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Light in the darkness

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For years, we as a society have largely refused to deal with a very basic question:  why is the rate of autism skyrocketing in the West, up 200 percent in less than two decades, with one in every 68 children diagnosed on the autistic spectrum?

What the authorities have vehemently focused on is what they don’t  believe may be causing it, in particular the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

To try to explain this sudden epidemic, we’ve reverted to two old chestnuts. The first is that there’s no actual increase in the incidence of autism; we’re just better at diagnosing it. 

We also lay the blame on a bad genetic toss of the dice, some sort of (increasingly common) genetic aberration. 

While we may be a bit better at recognizing the spectrum of autism than we might have been decade ago, that cannot account for the sheer number of modern children showing up with severe symptoms of physical, mental and emotional abnormalities compared to a few generations ago. 

And the facile explanation blaming genes ignores the fact that some 80 percent of children on the spectrum have a normal genome.

Clearly something else is going on here. 

In 1998, Karen Thomas, a massage and craniosacral holistic therapist living in San Luis Obispo, California, watched helplessly as Jacob, her happy, outgoing two-year-old, regressed in development, turned introverted and became highly oppositional virtually overnight. 

For years, Karen tried and failed to find experts on the subject, until she realized that she would have to become expert herself. It took her a decade to discover that her child had autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

What she eventually found is that autism isn’t caused by a single insult, but by multiple environmental assaults on an immature brain. She believes that Jacob’s condition was kicked off by the hepatitis B vaccine, administered when Jacob was two, but that there there were other potential factors creating a perfect storm. 

During her pregnancy she’d had several amalgam fillings placed, and indeed Jacob was eventually found to have high levels of mercury. Jacob was also found to have Lyme disease, as well as certain food intolerances and a number of chemicals or refined foods that were upsetting his gut.

After 14 long years of refusing to give up, Karen reversed Jacob’s autism.  He is now a normal teenager, attending college.  Karen herself has gone on to become a holistic autism “recovery” expert, helping many children and teens live normal lives (see page 26).

In her own determination to get her son well, Karen has highlighted what many autism experts have been saying for years: that autism can be caused by many environmental factors in our modern, polluted, chemically laden lives. 

Some two decades ago, after studying some 1,200 children with ASD over 11 years, the Autism Research Unit (ARU) at the University of Sunderland in the UK concluded that one cause of autism is the action of peptides outside the brain and central nervous system.

These peptides result in effects that either cause opioid activity or help to break down the opioid peptides that occur naturally within the central nervous system.

Natural opioid peptides affect all higher cognitive functions, and when they are at an abnormal levels, they can completely disrupt many higher processes within the brain, including emotion, perception, cognition, mood  and behavior. 

Back in those days, the ARU concluded that the culprit was the gut and a lack of certain enzymes needed to break down foods like gluten and dairy.

Since then, other environmental insults, such as heavy metals, parasites and bacteria have been shown to also cause gut abnormalities, allowing these peptides to make it through to the brain.

Pesticides, repeated administration of antibiotics, antidepressants and epilepsy drugs given to the mother during pregnancy—all appear to damage the gut of developing babies and children, making them more susceptible to ASD. 

The latest research from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health shows that children with persistent gastrointestinal symptoms such as regular constipation, food intolerance or diarrhea are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with autism.

So long as we focus attention on defending the MMR or seeking out a single culprit, we fail to shed any further light on all the aspects of modern industrialized life that are damaging our children. 

As Karen showed, autism can be cured with a multipronged approach.  It’s time to stop debating and follow where the light is shining.

Article Topics: Autism, Autism spectrum
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