When my oldest child was taken off the spectrum, physicians told me that “he must have been mis-diagnosed in the first place.” As a mother who witnessed the flapping, the sensory overload symptoms, the lack of eye contact, the emotional outbursts etc, I find this truly hard to believe. However, it is entirely possible that a food allergy, chemical toxicity, and heavy metal exposure made the perfect storm that manifested with autistic features.
Calvin was diagnosed with autism (along with a slew of other health problems) around 1 and a half. I was told there was nothing I could do to help heal his conditions. After about 9 months of dramatically changing his diet and our lifestyle, he was taken off the spectrum (and recovered from his other life-threatening health conditions – read more about our journey here).
Physicians will not recommend dietary or lifestyle changes because they don’t know of any definitive scientific research on this topic. However, while the research may not be there yet, many parents (like me and the families I’ve worked with) have been able to take their children off the spectrum entirely. I am writing this article as a resource for those families who would like to know what has worked for us and hundreds of families I have worked with.
We changed our diet to being:
- Vegan (i.e. entirely plant-based: dairy-free, egg-free, meat-free, fish-free) that is also free of gluten, corn, and soy. I know it sounds extreme, but eating clean created a miracle for us. Many kids with autism are highly sensitive to foods. It was worth it – and if you have fears that a vegan diet won’t provide enough nutrition, check out this article. In terms of how to get started, I’ve created a list of resources with a food section, including snacks that are clean and kid-friendly.
- Chemical-free & organic. I know this sounds expensive but it doesn’t have to be. We have 3 boys and they eat a lot! We needed to figure out how to make organic food work for our family budget. Here’s how we figured it out. This also includes filtering water that we drink and wash in – city waters often have high levels of fluoride and chlorine. Chlorine is associated with a higher risk of cancer, and fluoride in water has been found to lower the IQ scores of children.
- Based on whole foods: No sugar or refined or processed foods. We choose whole foods like fruits and vegetables and grains like quinoa, millet and buckwheat. Maple syrup and raw honey make wonderful sweeteners. You would be surprised how many delicious treats you can still make using these ingredients – see some recipes here or sign up for 30 days of clean recipes & meal plans here.
We must remember that pediatricians are not nutritionists. When Calvin was young, my pediatrician told me this as I asked about foods – and I was so grateful for her honesty. That opened my eyes to do some serious research on foods that lead me on my path today. Even though most deaths in the U.S. are preventable and related to diet, nutrition certification is not a requirement for most doctors. In fact, diet is the number one risk factor for death and disability in the U.S. – yet even the American Journal of Medicine posits that “despite the wealth of knowledge linking food and health, nutrition receives little attention in medical practice. The reason stems, in large part, from severe deficiency of nutrition education at all levels of medical training.” I include this not to discredit any doctor’s medical opinion, but instead to encourage you to do your own research and evaluate your sources of information.
Tossed Out Chemicals
Cleaning products, hygiene products, makeup, perfumes, air fresheners are all loaded with chemicals that research is now showing are hormone imposters (“endocrine disruptors”) and cause cancer. Again, for kids with autism that are so sensitive, cleaning out chemicals is essential. We traded those in for natural products. This does not break the bank – see these suggestions I give for at-home cleaning products you can create. You can also find plenty of personal hygiene products that are chemical-free.
The gut-brain connection has been confirmed in research for individuals with autism. In fact, this 2019 study showed that influencing the gut microbiota at a young age reverses learning deficits – and that reversing other characteristics of ASD can be done by changing the diet. Our diet changes greatly helped in this matter, as well as using a great natural probiotic like MaryRuth’s or this one from Garden of Life. Learn more about gut health here.
Got Rid of Glutamates.
MSG is rampant in our common foods. We think that it’s no longer there but it is. Have you seen any of these ingredients in foods you commonly buy: natural flavors, yeast extract, textured protein, glutamic acid? It’s shocking to realize that most processed foods have them. To learn more about this, read this neurosurgeon’s book: Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills. And see one scientist’s success removing glutamates in the TED talk Unblind My Mind.
Consistent Foot Zoning.
Foot zoning was a very important part of our journey. As Calvin was detoxing, being able to get his body back in balance weekly was so helpful for his progress. But if you don’t have access to a foot zoner in your area, not all is lost! I have guided several other families without foot zoning, but other bodywork was at play (for example, massage, chiropractic, cranial sacral work, etc). Depending on the child, different body work can be very helpful in continuing and complementing their journey.
Detoxed Heavy Metals.
Kids with autism have significantly higher levels of toxic metals in their bodies, research shows. Of course you have heard of mercury. But you may not have heard about the dangers of aluminum. You will hear that aluminum is naturally occurring in many of our foods. This is actually because of food containers (aluminum paper, aluminum cans etc…) which we can avoid. Also, aluminum – and other toxic substances – are heavily present in many pharmaceutical products (check your labels and product package inserts at the pharmacy or doctors’ office!), particularly in inoculations. In fact, the package insert for a DTaP immunization lists autism as a potential adverse reaction (found in the Adverse Reactions section). Aluminum and other damaging chemicals have been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, and individuals with autism have higher levels of aluminum and heavy metals in their brains as compared to their peers without autism. Other heavy metals can also be present in other ordinary aspects of daily life – such as our tap and drinking water, personal products, pharmaceutical products, transportation exhaust, and more.
Not only did we avoid heavy metals as much as possible, but we also ate foods that are said to detoxify heavy metals. Anthony Williams’ recipe for a heavy metal detox smoothie has worked wonders for my children and the children whose parents I have advised. The recipe is below:
Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie: recipe by Anthony William
- 2 cups wild blueberries
- 1 cup cilantro
- 1 tsp barley grass juice powder
- 1 tsp spirulina
- 2 tsp or 1 small handful Atlantic dulse
- 2 bananas (optional)
- 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, or water (optional)
Supported With Supplements
Throughout the detox and repairing my son’s system, we added in high quality, clean herbal supplements. As his body recalibrated to his new clean diet and environment, these supplements nourished and nurtured him. Here are the top 5 supplements I would recommend adding:
- Adenosylcobalamin & methylcobalamin Vitamin B12. These two high quality forms of Vitamin B12 are coenzyme forms of B12 that the body can recognize and use quickly. The brain needs B12 to function properly. B12 also supports the nervous system, boosts energy levels, and improves sleep quality. Make sure the B12 supplement you use contains these two forms of B12, and not cyanocobalamin (a synthetic B12 that contains a cyanide molecule).
- Liquid zinc sulfate. As the body detoxes, the immune system is challenged by the stirring up of all the bad bacteria and pathogens in the body. Zinc is a vital mineral craved by the immune system, and helps strengthen the body’s defenses against what the body is releasing and any outside toxins or bacteria that could cause more issues.
- Cat’s Claw (tincture or capsules). This herb is powerfully anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and has incredible antibiotic properties. It also supports the neurological system, digestive system, and more.
- Vitamin C. More than just a support for the immune system, Vitamin C also cleans the liver, blood, and lymphatic system and is vital for good health. Make sure it is a high-quality form of Vitamin C – what you put in your body matters!
- Methylfolate. Individuals with autism often have methylation troubles – which is the liver’s natural process of “taking out the trash” from the body. Methylfolate assists this process so that the body and brain can continue becoming clean.
You may see improvements in a couple of months, or it may take longer: one thing to remember is that each child with autism is different. One child may be dealing with significant heavy metal toxicity that takes a while to cleanse while another may also be dealing with a viral or bacterial overload that is slowing progress. This is why I work individually with each family to help recommend certain supplements depending on what that particular child needs. However, every child will benefit from a strengthened immune system. See my best tips for how to build a rock-solid immune system here.
Is This Really Possible?
Some believe that autism can be genetic. However, we know the study of epigenetics, so we must ask ourselves what is causing genes to be turned on and off – such as this 2018 study, which found the gut microbiome of a woman during pregnancy as being a key factor in the risk of autism in the child, and suggests altering expectant mothers’ diets to lower the risk. Heavy metals, toxins, chemicals, etc. can be impeding genes and all other systems in the body.
As I said, each child with autism is unique in many ways. The protocol above must be adjusted for each individual, and the earlier in life one begins implementing it, the more impact the protocol has and the quicker one can see results. The older the child is before starting the protocol, the more milestones that can be missed – but not all hope is lost for older children. They will still have so much benefit from all of the above.
Some children have multiple diagnoses and only one of them is autism, like my son Calvin. We must keep in mind that toxicity in the body and environment can manifest in many different ways, and affect many different systems in the body. The suggestions in this article can still help – they are designed not just specifically for autism, but for the underlying causes that can show up as other health complications.
There are so many different ways autism can look – so how can this protocol help? Again, these are general steps that each family can take, and we can work together to pinpoint specific individual needs.
One thing every family can have is hope. Here is a story from one family:
“I cannot say enough good things about Amber and her amazing talents. She really really knows the body so well and is so in tune with each person she works with and understands their needs on a cellular level. We have seen miracles as she has worked with my two boys with autism, and have avoided autism altogether with my third son as she guided me through detox and supplementation. My oldest son is now in a mainstream classroom, has tested off the spectrum, and next year will not need any “autism behavior” accommodations, only a little speech therapy to catch up. We are eternally grateful to you Amber! She is very generous with her time, has a deep well of knowledge, and radiates love to all her clients. She is truly an angel to our family and we can’t thank her enough for the comfort, guidance and healing we’ve received under her care. We highly recommend her for anyone wanting to improve their health and see miraculous results!”
– Teal Jonutz
A Gift To This World
Children with autism are a precious gift to us. They are special souls that have certain unique talents to impact our world. In the case of my son Calvin who is now thirteen, thriving with health, and no signs of autism – his gifts are clear, but we are also blessed to see other parts of him that we might not have if they continued to be buried under his various previous afflictions. If he still had autism, we would love him no less than we do today; but I would wish on no parent the pain and heartache we endured when he was young. It is an absolute gift to see him thriving – and that is what I wish for every parent to see for their own child.
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