The 2013 Autism One
By Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB
| After a nine-hour flight from Paris, preceded by a seven-hour
flight from Bahrain, I arrived in Chicago for the 2013 Autism One conference.
An eleven-dollar cab fare was all it took to get me to O’Hare’s Intercontinental
hotel, where the meeting has been held for the last 10 years; this was my
first. I was warmly welcomed by Julie, the mother of a 20-year-old autistic
man. I am not a mom but a concerned citizen.
The first lecture I attended was by William Walsh, PhD, author of Nutrient Power, on the subject of oxidative stress. It was so good that I thought “I won’t need to go to any more. I’ve done it all!” Wrong! There were further spectacular lectures. Judy van de Water, PhD, spoke on immune dysfunction, and Richard E Frye, MD, a neurologist, on mitochondrial dysfunction. James Bradstreet, MD, on stem cells, went so far as to advise a patient to go to Kiev in the Ukraine, to get stem-cell treatment for her son’s autism.
The pièce de résistance, on the last day, was Juan Rodriguez’s talk on the cause of autism. He blames activation of the microglia. Let’s not write him off for being a layperson. He has cured his son of autism and has arranged for 50 doctors around the world to introduce a new protocol. (Surprisingly it involves Ibuprufen and probiotics.) You can check his website by googling “Stop Calling It Autism.” Rodriguez’s mentor is Mario Capecchi, a Nobel laureate who is not “married to the system,” shall we say. (Capecchi
was actually a street child in Italy. Yes.)
At one of the free-gift desks I got a 2012 issue of Autism Science Digest, which truly lives up to its name. Therein was an article by Dr Harry Schneider, on “Music: Nature’s Gift of Speech.” He points out why music therapy helps autistic children to achieve speech. The parts of the brain that control movement provoke spontaneous language. He says:
“The treatment process is greatly enhanced if movement skills (dancing, swinging, walking, and playing with a ball) are incorporated into the treatment protocol…. Science is now confirming that music finds its way to dysfunctional areas of the brain and revives them.” See harrydschneidermd.com.
This reminded me of the work on language by Jaak Panksepp, animal scientist and author of Affective Neuroscience (2004). And there’s a stunning new book, Song without Words, written by lawyer Gerald Shea, with many insights about hearing, rather than speaking. (He is partially deaf.)
The first night in Chicago, being too jet-lagged to eat dinner, I decided to refrigerate a room-service meal in my mini-bar. A few minutes later, I kid you not, a little piece of paper came under my door charging me with $66.00 for the eight packs of candy and nuts that I had removed. Apparently there is a tiny Big Brother in the min-bar.
I went to the front desk to complain, thinking the manager would tell me to read the fine print. Instead, he removed the charge from my bill and gave me a voucher to play computer games. Hospitality is not yet dead!
There were many exhibits, some for books and several for vendors of devices, nutritional supplements, and even a clever “room architecture” model by Cathy Cherry. I made a beeline for the table of the Thinking Moms, to buy their new book, The Thinking Moms’ Revolution. It was that group that had enticed me to go to Chicago. How could I resist a threatened revolution by moms who declare themselves thinkers? You go, Moms!
Their book, with 12 chapters by Moms and one by a Dad, gives additional clues about language improvement. One mother said her kid talked better after taking Essential Fatty Acid supplements and also after taking Vitamin E. Another Mom credited chocolate for her son’s improvement, but then found an even better treatment: hydrogen. She says:
“Not only was he talking more; he was talking in complete sentences and making conversation. He would now finally ask ‘Mom, what are you doing?’ Be still, my heart! There was a time when Pooka didn’t seem to realize that I existed. He would stare right past me. He used to throw tantrums all the time and beat me up. It devastated me year after year. I held hope that one day… one day… he would look me right in the eye and say ‘I love you, Mom.’ After we switched from chocolate to hydrogen I noticed that Pooka wanted to spend more time with me. One time I was sitting on the couch when Pooka walked over, lifted my afghan, and snuggled against me. Pooka stayed with me for at least ten minutes. Ten minutes may not seem like much, but after waiting seven years it seemed like ten hours. [Shortly after that episode] when I was tucking the boys in for the night and told them I loved them, Pooka said ‘I love you too, Mom.’ I gave him a firm kiss on the forehead and scooted out the door before I lost it.”
The Conference had a panel composed of three Congressmen. I stayed well away so I wouldn’t get arrested for what I might feel like doing. (I am on record hypothesizing that autism and other diseases are maliciously caused….)
On the final day there was to be a music-stomping, Bible shouting wrap-up by our hostess Teri Arranga but I couldn’t locate the room, so instead I wandered into a lecture by Neil Margolis, OD, on “visual processing.” Boy, does he understand how autistic children see the world. It was also heartwarming to hear him use the word ‘duty’ as in the following sentence: “I consider it my duty to figure out why a child is squinting, tilting his head, etc.” Duty! Yay, duty.
Margolis’ talk led me to read another article on vision by Melvin Kaplan, OD, in the 2012 Autism Science Digest (which is a thrice-yearly mag that you can subscribe to for 25 bucks). Kaplan’s article, entitled “Autism: A Peripheral Nervous System Disorder” solved, for me, the mystery of toe-walking. He says:
“The peripheral aspect of vision tells us where we are in relation to objects. Our clinic uses yoked prisms as a primary diagnostic tool. Timothy, a 10-year-old boy with autism, entered the office toe-walking. He had been seen by an orthopedic surgeon who had given him braces to wear. I asked Timothy’s mother to remove the braces and direct him to walk across the room. His toe-walking became more acute. I placed a pair of high-magnitude ambient prism glasses on him and asked him to walk across the room again. This time Timothy’s heels went to the floor, and he wore a big smile.”
Just imagine, this is all new knowledge. Loads of kids are toe-walking everyday, simply as a motor adaptation that “gives you a heightened sense of where you are in your space.”
All in all it was a fabulous conference and one plainly filled with emotional warmth and optimism. (The admission fee was almost nothing, thanks to sponsorship by KirkmanLabs.com)
Did I tell you that on the flight from Bahrain to Paris there was a fifteen-month-old girl who was ill (not autistic) who screamed more or less continually? One man, a few rows back, remonstrated frequently with the Dad, and at one point he even shouted “Shush!” As if the baby could follow that command! Nevertheless, an elderly German passenger, who had the bad luck of sitting next to the offending family, never showed the slightest annoyance or grievance, even when the child threw up.
Later, in the transit lounge, I told him he deserved the Gentleman of the Year award. (Remember, it was a 7-hour flight!) He said I made his day, but really he made mine. Some people just make you feel proud to be human.
Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB, is the author of Consider the Lilies: A Review of 18 Cures for Cancer and Their Legal Status (TrineDay, 2013). Email: HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org
Postscript: I just googled for “Autism One, 2013” to see if anyone else reported the conference, and the first item to pop up was from scienceblogs.com, entitled “More Quackery at the Quackfest.” Wait a minute, wait a minute. Who wrote that? Were they paid to describe the meeting as quackery when it so obviously isn’t? Has someone got an incentive to prevent people from finding out that there is useful medical treatment for autism? Verrry interesting....
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