When we began our healing journey out of autism almost seven years ago, there wasn’t an affordable, comprehensive genetic panel available. There was Yasko, and there was Lab Corp testing for MTHFR. That’s it. I distinctly remember the DAN! doctor we saw at the time saying that they always assumed kids needed mB-12 shots, so that would be our first step, while we waited for all the other testing to come back. My son never really responded to mB-12 injections and developed a severe fear of needles. We stopped a couple of years later.
A few months ago, at the guidance of my fellow TEAM TMR mama who owns Pathways Natural Wellness Center in Denver, we ordered a 23andme genetic test on our son. 23andme bills itself as an ancestry service, not a medical panel, and for $99 you can spit in a test tube and get your DNA and all its mutations sequenced. You then take the raw data from 23andme and plug it into any one of a number of engines which spit out your particular mutations, some with greater descriptions than others. Its new technology and tremendously cool. Then you can choose to work with a practitioner of your choice to figure out personalized supportive supplementation, or figure it out on your own. There are a lot of very affordable options out there.
So when our son’s mutations came back, my friend said to me, “He never had a chance; he’s a compound heterozygous MTHFR with severely compromised detox pathways.” The analogy I’ve been using is that if his detox pathways were cracked doors, some little stuff was getting through, but bigger stuff would get stuck, and then clog the whole thing up. So it made sense to me why almost* every protocol we ever did would first improve things a bit, and then the improvements would plateau and he would crash. The boulders were blocking the doors.
On a whim, my husband and did our own 23andme panels after seeing our son’s. I was so surprised to see that my genetic mutations are significantly greater in quantity and severity (I have homozygous mutations on two of the three MTHFR mutations, and my husband has one homozygous mutation on the third) than my son’s. (Our son got one copy of each of the MTHFR mutations that we have). If you went by genetic profile alone, my son should be healthier than I am. Granted, I have some health issues — my thyroid is non-functional, I only have one kidney, I have eczema and horrible seasonal allergies, as well as a higher-than-average level of anxiety (according to my therapist). But I am fairly smart, neurotypical, not on pysch meds, and a functional tax-paying member of society.
I took psychology and geology for my science requirements in college. Genetics is NOT something I have any training in, but as an autism mom, I’ve had to learn it. What I can say now, with no reservations, is that while genetics may be the loaded gun environmental exposures pull the trigger. There is no other explanation for the fact that my son has autism and I don’t. Based on the genetic profile alone, I should have it, not him.
What changed environmentally in the 30ish years between my birth and my son’s? Why did he get so sick and not me?
In 1986, the government first allowed genetically modified food to hit the markets. In the ’90s, I was what I call a “poor, starving college student,” and I didn’t even consider the effect of genetic modification or pesticides on my food. I was just grateful to have food to eat. It wasn’t until well after I got pregnant that my midwife encouraged me to buy as much organic as I could. The subject had not even crossed my radar before then, so I’m quite sure I had a toxic buildup in my body that transferred to my son in utero. I was raised on diet soda over regular. I am quite sure I have chronic aspartame toxicity. I cut back on the diet soda while pregnant, but didn’t manage to cut it out. I was too addicted to it.
Before he regressed, while we tried to eat things like Annie’s vs. Kraft, we still fed our son quite a few processed foods: Cheerios, goldfish crackers — you know, the food you’re “supposed” to feed babies. That stuff is full of artificial crap and shouldn’t be on the market, much less marketed towards developing bodies.
Food today has a much lower level of nutrients than food did when I was a child. This is primarily due to farming practices which strip the nutrition out of the soil because of the pesticides used and genetic modifications. Even buying organic, non-GMO doesn’t get you the same nutrition it did 50 years ago.
And that doesn’t even touch on the antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals pumped into animals raised for meat consumption.
I had five shots, two polio, one MMR, and two DPT. The CDC wants my son to have 54 by the time he is 18, including sometimes twice-yearly flu shots. We stopped after he’d had about 10, when it was clear things were getting weird. Many shots comes from a multi-use vial. They include, among other things, preservatives, MSG, formaldehyde, aluminum, and human and animal DNA. Vaccines are designed to provoke an artificial immune response. A child who has a genetic inability to detox out the side effects of an artificial immune response is not going to respond well to vaccines.
I was on prescription antihistamines, thyroid medication, and at least one round of antibiotics while I was pregnant. I also had IV antibiotics in labor, pitocin, and an epidural. Over the course of my life, I have had countless rounds of antibiotics. I am quite sure that affected my son in utero. He is 10 years old and has never had a single prescription antibiotic outside the ones during gestation — I have managed his relatively few illnesses with colloidal silver, chlorine dioxide, vitamin C, vitamin D, oil of oregano, and other natural things that I learned about while pregnant. I am glad I know all those tricks because odds are decent, based on his genetic profile, that antibiotics could make him regress again. And we all know about the dangers of Tylenol, right?
4. Air Pollution
We’ve had radiation from Chernobyl and Fukushima. We’ve got strange hatch marks in the sky that could be airplane emissions, except many of us get sick shortly after they appear. We have cloud seeding where heavy minerals are spread in the air to make it rain. We have acid rain. It’s questionable whether our air is fit for breathing.
Fluoride is toxic and shouldn’t be consumed by anyone. Yet the shelves of the grocery store are lined with bottles of “nursery water,” which is water with added fluoride. Most municipalities add it to the water supply. You have to look really hard to find toothpaste without it, and most dentists want to bathe our mouths in it twice a year.
6. Personal care products
Yes, I know we hate sweat, but underarm antiperspirant is one of the most aluminum-laden, breast-cancer-causing things out there. It’s really hard to find a natural one that actually keeps the stink factor down, so perhaps we should consider the European method of just being a little stinky. Don’t even get me started on parabens in commercial soaps and shampoos, carcinogens in makeup and lotions, sunscreen and bugspray . . . It’s a minefield.
7. The toxic stew that is the typical home these days
A hundred years ago, give or take a few, cleaning products were limited to soap and water and vinegar. Today, we have aisles and aisles of carcinogenic cleaning products that we layer over our homes in an effort to scrub away the very bacteria that our children actually need to develop functioning immune systems. We have carpets that off-gas for years. We have paint that is toxic to breathe while it dries. We have chemically treated lumber in our decks. We have flea and tick collars on our dogs that are toxic. We have electromagnetic fields emitting from every appliance and computer in our homes. There are flame retardants sprayed on infant clothing and household furniture. A friend of mine from college, who is now a neuroscientist, is actually researching “the effects of early postnatal exposure to the common flame retardants polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) on cognition, thyroid hormones, and basal forebrain cholinergic functioning.”
One of my colleagues in the Thinking Moms Revolution told me the other day that she has genetic reports on her mother, herself, and her autistic child. Of all of them, her mother’s is the worst and her autistic child’s is the best. That sort of turns on its head the prevalent theory that autism is genetic. Based on genetics, I should be the one with the developmental delay and “autism,” not my son.
There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic. These mutations have been around for generations.
THEREFORE, THE ENVIRONMENT PULLS THE TRIGGER.
My advice to you is to spend the $99 and find out your child’s genetic mutations. Stop funding organizations unwilling to look at environmental triggers, and start looking at the things you can control. Stop using commercial soap, lotion, deodorant, and makeup — especially while pregnant. There are lots of non-toxic options out there. Use a steam mop instead of chemicals to clean your floors and vinegar with orange peels soaked in it for the rest. Stop buying conventional food and start buying organic, non-GMO. Get an EMF blocker for your house. Sew your kid some pajamas that aren’t soaked in chemicals. Learn to treat your family’s illnesses naturally — go to a chiropractor, naturopath, or herbalist, learn about essential oils. Come to a conference where you can learn all this stuff. Get some training in what supplements HELP your personal genetic structure. And get some detox support on board.
*The exception was DMPS chelation. It was the worst thing we have ever done, from dose one. Turns out, my son has a CBS mutation that means he doesn’t process sulfur well, and DMPS is sulfur based.
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