Del Sur V: Manifesto

“Do you know?—maybe it’s possible that he never had autism?”

These words were spoken innocently, by a sympathetic party, and (I suspect) without forethought. It was late evening in South America. Martin was asleep. My mother-in-law and I sat in her kitchen, chatting, I with a glass of white wine, she with her pisco sour. We were discussing Martin and his progress; I mentioned that his official diagnosis had changed from ASD to ADHD with social/pragmatic language delay. My mother-in-law responded, “Do you know?—maybe it’s possible that he never had autism?”

My mother-in-law supports everything we do for Martin, and does her best to accommodate; we arrived from New York to find her fridge stocked with organic produce (still hard to procure in her area) and a cow knuckle and vegetables simmering on her stove, for Martin’s broth. That being said, I’m not sure she fully understands biomed, or our start point and desired endpoint. This is no criticism of my mother-in-law. I’m not convinced that anyone outside the thick of recovering a child understands autism or what healing requires. I’m not even convinced that I understand autism or what healing requires; I’m just a few paces farther down that road than others are.

Still, when my mother-in-law offhandedly suggested that maybe Martin never had autism, I bristled. I bristled because I think I will hear that suggestion a lot, as Martin continues to become more typical. Already I hear hints. A friend who has a mostly nonverbal seven-year-old and does not do biomed remarked recently about how “maturity” is resolving a lot of Martin’s issues. The friend meant no harm; in her mind, biomed doesn’t work, so she needs something else to explain Martin’s emergence from autism. (I didn’t pursue the issue further. I’m cautious, with other autism parents. We’re all doing what we think we can.) And remember the neurodevelopmental psychiatrist’s words? According to her, Martin developed functional language because he was “not destined to be a child with receptive or expressive language problems.” It’s not biomedical interventions. It’s destiny!

I know, from other blogs and on-line communities, that parents who manage to recover their kids from autism face skepticism that their children ever had autism. You may ask, why should they care? The opinion of naysayers doesn’t affect their children’s recovery. Why should I care if another autism parent wants to chalk Martin’s ongoing recovery up to “maturity,” or a doctor implicates destiny over hard work?

Well, I care, we care, everyone should care, because denying biomed has far greater implications than just adhering to ingrained misconceptions about autism.

It is possible to recover from autism. Not to learn to live with autism’s symptoms, which is what behavioral therapies teach, but to eradicate autism by treating the disorder’s underlying medical causes. I know this to be true, because my son is recovering from autism. I’m not deluded. I have the blood work and urinalysis evincing his medical issues. I have the series of neurodevelopmental psychiatric reports describing his detachment, his lack of language, his emotional instability. I witnessed too well his lethargy and physical discomfort. I endured his sleeplessness. I have watched, over five years, as his medical issues alleviated and the autism symptoms improved in tandem.

Every case of autism is different. Yet there are commonalities. The presence of autism points to an immune disorder rooted in the gut, where 70% of the immune system resides. A healthy gut biome has plenty of good bacteria to keep germs and infections at bay. When something depletes the good bacteria—say, antibiotics, or glyphosate—the bad guys start to party. Any further insult, like insufficient vaccine absorption or exposure to environmental toxins, can cause the whole immune system to jump its rails. When you’ve got no properly functioning immune system, you can find yourself with a host of secondary problems, like neuroinflammation, excess propionic acid, a struggling thyroid, glutathione depletion and methylation troubles, opportunistic infections, an inability to secrete heavy metals. And then? Neuron misfires. The endgame that manifests in autism.

Autism rates are on the rise. Stunningly. Think of those graphs that represent worldwide human population: Autism’s growth is similarly exponential, even according to conservative CDC figures. The epidemic is not the result of greater awareness, or expanded diagnoses; if it were, we would expect to see most cases clustered at the mild, almost debatable, end of the spectrum, where the merely “quirky” kids reside. Instead, new autism diagnoses litter the entire spectrum. Non-verbal, acutely affected autism is on the rise just like Asperger’s. Those who deny the rising autism rates are the willful ignoramuses and the irrational optimists. I am out of patience for either.

We don’t know, yet, what “causes” autism, though every day we learn more about factors that may contribute to the development of autism. I mentioned a few above: overuse of antibiotics, unsafe vaccinations, pesticides. Activists speculate about the role of pollution, about electromagnetic fields, about C-section births (or not) and the newborn’s chance to benefit from the vaginal biome. Genetics also play a role, such as the MTHFR mutation or UBE3A mutation.

(Note this: Accepting that genetics play a role in development of autism is not saying that we “can’t do anything about” the autism epidemic. The genetic predisposition to autism has probably been around many generations; only now do new environmental triggers spur the subsequent development of the disorder. Plus, more and more we have to speak not of genetics proper, but of epigenetics, mutations with the capacity to arise or dissipate between generations, or even within a single generation.)

Which brings me to many people’s resistance to accepting the notion of biomed. If we accept that we can reverse autism by resolving the factors that caused it in the first instance—then we admit that something is causing autism. Based on the exploding autism numbers, whatever is causing autism is getting worse. In an over-hygienic world devoted to unlimited consumption, exploitation of animals and the environment, a pill for every ailment, and the temple of convenience, we are doing something wrong. Disastrously wrong. In that regard, progress has stopped. Unless we change course, each successive generation will pay a higher bill for our abandonment of what is natural.

Unfortunately, almost no one seems to want to change course. So people deny that autism is on the rise, or that autism has causes, or that autism can be treated.

This is why I bristle to hear that maybe my son never had autism, or that he’s moving off the autism spectrum because of something other than biomed. It is also why I do not support the “neurodiversity” movement. Don’t get me wrong: I support the goal of inclusion and accommodation for persons living with autism. Did someone insult or exclude your family member with autism? Call me. I will gladly rush over and go Brooklyn on the jerk. But do not hand me acceptance of autism itself as a policy for dealing with skyrocketing autism rates. Do not tell me that autism is “just how some people are” and should not be addressed, because I will respond that schizophrenia and depression—other disorders with medical underpinnings—are also “just how some people are,” and give lie to how misguided neurodiversity is. People with autism should be accepted. Autism itself can, and should, be fought.

We can learn to live with just about anything. City dwellers learn to live with constant light and noise pollution. Our world may be on the verge of learning to live with catastrophic climate change. This ability to adapt does not mean that we should fail to recognize and correct our own mistakes.

My son had autism. My son still has ADHD. One day my son will be neurotypical. Treating his disorder biomedically has made this progress possible.

Full stop.

Del Sur III: Someone Has Got Him

My grandmother spent the last 45 years of her life in the United States, and yet some part of her never left Germany. Her kitchen represented Germany circa 1947, eternally enshrined in Southern Florida. She shunned modern appliances and scrubbed the bare counters spotless. An ode to beer, carved in the old German lettering, hung above the table where she sat to smoke, drink strong coffee, and work her crossword puzzles (in German, natch).

Allow me to add that my grandmother was also glamorous, and one of the worst cooks I’ve ever encountered. No dowdy Hausfrau here.

Adrian, my husband, moved to the United States in 1999 and nationalized in 2009, and he too keeps one foot in his country of origin. Throughout each day, WhatsApp messages zip among him and his schoolmates. I stock our pantry (and wine cabinet) with homeland products. He even likes to have his suits sewn by his hometown tailor and shoes made by his preferred cobbler. During my our recent visit to South America, my mother-in-law asked me to drive across the city with her to pick up Adrian’s new loafers and boots.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “Martin will be bored, spending that much time in the car.”

“Martin? He doesn’t have to come. He can go to the playground with his cousins.”

The cousins in town that week ranged from 10 to three years old. I asked, “Will someone go with them?”

“Of course,” my mother-in-law said. “Don’t worry about it. Someone’s got him.”

Soon three cousins appeared in the apartment with their mother (my sister-in-law Claudia), gathered Martin, and left. My mother-in-law and I headed to the cobbler, a trip that took more than 90 minutes with traffic. Then my mother-in-law wanted to stop at the supermarket, and we ended up shopping an hour as she showed me the newest organic and gluten-free options. Just as I began to worry about Martin, I received an email from Claudia titled, “There are five!”, with no more explanation than a photo of Martin, his three cousins, and another kid I didn’t recognize, whom evidently the crowd had picked up along the way. Okay. No rush. My mother-in-law and I sauntered home three hours after I’d watched Martin whisked out of the apartment. We found my brother-in-law (the beloved bachelor uncle, Pancho) waiting. Pancho reported that Claudia was summoning him to the park to help her haul five kids home. I went along and found Martin. All was well.

The next day, Pancho (remember the “beloved” reference) sent me to a spa for an aromatherapy massage. When I asked what Martin would do while I was gone, the answer was again, “Don’t worry about it. Someone’s got him.” A couple hours later, relaxed and aromatherapied, I walked to Claudia’s apartment. I found Martin coloring with a cousin and discovered that the “someone” watching the children was Anna, a young German musician. Claudia’s husband is the director of the capital city’s philharmonic orchestra, and musicians from around the world seem to move through their home. I’m never quite sure how these arrangements work. In any event, Martin was fine. Anna assured me there’d been no trouble, and that for a snack Martin had eaten the special bar my mother-in-law sent. Okay.

At home, my childcare is regimented, and paid. Tuesday afternoons, a special-education teacher helps Martin participate in church Kids’ Club, and I have a couple hours free. Wednesdays and Thursdays, when I work in the City, Samara meets Martin at his school bus, makes dinner, handles supplements and any after-school activities, and puts him to bed. All other times, unless by arrangement Adrian or a babysitter is on duty, Martin is my responsibility. Someone has not got him. I’ve got him.

The two instances described above were not the only two when, during our recent South American week, I did something other than supervise my son. I went out for Thai food with Pancho and Claudia; Martin slept, and my mother-in-law was around in case he woke. I shored up a fee agreement for work; Martin played video games at Chuck E. Cheese—yes, that monstrosity has expanded into South America—with my father-in-law and some cousins so distant I’m not sure I could correctly identify their parents. I lingered over brunch with the adults; Martin was somewhere, with someone.

For any parent, residing with no family in the area is challenging. For the parent of a child with autism, who almost by definition requires more attention than a typical child, and in some cases requires unremitting attention, independence from family is downright burdensome.

Then again, how many parents with ASD children cannot even take advantage of whatever support system they do possess? When Martin was a bolter, I could not have allowed a German musician to supervise him and three other children. When Martin lacked proprioceptive awareness, and had no perception of where the jungle gym ended, I could not have sent him to the playground without one-on-one surveillance. When Martin needed physical restraint to sleep, my 67-year-old mother-in-law being in the apartment would not have given me assurance that I could leave. Adrian and I, moreover, enjoy the advantage of both our families supporting our biomed approach; we do not need to worry about well-meaning relatives slipping Martin sugar-filled cupcakes or cotton candy so that he can “be like other kids.”

I have newfound respect for my grandmother’s lingering attachment to Mainz, her ancestral home, and for Adrian’s hybrid North/South American lifestyle. There exists a comfort zone within a known culture and extended family—something they both lost, and something even I lost when, at 17, I left forever the rural Upstate county where I was born. As the number of children with autism skyrockets, I can only imagine our collective Sehnsucht will expand in tandem.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to find a way to grow the “someone’s got him” model here at home, with the resources available. I’m typing this post on a commuter train, on my way home from work. I just texted Samara to check in. Samara replied that she’s making dinner and Martin is “over at his girlfriends’ house,” meaning the twin girls who live across the street. First I panicked: Is Martin being a bother to our neighbors? What if someone feeds him an off-diet snack? Should I ask Samara to stop making dinner and be with Martin? Then I reasoned: The girls have been inviting Martin to their house, and their mother told me how pleased she is that everyone is playing together. Their mother also knows that Martin can’t have gluten, dairy, or soy, and that we avoid refined sugar. Plus, Martin polices his own food these days. Martin is fine playing at our neighbors’ house.

This week we have friends from Germany staying with us, including a ten-year-old boy, Leo, and his aunt, Heike. Sunday evening, 6:00 pm, Leo was bored and asked Heike to take him and Martin to the playground. I hesitated; the playground is a 20-minute walk away, we hadn’t eaten dinner yet, and on school nights Martin usually goes to bed by 7:45 pm. But how often does Martin get a special evening trip to the playground? He dropped his iPad and ran for the door as soon as he heard Spielplatz—playground—the only German word he recognizes. I started to give directions. Martin proclaimed, “I know the way! I will lead them!”, and off they went, Heike on foot, Martin on scooter, Leo on Martin’s bicycle.

I poured myself a glass of wine, and handed a second glass to Adrian, and said dinner would be late.

“Why? Where’s Martin?”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “Heike’s got him.”

dekoschilder57

Contributions

If you read yesterday’s tedious post about a Tuesday morning, you may have asked yourself why I, your blogger, was the parent doing everything. Adrian, who is not only my husband but also Martin’s father, was at home that morning. His role in the story was limited to showing up for toast and coffee, showering, and leaving later than usual in order to drive me to the train station. And goshdarn it, he got to sleep until 6:30.

Autism recovery is long and expensive. You know that. For me, the heartbreaking posts in my on-line biomed groups are the ones like, “I’m trying so hard to help my child, but my husband subverts everything I do,” or, “Before autism, we had a real marriage, but now I’m married to him only because I need the insurance,” or, “I’ve become a single parent, with limited resources. If you had to pick either organic food or supplements, which one would you buy?”

If parents intend to navigate the autism-recovery journey together—or even remain a loving, adult couple in the face of autism—they need to find their way to the same page, i.e., to talk openly and craft a mutually acceptable plan. In our family, by agreement, the division of labor is this:

Me:

Research treatments; schedule all doctors and therapists; plan necessary travel; monitor diet; procure and prepare special food; order and administer supplements etc.; coordinate childcare for when I’m working or otherwise unavailable; oversee detox baths and sauna use; inquire about and visit schools; keep medical and school records; serve as activity chauffeur; monitor home environment; be assumed-on-duty parent at all times except when advance arrangements are made (“Saturday afternoon from 1:00-3:00, I need to edit a brief. Can you take Martin?”).

Adrian:

Earn the money to pay for all this.

Whether this arrangement is fair depends on your viewpoint. I am the parent who had to give up my career in order to handle Martin’s recovery effectively. That being said, I am also the parent lucky and privileged enough to be able to surrender an office job and devote my hours to Martin. I am the parent who gets less sleep in order to juggle all that needs to be done, and who manages the stress of autism/ADHD. That being said, I am also the parent without office and workplace stress, with more freedom in how I organize my time. I am both the parent who has to do most of the day-to-day decision-making and the parent who gets to do most of the day-to-day decision-making. Adrian cannot cook or prepare supplements or measure detox baths; when I must travel alone, Martin’s nanny Samara stays in our home to take care of him. To take care of Martin and Adrian both, really. That being said, Adrian never begrudges my time away from home.

Moreover, whether our arrangement is fair does not matter one iota, because it is the arrangement that works for me and Adrian. The very big decisions, such as whether to undertake chelation, or where Martin should attend school, we make together. I may go so far as to prepare a presentation of alternatives, with supporting information, so that Adrian can help make an informed choice. My being the biomed parent does not negate Adrian’s being an enthusiastic and involved father. Martin is Adrian’s Mini-Me. They dress alike, go to the gym together, rock-climb together, ride bikes together. They get the more typical parent-child relationship. I get the rest of it.

Adrian likes to say that it’s to my credit, not his, that Martin is doing so well. He calls Martin my “masterpiece.”

I respond that I couldn’t manage this process without my partner.

The Bigger Perspective

Martin’s school is a self-contained special-education setting for children with speech and language disorders, including autism. The teachers possess patience and experience in equal measure, the administration is supportive, and I feel fortunate that has been placed there since kindergarten.

Yesterday, when I arrived to pick Martin up for personal training, I ran into the mother of Brian, another boy in Martin’s class. I’ll call the mother Chrissy. This is the third year Brian and Martin have been in the same class, so I know Chrissy well enough. Chrissy was picking up Brian, and as usual, she had her younger son, Aaron, with her. Aaron attends a special-needs preschool in the City, and I know that the family has been looking for a kindergarten spot for him, so I asked how the process is going.

“Good,” Chrissy replied. “I think we are actually going to be able to get a spot for him here.”

“Here? That’s terrific,” I said. “Both boys in the same school—they’ll be able to see each other, act like brothers. You must be happy!”

“Yeah. I’m happy.”

Chrissy didn’t sound happy.

“Not a great thing?” I asked, tentatively.

“I mean—both my kids are going to be here.”

Ah, yes. Of course. Both her kids will be in the superior self-contained special-education setting for children with speech and language disorders, including autism.

Because both her kids have autism.

Because we are losing a generation of boys, and a lot of girls, no one is doing anything about the crisis.

Past Tense

Years ago, when we were only a few months into Martin’s recovery, I was leafing through a magazine I found in our doctor’s waiting room. I don’t remember the publication’s title, or even its purpose; I think it may have been a resource for parents pursuing biomed.

What I do remember were a couple of personal-experience pieces written by typically developing teenagers in support of their ASD siblings. In one, a girl whose brother was already recovered talked about her brother’s autism and how it had led her to advocating on behalf of students with disabilities. Although my memory of the other details is nebulous, I can still recall this phrase: “During the time my family was affected by autism . . . .”

Those words struck me. They were so comforting, how they suggested that there can be an other side to autism, a time when autism is not a daily struggle, when recovery is not the long road (to where?) ahead, but when the reality has become a memory.

I’ve written now and again about autism symptoms that are so far gone that they no longer exist in my daily consciousness.

Martin, for official/school purposes, has lost his autism diagnosis.

We still have work to do. Lots of work. Martin’s executing functioning—meh. As a corollary, Martin’s attention span and ability to plan—ugh. Martin still has a diagnosis. “ADHD,” our new territory.

Yet—.

Last week I attended a conference in California, for the consumer advocacy work I do. I was meeting with the director of a non-profit organization devoted to monitoring toxins in personal-care and household products. She asked how I became involved in representing consumers.

I said, “Through my son. He had autism.”

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Because we are thinking about changing Martin’s school placement, Adrian and I decided to order a new neuropsychological educational assessment (a “neuropsych”). Martin also had a neuropsych three years ago, before he entered kindergarten, and last year. Those first two neuropsychs were completed by Dr. DS, a practitioner in Manhattan. This time we switched to Dr. PS, a practitioner in a suburb near ours, who knows our local schools and who had never before met Martin. Dr. DS and Dr. PS are mainstream neurodevelopmental psychiatrists, not biomed practitioners. Before Dr. PS started her testing, I enumerated Martin’s issues at this time: paying attention, sitting still, emotional regulation. I did not say “autism,” though she certainly must have seen that word on the previous neuropsychs and the school records I provided.

We had our parent meeting with Dr. PS last week, after she’d had three lengthy testing sessions with Martin. She told us that Martin’s primary trouble lies in executive functioning. She diagnosed him with ADHD, compounded by social/pragmatic language delays.

She didn’t mention “autism.”

Adrian asked, “You’re saying he has attention deficit and hyperactivity?”

Dr. PS answered, “Really, hyperactivity is a minor part. The primary issue is attention deficit, this inability to focus. That stems from the executive functioning and affects his performance in many areas, including school.”

Adrian is Adrian. He likes concrete, definitive responses. He asked, immediately, “Um, why don’t you think Martin has autism?”—not the question I would have posed. I like to leave well enough alone.

Dr. PS said that different practitioners come at executive functioning in different ways. Martin, she said, presents with “a little bit of this, and a little bit of that,” such that, perhaps, a doctor focused on autism might find a mild spectrum disorder. In Dr. PS’s opinion, however, Martin “does not meet the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder.” He presents much more strongly as a child with attention deficits. True, he retains difficulties with social/pragmatic language, but he is eager to socialize and keenly aware of others. No, she concluded, he doesn’t have autism.

“So,” I said to Adrian as we climbed into bed that night, “we don’t have a son with autism anymore.”

Adrian paused. Then he replied, “I guess we’ve known that for a while.”

I guess we have.

Martin can express himself, now. Martin doesn’t really have repetitive behaviors, anymore. Martin’s perseveration, which once was literal inability to stop speaking, has faded to a penchant for prattling about obscure topics, like marching bands and features of my car’s dashboard. Martin knows exactly what other kids are up to. He won’t let me affix a sport strap to his glasses anymore, because “Zach and John don’t have straps on their glasses.” Martin is awkward, socially, and his attention span has the half-life of hydrogen-7. But “autism”? These days, that seems too harsh.

On the other hand, it feels strange—to say I don’t have a son with autism. We still have a lot of work to do with Martin’s executive functioning, and the spectrum has been a driving component of our life, even of my own identity. We socialize with other autism families. We swap articles about autism. I even pre-board airplanes, on the basis that “my son has autism.” (The pre-boarding will have to stop. I will let airline attendants draw their own inferences, but I won’t lie.) Autism, autism, autism. What do I do now? Find ADHD friends?

Adrian and I have never been public about Martin’s diagnosis. Indeed, we’ve gone to lengths to hide his autism. In part, that’s because “autism” is a scary word. ADHD or ADD, not so scary. People seem to love to self-diagnosis with ADD. Maybe now we can go public with that moniker.

Almost six years ago—the summer that Martin turned two—was when Adrian and I started to realize that Martin had “issues.” Other kids blew out the candles on their birthday cakes. Martin stared into the abyss over his own cake. (We later discovered he lacked the ability to pucker, or to blow.) In the toddler soccer program, when the coach said, “Run and kick a cone,” nine kids ran and kicked a cone. Martin wandered to the next field and tipped over the goal.

By that fall, we were sufficiently concerned to ask a high-school friend of mine, an EI provider, to come take a look at Martin. She did, and she knew immediately that he had autism. The first psychologist, sent by New York City only a couple weeks after my friend saw Martin, said, “It’s autism. You might call it ‘high-functioning autism,’ or, ‘Asperger’s syndrome’.” But though Adrian and I didn’t realize it, Martin was backsliding. He had already lost eye contact and was becoming less responsive every day. By the time the Big Imposing Hospital’s neurodevelopmental team got hold of Martin, several months later, there was no mention of “high-functioning” or “Asperger’s.” They diagnosed Martin with moderate autism and threw in the kitchen sink of co-conditions: delays in every type of communication, low muscle tone and lack of proprioceptive awareness, sleep disorder, possible cognitive impairment, and on, and on, and on.

Let’s call that the low point.

Fortunately, we had already started biomed and the tedious brick-by-brick struggle to free our son from autism.

When he was three, Martin’s special-needs preschool removed him from a self-contained 12-1-1 classroom (12 special-ed students, one teacher, one aide) based on his need for more supervision, and his inability to keep up with the other developmentally delayed three-year-olds. The school placed him instead in an 8-1-2 classroom, in which two other students had 1-on-1 aides (in total, eight special-ed students, one teacher, two classroom aides, and two dedicated aides). Martin was left in that classroom for two years.

When it came time to find a kindergarten—we lived in New York City, where kids don’t just go to the local school, as they might elsewhere—we had Martin’s first neuropsych done. Dr. DS, the Manhattan neurodevelopmental psychologist, confirmed the autism diagnosis as “not a close call.” He told us that our desired elementary school, which has 12-student special-ed classrooms, would not provide enough support for Martin, and would be likely too advanced, academically. He said we were “really looking more at a need for 1-on-1 support” or a six-student ABA classroom.

Forget that, Adrian and I decided. When the desired school, with the 12-student classrooms, accepted Martin, we sent him there. And he excelled.

Two years later, before second grade, it was time for another neuropsych. To get a reasonably comparative assessment, we brought Martin back to Dr. DS.

Dr. DS admitted that he had been mistaken to think Martin wouldn’t make it at our chosen school. In fact, Dr. DS was not so sure Martin still needed all the support the school offered. “I’ve seen some remarkable progress,” Dr. DS said when he presented us with Martin’s report. Martin had moved from the third percentile to the 83rd percentile in receptive language, for example, and though the autism was still prevalent, he had made tremendous gains in other areas, too. What were we doing?

I told Dr. DS about our biomed protocol and nontraditional therapies, like HANDLE and Anat Baniel Method. He listened. At least he appeared to listen. When I finished, Adrian asked Dr. DS what our next steps should be, and Dr. DS said, “Medicate Martin. Now is a good time to start experimenting with medications, so that by the time he reaches third grade, when the curriculum becomes more advanced, you will already know the best combination and dosage of medications, whether it’s depressants, stimulants, or something else.”

Thank you, Dr. DS!

Another year passed, and this time we brought Martin to suburban Dr. PS, who opined that autism spectrum disorder is no longer the correct diagnosis for Martin. She said that her testing revealed an upward trajectory from Dr. DS’s reports. While Martin once had significant delays in all four areas of language, Dr. PS said, he now exhibited delay only in pragmatic/social language. “So looking at his history,” she said, “we can see that Martin was not destined to be a child with receptive or expressive language problems, as those have faded away.”

Destiny? I asked myself. Destiny didn’t resolve Martin’s receptive and expressive language delays. Biomed did.

“What should we be thinking about for next year?” Adrian asked.

Three components, said Dr. PS. First, the choice of school setting. Second, additional therapies and resources. And third, medication. It’s time to start experimenting to find the best medication for Martin’s ADHD.

I’m tempted to write, Thank you, Dr. PS! There’s an addendum, however. I told Dr. PS that we are “hesitant” to medicate Martin because doing so would interfere with our biomed protocol. The progress we’ve made, I explained, has resulted from a restricted diet, supplementation, and constant reevaluation of Martin’s health needs. Dr. PS—remember, she’s a mainstream neurodevelopmental psychiatrist—asked pertinent questions, like what kind of doctor we see and whether the protocol is test-based. (There are charlatans in the autism-recovery universe. I know that.) After I provided sufficient reassurance on those points, Dr. PS said we are probably right not to medicate at this time. If what we are doing biomedically is working, she said, then we should exhaust that route. Experimenting with medication does not have a time limit, and it is okay to start later.

So, actually, really, thank you, Dr. PS. Thank you for listening and reconsidering.

And, for my readers, especially my long-term readers, here’s a special tidbit: Do you remember my lengthy post about Mr. and Mrs. Twice-Exceptional, the Quirky Genius School, and the movie The Imitation Game? You might want to revisit that one.

As she was reviewing Martin’s test scores with us, Dr. PS pointed out a wide discrepancy in the different fields. In many academic areas, including reasoning and some language-based tasks, Martin’s scores were at the top of the bell curve, well above the average range. He uses his formidable intellect and those stand-out skills, Dr. PS said, to compensate for his still subpar executive functioning.

“You see,” Dr. PS told us, “your son is what we refer to as ‘twice-exceptional’.”

I Promised an Informative Post About Mitochondrial Support. Sigh

I tell myself often that I should be writing less about Martin’s breakthrough performances and more about the process of biomedical recovery and homeopathy: what his blood and urine test results show, which supplements we’re using, how antimicrobials are affecting chronic Lyme disease, how I’m tweaking his diet and why.

Recall the correspondence I had with Martin’s biomed doctor about the hyperactivity Martin was experiencing. I guessed that the culprit might be a yeast resurgence. The doctor thought we were too quickly increasing borrelogen and banderol—hose are antimicrobial herbs we use treat Lyme disease and bartonella, a common Lyme co-infection—without enough time for Martin’s body to adjust. She suggested that we go off banderol temporarily, and that we build the borrelogen more slowly. Relevant to this post, she also wrote, “Please start the other mitochondrial support as we discussed, as the supplements should help not only ‘floppiness’ but also his ability to handle the anti-microbial herbs.” (She was responding with my terminology. I’m pretty sure that “floppiness” is not a real medical term.)

At the time, Martin had been off target mitochondrial support for a few weeks; we use MitoSpectra, and I was unhappy that our supply of pills had gone bad. I looked into MitoSynergy but decided against it, because its components did not seem to be in bioavailable form, e.g., it has standard B6 instead of p-5-p, and folic acid instead of 5-methyl folate or folinic. I also thought about giving Martin the mito-support elements separately: levocarnatine, CoQ10, B-complex. On the other hand, Martin takes so many pills and drops already. Where possible, it reduces the protocol burden to use combined forms, even if the combined forms tend to be more expensive. And blah blah blah. Meanwhile, Martin was off mito support while I mulled all this.

MitoSpectra’s customer support offered to replace the spoiled pills and told me to keep the next batch refrigerated to prevent them from going bad. After speaking with the biomed doctor, I decided to put Martin back on MitoSpectra. I expected that the mito support would improve Martin’s “floppiness.” I was less certain why the doctor thought that it would help with hyperactivity and overload from the antimicrobials.

It did. Immediately after speaking with the doctor, I took Martin off banderol and reduced borrelogan to just one drop, to start building again from there. That helped. Slight hyperactivity lingered, as did trouble falling asleep, and I worried about starting to build borrelogan again, however slowly. Then the new MitoSpectra arrived, and within a day Martin’s behavior leveled off.

Why? Even after five years of biomed, during which I’ve known that Martin has mito processing issues, I still don’t fully understand how the mitochondria fit into all aspects of Martin’s health. I associate Martin’s mito issues with his lack of energy and low muscle tone; in the earliest days, before biomed, Martin spent continuous hours lying on the floor, usually on his side, usually pushing a toy back and forth or engaging in some other repetitive behavior. We’ve remedied that, and made progress on floppiness and exhaustion. Yet mito issues continue sprinkling their special mischief over Martin’s progress.

Mitochondria organelles are the power plants of human cells. Their job is to turn oxygen and sugar into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy that powers the cells to do their assigned jobs. Mitochondrial disorders, as I understand them, can be extraordinarily serious and can result in complications ranging from undergrowth and developmental delays to seizures. Conventional medical wisdom holds that mitochondrial disease, in the true form, is genetic and incurable, though treatable in ways that may assuage its effects.

According to the CDC, “More research is needed to find out how common it is for people to have autism and a mitochondrial disorder. Right now, it seems rare.” The CDC’s page, I note, has relatively little information about mitochondrial disorder, and much of that limited space is devoted to autism (and, you guessed it, vaccines). The CDC’s need to deny an autism-mitochondria connection makes me suspect that the question is being asked often, and a link in fact is suspected. TACA calls the role of mitochondrial function “[o]ne of the most exciting areas of research in autism spectrum disorder.” Even Autism Speaks (hardly cutting-edge science, in my opinion) offers: “Over the last decade, there has been great interest in the possibility that mitochondrial disorders may underlie some of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Currently we believe that around 5 to 10 percent of children with autism have mitochondrial dysfunction as the underlying cause of their symptoms.”

Martin has mito dysfunction. That is diagnosed. No question there. So what is the mito dysfunction doing? Why would it cause increased hyperactivity when he’s dealing with antimicrobial Lyme treatment? Maybe cells without a power supply can’t fight the antimicrobial effects like they should. Maybe mito dysfunction keeps the entire system in such precariousness that what should be a mole hill—launching the battle against Lyme—morphs into a mountain. Maybe Martin, even after he functionally recovers, will still need mito support. Maybe he won’t.

The reason I shy from writing about the process of recovering Martin, instead of the victories and setbacks, is fear of admitting how little I understand about that process. (Also, it hardly makes for exciting writing.) I am a humanities-type mom wading through science-y stuff. When I try to write the science, I perceive my own shortcomings.

As of today, Martin is off banderol and rebuilding borrelogen slowly. The hyperactivity has dropped, considerably. Emotional dysregulation, on the other hand, is substantial. Martin is anxious, and having meltdowns.

Despite the mitochondrial support.

Because—who knows?

Who Gets to Join This Fancy Club?

Last night I had the pleasure of dining with an old friend from law school. Our discussion turned to Rachel Dolezal, the woman who resigned as president of Spokane’s NAACP chapter after it became known that she was born white, not black. My old friend is now a law professor; her research includes issues of race. She talked about three ways of identifying with a community (in Dolezal’s case, identifying with the African-American community): documentary, like checking the box that says “Asian-Pacific Islander” or “Hispanic” on a form; biologically, like asserting, “My grandparents came from Ukraine, so I am Ukrainian”; and aesthetically, like adopting traditions, tastes, customs, &c. commonly associated with the group. My friend opined that a person who chooses to claim a social identity, even if s/he does so only aesthetically (say, in hairstyle, language patterns, and manner of dress), should not be rejected if s/he also assumes the burdens associated with that identity: If Dolezal claims blackness, and willingly endures the discrimination that black women in the United States face, then her lack of biological identification does not disqualify her from the African-American community.

My friend the professor owns that theory: Any flaws in articulating it are mine alone.

We also spoke about Martin. I am sometimes asked why Martin—remember, that’s not my son’s real name—has a Spanish name. He is pale and blonde like I am and doesn’t otherwise “look” Latino; moreover, although Adrian, my husband, comes from South America and speaks English with an accent, he does not participate in “Latino culture” as we have (or imagine) it in the United States. (Excuse my sweeping generalizations; a blog post admits only so much depth.) My friend noted that Martin already identifies with the Latino community biologically and documentarily (we check both the “white/Caucasian” and “Hispanic” boxes), and to some extent aesthetically, because he is Spanish-English bilingual and has a Spanish name. Someday, my friend observed, Martin will have to decide for himself how much more he will identify aesthetically with United States Latino culture.

I enjoyed this conversation so much. It was personal, thought-provoking, and invigorating. Even better still, we were discussing Martin, and his future, and the topic was entirely unrelated to autism. I don’t know whether my friend is aware that Martin has autism. Martin was there, present, at my friend’s apartment. As we talked, Martin was playing, awkwardly but more or less appropriately, with my friend’s four-year-old daughter. Adrian and I are not public about Martin’s diagnosis, and I’ve never had occasion to tell this friend. Maybe she knows via the friends-in-common grapevine. Maybe not. Autism isn’t really the elephant in the room when I have Martin with me, not anymore. These days it’s sort of the toy elephant in the room. I can shove it in a pocket or tuck it behind a knickknack and hope no one notices.

That being said, as I sat with my friend and (especially) thereafter, my mind drew connections to autism. Martin has autism. I am part of the autism community. My family is part of the autism community. In terms of biological identification, we did not choose membership. Martin developed autism. It happened. Our entry tickets appeared. In terms of documentary identification, I suppose we do choose to join, out of necessity. If we want special education and other services, we have to check that (sometimes metaphorical) “autism” box.

Yes, I also check the metaphorical box to pre-board airplanes. Guilty.

Which leaves aesthetic identification. As an aesthetic matter, do I identify as a member of the autism community? Yes and no. No, insofar as we are not public about Martin’s diagnosis, insofar as we share on a mostly need-to-know basis. Our primary motivation for keeping Martin’s autism private is that he is getting better, and that one day he will recover, and then we don’t want him seen as “the kid who had autism.” In that regard, we refuse to assume one burden of the autism identity: We try to insulate Martin from the negative stereotypes associated with spectrum disorders.

Yes, however, insofar as autism has worked infiltrated the way I navigate the world, and any insult to the autism community feels like an insult to me personally, and by derivation to Martin. Remember when an ignoramus in an elevator called my friend Natasha’s pre-verbal son a thing? The offense hit me exactly as if he had called my son a thing. Two weeks ago, in a Brooklyn market, a minister—a minister by profession and not, I daresay, by vocation—yelled at my friend Stacey’s sensory-seeking son and then told Stacey to “get [her] son under control before he hurt[] someone.” Though I heard the story only afterward, from Stacey, I felt myself there present, as if the alleged minister had yelled at Martin and said those awful words to me. I identify with every report of a spectrum kid getting bullied, family who can’t afford biomed, or student whose school district denies appropriate special-education services. Regardless of whether we speak out or advocate, I am part of the autism community psychically.

I wonder what will happen when, for the most part, we lose Martin’s biological identification with autism, when he recovers? (I say “for the most part” because I envision him always having some level of immune sensitivity that requires special care.) I remember the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, when Larry David’s Los Angeles character, who’s always believed himself the son of Jewish parents, discovers he’s adopted and was born to Protestants. Immediately he begins doing stereotypical things like wearing a fanny pack, hunting, slamming beers. When we lose Martin’s biological connection to autism, will my aesthetic identification fade too? Will I ask, “Is autism bullying a problem?” or, “They have adequate social services for persons on the spectrum, don’t they?”

I won’t. I think once a person has experienced what it means to reside with autism, that feeling never goes away. Maybe it’s comparable to PTSD; I once saw a report indicating that mothers of adolescents and adults with autism experience chronic stress similar to combat soldiers. Martin is young still, his autism has never been “severe,” and shortly after we started biomed, he started sleeping regularly (other than stress, lack of sleep was the big threat to my own health), so maybe in my case the PTSD comparison is too dramatic.

Does Rachel Dolezel have a place in the black community? Not for me to say, because it’s not my community.

My old friend from law school has me thinking this: I’m really not interested in policing the membership of the autism community, either. If a person who is biologically and documentarily unconnected to autism wants to assume the burdens of autism, wants to internalize every insult the way I do now, then I welcome that person on board. We biomed parents are striving to reduce the biological autism community. Growing the aesthetic autism community can only help those who remain biologically connected to autism to fare better in this world.

Whatever Gets You Through the Night

I have coined a new syndrome: My Kid Is in Special Education But It’s Not the Same Way Your Kid Is in Special Education and Mine Isn’t Staying in Special Education So Why Bother Being Friends Syndrome, or MKISEBINSWYKISEAMISSESWBBF Syndrome. I know that’s a cumbersome, but I really think it could catch on.

I encountered MKISEBINSWYKISEAMISSESWBBF Syndrome four years ago, on Martin’s first day in a preschool for children with special needs. Half a dozen parents and caregivers were in the waiting area before school ended. Some seemed to know each other already. I saw a woman alone, as I was alone, so I introduced myself and said it was my son’s first day at the school.

The woman checked me out sideways, without facing me. She wore gigantic diamond-stud earrings, and honestly, her hair looked much better than mine. She was picking up her daughter, she said. Also first day here.

Did they live near the school? I asked. Was it a long trip like we had, coming from another borough?

The woman didn’t answer that question. Instead, maybe thinking that I wanted to follow up personally, instead of just make small-talk, she said that her daughter had spent the previous year in regular private preschool, and that really everything had been fine there and her daughter had no trouble socially or academically, and had many friends, and was now going to this school temporarily to help with some mild dyspraxia, and as she and her husband expected their daughter to return, by next year at the latest, to her regular private school, they were planning to keep her friends and social peers in that school, not this one.

Oh. Okay.

Yesterday, at Martin’s last day of gymnastics, MKISEBINSWYKISEAMISSESWBBF Syndrome struck again. Martin is one of the few kids who doesn’t participate in the JCC’s afterschool-busing program, because that program is offered only to the school district immediately surrounding the facility. He’s jealous of the kids who come directly from elementary school to the JCC by bus, with no mommies or daddies. This week he asked to bring his backpack to gymnastics class and put it with the other kids’ backpacks, I guess so he would look more like them.

“What district do you live in?” the assistant instructor asked when I explained why Martin had his backpack. We had arrived five minutes early, so we had time to chat. I told her our school district and that, right now, Martin has an out-of-district placement and attends a private school in another town. In another year or two, he might transition back to the district school, either to a self-contained special-education classroom or to a mainstream classroom with an aide.

“We’re in that district, too,” the assistant instructor replied. “Actually, my son, Andrew, is just changing schools. He went to first grade at D elementary school, but for next year they’ve just placed him into the self-contained second-grade class at G elementary school.”

This was quite a coincidence. Our district had been trying to convince us to place Martin next year into the self-contained second-grade class at G school—Adrian and I disagreed with the recommendation, thinking it is too early to pull Martin from his very successful current placement—but the district officials had abruptly stopped pushing us a couple weeks earlier, when the last spot in the G school class had been taken. Now I realized that the student who had filled that last spot was this assistant instructor’s son, Andrew.

I like the assistant instructor a lot, and she seems to have a good connection with Martin, knowing when to give him those bits of extra help that make possible his participation in a non-adapted class. I said, “Martin has friends in the self-contained class the year below him and the year ahead of him, and his mainstream friends attend S school and M school. I would love for him to know another student in the self-contained class for his year, so that he’ll have a friend if he moves into that class in third or fourth grade. Do you think Andrew would like to do a play date sometime?”

“Sure,” the assistant instructor said. “I mean, I guess. Actually, Andrew’s trouble is really just remembering what he’s been taught. Just an academic issue. He’s probably not going to be in the self-contained class for more than a year.”

Memory problems. Remembering what he’s been taught. Not like your kid. Not all that autism stuff.

I didn’t bother to get her number for a possible play date, and she didn’t ask for mine.

This post must sound like I’m judgmental toward those moms who suffer from MKISEBINSWYKISEAMISSESWBBF Syndrome. I’m not. Looking at the big picture, isn’t my approach to Martin’s autism a lot like MKISEBINSWYKISEAMISSESWBBF Syndrome? Even if I don’t say it to other parents, I’m constantly thinking, sure, Martin has autism now, but he won’t have it forever. Soon he’ll look more typical. Soon we won’t be in this spot.

And even if I couldn’t relate MKISEBINSWYKISEAMISSESWBBF Syndrome to my own actions, still I wouldn’t judge. As I recently wrote on a friend’s Facebook page, isn’t survival just the art of balancing what’s healthy against whatever gets you through the night? If another mom needs to think her kid isn’t the same kind of special-ed student as my kid, I’m willing to let that be her reality. Whatever gets her through this night.

Autism One Take-Away I

I’m traveling home from three-and-a-half days at Autism One, the annual conference on all things recovery. This marked my fourth year in attendance at A1.

I go to A1 to learn about the latest treatments and studies, to check out vendors whose products might benefit Martin, to socialize, and to benefit from other parents’ experience. In those regards, I get a lot from A1. Every year I come home reenergized, and with new ideas and persepectives.

The downside of A1 is an overwhelming experience that also leaves me distrustful of many practitioners. Every doctor (or scientist, or therapist, or homeopath, or naturalist, or spiritual healer, or garden-variety snake-oil salesman) brings along a testimonial in the flesh, some family profoundly helped, or even fully recovered, by that one treatment that only this practitioner offers. Dr. Jeff Bradstreet and his team push the Bravo yogurt product with GcMAF to restore the immune system; Dr. Zach Bush and his team swear by Restore liquid, which will provide the nutrients missing from today’s food supply and which, by the way, should not be used alongside Bravo yogurt. Entrepreneurs display stickers and pendants for EMR protection, while authors lecture on why stickers and pendants can’t protect from EMR. One guy was at last year’s conference pushing acupressure devices and magic salt that he claimed “many doctors, at least two dozen” in attendance already were using. (When I pressed, he wasn’t able to name any of the many doctors.) That same guy was back this year, with the acupressure devices and magic salt, and now also with some sort of machine for shaking people. Shake those toxins right out! I could hardly keep myself from laughing when I passed his booth.

My strategy for maximizing A1 is to make note of treatments and therapies that sound most applicable to Martin, ask other parents what they know, and then take no action other than creating a list to discuss, at our next appointment, with our MAPS doctor. I include “take no action” because it is very, very tempting to leave A1 and immediately make appointments with every doctor (or scientist, or therapist, or homeopath, or naturalist, or spiritual healer) that I’ve just seen. A1 embodies hope, which floats through the conference and lands on me: That doctor’s research into mitochondrial processing disorder is so thorough, so cutting-edge. If I just take Martin to that doctor’s office in Arkansas, I’m sure we could finally solve his mito issues. And that other doctor’s clinical trials with subcranial laser therapy show so much promise. If I just take Martin to that doctor’s office in Atlanta, I’m sure we could bring his receptive language up to his expressive. And those homeopaths in Minneapolis are making their own remedies. And that chiropractor in Chicago can improve attention through posture. And that naturopath in Connecticut has a more sensitive test for allergens.

You get the idea. Our MAPS doctor is educated, up-to-date, and less bandwagon-y than I am. She can help me sort it all through.

So here I sit (on an airplane, again) reviewing through my notes to write this list, which I will email Martin’s doctor before our appointment next month. This list might give you an idea of what we’re yet to try, and why I think it might help:

Diet.

Martin’s diet remains more or less the GAPS diet, modified with sprouted quinoa, sprouted buckwheat groats, and on summer weekends when we’re grilling, occasional organic potatoes or sweet potatoes. Now I’m thinking more about salicylates, which in plants occur as natural compounds to ward off bugs and disease. Symptoms of salicylate sensitivity include meltdowns, red ears, bladder incontinence, and distractibility. I’ve never paid any attention to salicylate levels in Martin’s diet. Maybe his red ears, clustered meltdowns, ongoing struggles with bedwetting, and trouble attending mean I should start paying attention.

Thyroid.

Dr. Raphael Kellman presented on the importance of expanded-panel blood testing for thyroid regulation. I know that our environment today is rife with endocrine disruptors, and that Martin, many moons ago when we did more mainstream “Track One” testing, exhibited low T3 hormone. What caught my attention in Dr. Kellman’s lecture was his emphasis on the thyroid’s role in regulating mitochondrial activity, and his opinion that addressing hypothyroidism in conjunction with mitochondrial disfunction produces synergistic effects. That being said, I spoke with at least one doctor who opposes treating hypothyroidism (i.e., with drugs) instead of using non-pharmaceutical gut biome restoration to lead naturally to hormone rebalancing.

The aforementioned Restore liquid.

Dr. Zach Bush talked about the loss of soil biome and resulting nutrient void in our contemporary food chain. He discussed how this makes children vulnerable to tight-junction injury (at a time when tight-junction toxins are on the rise). Then he made the case for Restore, which apparently is based on the carbon “snowflakes” from older, unadulterated soil and can help restore the tight-junction connections. Sounds good. On the other hand, I find myself suspicious when a doctor gives a convincing lecture on what’s missing from everyone’s diet, and how its absence affects immune-compromised children, and then the remedy for that deficiency turns out to be a product that this very doctor developed and sells. Ah, c’est la vie. I suppose everyone has to earn a living.

The aforementioned Bravo yogurt.

Bravo yogurt seems to be in some way created, or at least championed—what do I know?—by Dr. Bradstreet and his colleagues, including Dr. Marco Ruggiero. Dr. Bradstreet, over two lectures, presented something he calls the “Bradstreet-ESSENCE Protocol,” which seems to be shorthand for an individualized approach to treating ASD and, in that regard, not so different from what many MAPS practitioners already do. (ESSENCE stands for Early Symptomatic Syndromes Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Exams and is the brainchild of Dr. Christopher Gillberg.) A key component of this Bradstreet-ESSENCE protocol is the consumption of Bravo yogurt with GcMAF. I think Dr. Bradstreet has some interest in Bravo yogurt, so see my comments above regarding Restore. I think maybe Dr. Ruggiero has some interest, as well, and Bravo also figures into what he calls his “Swiss Protocol” for treating ASD. Howsoever those interests come down, last year, when GcMAF was available in injectable form, I was interested, with trepidation. Yogurt seems more palatable. Is that a pun?

Writer Peter Greenlaw, who also presented at A1, on his book The TDOS Syndrome, attributes today’s obesity crisis to lack of nutrients in our food, noting for example that spinach today has something like 1/92 the iron of spinach from 50 years ago; we get all the calories with less of what actually fills and nourishes us. That sounded exactly like what Dr. Bush was saying, except instead of pitching Restore, Lawton advocated the Bravo yogurt. Lawton seemed to be good friends with Dr. Marco Ruggiero, who is Dr. Bradstreet’s collaborator. I wanted a map of who works with whom and who shills for what, like those handy charts of which conglomerate owns what food companies.

MRT.

Dr. Bradstreet pushes magnetic resonance therapy, hard. I took an interest in MRT last year, when he, along with Dr. Ruggiero and others, presented the results of a pilot study that seemed almost too good to be true. I remain interested still, but it needs extra-careful consideration based on the cost, which is $1,000 for a trial to determine whether Martin is a “responder” and $12,000 for a full course, plus the expense of traveling to and spending weeks near one of two Brain Treatment Centers where the therapy is performed. In addition, Martin has a 12-month IEP and placement in an outstanding private school. If we were to take him from school for 12 weeks for a full course of MRT, we would jeopardize his spot in that class.

Mitosynergy.

The creator of this product gave a technical presentation centered on hydroscopic, or as he called it, “proper” copper versus hydrophobic copper, and copper’s ability to donate or accept electrons as needed, a key factor in molecular electron nutrition. (He moved fast, and I didn’t understand all of what he said.) I’ve had Martin on MitoSpectra for more than a year and have been wondering whether it’s time for a change. I saw the Mitosynergy product last year but felt that it was too new to the market to try. Maybe now?

Wider allergy testing.

This doesn’t relate to a specific protocol, and my interest didn’t arise through any particular lecture or discussion. A lot of what I heard at A1 regarding autism phenotypes, and getting recovery to “stick,” got me wondering whether I really have an adequate handle on dietary and environmental allergens that might affect Martin. Years ago, we worked through a food desensitization course with a naturopath. We didn’t do IgG food-intolerance testing. Is it time?

We see Martin’s MAPS doctor, in California, in four weeks. Anyone want to guess how much of this list will remain after I talk to her?

Autism One side-note: Whoever schedules the lectures at A1 somehow knows precisely what will interest me, and packs those lectures together. As a result, some hours I’m picking from among four talks that I’m dying to hear, trying to convince friends to go into the three I don’t and then share their notes with me, and some hours I’m listening to a presentation on language software for children with Down Syndrome because I don’t have anything else to do. Shoot me an email if you need to know anything about language software for children with Down Syndrome.