Six months after I launched autismpinoy.com, I have met and talked to a lot of Filipino parents who wish to try out the dietary and biomedical interventions. Here are the frequently asked questions:
Q: What is/are the real cause/s of autism?
My Answer: Modern research now point to autism not as neurological or psychological problem but more of a biological condition that includes genetic susceptibilities, environmental toxins, immune dysfunction, nutritional imbalances, and dietary sensitivities as culprits.
Q: Do I have to be on the GFCF diet while doing the biomedical intervention? Can I just do one?
My Answer: No, it is important to do the diet (either GFCF, SCD or LOD) while you are pursuing the biomedical intervention. Choosing only one intervention will not give your child the maximum benefit. The most important decision you can do for your child is to put him or her on a casein and gluten free diet ASAP. How fast we can reverse some of the symptoms of autism depends on how soon you start with the diet and the supplements.
Q: My son is such a picky eater, how will we survive the GFCF diet?
My Answer: This dilemma is very common. We all feel scared that we might starve our children when we take out milk, bread, pizza, etc. from their diet. However, we are lucky that the Filipino diet is basically GFCF is nature. Our local “kakanins” are basically free from wheat and dairy. We just have to be creative. Also, since there is a growing demand for gluten and casein free food, there are a number of food companies selling GFCF cake mixes, cookies, breads, etc. (see links page for the websites of these companies).
One common good side effect of being on a GFCF diet is most of the kids appreciate eating a wider variety of food. Instead of eating spaghetti from your local fastfood on a regular basis, you will be surprised that your child will be craving for more nutritious food. Ethan can eat two plates of mixed vegetables in one sitting!
Q: When we decide to do the diet, does this mean we can’t bring our child with us to restaurants anymore?
My Answer: Being on the GFCF (or SCD) doesn’t mean we can’t let our children eat out with us. I just make sure that Ethan’s food is prepared before we leave for the restaurant. I put his meals on a two-decked container so we won’t run out of food while we’re out of the house. Some parents talk to the chef or cook of the restaurant to discuss their concerns about their children’s dietary needs. Just make sure that you explicitly tell the kitchen staff to use clean pots / pans, utensils and other necessary equipments when cooking your child’s food. But, to avoid infractions, I suggest bringing your child’s home cooked meals with you instead. It’s so much safer.
Q: How do you travel with a child on biomedical and dietary intervention?
My Answer: I always see to it that I have enough food and reinforcing materials whenever we take plane or long car rides. I bring with us more than enough snacks for Ethan to nibble on. As for the supplements, as much as possible, I prefer supplements in capsule or powered form so I won't have the nagging fear of spilling the supplements all over our luggage. If you must bring supplements that are in liquid form, buy small containers from Mercury Drug and pour the liquid supplements there –just enough to cover the entire trip. Put these containers in a ziplock bag to avoid any spilling accidents. The smell of Cod Liver Oil all over your clothes is not a very pleasant.
Q: Is there a DAN doctor in Manila?
My Answer: Yes, Dr. Rhodora Ibasco is the first ever Philippine-based DAN doctor (she was officially included in the
[Autism Research Institute] list in January 2008). To view the
updated, complete list of DAN doctors worldwide, please go to this
Q: According to my research, many children doing the biomedical intervention need the MB12 and it comes in a syringe form. How do we administer it, we are scared we might end up hurting our son? What are our alternatives?
My Answer: MB12 injections are very easy to administer. They are in syringes with short and fat needles (similar to syringes used by diabetics) so you can never go wrong putting it subcutaneously on your child. Don’t be afraid of the fact that MB12 comes in injection form. The problem with sublingual MB12 is your child will most likely absorb only 20% of it if taken orally. Used subcutaneously, it goes directly to the bloodstream making it more effective. The good news is, they have come up with Nasal MB12 spray which is so much more convenient to administer. MB12 is particularly helpful in language and speech.
Q: I read in your website that Ethan only eats organic products, do I necessarily have to do that too? I’m afraid it’s expensive.
My Answer: Most children in the ASD spectrum have trouble detoxifying. Since many of our meats, poultry, fruits and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides and other harmful chemicals, these go directly in our children’s system and get stuck there because of impaired detoxification. If we eliminate unwanted toxins from entering the bodies of our children, we are, in a way, helping their bodies heal faster. There are many locally grown organic produce and they are expensive by a few pesos more than the regular chemical-laden produce. If the cost of organic food is really out of your budget, just make sure that you thoroughly clean the produce and meat before cooking them.
Q: Ethan takes a lot of supplements, which one do you feel contributes to his steady progress?
My Answer: My favorites are Glutathione, MB12, antiviral medicines, anti-yeast supplements, epsom salt baths, cod liver oil, buffered Vitamin C, authia cream and probiotics. These are the supplements that I feel are helping him a lot.
Q: Is it expensive to be on the GFCF diet?
My Answer: No, the Filipino diet is basically GFCF. As I’ve said, you have to be extra creative in presenting the GFCF food to your child. Special cake and cookie mixes from abroad can be expensive but you have many other alternatives here to feed your child if you are working on a tight budget.
Q: What about the biomedical intervention?
My Answer: Unfortunately, the answer is yes. But, some children do very well with the GFCF alone that they only need a few supplements to fine tune their systems. A couple of my friends saw immediate improvements with just the diet alone. But, some children require intensive biomedical interventions, Ethan being one of them.
Q: My son has been on a strict GFCF diet for a month now. He grabbed a piece of Skyflakes from his classmate at school during recess! What do I do?
My Answer: To avoid infractions like this from happening, make sure that you write a letter to the teachers and other staff at your child’s school that he is on a strict GFCF diet. A sample of this letter is in the Helpful Tools section of this website.
If your child had an infraction, you have to give him activated charcoal (available in most health stores such as GNC, etc.). This will help the body get rid of the toxins (gluten and casein) that entered your child’s system. But make sure that you give activated charcoal as soon as the infraction occurred. Also, giving him enzymes and probiotics will help lessen the bad effects of the accidental ingestion.
Q: My son loves swimming in the pool? Is it safe?
My Answer: Chlorine is a chemical. Again, since our children have trouble detoxifying, chlorine might be doing their body more harm than good. If your child must really swim, make sure you apply magnesium sulfate before swimming in chlorinated water or have him soak in Epsom salt bath immediately after swimming. Supplementing with taurine also helps.
Q: We just started the biomedical intervention and my son appears to be worse than ever. Why is this? I’m thinking of quitting it because my son was a lot better before the diet and the supplements.
My Answer: Regression is normal when starting on the dietary and/or biomedical interventions. Your child is probably going through a healing-regression (very much like a withdrawal period) phase where they seem to getting worse. Die-off reaction is actually a good sign as this is an indication that the body is getting rid of the toxins. Die-off reactions should last for 2 weeks so just be patient and things will soon get better.
Q: Can you help me connect with other Filipino parents doing the diet and biomed?
My Answer: I have set up an online support group. Majority of the members are parents of children within the spectrum. Our message board is constantly flooded with various questions ranging from diet, biomedical and traditional therapies. It is a wonderful resource because all members are there to help one another. To join the Autism Pinoy online support group, please go to this link to register: http://www.autismpinoy.com/forums
Q: My son’s developmental pediatrician said that autism is not treatable and that DAN doctors are just a bunch of quacks. I’m so discouraged, how do I convince my husband to support me with my desire to try out the DAN protocol?
My Answer: It’s really sad that most of the Filipino doctors do not believe that autism is treatable. They are stuck with old notion that autism is a life-long condition –when clearly, it is not. Everyday, another child is being recovered from autism. I pity the doctors who immediately close the doors to such wonderful breakthroughs in the treatment of autism without first doing their research. What’s even worse is they won’t bat an eyelash prescribing Ritalin to their patients. Why do they resort to drugs when vitamin and mineral supplements (the essence of the DAN protocol) are a lot safer?
If you have trouble convincing your spouse to try the dietary and biomedical interventions, I suggest you print out the many resources online to give him a clearer picture of the effectiveness and safety of the DAN protocol.
The biomedical & dietary route is not always easy. Many sacrifices have to be made with regards to lifestyle changes, diet, time and overall outlook in life. You have to be on the same page with your spouse and other family members if you wish to pursue the dietary and biomedical interventions.
Q: If I take out milk from my son’s diet, what will he drink?
My Answer: Personally, I think the benefits of milk are overrated. I stopped giving Ethan milk as soon as I learned about the GFCF diet (he was 2.5 years old then). Today, Ethan is a healthy boy whose weight is within the normal range and he is taller than most kids his age. As for cow’s milk alternatives, you can give Rice Milk, Potato Milk, Almond Milk or Hazelnut Milk which are GFCF (check individual labels to make sure).
Q: My son is constipated after taking antifungal meds, how to I treat his constipation?
My Answer: Ethan is also a chronically constipated boy. Probiotics, coconut oil, flaxseeds, Vitamin C, papaya, alkaline water and epsom salt baths help ease this problem.
Q: My son seem to have diarrhea, is it okay to give him pedialyte while on the GFCF diet?
My Answer: Yes, Pedialyte and Gatorade are GFCF. These products constantly change their formulations so it’s best to double check the labels to be safe.
Q: When Ethan has a fever, cough or colds, what do you give him?
My Answer: I overstock our medicine cabinet with US manufactured Benadryl, Robitussin and Motrin. I’m afraid that the locally manufactured medicines have modified ingredients that may be illegal in the GFCF diet. Also, please note that Tylenol should be avoided as Paracetamol has been found to lower glutathione levels. For natural remedies, I usually give Ethan 5ml of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil when he has fever. Most likely than not, his temperature lowers instantly, especially if the fever is caused by a virus. For coughs, I boil oregano leaves.
Q: My son is 6 years old. I heard that the window of opportunity to reverse autism is only until 5 years of age. Does this mean, even if I do the biomedical intervention on my son, he won’t get better? Am I too late?
My Answer: The good news is, many children over the age of 6, have overcome their conditions. I believe that children under the age of 5 have the ability to “react” and “heal” faster but this doesn’t mean children over the age of 5 won’t progress. It just might take longer. The best thing to do if you have an older child is to get started with the diet and biomedical interventions right away. Lots of catching up to do and you don’t want to lose any more precious time.
Q: What is the role of ABA, OT or Speech Therapy in autism? If we choose to do the dietary and biomedical interventions, can we forego these traditional therapies?
My Answer: ABA is very important in terms of stimulating the brain of a child with autism. There are a lot of sensory issues as well as speech delays associated with autism so it is very important that your child receives these appropriate therapies. However, you still have to correct the biochemical imbalances in order to retain the gains made in ABA, OT and Speech Therapy.