Autism is treatable. I know now that treatment must be a multifaceted approach, including educational, behavioral, dietary, biomedical, and therapeutic interventions.
When we first set out to tackle the girls’ autism it seemed as though the process would be insurmountable. I didn’t know where to start or who really to turn to help. Learning about Early Intervention Services, Jordynn was evaluated and received services for speech, OT, and developmental intervention. At the age of 3 she was enrolled in a private autistic program through an out-of-district placement with our local school district. Small progress was achieved, but nothing significant. I knew something more was needed, but I wasn’t sure exactly what.
One night while researching online I ran across a website for Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!), a project of the Autism Research Institute (ARI). There I found a listing of practitioners referred as DAN! Doctors. According to the website the listing included clinicians that had been trained in the “DAN! Protocol,” an approach to autism treatment that views autism as a biomedical disorder. I visited a few of the listed doctors that were in my area asking questions, reviewing credentials, and seeing which would be a good fit for my family. We made our final selection and have never looked back.
After completing a battery of tests we identified that Jordynn and Jocelynn had specific vitamin deficiencies, a condition known as PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections), the presence of toxins in their bodies and inflammation caused by specific allergens. Armed with this new knowledge we embarked on a multifaceted approach to overcome our daughters’ autism.
The hardest step for me to take has been implementing a GFCF (Gluten-free/Casein-free) diet for the girls. I began by removing casein from my family’s diet. Casein is a protein found in milk and dairy products. After 3 years of being casein-free Jordynn and Jocelynn have grown independent in making sure that they stay away from products containing casein. Removing gluten on the hand has proven to be more of a challenge. Gluten is a mixture of two proteins found in wheat, barley and rye responsible for the elastic texture of dough. Nowadays gluten (or wheat) is found in nearly everything. For this reason we have only been able to “reduce” the girls’ gluten intake but have not fully removed it from their diet. In order to see the full benefit of this diet one must be gluten-FREE not gluten-REDUCED so this is a goal for us by September.
Recently ARI hosted a webinar on quick start tips on starting special diets and nutritional supplements. I have included the webinar below. The webinar, which was facilitated by Dana Godbout Laake, a licensed nutritionist, was incredibly informative and contained a lot of valuable tips. Handouts from the presentation are available online at: http://www.ariconference.com/webinars/laake.pdf