By Jane Doe
If you visit the Talk About Curing (yes, curing) Autism (TACA) website, you will be greeted with these encouraging words, as well as a concise list of what this parent-driven organization provides: support, understanding, encouragement, poop stories.
As this is Autism Awareness Month, what better time to get off the pot and share our poop stories?
If my four-year-old son Johnny could better articulate, he would have a million poop stories: there were the times before his parents had an inkling there was anything amiss, when we just assumed the poop murals he painted on his bedroom walls evidenced he was taking after one of his uncles, who reportedly did the same thing as a baby.
We gagged, then laughed, then bleached.
Later, there were the times when he would dump what seemed like half his body weight before you could say “quadruple coiler.”
We gazed in wide-eyed wonder, held our breath against its foul odour, and exhaled sharply in relief when it successfully flushed without plugging the pipes.
Eventually, Johnny’s poop stories came to be about rank-smelling diarrhea that arrived in the oddest shades of yellow, and was visited upon him far too many times a week.
I suppose if we had been paying closer attention to the stories Johnny’s poop was trying to tell, he would not have regressed and even descended into mania before we finally took action.
Johnny was only just diagnosed this past July with autism spectrum disorder.
At a mere six months after his referral to a team of specialists in Edmonton, the diagnosis came with all the speed our medical system can deliver.
Indeed, he was uncommonly fortunate to have been put so far ahead in the queue.
If your child has poop stories, I urge you to line up now and, if all goes well, you will have a diagnosis before Christmas, 2008.
And oh, the resolution a diagnosis can bring!
A diagnosis qualifies you for funding from the territorial government for therapy.
Autism spectrum disorder is still strictly classified within the confines of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association.
Incredibly, our medical system, for the most part, still insists that your autistic child’s options for treatment of the malady that has given his crap the consistency and colour of foam insulation and the smell of a POW honey-bucket are limited to 15 to 40 hours of therapy a week at a staggering rate of $30 to $40 per hour.
Anyone who has scoured away a few poop murals knows it is illogical.
So, what is a parent to do?
Hit the internet, of course.
When our pediatrician and a family friend, who happens to be a therapist, first suspected we had a little Rainman on our hands (a good six months before the official word came from on high), we went to the same place one can go to view child porn, or learn the art of papier mache, tampon art or pipe bomb building.
By this point, Johnny’s regression was picking up terrifying speed.
At the most severe point of his descent into madness, when I asked him how his time at daycare had gone, he would reply only with a monologue recited uncannily verbatim, in that singsong voice many autistic children tend to adopt: “Tigger, you broke the mirror. The bad luck is yours!”
Each monologue was torture.
The child could memorize and repeat an entire 30-page book, but he could not tell me his name, nor what he had eaten for lunch earlier that day, much less how he felt, nor what the hell drove his incessant need to prattle on about Pooh and Tigger.
He had taken to striking himself in the head and abdomen, and punching, kicking and head-butting us.
He woke at all hours of the night.
He chewed holes in his clothing.
He could not sit still nor make eye contact.
He lost vocabulary.
He adopted disturbing ritualistic behaviours and exploded in teary anger if they were disrupted.
I foresaw hockey helmets, institutions, horror.
Many doctors, and the parents who have surrendered their autistic children to the mainstream medical establishment, will tell you there is nothing you can do but watch your child’s entire personality disappear, while doing your best to maintain control over and normalize his behaviour through “applied behaviour analysis,” or ABA, therapy.
To me, it seemed replacement for a personality with a series of robotic prompts and responses, the appropriate of which were rewarded with praise and/or prizes.
I don’t know that I ever appreciated the internet as I do now.
The internet offers you all the information a doctor can give; it also offers refutation.
The great equalizer, the internet means you are not at the mercy of anyone or any one source, or belief or political agenda.
If you do not believe politics and medicine and the Canada Food Guide are inextricably linked, I wish you and your family the best of luck.
On the internet, I found hundreds of thousands who are willing to not only share their poop stories but also confront their cause.
They are parents, homeopaths, medical doctors, scientists, nutritionists and politicians.
I found volumes on information linking autism with vaccinations (what was just 30 years ago a one in 10,000 incidence is now one in 150).
There is a growing body of evidence that vaccinations assault the system with mercury and other poisons, and can interfere with normal immunological development.
Adverse reactions to childhood vaccines are exacerbated by yeast overgrowth (which Johnny and/or I both had pre and postnatally) and autoimmune dysfunction (I have lived with allergies and arthritis for years), which explains why some kids can cope with the shots and some cannot.
First, a word to those of you who believe yeast is limited to either the main ingredient in your favourite leavened goodies, or the itch that makes overweight, spandex-worshipping, birth control-taking women cranky.
From that fuzz on your tongue to the snot clinging to your stool to your almost constant yen for refined carbohydrates and sugar, yeast is everywhere.
It is why you often feel fatigued and bloated and moody.
It is the cause for the rotten gas that plagues you and drives your friends and family out of the room.
Guys, you do not need a vagina to provide a warm, moist environment for the fungus to take hold.
When it does, it is as resilient and stubborn as chickweed, and a thousand times as noxious.
The typical Canadian diet and lifestyle provide conditions that are ripe for yeast to flourish: sugar that flows like water to feed it, an overuse that constitutes abuse of the antibiotics that kill the essential, friendly bacteria that would normally keep it in check and a lack of the latter in our over-processed food.
When yeast lives in the colon in too great an abundance for too long, it puts down roots and converts to a toxic fungus.
These rhyzomes bore holes right through the intestinal wall. Hence, the term “leaky gut.”
The toxic fungus also produces dermorphine, the self-same chemical hallucinogenic that people trip on by licking the skin of a certain type of toad.
If it sounds outlandish, consider that LSD and psilocybin, which both contain dermorphine, are derived from fungi, and that when the diet of the toads is changed, they stop secreting the drug through their pores.
The toads make it out of the food they eat.
And so do children with autism.
My doctor told me Johnny did not have yeast in his bloodstream; that it is impossible.
I believe that if there are holes in his gut that you could toss small objects through, yeast is probably the least of the flotsam and jetsam in the poor kid’s blood.
When the colon is not properly containing impurities that should go down the toilet, it is also allowing nutrients to leak into the bloodstream unused and/or partially digested.
This inefficiency means the child is not receiving adequate nutrition.
One prominent physician refers to autistic children as having “starving brains.”
Yet there is a far more pronounced effect.
Certain proteins, among them gluten (from wheat and its family of grains) casein (from dairy products) and soy, require a great deal of digestive energy.
If you disagree, recall the recent buttermilk pancake orgy, and tell me you did not want to go back to bed for another 40 winks after you had eaten your fill.
These partially-digested proteins leak into the bloodstream and attach to the opiate receptors in the autistic brain: the same receptors that hungrily devour morphine, codeine and heroin.
So that is why Johnny was always in his own disengaged, disarranged, self-contained bubble.
It is the reason he laughed maniacally for no reason, was mostly oblivious to pain, could stare, transfixed on one wheel of his toy truck for a half hour, with no desire whatsoever to play with the truck, nor anything or anyone else.
He was STONED.
And boy, was he addicted.
Johnny could have lived on noodles and cheese, toast and pizza.
I’m sure if he had retained monologues beyond Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine, he would have been singing “God damn the pusher man,” when we took his opiates away cold turkey.
Like a junkie trying to kick, he was wracked with chills, sweats, vomiting, nightmares, pain and anger.
For us, there was a mix of guilt and elation.
If he was showing a profound withdrawal response to the elimination of gluten, casein and soy, it likely meant he would show a profound change in his behaviour.
The results have been nothing short of astounding: an explosion of language, sociability, affection and engagement.
Johnny has not entirely stopped hitting, but he feels pain now.
This tells us the opiates which prevented this are leaving his body.
The mania has been minimized.
Johnny relearned his alphabet (something he knew at 18 months, then lost when he regressed).
He can count to 20 and ride his bike. For the first time, he engages in pretend play, trying new things (food, clothing, toys and books) and making relevant conversation, rather than repeating phrases from stories and cartoons.
He can write his name, and his vocabulary grows daily.
His attention span still leaves much to be desired, and abstract thought, sociability and conversation still largely elude him.
Johnny plays near his peers, but rarely with them. But really, how many people do I know about whom I can make those observations to a greater or lesser extent?
Probably roughly the same number who have had all their shots, are infested with fungus, and make three meals a day out of wheat and dairy products.
I suppose we are all on the autistic spectrum somewhere, so why do we feel autism is so insurmountable?
All of these findings were made in laboratories, via standardized scientific testing, then published in peer-reviewed journals.
So why are we so reluctant to accept them?
Why do doctors say, good luck, and hand us a list of therapists with our children’s diagnoses?
Why do we stubbornly cling to the hope that we will isolate the gene that causes autism, and simply eliminate it from the pool by attrition?
Do we honestly believe that a genetic epidemic is possible, much less in the course of one generation?
My doctor told me that our bodies are a bag of hormones and chemicals, which we may or may not be able to manipulate. I agree.
To those of you who disagree, I offer you a challenge: drop a few tabs of acid with a heroin chaser. Then sit still, look sharp, behave, focus and learn.
It is a ridiculously unreasonable request, no?
Johnny’s poop is better, but still abnormal.
He has been malnourished, and carrying a toxic load of yeast, opiates, dermorphine and mercury that would bring a horse down, probably since he was in utero.
I bear the responsibility for this.
Blind faith in your leader or doctor or community health nurse or the Canada Food Guide or pamphlets from Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson can maim and kill.
One of our doctors suggested taking our son off the gluten and casein free diet because it is expensive; one of the psychologists in Edmonton told us we should be more “objective.”
Heaven knows why the establishment still discounts scientifically-proven dietary intervention, and often behaves as though substituting rice for wheat flour is akin to sorcery or faith-healing.
Even if it did not help, could it honestly harm?
Is there any real evidence beyond the relentless lobbying of the agricultural industry that a human being needs wheat, or the lactation of a cow in order to thrive?
I have great respect for the therapists who work with my son.
They teach him the art of conversation, sociability and politeness.
They show him alternatives to punching his parents in the head when he cannot have his own way.
Johnny needs therapy.
He has lost a great deal of critical developmental ground in his short life.
Who knows how much damage is reversible?
The experts say the later dietary intervention is started, the less remarkable the results.
After witnessing the developmental gains my son has made, I would give my eyes to have changed his diet two years earlier.
There are a host of factors that must converge at the wrong time to create and nourish autism: vaccinations, yeast overgrowth, autoimmune dysfunction, genetic predisposition (four out of five autistics are male), bad food and a poisonous environment.
Each of these works in synergy with the other.
A synergistic approach is the only way to cure autism.
When I went looking for answers, I found complex, multi-faceted approaches to treating, and, yes, curing, autism.
This has been a very cursory, oversimplified discussion.
There are hordes of documented cases of children being cured of autism.
The lives of those who cannot be cured have been significantly improved through diet and supplementation.
Autism is treatable, it is curable and, like everything else in the world, it has a cause.
This means it is also preventable.
We are foolish to believe there is a simple answer, or a single person or incident to blame.
We are also foolish to maintain therapists can talk our children out of what is a gastrointestinal disease.
We must listen to what our children’s poop stories are trying to tell us.
Jane Doe is a Whitehorse-based mother with an autistic son. She asked for anonymity to protect his identity.