Allergies, Sleep Apnea and Developmental Delay

My son with autism had ears, nose and throat issues since birth. At age 9 months, he starting having sleep apnea and trouble breathing through his nose. He also suffered from environmental and food allergies. After numerous referrals to specialists, we finally succeeded in getting him into a sleep study at age 16 months and found that he suffered from severe sleep apnea. This caused hypoxia, which is a lack of oxygen to the brain. We had his adenoids and tonsils removed at age 2 yrs. 10 months. Doctors wanted us to wait until he was closer to age three due to the seriousness of the surgery, but did that waiting contribute to his developmental delay?

My son’s speech was affected phonetically by his enlarged adenoids and tonsils.  He received speech therapy at age three, to help him in that area. By age four, we noticed his development had caught up but then seemed to have stopped somewhere along the line.  That was when we had him assessed and received his diagnosis of high functioning autism.

Then around age five, someone suggested to me that I should have his hearing tested by an audiologist in a booth. I requested a referral to

(Ears, Nose, & Throat doctor or ENT) and had his ears assessed. They also gave him a booth hearing test and found a hearing loss in both ears, plus his ear drums were not functioning properly. Hmmmm. See, the adenoids and Eustachian tubes are connected. Since he had a tremendous amount of mucus and fluid in his nose, it made sense that his ears were also affected. So it turns out that his critical years of speech development were affected by hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) and hearing impairment because the tubes in his ears were filled with fluid and not draining. The odd (or lucky) thing about it was that he didn’t suffer from chronic ear infections. He had maybe one or two his entire life.

So on the advice of our doctor, we had PE (pressure equalization) tubes surgically placed in his ears. This surgery went smooth, had no pain, and he woke up with a smile. He could hear better and his speech improved. He now at this point had no longer struggled with phonetics, only receptive and expressive speech.  But those areas improved greatly and his ears didn’t bother him much anymore. He had auditory defensiveness before the ear tubes, but that seemed to dissipate once he had the tubes.  The tubes were supposed to fall out within a year. But they lasted over 18 months.

His auditory defensiveness came back periodically after his tubes fell out the first time. It will be interesting to see if it completely goes away now that he has new tubes in place.

Two years later, and another change in insurance providers had us starting all over again with a new otolaryngologist. My son’s ears were itching him terribly on the inside and his hearing was compromised again. He felt like his ears were full. Once the ENT got the large amount of wax out, he could see that both tubes fell out and the ear drum healed nicely. Well, he needed tubes again! His hearing was compromised, again, and the ear drum wasn’t functioning properly, again.

Today, we had another surgical procedure for tubes placed in my son’s ears. This time we opted for the permanent tubes, since he’s 7 1/2 and should have grown out of this problem by now. Approximately 15% of kids need tubes much longer and I just don’t want my son to go through numerous surgeries for placement of them. He will have to endure one more surgery to have these tubes removed in about 3 years.

The surgery went well today, but not without pain in recovery. Then the surgeon drops a bomb on me that his eardrums are calcifying. Huh? What’s that? He states it’s probably from his multiple ear infections in early childhood. No, he didn’t have them. Really?! (I guess a doctor should be thrown a curve ball like that after scaring the living hell out of a mother!) No further explanation given, other than his comments that he may need his eardrums replaced someday. WHAT?!!? He calmly tells me he does it all the time. Well, let me catch my breath doctor. Believe me, I will have done my research and come to our follow-up appointment with A LOT of questions. Be prepared doc!

It’s scary how doctors are so limited in their fields of practice that they lose sight of the whole patient. Medicine has become so specialized that you need an army of practitioners to properly diagnose and treat your child. My discussion with the anesthesiologist left me wondering how much research they do after they get their license.  I told him I did not want nitrous oxide used on my son to relax him for surgery. He said “It’s done all the time, and I’m sure he had it in his past surgeries”.  Once I explained that since then we have had laboratory testing confirm he has mitochondrial dysfunction and that people with this should not have nitrous oxide. No comment; just a blank stare. Not sure if he was amazed at my ability to pronounce such a “big medical term” or that I knew something he didn’t. My husband told me that these doctors are used to parents just sitting there, nodding, not asking many questions. I’m not that parent.

My son with autism definitely has biochemical pathways that are dysfunctional in his body, but were they turned off by environmental toxins, lack of oxygen to the brain or both?  I wish I knew then what I know now, and perhaps could have avoided some of the problems that resulted in his developmental delay. But that wouldn’t change the fact that he is still a bright, intelligent, sweet, loving little boy who is working hard at overcoming the obstacles thrown at him in life. And I’m damn proud of him!

If your child suffers from allergies that result in improper draining of fluid in their Eustachian tubes or chronic congestion from cold viruses, look to a knowledgeable ENT. Get their hearing tested in a booth. Consider the tubes. I’m left wondering what if they had found this at age 2 and had tubes put in when they removed his adenoids and tonsils? Would he had developed calcification on his eardrums? Don’t get plagued by the “coulda, woulda, shouldas”.

Pesticides Don’t Belong In Our Diet. (New study links pesticides and ADHD in kids.)

We all know that pesticides are dangerous, especially for our children. I’ve come across yet another study on the dangers of pesticides and it’s link to ADHD, so I have to shout it out, again. Why are we poisoning our children?!

New research shows that exposure to high levels of organophosphate pesticides could increase the likelihood of children developing ADHD. These pesticides are on a vast majority of our fruits and vegetables in your local supermarket.

“Organophosphates are one of the most widely used pesticides in agriculture to protect crops and fruits and vegetables,” said study lead author Maryse Bouchard, an adjunct researcher in the department of environmental and occupational health at the University of Montreal and at Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre. “For children, the major source of exposure would be the diet — fruits and vegetables in particular.”

In their study, Bouchard and her colleagues analyzed data on pesticide exposure and ADHD in more than 1,100 American children aged 8 to 15. Children with higher pesticide levels in their urine were more likely to have ADHD, the team found.

“The analysis showed that the higher the level of exposure [as measured by metabolites in the urine], the higher the odds of having ADHD,” Bouchard added. Continue reading

Curcumin: Cancer Fighter, Autism Healer

There are many benefits attributed to the use of curcumin. The two most impressive for our family are its cancer fighting abilities and the healing benefits for autism.

Curcumin is the main active ingredient of turmeric, which is used as a seasoning and the key ingredient of curry.  Curcumin has been used in the Indian and Chinese cultures for medicinal purposes for thousand of years.  Studies have shown it to possess the following properties: anti-tumor, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet, cholesterol lowering, antibacterial and anti-fungal effects. It contains a mixture of powerful antioxidant phytonutrients called curcuminoids.

Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties it can also help to keep the neural pathways clear, helping with dementia, like Alzheimer’s and neurological disorders, like autism.

Cancer Fighter

Curcumin can significantly slow the growth of skin, lung, breast and prostate cancers. The anti-tumor effect stem from its ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cells without cytotoxic effects on healthy cells. (Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are forms of cytotoxic therapy).  In other words, it induces the abnormal cells to kill themselves before they become cancerous, while leaving the healthy ones alone. Before apoptosis is induced, curcumin stops cancer cells from multiplying. In cancer research, this is known as “interrupting the cell cycle”.  Therefore, curcumin is useful for cancer prevention and therapy.

Curcumin can block chemicals from getting inside cells.  It can interfere with pesticides that mimic estrogen. These include DDT and dioxin, two extremely toxic chemicals that contaminate America’s food and water. Some studies have even suggested that curcumin can inhibit cancer metastasis.

On a personal note, when my sister decided to stop chemotherapy treatments for her cancer, we asked her oncologist what natural supplements she could use instead. He immediately suggested curcumin. This took me by surprise because at the time I had only known its’ benefit for treating my son with autism and his health issues.

Detoxification

Curcumin has a detoxifying effect on the body by improving liver function and helping the body eliminate at a greater and more efficient rate.

It also helps with detoxification by increasing cellular glutathione levels.  Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as free radicals. Glutathione is produced by the body and found in every cell. It’s the body’s most important antioxidant because it’s within the cell.  Because glutathione exists within the cells, it is in a prime position to neutralize free radicals. It also has potentially widespread health benefits because it can be found in all types of cells, including the cells of the immune system, whose job is to fight disease.

In autism and ADHD, glutathione reserves are commonly low.  This leads to many biochemical problems for children with autism, one being an inability to detoxify toxins such as mercury and lead.  These toxins adversely affect chemicals in the brain that support attention, focusing, and general awareness. By increasing glutathione levels, curcumin can provide numerous benefits for these kids.

My son with autism had low glutathione levels, heavy metal toxicity and gut dysbiosis (stemming from too much bad bacteria in the gut). We have significantly increased his detoxification abilities through transdermal glutathione, IV glutathione and glutathione precursors like methyl-B12 and TMG. Our latest endeavor is curcumin. We are using Lee Silsby’s brand, called Enhansa.

Lee Silby's Enhansa

The benefits we are seeking from Enhansa (curcumin) are increased cellular glutathione, anti-inflammatory effects for his gut and brain, improve his liver detoxification and to chelate lead and cadmium. It will also protect his body and brain from the damaging effects of mercury.

Curcumin is very phenolic and my son with autism reacts to phenols. So we are trying curcumin in conjunction with the digestive enzyme No-Phenol. This enzyme will help his body process the phenol load from the curcumin. We will also be providing him with Epsom salt baths seven days a week to support detox. As with all new supplements we give him, will be starting out with a very low dose and increase it slowly, so to minimize any die-off reactions. If needed, we’ll give him activated charcoal to help mop up the toxins.

I believe so strongly in the benefits of curcumin, that I have also started taking it. Cancer is in my family history and I believe curcumin will help me not become another cancer statistic.  Once again, I can thank autism for entering our lives and being the impetus to learn more about the importance of maintaining our overall health.

Apples, Bananas and Grapes, Oh My!

One of my favorite childhood movies was The Wizard of Oz. It’s funny how my life has traveled down a path that feels like the yellow brick road. Searching for the Emerald City, all the while dodging flying monkeys, evading a wicked witch and meeting a talking scarecrow. It seems a lot like our biomedical journey through autism.  And what was in that picnic basket Dorothy carried with her? My son would have filled it with apples.

Apples, applesauce, apple juice. Not that long ago, that was about the only fruit my son with autism would eat. Oh, and a banana every now and again. Orange juice is OK now. He LOVES grape juice and will eat an occasional grape. The problem is, these fruits are highly phenolic in nature. Makes him react like a hyperactive chipmunk on catnip!

My older son will eat any fruit he can get his hands on, but does not react to phenols like my youngest. Not fair, I say. So I let my son with autism eat apples, bananas and grapes now. He takes a digestive enzyme to help him process it, called No-Phenol. I also give him Epsom salt baths each night to help his body detox the phenols.

Ketchup, pasta sauce, pizza sauce. All phenolic and make him a crazed energizer bunny! But he sure does love those tomato based foods. So every time his meal has anything tomato based in it, he gets a No-Phenol enzyme. And all is good in the Allor house.

We just went camping for five days. It was beautiful, fun-filled and great to be in the mountains. The only problem was I couldn’t give my son with autism his nightly Epsom salt bath.  Without the baths, his emotion regulation gets  a bit crazy and he gets weepy on me over the little things. I did bring our Epsom salts along and decided to soak his feet in a small tub before bed. That helps in a pinch. It’s not the same as a full body soak for 15 minutes, but it definitely helps his body detox.

That yellow-brick road seems never-ending. We haven’t found the Emerald City yet so we can ask the Wizard just how to completely heal our son’s biochemical pathways. I’ll keep you posted on what I learn in my continued research. In the meantime, we’ll rely on No-Phenol and Epsom salts. One day, we’ll find our way home, and out of the land of Oz.

Related posts on phenols, epsom salts and the PST pathway:

https://healingautismandadhd.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/epsom-salts-old-wives-tale-or-medical-fact/

https://healingautismandadhd.wordpress.com/diet-2/phenolssalicylates/

https://healingautismandadhd.wordpress.com/diet-2/feingold/

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