Autism cure: Good things in, bad things out

Published: May 8, 2007 | 6174th good news item since 2003

Autism is on the rise in America.

The federal government says autism strikes one in every 166 children, but a movement that started in the Northwest says contrary to popular belief, autism can be cured, not just treated.

At three-and-a-half, Maisie Glock of Woodinville acts like a normal child.

To her parents, that’s a miracle.

You’ll understand why when you learn about their heart-wrenching journey and the controversial new treatment they believe saved their daughter.

Until age one, Maisie hit every developmental milestone, but after one, her parents noticed a regression. She lost the dozen words she knew, she lost interest in her big sister, the family cat – nearly everything.

She liked to go to her room, turn off the lights and just sit there in the dark.

“I was really worried. I thought there something horribly wrong,” said Melanie Glock, her mother.

A stack of medical records is evidence of a mother’s search for answers. Some doctors said nothing was wrong, but Melanie didn’t believe it.

A test at Children’s Hospital confirmed that Maisie didn’t play or pretend like most 2-year-olds.

Finally, her parents got the diagnosis they suspected and feared: autism.

“We were told at the time… her only hope and best outcome would be living in a group and having a menial labor job bagging groceries,” said Melanie.

Melanie could have been content with Maisie’s educational therapy, but she is the proactive type, so she researched everything she could about autism and discovered a little-known movement that started in the Northwest called DAN – “Defeat Autism Now” – which believes autism can be permanently cured.

The key is what goes into Maisie’s body and what should come out.

What goes in are foods without wheat or dairy, and mega doses of vitamin B6 and supplements.

“Wheat-free, gluten-free dairy, egg, nut, soy-free chicken nuggets,” said Melanie.

What comes out are heavy metals through detoxification or chelation therapy.

“The first week that we had her on the diet, she started talking. It was amazing,” said Melanie. “And all of a sudden, she started playing with her sister… and she started chasing the cat around the house, like she had when she was a baby.”

Six months later, the test results astonished Maisie’s parents. She no longer was autistic.

But is it a miracle cure for autism?

The University of Washington’s Autism Research Center declined comment.

Dr. Charles Cowan, a developmental pediatrician at Children’s Hospital, says there haven’t been good studies on the “Defeat Autism Now” treatments. He says heavy metal detoxification is risky and he worries that families who do the DAN treatments won’t do the more difficult or expensive conventional educational treatments.

He doesn’t believe it’s a magic bullet.

“People like to find easy, relatively simple solutions to difficult problems. I believe it’s human nature,” he said.

But when we gathered other families whose kids are on the DAN treatments, some said they have seen huge improvements.

“Within two weeks, I was just sure that the diet was making a pretty big difference,” said Amy Ohta.

“Dramatically significant for us,” said Signe Beck.

Others saw little or no change.

So, was Maisie’s recovery the result of only the DAN diet and detoxification or was she barely on the autism spectrum to begin with?

Her parents have no doubt, but whatever you believe, one thing is certain: What many parents want, more than anything, is hope.

Only a few doctors in the Seattle area acknowledge the DAN movement. Mainstream autism experts are at best skeptical. They often point to the “placebo effect,” meaning if you believe something works, then it’ll seem to work, but that is no proof.

Published in Autism, Science & Technology
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