Not too long ago a colleague of mine asked some me questions about Gracie, out of concern for her nephew, Ignatius (name changed in the interest of privacy). I asked my colleague some questions about Ignatius, and after hearing her describe his symptoms, I urged her to get him evaluated by an expert in autism.
What follows is a my colleague’s story…
My Nephew was born in 2009 and was progressing at an accelerated rate – i.e. words like ‘ma ma and cat’ and feeding people with utensils at 12 months old. He is incredibly intelligent and I can easily see him becoming an Engineer based on his interests right now. Anyway, when he was 18 months old, he had a regression event. We suspect it was based on three significant events that took place at that time. First, he went on a vacation with his Father to NY; this was the first time he was ever separated from his mother. My sister was a stay at home mom, so Ignatius had never been separated from her for more than the occasional hour when she went shopping; then, all of a sudden she is gone for two weeks. That had to affect him psychologically. The second event that took place was he was vaccinated prior to the trip. At that time, he was behind on his vaccinations, so his doctor gave Ignatius all the injections to get him current at one time…10 injections in total, with each injection ranging from 1 to 3 vaccines per injection. Lastly, the third event is that Ignatius suffered several ear infections to the point he needed tubes in his ears. Prior to the surgery, he was on some really heavy-duty antibiotics. It is my personal belief his little body was overpowered with stress, infection, antibiotics, and vaccines, all happening at relatively the same time in his life.
After this life event, Ignatius stopped talking altogether. He began to exhibit signs of Autism, performing repetitive behaviors he couldn’t seem to stop doing. Things like spinning in circles, moving blocks back and forth, little to no eye contact, isolated play, etc. We were concerned about his lack of speech, so my sister took him to a doctor to be tested for Autism. The test results were negative, and Ignatius’s condition was diagnosed as Delayed Speech.
Fast forward to this year. He is now 3 and is still not talking at the appropriate level. Additionally, he picked up some Autistic-like behaviors such as being an incredibly picky eater, toe walking, and various pressure stimulations such as squeezing his hands together or on a person until he shakes, chewing on anything string-like – Shoelaces, drawstrings, etc. His behavior was incredibly difficult to deal with. His temper tantrums were so violent, throwing things and screaming. So we decided to get a second opinion for Autism. We saw an Autism Specialist, Dr. Brian D. Udell, and he diagnosed Ignatius as being mild to moderate in the Autism Spectrum. Dr. Udell ordered a stool sample and a blood sample because, thinking the issue may be related to Ignatius’s diet (he may be allergic to what he is eating) and the bacteria (or lack thereof) within the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract. During our initial meeting, Dr. Udell ordered Ignatius to be placed on a Probiotic and GSH (Glutathione) until we got the test results back.
With just those two supplements added to Ignatius’s daily morning juice we have seen significant improvements! He has a vocabulary of 20 to 30 words now, and has spoken two complete sentences – “I don’t know.” and “Wow! Look at that!” We also play the ‘Can you say…’ game and he is able to repeat almost all of the words we’ve thrown at him (he is still working on ‘Auntie’ though). However, even though he knows these words, he isn’t ‘talking’. When he wants his mother’s attention he will say ‘Mama, Mama, Mama’. He understands the meaning behind the words he says, but they are usually just that – words. He has yet to have an actual conversation or make a demand verbally. I don’t want to give the impression I am undermining the progress he has made, I just know this is just the beginning of a long journey. Ignatius has exhibited a remarkable improvement in speech, and I believe he will continue to do so. Additionally, his temper tantrums aren’t nearly as violent. He rarely throws things, although his screaming has gotten worse. Dr. Udell indicated it might. He is completely engaged in his activities. Recently I was able to read an entire book to him, and he actually sat there and was engaged the whole time. I’ve never been able to do that before. It may seem like a small achievement, but to me it was MASSIVE. He is more affectionate now, even kissing and hugging us. Overall, we are so impressed with Ignatius’s progress and SO THANKFUL that we found Dr. Udell. It is just one of the many times I have truly appreciated the power of Google.
Yesterday, we got the test results back from the stool and blood samples. What we found was shocking. EVERYTHING that Ignatius will eat, he’s allergic to. The charts indicate a scale from 0 to 6 with 6 being highly allergic. A total of 96 different food types were tested. I won’t list all of them, but some of Ignatius’s significant results were as follows: Casein – 10, Gluten – 8.5. What food is he guaranteed to eat when he won’t eat anything else? Macaroni and Cheese, which is loaded with Casein and Gluten. One finding I found particularly interesting was his allergy to eggs. He scored 9.75 for Egg Whites and 7.0 for Egg Yolk, for a combined total of 16.75!!! It is fact that several vaccines are incubated in chicken eggs, and poor Ignatius was injected with something he is MOST allergic to, all in an effort to prevent disease. Am I the only one to see the irony there? Nobody to my knowledge is ever tested for egg allergies before they are injected with vaccines, even though eggs are typical incubators.
His stool results were also very telling. According to Dr. Udell, there are 5 beneficial bacteria that should be present. At least 4 of these bacteria are expected for a healthy GI tract. 2 of these 5 bacteria weren’t present in Ignatius’s GI tract, and the amount of yeast growing inside him is off the charts (yeast is a negative consequence of an unhealthy GI tract). Dr. Udell stated the yeast are digesting all the nutrients from the food Ignatius is eating, which is why he has an exceptionally high acid level in his stools, and why he is so skinny. We already knew his stools were acidic because he will develop literal blisters if left in a soiled diaper for any length of time. Also , Ignatius’s sister weighs about the same as he does, and she is a year and a half younger than him.
The good news is all of this is treatable. Dr. Udell has modified his supplements and added some additional vitamins. The only actual medication that Ignatius will be taking is Diflucan to kill off the yeast. Ignatius’s diet will need to change, and we plan to introduce him to these changes slowly. His Macaroni and Cheese will now be made with Gluten-Free Pasta and Soy Cheese. That will take a lot of getting used to. We are prepared for the long, difficult road of Ignatius refusing to eat, throwing temper tantrums, and overall malaise. In the end, though, having a healthy boy will make it all worthwhile.
We are very encouraged by the results we have seen in Ignatius, thus far, and we are hopeful the changes in the diet will assist him in becoming a healthier person. Dr. Udell thinks Ignatius will be what society considers ‘normal’ within 18 to 24 months. Dr. Udell did indicate, however, that Ignatius may have some long-lasting social difficulties. Overall, though, Ignatius will be much, much, better, and from what I’ve seen in the last 3 months I believe Dr. Udell.