Monday, June 20, 2011

The Myth of Autism: How a Misunderstood Epidemic Is Destroying Our Children by Dr. Michael J. Goldberg

The Myth of Autism: How a Misunderstood Epidemic Is Destroying Our Children
Ok, this book has a really bad title and it apparantly offends a lot of people because it sounds like - if you don't read the second part of the title, that the author considers autism not to be a real condition or something.
What the author means by calling autism a myth is that the huge group of symptoms that is now called the autism spectrum does not fit the original definition of autism as defined by Kanner. Kanner's autism is a developmental disorder that is present from birth. Today's autism spectrum includes children that start out "normal" and then lose the language that they had learned and stop interacting with other people.

This author's theory is that Autism, ADHD, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are all caused by a herpes virus in the brain.  He calls them all "NIDS - Neuro imune dysfunction syndromes, a set of related disorders characterized by complex interactions between the nervous system and the immune system." 
He proposes that what is diagnosed as autism today does not fit the original definition of autism. 
He also claims that autism and ADHD have increased at a rate in the past few years that is only seen in a viral outbreak. He uses a new diagnostic tool to look at the brain called NeuroSpect and treats autism with a combination of an elimination diet, antiviral medications, antifungal medications when needed, and SSRI medication - serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft or Celexa.  He claims that many of the "treatments" that have been used on autistic children including chelation and hyperbaric oxygen therapy can actually damage a child's brain. (I can believe that.)  His book ends with many wonderful testimonials, but all "snake oil" type treatments and herbal supplements etc... are sold with sparkling testimonials so I just don't trust that.

I am not a doctor.  I kept thinking that as I read this book and realized that I do not have the medical background to really know if what this author is proposing is medically plausible or just a bunch of medical sounding mumbo jumbo.  It sounds very logical and promising, but over and over throughout my reading of this book, I found myself realizing that I don't have the medical knowledge to judge if what the author is saying is really correct and I worry that parents of autistic children may read it and think it is correct and start demanding the medications recommended in the book for their children, when in reality, it may not be correct.

I found his dietary elimination ideas to be different than others that I have heard about. He claims that cow's milk and whole wheat and other whole grains are big allergens and that if cows only grazed on grass rather than eating grain, perhaps the dairy allergies and sensitivities might not be so bad, which kind of makes sense.  He then claims, however, that whole wheat and other whole grains are allergens and that processed wheat - like white bread, causes less allergies - the more processed the better. That is just counter intuitive to healthy eating. I wonder if soaking and sprouting whole grains would also lessen the allergic effects?

His theory and treatment sounds promising and I would like to see it examined further by the medical community.

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