There are fewer debates more contentious and controversial than whether or not there is a correlation between childhood immunizations and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). It is difficult not to be deeply moved when in the midst of an auditorium filled with parents of autistic children convinced that vaccinations contributed, at least in part, to their child’s arrested development. We have found ourselves among other medical and scientific presentations, which argue that no credible scientific research corroborates such a theory. There are compelling arguments on both sides of the issue. We were impressed by the research and courage of Dr. Andrew Wakefield of the U.K., who had seemingly dedicated his career and life to helping parents prove such a correlation, until he was recently discredited. One of the most compelling books that we have read on the subject is Evidence of Harm, an extensive examination of the subject by David Kirby. This investigative journalist set out to disprove the connection between ASD and vaccines, only to become a vehement proponent. The topic clearly has significant economic implications, given the inclusion, in the voluminous Homeland Security Act, of a stipulation preventing parents from suing the vaccine manufacturers.
We are clinicians, not politicians nor researchers. Our role is to listen carefully to our patients and, if children, to their parents as well. Over the years we have definitely treated children whose parents recount a normal developmental history until the administration of childhood vaccinations. This is one of those cases. We are not judging one way or the other, but simply presenting this case. What does seem true to us is that children on the autism spectrum seem to have a different predisposition to environmental stimuli, including immunizations, which leave them far more at risk. The number of mercury-laden (containing thimerosal preservative) vaccinations given at one time and other specifics, such as whether it is the last dose of the tube, exposure of the product to sunlight, etc., have been mentioned repeatedly by parents as relevant contributing factors. We leave it to you, our readers, to hear out this parent as she presents her son’s case, and to draw your own conclusions. She is a well-informed, intelligent, and articulate mom and we have treated Charley for over seven years with good results. The child seemed to have been developing quite normally prior to the vaccinations, though it is true that he was not the most sociable even before, which might suggest some prior predisposition.
Charley’s parents drove up to Washington from California to see us seven and a half years ago. The child was 4 ½ at the time. His mom recounted his history quite articulately.
“Charley was perfect in the womb. He was born on his due date and was an easy baby and child. He reached normal milestones and began walking at fourteen months. He has younger twin sisters. I nursed him for six months. At seven months he was prescribed Zithromax for a bronchial infection. Charley couldn’t handle cow’s milk formula, so I put him on a soy formula until he reached a year of age. Then we went back to the cow’s milk formula.”
“We moved around quite a bit when he was small. Then I was hospitalized for five weeks as a high-risk pregnancy before his sisters’ birth. At the age of two, Charley could count to 30. Everyone told us he was so smart. He would take straws and form them into letters. He wasn’t so sociable with the other kids. We moved again when he was a year and a half. Six months later he received a booster shot. At two years old he received his Hepatitis B, MMR, and DPT. We noticed around six weeks later that he seemed more irritable and frustrated. He could already sit and do a number of things. Then Charley stopped developing. He became really obsessed with numbers. He shut down on the speech mode at two years. Rather than learning more vocabulary words, he just stuck with the ‘mama,’ ‘dada,’and ‘no.’ Charley had an incredible memory and was able to count to 100 at the age of two and a half. He made me replay a song that he had heard in utero that I had not played for nine months and called it ‘me and Mommy’s song.’”
“We switched pediatricians at that time and we told that Charley had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He had exhibited daily head banging when frustrated. He began to screech after ingesting gluten and was put on a gluten-free and casein-free diet. Charley’s eye contact went out the window after the immunizations. He would go into huge fits of anger, throwing food, banging his head repeatedly, screaming, clenching his fists, gritting his teeth, grimacing, and digging his nails into his skin. We kept asking, ‘What happened to you?’ He had been so sweet, so bright. We just couldn’t figure it out. Charley would throw himself on the floor, refuse to do what was asked of him, scream, whack his head, take straws and hold them within an inch of his face. Not that he was destructive or hurtful to other people, though.”
“If we even barely turned up the television, he put his hands over his ears and demanded that we turn down the volume. He clapped his hands before we removed the milk from the refrigerator. He’s always hated really loud noises or loud music. But he loves classical and church music. His music teacher told us he might have perfect pitch. He hums background music to keep on beat, but the echo in the school cafeteria drives him crazy. Whenever he hears an echo, like from the high ceilings in our house, he runs outside. The noise of the vacuum cleaner frightens him and the echo of his sisters running across the tile floor jolts him, as do buses revving up their engines. If we put his sisters down for a nap, he’s a different child. Charley just wants it quiet! When Charley finds something he enjoys, he asks to listen to it over and over again. He loves letters, numbers, stop signs, street signs, and he is fascinated by school buses.”
“Charley is a sweet, little boy but he always seems tired. His allergies really bother him—puffy eyes, a constant stuffy nose, sleeplessness. I would say he has low muscle tone. He doesn’t like much running around and kicking a ball, is hesitant to climb, and tends to stand in the classroom and watch the other youngsters. He’s always been the cautious type. Never attracted to electric sockets. Some of his motor skills are behind. He’s just a quiet child.”
“I think Charley does want to fit in and play with other kids. He actually ran up to try to ply with some other children’s balloon recently. He loves to learn, read books, play on his own, pick out his own clothes, but he’s not a Curious George who explores everything. He’s afraid of big, loud or sudden noises, scary monsters, huge crowds, and hectic situations.”
“Charley is a silly kid. A comedian. A bit of a joker. He likes to come up and tickle. He has great echolalia. What is lacking is his receptive language. He’s a big hugger and he loves to get excited, to play, and to dance. But not if someone else is singing or dancing. It ‘s like he wants everyone to sit and be quiet so he can focus.”
Charley’s parents hadn’t been successful potty training him—he seemed afraid of it. They had not given any further immunizations. All of the subsequent appointments were done by phone and Skype.
Charley’s Initial Response to Homeopathy
We have given Charley three constitutional medicines over time. They had one feature in common: they were tubercular. The characteristics of this group is: children who are precocious; suffer from recurrent respiratory conditions; bang their heads; throw tantrums; are restless; and tend to love smoked meat. The first tubercular medicine that we prescribed was Theridion 200C, made from the orange spider. Children needing this medicine are restless and extremely sensitive to noise. They often cover their ears to avoid the pain of their hyperacuity.
Charley’s eye contact had improved significantly for a week, his vocabulary expanded noticeably, he initiated communication more with other children. Then he developed pneumonia, for which he was treated with antibiotics. At that time he relapsed. We repeated the Theridion and his mom reported gains in language and motor skills and he had been easily potty trained. This was a good beginning response, for sure.
Charley’s Course of Treatment Over the Past Seven and a Half Years
By this time we had given Charley Theridion 1M. His eye contact had improved by seventy-five percent and his language skills by 60%. His therapist had noticed a tremendous change from before he began working with us. Attention span was longer, aggression much better, raging fits and head banging less. Always wanting to make sure the prescription is precise, we changed Charley’s medicine to Tuberculinum 200C.
Charley’s speech continued to improve. Sentences were longer and phrasing and intonation more natural, and the echolalia had disappeared. Eye contact continued to get better. He was now drawing avidly—airplanes, street signs, commercial airlines. Charley’s speech was more assertive in a positive way—asking appropriately for what he wanted. The child was less cautious and engaged in more rough housing, such as football and tackling. His reaction to gluten had diminished markedly. Charley’s noise sensitivity had diminished considerably. Before he was afraid of dogs; now he wanted a puppy.
We gave Charley a dose of Tuberculinum 200C for an acute respiratory infection with a wet cough on lying down, chest tightness, and night-time wheezing. The cough was gone in two days. His speech continued to improve by leaps and bounds. But what was most striking was the jump in his confidence level. He had been accepted by a private school.. ‘It’s a miracle. I sing your praises.” Charley continued with a dose of Tuberculinum 200C every three weeks.
Charley awoke with a raspy chest and harsh cough. The Tuberculinum 200C didn’t resolve it. His cough was deep, barking, almost gasping, and resembled whooping cough. We prescribed Spongia 200C (toasted sponge—also a tubercular remedy), well-known to treat this type of cough. Again the cough cleared up in two days. However the cough returned a few days later, and his mom gave a dose of Tuberculinum 1M per our recommendations. It worked quite well.
We had raised the potency of Tuberculinum to 10M. “He is like a different child. When the dose wears off, we see teeth grinding, screaming, outbursts at school, and he becomes afraid of dogs again. He is loving bacon.”
Charley loved to hide, was petrified of flies, disliked bugs of any kind, and had become a big tease, loving to egg his sisters. Although teasing and hiding can be a trait of any child needing a tubercular medicine, the implication of the bugs led us to change the prescription to Aranea ixobola (Cross spider), whose keynote is the teasing. Not seeing any greater improvement with the spider medicine, we went back to Tuberculinum. Charley continued to progress steadily.
Three Years Seven Months
We reevaluated Charley’s case. Overall he continued to do well. When the dose of the medicine wore off, he would become less cooperative, grumpier, have diminished eye contact, and clench his teeth. A new symptom had arisen: leg cramps three or four times over the same number of weeks. Charley had become more tired overall, perhaps, according to his mom, because he was growing rapidly. She reported that she had been quite athletic at his age, and also had goring pains. Charley continued to love bacon and ham, as well as cheese, despite his casein intolerance. When we asked Charley about the leg pain, he shared that his legs were tired. “I don’t want to stand for a long time. I just want to relax.”
This is unusual for an eight-year-old boy to tell us, and we immediately recognized another tubercular medicine, Calcarea phosphorica, (Calcium phosphate) which has been the one that he has needed exclusively over the past four years. We began with a 200C potency. It is the most common homeopathic medicine for leg cramps, growing pains, and knee pains during periods of rapid growth.
Three Years Eleven Months
“Charley is staying more on task. School is going well. I like this new remedy. He got a puppy and is very nurturing with her. Charley tells us he wants to be an architect. No more leg pain or growing pains.”
Four Years Three Months
“Had his first play date. So much fun he didn’t want to come home. Walks up and talks to people. social skills are developing nicely. His drawings are very detailed.”
Four Years Ten Months
Now on Calcarea phosphorica 1M about every two to three months.
“He’s been doing fantastically. All of a sudden he’s more interested in boy-like things. Way ahead of the class in math. Struggling much less with reading. He reads about fifty pages a night. We don’t have to fight with him to read anymore. He loves karate. Charley is calmer, more confident, more athletic. He’s honest, full of integrity. Very sweet, endearing, lovable.”
“Doing really well. His teacher remarked about his high level of confidence. Does great in class. Very smart. Really funny. Charley loves slapstick comedy. He’s quite uninhibited. He knows there’s something different about him, but he doesn’t care.”
Charley’s mom has continue to be right on top of when he needs a dose of his homeopathic medicine to balance him out. We have continued to talk briefly every couple of months.
Five Years Eight Months
Charley was now nine and three quarters years old.
“I kinda have a bad time in fourth grade because I’m nervous around new students who I don’t know. They may not like me.”
This again indicated Calcarea phosphorica.
Five Years Ten Months
“He’s doing much better. More focused. Fewer outbursts. He walked right up and made a new friend. Actively doing his drawings. The choir director tells us that his pitch is perfect and he is quite gifted. They want him to do a solo. I spoke with him about his special gifts. He’s only had leg cramps twice. He used to have some headaches, but they’re gone. Charley is back on track.”
Five Years Eleven Months
“Charley is really sensitive to animals being hurt. And to orphans. He’s getting all As and Bs. He can still get bored sometimes. No leg cramps.”
Six and a Half Years
“We moved to a different city and a new school. Charley is playing the drums. I have him a dose of the Calcarea phosphorica a couple of days before school started. He’s doing just fine. He even expresses his emotions, which he never used to do.”
Mom: “Charley says his legs are tired and hurting at night. It all has to do with growing pains.”
Charley: “My leg hurts when I walk a lot.”
We repeated the Calcarea phosphorica 10M, which he had been on for three months.
Seven and a Half Years
“Charley is doing great. He had a phenomenal beginning to the school year. He loves his teacher and does his math without complaining. I gave him a dose of his remedy three or four days before school started. It couldn’t be better. Charley is your typical kid. He’ll go up and talk to anybody. It is quite spectacular.”
A Great Kid, A Great Mom, and the Steady Support of Homeopathy
This is a beautiful example of what is possible when a mom is dedicated to continuing homeopathy with her autism-spectrum child over time. You can see that she was consistently on top of when a repetition of the medicine was needed and has been willing to continue with brief phone consultations every couple of months. It is this dedication and persistence on her part, Charley being a great kid, and our willingness as homeopaths to continue evaluating and reevaluating his case, and to change to a better medicine when needed, that have helped Charley to be balanced, healthy, and to fulfill his potential despite the initial diagnosis of ASD.