Autism & Developmental Delays

Every 8 seconds a child is diagnosed with Autism

I “live the dream” so to speak. My son, Alexander, was a stressed baby born to a teenage mother with no prenatal care for the first 20 weeks of her pregnancy. He was developmentally delayed and eventually diagnosed with severe Intellectual Disability and Autism. He changed my life and my perspective regarding the practice of medicine. Because I share this difficult journey with you I know that there is no time to waste when it comes to treating Autism. The earlier the better. Children with Autism have complex medical, nutritional and toxic challenges. They do not just “grow out of Autism” but they can and do recover.


One thing must be absolutely clear – time is of the essence. Parents CAN NOT wait idly by while their children’s health issues compound in complexity and developmental impacts. Parents must act – they must do something NOW.

I have treated thousands of children with autism spectrum disorder and developmental delays and the answer is the same for almost everyone.

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorders or ASD is a group of disorders that negatively impacts the developing brain causing impairment of socialization skills, communication and behaviors.   Autism may also impact cognitive functioning.  ASD can range from very mild to very severe and begins prior to age 3.  Often, the onset is seen between 12-18 months of age, but there is a sub-group that appears to have onset in early infancy.   Previously it was separated into sub-groups of Autism, Pervasive developmental disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger Syndrome.  Autism is more frequently seen in males compared to females – greater than 4 / 1 ratio.

It is characterized by:

  • Social interaction impairment:  poor eye contact, failure to develop friendships, abnormal play, prefers solitary play, misreading social cues
  • Communication impairment: delayed or lack of speech, difficulty with conversations, stereotypical language like echolalia or scripting, and/or lack of social play or imitation
  • Restricted or stereotypical patterns of behavior:  Restricted patterns of interest, inflexible rigid routines, repetitive motor mannerisms like hand flapping and preoccupation with parts of objects rather than the whole (spinning wheels on a truck versus playing with the truck)

ASD is associated with many possible symptoms.  These include:

  • Poor eye contact
  • Hand flapping
  • Poor sleep and reduced requirement for sleep
  • Narrow food choices -French fries, mac n cheese, milk
  • Abnormal stools – not formed or easy to pass
  • Low muscle tone
  • Sensitive to sound/ light/ activity

The symptoms of children with ASD are highly individualized from mild to severe.  There are also many underlying medical problems that contribute to the various symptoms.   There is a saying that when you see a child with autism you have seen “one” child with autism because each individual is so different.  Because of this their treatment needs to be individualized.  By treating the underlying medical conditions associated with autism children can and do recover.

The definitive cause of autism is currently not known.  Based on 10 years of clinical practice and observation, I believe there are environmental factors involved with a weak genetic foundation that makes the individual more susceptible to damage from the toxic influences.  Autism is treatable and can be reversed.

Early diagnosis and intervention is critical to successful treatment and recovery.

The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT™) is a scientifically validated tool for screening children between the age of 16 and 30 months to assess their risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  This screening tool was developed by neuropsychologists Diana Robins and Deborah Fein and clinical psychologist Marianne Barton.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children receive autism screening at 18 and 24 months. Click here to download an 18 month’s developmental milestones list.

Screen your child now (for ages 16 to 30 months only).  This is a screening tool only – even when someone fails this they may not become autistic.

Autism Facts & Stats

  • Autism now affects 1 in 50 children
  • Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls
  • About 40% of children with autism do not speak. About 25%–30% of children with autism have some words at 12 to 18 months of age and then lose them. Others might speak, but not until later in childhood
  • Autism greatly varies from person to person (no two people with autism are alike)
  • The rate of autism has steadily grown over the last twenty years
  • Comorbid conditions often associated with autism include allergies, asthma, epilepsy, bowel disease, gastrointestinal/digestive disorders, persistent viral infections, feeding disorders, anxiety disorder, ADHD,  OCD, sensory integration dysfunction, sleeping disorders, immune disorders, autoimmune disorders, and inflammation and more…
  • Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder, yet most underfunded
  • A 2008 Danish Study found that the mortality risk among those with autism was nearly twice that of the general population
  • Children with autism do progress and recover– early intervention is key
  • Autism is treatable.  It is not a hopeless condition.
  • Most researchers do agree that environmental factors play a role, though there is no one cause of autism identified by mainstream science.
  • In identical twins who share the exact same genetic code, if one has autism, the other twin also has autism in nearly 9 out of 10 cases suggesting a genetic weakness.
  • A review of the world’s medical literature suggests that underlying biochemical abnormalities are likely involved in environmental susceptibilities and the development of autism including mitochondrial dysfunction, immune dysregulation, inflammation, oxidative stress, methylation problems, transsulfuration issues and toxicity.
  • According to officials at the National Institutes of Health, while there is most likely a genetic predisposition, there must also be an environmental component to autism. The rapid rise in the rate of autism over the last 20 years cannot be attributed solely to genetics.

Common Symptoms

The following is a list of common symptoms associated with Autism:

  • Poor eye contact
  • Hand flapping
  • Poor sleep and reduced requirement for sleep
  • Narrow food choices – French fries, mac n cheese, milk
  • Abnormal stools – not formed or easy to pass
  • Delayed potty training
  • Bedwetting
  • Low muscle tone
  • Sensitive to sound / light / activity
  • Lack of interest or ability to play with other children
  • Lack of imitation or pretend play
  • Lack of pointing but may use parents finger to point or to lead them to what they want
  • Doesn’t reach out to be picked up
  • Narrow focus of interest
  • Self-focused – only talks about own interest – lack of interest in others
  • Lack of facial expression – smiles less
  • Stimming behaviors – repetitive hand tapping, finger flicking, rocking
  • Food cravings / Narrow diets – especially for carbohydrates, dairy and sugars
  • Eats all day long / constantly hungry
  • Avoids certain textures of foods – eats only hard, crunchy foods or soft foods
  • Pica –mouths and chews on non-food items
  • Teeth grinding
  • Tics
  • Ears get red after eating certain foods
  • Poor fine motor control / dislikes coloring / difficulty with printing
  • Uncoordinated / poor motor planning / can’t ride a bike or tricycle / can’t balance or jump on one foot / running is off-balance
  • Poor growth – small for age
  • Prefers to have clothes off / dresses for summer in winter
  • Intolerant of heat
  • Sleeps with blankets off
  • Hyperactive
  • Climbs to high places
  • Eczema
  • Pale skin
  • Rough skin on the back of arms and sometimes legs (keratosis pilaris)
  • Hyperfocus when doing preferred activities
  • Looks “through” you
  • Doesn’t respond to name when called
  • Immaturity compared with peers
  • Lines up objects instead of playing with them
  • Fascination with fans / spinning objects
  • Looks out of the corners of his / her eyes
  • Wiggles fingers at the sides of his / her eyes
  • Does not respond when talked to – parents wonder about impaired hearing
  • Appears afraid of loud noises but tolerates their own loud noises
  • Overwhelmed when in busy crowded situations
  • Over sensitive to sensory stimulation – sounds, lights, music, touching – especially light touch
  • Covers ears with hands
  • Chews on clothing / fabric / paper / toys / books, or any other non-food items
  • Hides under blanket
  • Difficulty transitioning from one activity to another
  • Extreme tantrums which are difficult to calm down from
  • Unpredictable mood swings / crying for no reason / sudden screams
  • Upset with change in routine / very rigid in their routine
  • Heightened anxiety / Fearful of new situations / Unusual or irrational fears
  • Pacing / jumping up and down / spinning behavior
  • Irritability and angry outburst / defiance / rage
  • Self-injurious behavior / biting / head banging / hitting self
  • Anxiety / irrational fears
  • Poor impulse control
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Awakens at night / Sleeps less than others of same age / Restless sleeper
  • Grouchy in the morning despite sleeping
  • Abnormal bowel movements – undigested food, constipation, diarrhea / malodorous stools
  • Bloated tummy while ribs may be seen and arms and legs are thin
  • Seeks pressure to abdomen or specific areas of body
  • Walking on toes
  • Worse behavior with constipation
  • Improved behavior after bowel movement
  • Hair that lacks luster and may be thin
  • Nails that don’t grow normally – seldom need to be clipped
  • Dilated pupils

Medical Conditions Associated with Autism

  • Poor digestion (link to digestion article and products to support – digestive enzymes, bile support, probiotics, fiber, )
  • Dysbiosis – Abnormal intestinal flora (balance of healthy and unhealthy bacteria and yeast)- link to probiotics / fiber / greens / digestive enzymes / omegas
  • Abnormal stools / Diarrhea / Constipation
  • Inflammation – can manifest in variety of ways – on skin, nervous system, GI, respiratory
  • Frequent Infections – sinus, middle ear, GI,
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Liver congestion – toxic overload
  • Toxic burden
  • Sleep Disturbances – Difficulty falling asleep, waking in the night, decreased need for sleep
  • Sympathetic nervous system dominance
  • Eczema
  • Food sensitivities or intolerance – gluten, casein, additives
  • Feeding disorders
  • Allergies – Seasonal – pollens (flowers, trees, grass, weeds) & perennial (molds, dust), food additives
  • Asthma
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Immune disorders
  • Seizures
  • Stagnation – poor energy flow through meridians
  • Adrenal insufficiency –
  • Sensory, Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders
  • Motor planning disturbances / Poor fine motor skills / Poor coordination
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Anxiety – Can be quite severe
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental delays
  • Intellectual disability
  • Obsessive-Compulsive disorder

History of Autism

The word “autism,” which has been in use for about 100 years, comes from the Greek word “autos,” meaning “self.”

The term describes conditions in which a person is removed from social interaction — hence, an isolated self.

The first person to use the term, circa 1911, was Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, referring to a sub-group of symptoms of schizophrenia.

Nervous child. Leo Kanner, 1943:2:217-250

In the 1940s, researchers in the United States began to use the term “autism” to describe children with emotional or social problems. Leo Kanner, a Psychiatrist and physician from Johns Hopkins University, used it to describe the withdrawn behavior of several children he studied. In his paper “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact”, published in 1943.  Dr. Kanner studied 11 children with Autism where onset was at birth or shortly thereafter. He noted social isolation, inability to relate, happiest when left alone, stereotypic behaviors, echolalia, personal pronouns repeated as heard, anxious obsessive desire for maintenance of sameness, reacting to sounds in “horror”, severe feeding difficulties, literal and inflexible use of words, excellent rote memory e.g. naming objects, limitation in the variety of spontaneous activity, good relation to objects and can play with them for hours, better relationship with pictures of people than people themselves, good cognitive potentialities and notably all came from highly intelligent families.

Noted in his paper:  “Since 1938, there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far that each case merits—and, I hope will eventually receive—a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities”….

“These characteristics form a unique “syndrome”,not heretofore reported, which seems to be rare enough, yet is probably more frequent than is indicated by the paucity of observed cases.”

The following are a series of descriptive quotes of the cases described by Dr. Kanner in his paper.

In his second year, he “developed a mania for spinning blocks and pans and other round objects.” At the same time, he had…

An abstration of mind which made him perfectily oblivious to everythign about him. He appears to be always thinking and thinking, and to get his attention almost requires one to break down a mental barrier between his inner consciousness and the outside world.

There was a marked limitation of spontaneous activity. He wandered about smiling, making stereotyped movements with his fingers, crossing them about in the air. He shook his head from side to side, whispering or humming the same three-note tune. He spun about with great pleasure anything he could seize upon to spin. He kept throwing things on the floor, seeming t delight in the sounds they made. He arranged beads, sticks, or blocks in groups of different series of colors. Whenever he finished one of these performances, he squealed and jumped up and down. Beyond this he showed no initiative, requiring constant instruction (from his mother) in any form of activity other than the limited ones in which he was absorbed.

Words to him had a specifically literal, inflexible meaning. He seemed unable to generalize, to transfer an expression to another similar object or situation.

Don expressed his agreement by repeating the question literally, echolalia-like.

At the end of the paper Dr. Kanner raises the question of the potential contribution of emotional disconnectedness of parents and their poor marital relationships.  It then appears that Dr. Kanner is  the originator of the “Refrigerator Mom” Theory.  He writes:

One other fact stands out prominently. In the whole group, there are very few really warmhearted fathers and mothers. For the most part, the parents, grandparents, and collaterals are persons strongly preoccupied with abstractions of a scientific, literary, or artistic nature, and limited in genuine interest in people. Even some of the happiest marriages are rather cold and formal affairs. Three of the marriages were dismal failures. The question arises whether or to what extent this fact has contributed to the condition of the children. The children’s aloneness from the beginning of life makes it difficult to attribute the whole picture exclusively to the time of the early parental relations with our patients.

We must, then, assume that these children have come into the world with innate inability to form the usual, biologically provided affective contact with people, just as other children come into the world with innate physical or intellectual handicaps. If this assumption is correct, a further study of our children may help to furnish concrete criteria regarding the still diffuse notions about the constitutional components of emotional reactivity. For here we seem to have pure-culture examples of inborn autistic disturbances of affective contact.*

Leo Kanner, “Autistic disturbances of affective contact”, Nervous Child, 1943

He later wrote:  “The fact that an average of not more than eight patients per year [over twenty years] could be diagnosed with reasonable assurance as autistic in a center serving as a sort of diagnostic clearinghouse, speaks for the infrequency of the disease, especially if one considers that they recruit themselves from all over the North American continent…”

-Leo Kanner, “The specificity of early infantile autism” Acta Paedopsychiatrie, 1958

At about the same time, Hans Asperger, a scientist in Germany, identified a similar condition that’s now called Asperger’s syndrome.

Autism and schizophrenia remained linked in many researchers’ minds until the 1960s. It was only then that medical professionals began to have a separate understanding of autism in children.

From the 1960s through the 1970s, research into treatments for autism focused on medications such as LSD, electric shock, and behavioral change techniques. The latter relied on pain and punishment.

The “Refrigerator Mom Theory” was perpetuated by Bruno Bettelheim (psychologist) who in 1981 wrote:

“All my life, I have been working with children whose lives were destroyed because their mothers hated them.”


“Many children with autism have unusual diets, often associated with constipation, which might lead to non-specific abnormalities of the bowel.”

His theories have been largely discredited.  It was reported in The Creation of Dr. B, a biography written by Richard Pollack that his credentials were fraudulent and many of his claims exaggerated.  There have been multiple letters published in the Chicago Tribune & Chicago Reader from former students and a counselor from the Orthogenic School who portray Bettelheim in a very negative way including claims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.  His claims of successfully treating children with Autism were reported to be invalid.   He died of suicide in 1990.

The important thing to note for families with children who have Autism is that they did not in any way create this condition in their children by being cold or unloving parents.  There has been no scientific basis for this outdated theory.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the role of behavioral therapy (ABA-applied behavioral analysis) and the use of highly controlled learning environments, occupational therapy and speech therapy emerged as the primary treatments for autism.

Also during the 1990’s, as the rates of Autism began to dramatically rise, parents began to discover that vitamins and special diets were helpful in the treatment of their children.   Some of the parents who were also trained physicians had children impacted by the disorder.  This began the movement of organized training using Bio-Medical treatments for Autism.

By the early 2000’s there were reported cases of children who had in fact recovered from Autism through the use of nutritionals and in some cases chelation.  There continues to be growing interest and evolving experience in treating children with Autism using nontraditional methods in Functional and Integrative Medicine clinics across the country.  Many clinics have been able to document the treatment of their patients as these children recovered from autism.

Where Do I Start?

Initially that’s the biggest dilemma for most parents trying to figure out what to do to help their child.

A “lets wait and see how they develop” mentality can leave parents on their own trying to figure out where to start to help their child.

One thing must be absolutely clear – time is of the essence. The earlier children are supported with nutrition, the more impact it has. Waiting allows the child’s health issues to compound in complexity and developmental impacts.

I have treated thousands of children with autism spectrum disorder and developmental delays. Here are my suggestions of where you can begin right now.

  • Clean up the diet.  The SAD (standard American diet) will not provide the nutrients needed for health and, further, continues to add toxic substances that need to be removed.
    • Remove Food Additive
    • Reduce sugars – look for hidden sugar and high fructose corn syrup
    • Read about food sensitivities 
    • Remove offending foods – e.g. gluten, casein, soy, GMO’s
    • Go Organic if at all possible
    • GREENS – sneak them in and if children won’t eat them or – support them with a green supplement

When dietary changes are made early the body has the best possible chance of obtaining nutrients needed for healing. Get started now and make an appointment so we can assist you further on the journey back to health.


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