Saturday, August 22, 2009

Autism has to advance medically if it is to move ahead

The period from second grade to fourth grade was one of stagnation. The rest of the class progressed from second grade in mentality, maturity and capability. David was left behind starting at a first grade level. David's gross motor and fine motor issues meant that he did not mature in the aspect of physical abilities. David could not keep up with the rest of the children on the playground either.

When I discussed this with my sister, Grace, I learned that children with disabilities often forget what they had previously learned. But when they do, they relearn with the same facility that they had learned it in the first place. That clearly was not David's case. Something had happened. There had been no blow to the head. The tests at Children's Hospital ruled out heavy metal poisoning. There was nothing to go on except the fact that David was and is autistic.

David stagnated. He could not focus well enough to read by himself. He could not do homework by himself. He still could not add past 5 without counting on his fingers. He could not multiply or divide. His prodigious ability to spell went away so that he was barely keeping up with the spelling lessons. No ABA methods, no speech therapy, no occupational therapy, no behavioral therapy could have put David back to where he had been in first grade.

The reader is free to disagree with me on this and that is fine. But during that painful period I reached one conclusion. David's loss had a medical reason and had to be treated medically. The problem was and is the same. Modern medicine has no clue what to do about autism. All they can do is to treat autistic children with the same drugs that they use to treat people with mental illnesses. Indeed, that is how doctors treat our autistic children if they treat them at all. The drugs that are used for the treatment of mental illness have major side effects. Some are addictive so that you cannot simply withdraw from the treatment. If you ask one of the doctors who administers these drugs just how the drug works you get "Well, we think it..." That gets us back to the bottom line. Modern medicine has no clue what autism is beyond what the symptoms are. There is no medical test for autism. It can only be diagnosed symptomatically. There is no medical treatment for autism. Autistic children are treated with the same medicines with which schizophrenics are treated.

One of the drugs that was prescribed for David was wellbutrin. If you go to you will see several things. First is that they think that this works as a reuptake inhibitor for dopamine and norepinephrine. The second thing is that its effects are different on different people. The third is that it can be addictive. The fourth is that it can cause insomnia. You should know that David had sleep issues where he slept for about 4 hours a night. Fifth, it can cause tremors. David inherited tremors from me and he did not need anything adding to it. Sixth, it can cause seizures. That was one of the few autistic symptoms that David did not have. He needs a drug that can push him over that edge? I threw the wellbutrin away and we never went back.

I have seen the rants about quacks who give hyperbaric oxygen, chelation, B12, and other things. But even though doctors do not understand what wellbutrin does, even though it has some major side effects, even though it was clearly contraindicated for David the wellbutrin prescription was sanctioned medicine and therefore okay. In the field of autism, modern medicine is no better than the quacks. And for all of this, behavioral therapy has taken autism about as far as it can go. The next advance in autism has to be medical.

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