating.
The last 8 years of our biomedical journey towards recovery has been filled with many supplements that did or did not work; thousands of hours of researching; and many doctors and therapists appointments. We have experienced many wonderful victories towards reaching our goal, one tiny step at a time. Ultimately, we now have a ten year old that is is fully able to express herself verbally and academically. She is genuinely happy with her daily life, while also fully participating and enjoying her extra-curriculars and academic pursuits. I couldn’t ask for more.
For more in-depth information, see the full article: Detoxing From Vaccines