5 Things I Learned at The Autism Education Summit 2016

Written By Dr. Jared M. Skowron, N.D.

 

Families, Doctors, Celebrities! My first Autism Education Summit was a non-stop adventure. As a speaker at the conference, and biomedical doctor (originally trained with Defeat Autism Now, DAN!), I am always in awe at the amount of knowledge, both from the doctors and families. At these conferences, I’m always looking for something new, something to bring back to my patients for that extra leg up. Here are the 5 things I learned at this year’s Autism Education Summit.

 

skowron-jac-laurita

Dr. Skowron and Jacqueline Laurita (TV Personality, Author, Autism Advocate)

1. All of this can be overwhelming.

I enjoyed the honesty of one of the celebrity keynote speakers, Ryan Neufeld, as he talked about the anger he had after his son’s diagnosis. Diagnostic words carry such emotional baggage. They carry expected thoughts of the future. It’s ok to be angry. It’s ok to be pissed off. It’s ok to be worried and scared and fearful. But it’s not ok to be in denial and do nothing to help your child.

The great thing is that’s there’s so much we can do. Over the 12 years I’ve been working with kids on the spectrum, so many new avenues for recovery have been discovered! While it’s good that there’s so much we can do for our kids, it’s also overwhelming. Some parents don’t know where to start. In my laboratory lecture at the conference, a parent asked me where to start with lab work, and I had a list a mile long. In the middle of listing organic acid testing, heavy metal testing, nutritional analysis, etc, I was just thinking how overwhelming this must be to parents who are new to our world.

It’s ok. Take a breath. There are families who have been through it. Find a support group, find other parents, and find a biomedical doctor. We, as a community, are here to help each other, because that’s the only way to help our children.

 

2. MTHFR and Methylation Genetics

I have been treating children and their parents for different methylation genetic SNPs for many years. At first, MTHFR seemed like a gold mine! An easy treatment to bring balance to brain chemicals that were abnormal in most of the kids I tested. Methyl-folate, also known as 5-MTHF, is the form of folate that bypasses the MTHFR gene, which I use to improve language, behavior, and development in kids at my clinic.

In fact, my very first supplement formulation, Power & Focus from Spectrum Awakening was designed to be the all-in-one “brain vitamin”. It includes 5-MTHF, MethylB12, activated B6 as P5P, along with the minerals and amino acids that the brain uses to create serotonin and dopamine, which are essential for proper brain function.

What happened was that a lot of kids were improving, but not all of them. Some people get worse on methyl groups and methyl vitamins. This is confusing. If we have a genetic mutation of MTHFR, shouldn’t the treatment improve something? The complicated answer is, not necessarily.

We aren’t just one gene. And one gene isn’t the magic bullet. It gets more involved. We need to look at a lot of genes and how they work together. The genes COMT and MAO are often mutated in people who exacerbate on methyl vitamins. For these kids I formulated a supplement called, Calm & Cool. This supplement contains calming amino acids and inositol. In my clinic, it helps calm the children that get more hyperactive or angry on 5-MTHF.

(Stay tuned for a future blog specifically on MTHFR/COMT balance)

 

3. A New Treatment for PANDAS

What happens when your child gets a cold? Do they get tired and lethargic or crazy and wired? Do they sleep and watch TV or do they have worsening of their tics or seizures or neurological symptoms? This may be a sign of PANDAS or PANS (the difference between these is the bug that causes the symptoms). The lab testing for PANDAS is not 100% accurate, so diagnosis can be confusing.

Treatment for PANDAS is also tricky. Conventional medicine offers antibiotics and IVIG. Integrative therapies that are anti-inflammatory can also help. Luckily for me, I attended a lecture that described that just like good and bad cholesterol, there are good and bad forms of strep bacteria. We’ve all heard of strep throat, caused by ‘bad’ strep bacteria. An autoimmune reaction to these bacteria contributes to PANDAS. A treatment that you can add is ‘good’ strep, a form called Strep Salivarius.1

This probiotic is a form that is naturally found in our throat, ears, nose, and sinuses. I use it in my clinic to treat and prevent head colds, ear infections, and sore throats. Now it is a staple for all of my PANDAS patients!

 

 

4. Hormone Imbalances are Often Ignored

Every year or so, after attending conferences or reading enough scientific articles, I add another layer of treatment for my kids. Three years ago that was testing and balancing hormones. Most of time when we hear the word ‘hormone’ we think about estrogen and testosterone. I’m talking about thyroid and more importantly, cortisol.

Cortisol is our stress hormone. You’ve probably heard about it. As parents, most of us are burnt out and have a near-cortisol deficiency. But, what about our children? Think about how we handle stress. We feel overwhelmed, have a quick temper, and can throw a fit at our spouse when things don’t go our way. Sound familiar? These are our spectrum children! They have a quick fuse, can’t handle the word ‘no’, or have transitional anxiety. I test all of the children in our office for cortisol levels, and most have very low levels.2

After trying many natural supplements to improve temper and ability to handle stress, I formulated a sweet tasting licorice syrup called Temper Tamer.

I recommend this to kids and parents. I take it myself. It provides emotional stamina. Here’s a new favorite story I’m adding to my list. Sunday morning at the conference (after a late Saturday night at the hotel bar interpreting binders full of genetic testing with families), a Generation Rescue employee came up to me having only had 2 hours sleep. I gave them a hefty dose of Temper Tamer to boost their cortisol, and within a half hour, they were up and running.

 

5. Everyone Wanted Glutathione

Toxicity is all around. We eat it, breath it, drink it, and inject it. When analyzing the effect of a toxin, we always consider the weight of the person in conjunction with the amount of the toxin. So a small amount of a toxic substance affects a small 10-pound child much differently than a 200-pound adult, especially a child with a developing brain and nervous system.3

Detoxification and anti-oxidants should be part of everyone’s health plan, whether as simple as dietary changes or including supplements. Glutathione is one of the best. It is a super-powerful antioxidant, and is a great detoxifier as a sulphur donor. (It’s ok to use if you’re allergic to Sulfa drugs.)

In my clinic, I use a glutathione lotion instead of an oral supplement. Skin absorption gets into the body faster, and avoids the first pass of the liver, which can remove approximately half of oral glutathione from detox action.

 

So, lean back and take a deep breath. There is hope for recovery. Other families before you have accomplished it, and there are a lot of people who want to help your child and your family. Jenny McCarthy said that one of her biggest worries is that when she grows old; can her son take care of himself? That is a worry that all parents have. The earlier you intervene, the more hope there is. The more you do, the more hope there is. Build your team. Trust your gut. Ignore negativity. Believe.

 

 

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1. Evaluation of bacterial interference and beta-lactamase production in management of experimental infection with group A beta-hemolytic streptococci.

Brook I1, Gilmore JD. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1993 Jul;37(7):1452-5.

2. Salivary cortisol and behavioral response to social evaluative threat in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.

Edmiston EK1,2, Blain SD3,2, Corbett BA2. Autism Res. 2016 Jul 15. doi: 10.1002/aur.1660.

 

3. http://www.ageofautism.com/2013/01/autism-science-digest-aluminum-toxicity-in-mitochondrial-dysfunction-and-asd.html

 

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