Autism One Take-Away II

In my last post, I enumerated my “for discussion” points from Autism One, the ideas that caught my interest but that I need to discuss with Martin’s doctor before I take any action.

In this post, I address two plans for immediate implementation: composting and EMR control.

I’ve had composting on my mind since we moved to the suburbs two years ago. Composting never made it past the good-intentions stage because I wasn’t planting. Composting may be generally beneficial, from an environmental standpoint. From a realism standpoint, I’m not going to do it unless I have a use for the compost. I mean, I’m not going to compost and donate the result. At least, not while I’m in the thick of fighting autism. Maybe someday, when Martin has recovered.

This spring, for the first time, I planted. I assembled an elevated, cedar garden box, in which my arugula, kale, and marigolds (co-planted for natural pest control) are thriving. I also started three “Grow Boxes,” which I’ve had since before we moved from the City and never used. (Trepidation. I haven’t been able to discover exactly what goes into the grow-boxes’ built-in fertilizer, and I have a bias against the boxes being plastic. So far, in any event, the crops in the cedar box are doing much better than those in the plastic grow-boxes.) All the seeds were organic, of course, and I also purchased (not cheap) organic soil.

In one of his A1 presentations, Dr. Zach Bush talked about the introduction of nitrogen fertilizer after World War II, the more recent introduction of glyphosate and other pesticides and herbicides, and the resulting loss of soil biome. I think a lot about human biome, especially since Martin was born by unplanned Caesarian-section and then given antibiotics. I’ve never really thought before now about the soil biome. During his presentation on The TDOS Syndrome, Peter Greenlaw argued that food, as we have altered it, is not longer “enough” to nourish us. Tomatoes have less lycopene, spinach has less iron, carrots have fewer vitamins, and so forth. We eat all the calories and then, still missing nutrients, we crave more, leading to obesity. These ideas clicked. Since I’m growing vegetables on the homefront now—I’m about to step outside and harvest a salad for dinner—I ought to insert as much nutrition into them as possible. Won’t my organic vegetable waste make ideal compost for that purpose? Plus, the very cool plumber who came recently to fix a burst pipe told me that my township offers outdoor composting kits to residents for just $50. Composting, here I come.

As to EMR, we have taken precautions already. EMR, or EMF’s, were a primary concern when we decided to move out of New York City. In our old apartment, in the city, when I ordered my computer to search for wi-fi, it routinely found two or three dozen networks. Two or three dozen! That means Martin, at home, playing, or sleeping, was bombarded by wireless frequencies. And when you live in a building with seven other families, surrounded by more buildings with more families, those signals come through pretty strong. We resorted to draping a tent of EMF-blocking fabric around Martin’s bed, with yards of the same fabric under his bed. Also, his bedroom was so tiny that his bed fit only against a wall with electrical outlets near his head and feet, or else alongside a floor-level window through which came the room’s highest EMF levels. We covered the window with clear EMF-shielding film and put the bed there. That was the best we could do.

In our new (not so new anymore) suburban homestead, we are less constrained. We have more than an acre, on a shoreline. As a result, when my computer searches for wi-fi, it finds only two networks, ours and the weak signal of one neighbor. Before we moved in, our contractor—who is the husband of Martin’s nanny, Samara, and knows why we do the things we do—applied grounded, EMF-shielding paint underneath the regular paint and even the floorboards (basement modem) in Martin’s bedroom. That bedroom is large enough that we can situate his bed away from wall outlets. We bought this house, instead of another we considered, after an environmental review of each showed the winning house to harbor lower EMR. (The other house was near a water tower; EMR travels along water pipes, and higher pressure means more EMR. Also, the main water line into that house ran diagonally under most of the main floor, creating an unavoidable field.) Along with those precautions, we don’t have cordless phones at home. So we’re off to a good start.

Here’s what more I can do:

* I never had Martin’s current bedroom windows coated with clear EMF-blocking film, even though we still have a supply of the product. I suppose I haven’t wanted to mess with his room’s view of our yard. Well, tough. For the time being, recovery trumps view.

* We have one basement water main that our consultant recommended wrapping to offset EMR transmission. With the other renovations and general chaos of moving, that never happened. It’s time.

* Adrian loves giant televisions. He is, after all, a guy. In our family room is a 65” LED television that gets turned on, maybe, twice a week, for Adrian to watch news or historical documentaries. (With my hockey and soccer and tennis and football, I am the bigger TV-watcher. I watch mainly in the kitchen, while I cook.) Once upon a time, back in the City, I turned off the power strip that fed our TV, cable, and stereo system, trying to cut ambient radiation when the devices weren’t in use. Then I discovered that if you cut power to a cable box, it takes five minutes or more to reset when you reconnect the power. On those rare occasions when Adrian wanted to watch TV, he faced a frustrating delay. So I devised a system by which everything except the cable box was fed by one power strip, and cut that power strip unless we were using the TV or stereo. Now we have “Smart TV” in our family room. I need to experiment and find the best way to cut power when not in use, without much delay upon restarting. Bonus: Savings on our electric bill.

* That stupid microwave. Years ago I stopped microwaving. Since then I’ve read conflicting information on whether microwaving really affects food properties. But nutritional value notwithstanding, microwaves emit EMR’s. I’ve still got one in my kitchen. It’s a built-in model that will leave a hole if removed. Mostly, I use it as a timer, because its timer feature is more convenient than my oven’s. Occasionally, I give in to temptation and nuke food: lentil stew for Adrian to take to the office, a vegetarian sausage for me to when the others are eating fish, even Martin’s broth when he’s let it go cold and the fat has coagulated. Why? No good reason. I’m going to find a way to unplug the thing. I will leave it in the custom cabinet, or ask our handyman if he could convert the space to something useful and attractive.

Ÿ* Get this: More often than not, I leave my computer on overnight. At some point in the evening, I abandon my laptop in order to attend to something else, like preparing meatballs or Adrian’s lunch, or driving home from the pub where I blog. (Ahem.) I think, I’m not going to shut down. Maybe I will want to use my computer later and accomplish many amazing feats. Which I never do. I go to bed, and my laptop sits unmolested, shooting and receiving EMF’s. Nice.

Ÿ* Did you think that was bad? My computer? Wait for it: Adrian leaves his iPhone—charging—powered on—next to his pillow. Just like that, he earns infamy as worst household EMF offender. He likes to use the iPhone as an alarm. He likes to be completely up-to-date on work email if he checks during the night or first thing in the morning. He likes to melt our brains. This doesn’t affect Martin, at least not as much as other household wi-fi crimes. But still. I’ve got some needling to do.

Ÿ* Overall, I may be able to make the biggest difference in Martin’s classroom. As luck would have it, two other mothers from Martin’s class—he attends a school for children with speech and language delays, many of whom also have autism—were with me at A1 and share this sentiment: We need to convince the school to do better with wi-fi. The entire school is wi-fi enabled, and every classroom has a SMART board. We probably can’t change either of those facts. Maybe we could fundraise and get EMF filters into the classrooms, or implement a policy for teachers and assistants to shut off mobile phones while inside.

We also considered trying to get the school to do better with food, but that seems more challenging. Because so many kids have food allergies, students may eat only what they bring from home, except during parties and special events. During parties and special events, no home-baked goods or even fruits are allowed. The choices are plain pizza (which I like to call “one dish with everything an ASD kid shouldn’t eat, plus almost no nutrition whatsoever”) or items from the “Snack Safely Guide” (“sugar-laden processed crap”). Ergo, during parties and special events, Martin and the other boys whose moms were at A1 have to bring their own snacks. We would love to convince the school to let us bring healthy treats for all the students. We’ve tried before. Regrettably (in my opinion), paranoia over food allergies wins the day.

Referring to “paranoia” over food allergies is in no way meant to minimize the challenges faced by our friends in that community. I know that we need to take precautions to ensure the safety of those who risk anaphylactic shock from accidental ingestion of allergens. On the other hand, it appears sometimes that, rather than doing the hard work of tailoring policies, schools prefer to blanket the food supply. Not one student in Martin’s class has an allergy to peanuts or nuts, and because of the lunchroom’s small size, his class eats together with only one other class. Yet I cannot send sprouted almonds as a snack, because the entire school is nut-free. I would much rather work with the school to devise a plan that meets the students’ actual needs, and addresses the non-nut allergies that some of them do have.

How about turning our own wi-fi system off at night? That’s usually the first step holistic doctors and EMF consultants suggest. Yet it would be the hardest for me to take. Adrian works long hours. Now that we live outside the City, we wanted to make provision for Adrian to work some days from home. He hired a network expert to enable his home office, complete with phone tied to his Manhattan office line, cable phone, and wi-fi portals. The system is so complex that it doesn’t lend itself to being shut off without significant warm-up time upon restarting, along with the chance for snafus. It’s becoming a pick-your-battles issue for me. The EMF-blocking paint in Martin’s bedroom helps. What trace EMF’s still hit him at night are offset by Adrian’s ability to work conveniently from home.

Gotta go. Lots to do.

Martin doing his thing at a playground. I look at this big, big kid and think, "Is he really mine?"

Martin doing his thing at a playground. I look at this big, big kid and think, “Is he really mine?”

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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


Our family is working to alleviate Martin’s autism by healing his immune system, instead of using medication to disguise the health problems. One day, that approach could change, as I mentioned in the post titled “New Sleep, No Crutch”:

Of course I’m familiar with methylphenidate, amphetamine salts, guanfacine, and so forth—drugs that might improve Martin’s still-abysmal attention span. Maybe one day we’ll turn to such resources (in the end, I remain a pragmatist). But for now, while we have the time and opportunity, I choose to work toward eliminating the cause of his short attention span, instead of using drugs to mask the symptoms.

In response, I received this comment from a reader:

As a pharmacist and a mom with a child diagnosed with Asperger’s I think your approach is great. I hesitated giving my own child medication until absolutely necessary. After years of hesitation, finally treating my son’s attention deficit with medication allowed his grades to improve significantly. If you aren’t at the point where that is necessary, by all means use as little drug intervention as possible.

Let’s talk about a topic underlying that comment: judgments.

I went to last year’s Autism One conference with my friend Stacey, who is also working to recover her son. Stacey attended Kerri Rivera’s presentation on her chlorine dioxide (ClO2, or “CD”) parasite protocol. (I was at another, concurrent lecture. Don’t remember which.) After Stacey told me about CD, I looked up some information and talked to many parents who use the protocol. Basically, Rivera uses low-dose oxidation, in the form of chlorine dioxide, to destroy pathogens/parasites and heavy metals.

I told Stacey that CD is not a protocol I would try with Martin, because (1) I have concerns about its long-term health effects, and (2) it requires giving enemas, which I think would violate Martin’s body integrity. (We treat pathogens and parasites through other methods. For example, Martin consumes diatomaceous earth daily, and around each full moon he takes pyrantel and, topically, warmed castor oil. In the past, Martin also has swallowed mebendazole to fight parasites.)

Some weeks later Stacey and I, back in New York, met for lunch. Stacey told me that she had done more research, read Rivera’s book, been in contact with Rivera via email, and ultimately decided to follow the CD protocol with her own son. As Stacey told me this last part—that she had decided to go ahead with CD—she looked away and ducked her head as if she were about to get slugged. Then she added, “I know you’re not keen on CD. I just feel like it will help. Don’t judge me.”

Much later, I had lunch with a friend whose elementary-school daughter has been diagnosed with ADD or similar disorder. My friend wanted to talk about what we do for Martin and whether any of our protocol might help her daughter. I explained what I think are some underlying similarities between ASD and ADD, and what diet and supplements might be able to achieve. She mulled the information, asked a lot of questions.

Fast-forward two months. I was lunching again with the same friend. She said that she and her husband are medicating their daughter to help the ADD. I sensed that she was watching for my reaction. Then she added, “We did try fish oil. It didn’t seem to work.” I realized my friend was afraid that, because we do diet and biomed/homeopathy for Martin, and not medication, I was going to deride her family’s decision to medicate.

My response was the same, to both Stacey and this friend. I said: “Don’t worry. After three years of biomed, I am way, way beyond judging anyone else’s path.”

I, personally, believe that Christianity, and specifically Protestantism, and more specifically the Protestantism most closely associated with the Magisterial Reformation, though tinted with elements of the later Radical Reformation, is the truest faith. That’s why I practice Mostly Magisterial Quasi-Radical Protestant Christianity. It does not mean that I think my friends who are Roman Catholic or Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or nothing at all are “damned” or destined to unfulfilling lives. I think I’m right. They think they’re right. Maybe we’re all right, to whatever degree.

In the world of children with challenges, regardless of what path a family takes, I respect anyone who is (1) trying, and (2) not acting callously. Stacey has looked into the CD protocol and believes it will help her son. My friend reports that a drug targeting ADD has ended the homework battles that were ruining her evenings. The pharmacist who was kind enough to comment on my earlier post hesitated to medicate her son but now finds that doing so has improved his focus and grades.

Plenty of people—I’m pretty sure that, somehow, I run into all such people, all of them in the entire world—are ready to condemn my and my husband’s choices for Martin, from diet to homeopathy to school. I hate that. I hate to be judged.

And so that’s it. I’m way, way beyond throwing stones at how anyone else treats autism.

Martin, out and about. No judgments here.

Martin, out and about. No judgments here.