Autism’s a disease characterized by behavioral
abnormalities and symptoms. We don’t have a full appreciation for what it is. We do
know that it’s not a psychiatric disease; it’s more of a metabolic disease – a metabolic
disease consisting of neurological problems associated with gastrointestinal, immune,
and detoxification problems. So it’s a very multifaceted constellation of symptoms we’ve
tried to group together, and we really do not have a firm handle on what exactly it
is. Autism is diagnosed by looking at atypical behaviors and repetitive symptoms. Typically,
a child with autism will show stemming, flapping of the arms, hands; they will toe-walk. Oftentimes,
they are very repetitive in everything they do. Almost compulsive in the way they will
handle a car instead of holding it upright and pushing it on its wheels, they’ll turn
it upside-down and just spin the wheels. They seem to be very anti-social, and they’re
easily distracted. So in essence, it’s a series of things that we put together to create
a picture of what is atypical and what we term autism. Autism is commonly noticed in
the first 18 months. Usually around between 16 to 18 months, parents will get an inkling
there’s something wrong. Oftentimes, it’s when they enter and they’re seeing their
child does not attract them with their eyes; so other times, it’s when they’re not
cooing or they don’t seem to be happy. They seem to be looking through the parent. So
we think it’s first diagnosable somewhere around a year and a half of age. What we see
in autistic children, usually it’s initially through the parents’ eyes, the parents notice
something is wrong. Oftentimes, they’ll confront the pediatrician or the family doctor
and say, “Doctor, I think there’s something wrong.” And the doctor will say, “No,
this is normal. This is not to worry about.” At this point in time, we’re getting a little
bit more sensitive to parents and parents’ observations. Parents are really the ones
who spend 24/7 with their child, and if a pediatrician or a doctor is to look at a child
on occasion per visit and say, “Your child’s fine,” when the mother knows better, it’s
kind of an unfair thing to do to a parent. Parents oftentimes sense even before they
start observing something that’s unusual, something that happened. There is no question.
Certain parents – and there are many of them, and many of them are outspoken parents
– know that something’s changed following a vaccination. It can be at two months of
age; it can be at a year of age; it can be at two years of age. Something happens that
seems to change their child, so there are threads that seem to go through the community
of autism that are repetitive and many, many mothers will join in saying they noticed something
happened after an event, and that’s where we have to start taking a closer look at those
events. When a mother takes her child to a doctor and usually says, “There’s something
not right,” the traditional doctors will frequently delay doing anything. There are
no specific tests for autism. If there was a lab test, every doctor’s office would
do it. There isn’t any. It’s a much more complex issue to come up with a diagnosis.
In essence, what you have to do is find out what is missing in this child, what doesn’t
belong in this child, and that’s where biomedicine has stepped up and identified many of these
children with these slight behavioral abnormalities have much more complex metabolic disease.
They are biochemical train wrecks, and they have to be observed from many different perspectives.
There’s genetic testing that could be done to rule out a true genetic disease, which
accounts for less than 10 percent. There could be genetic predisposition testing, which we
call single-nucleotide polymorphisms. We can do lab tests to determine other degrees of
things that might be affecting the child’s noble behavior. There’s no question that
certain common things like lead can have an adverse affect on a baby’s development.
Some of the common problems we see in autistic children, going beyond lead, we find these
children oftentimes have mercury, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, certain uranium deposits
in their bodies, and actually have a dangerous chromium in many cases. So what we’re looking
at and when we start taking a closer look at these children – and most doctors don’t
do this – biomedical doctors have learned that toxins simply do not allow a child to
function normally. Babies can be exposed in the uterus to pesticides that they were never
exposed to 50 years ago. They can be exposed to a mother’s already toxic lead and mercury,
and they’re going to be born with concentrations far greater than the mother’s concentration.
We have to look at the genetic and look at the susceptibility. There are variations in
children where the toxins actually can trigger abnormal sequences of DNA so the blueprint
is disrupted, and unless you can correct those disruptions, you have very little chance of
normalizing a child or helping to recover a child. So when we look at these children,
all of these toxins, these polymorphisms we see, we also see they have major immune disorders
that are genetic polymorphisms. We see they have gastrointestinal problems, which are
also associated with polymorphisms, and many of these children have severe neurological
deficits which are associated with polymorphisms. So when we look at the total picture of a
child with autism and we approach it from a biomedical standpoint, we’re trying to
identify what is there that doesn’t belong. At the same time, we try to identify what’s
there that we know we can get rid of. And also, we have to identify what’s supposed
to be there and what we need to add. And that’s really the idea of personalized medicine and
biomedical treatments for these children is to identify what doesn’t belong and to add
what needs to be there. Once we identify what doesn’t belong in a child, we can take steps
to remove them. The first step is if the detoxification system is functioning, and there are two phases
to a detoxification. If the first phase isn’t functioning, we obviously have to support
it in order for the second phase to work. But the biggest and most important thing we
do for a child and get things out that don’t belong is to enhance the detoxification mechanism.
This really depends upon biochemical pathways we call methylation and sulfation. If we can
get these pathways working normally and create the most important detoxifying agent in the
body, namely glutathione, we can start these children on a pathway of ridding themselves
of these unnecessary metals and toxins that are present. There are certain products that
have been approved by the FDA for chelating heavy metals. And as I said, most of these
children, on the spectrum, are heavy metal toxic, which means that anything we can do
to remove those toxins will be a benefit. And that’s again where biomedicine steps
apart from traditional medicine. In traditional medicine, we’ve treated lead toxicity, arsenic
poisoning, uranium with chelation as an automatic. For some reason, traditional medicine is reluctant
to approach children with heavy metal toxins who are on the spectrum of autism and approve
chelation therapy, and yet we’ve had children that respond in as short as one chelation
session by regaining some speech. There’s no question in my mind that when you combine
all of the different toxins – and these aren’t individually toxic; they are similarly
toxic. If you take a lead and antimony, put them together, these two elements butt on
the periodic table, which means they’re so closely associated with one another, the
combined effects could be 1,000 times more than one alone. So for us to say, in traditional
medicine, these children can’t be helped by chelation is, in my opinion, ridiculous.
These children can be helped, and chelation has saved lives. And yet, we don’t really
support the idea because it’s kind of been pushed to the back burner. So when a mother
asks, “What can we do?” we first of all try to tell them, “Get the normal detoxification
pathways open. Number two, let’s consider some FDA-approved chelating agents to go with
it.” And these can be given intravenously, they can be given orally, or they can be given
topically. You can actually put them on the skin and they’ll be absorbed, and you can
measure what’s coming out in the urine, if you have any doubts of whether they’re
working or not. And it’s unfortunate every child has an individual tipping point. Small
amounts can tip some babies who are just susceptible over into the spectrum. Other children will
take large amounts of toxins and not be affected at all. I guess, in some ways, we’re about
as good as our detoxification systems, and we know for a fact, autistic children are
very vulnerable. When I mention there are things we need to determine that are missing,
what I mean to say is there are tests that we can do. We can determine amino acid levels.
We can determine minerals and vitamins. We can determine a child’s nutritional status.
We know for a fact if a child is not eating healthy, they’re not going to absorb these
essential ingredients for health. We know that if the gut is not functioning normally,
they’re not going to absorb some of these. So by identifying what’s missing and adding
them – in particular, the amino acids, the vitamins, and all of the essential nutrients,
the essential fatty acids, in particular – we can get a child to at least have the
advantages of what’s necessary to create the most important functions of the body.
Amino acids are critical for the very structure of DNA. We cannot have a blueprint without
the repetition of these amino acids that make up DNA. We can’t have a neurotransmitter.
We can’t have a neuro-hormone. We can’t have a detoxification system unless these
ingredients are present. Very few in traditional medicine look at amino acids as being critically
important, but after one biomedical class, I think every pediatrician that I know would
come away understanding better that if we don’t know what’s missing, we’ll never
know what needs to be replaced. Personalized medicine is by definition trying to identify
the cause and the effect. We look at each child as an individual. There are no two identical.
Even though we have identical twins, we know that if one is autistic, the likelihood of
the second one being autistic is there, but it’s not 100 percent. There’s something
different, even among identical twins. So personalized medicine is to focus on the individual
child – identifying those things we just mentioned and determining what can be added
that’s unique to this child and not every child. Traditional medicine looks at disease
and has a treatment. Once they give you the diagnosis, it’s almost automatic. We can’t
do that. Every child has a different diagnosis. That’s why autism is so incredibly difficult
to deal with. There are many types of autism; there are many causes of autism. And once
we identify the most likely toxins a child possesses, we focus on them. And once we identify
the things that are missing, we focus on them. And that is what personal medicine is all
about. We also have to look at the genetics. Every child is unique genetically. Half of
us walk around with significant polymorphisms which are genes that were developed normal.
At one point in time, they developed normally, and now they’re not functioning normally.
They’re either expressing themselves where they shouldn’t be or they’re not expressing
themselves. And I think that’s the future of medicine is to identify the ones that are
supposed to be functioning and turn them on, and the ones that aren’t supposed to be
functioning and turn them off. And it’s the same with cancer. It’s the same with
many of our neurological diseases. We now know it’s all about the genes. It’s not
that they’re born genetically abnormal; it’s not an inborn error of metabolism.
It’s an acquired abnormality. So personalized medicine tries to identify the uniqueness
of every child or every adult, for that matter, and try to tailor the treatment plan to what
is found in the testing.