By Kent Heckenlively
As a father, I live a divided life. My daughter Jacqueline has severe autism, seizures, and at the age of sixteen years old still cannot speak. When she walks she sways like a drunken sailor, always looking like she’s about to capsize – but more often than not making it to her destination.
By contrast, my thirteen-year-old son Ben is neurotypical. He does not have seizures or autism, and is athletically gifted. He is usually the fastest kid in his group, and as his soccer coach recently told me, “Ben has this almost sixth sense for being in the right place at the right time to get the ball.”
My son is also highly verbal and has a wicked sense of humor. Because I’m a science teacher and a member of the executive board of my union, I’m often interacting with a few of his teachers and they tell me many of the funny things he says in class. I cringe sometimes because I recognize my barbed, sarcastic humor and know that in many instances it is appreciated and amusing to people, but fear in others it will get him into trouble. “Watch your tongue,” I’ll tell him, worried that he might be viewed as defiant, and yet secretly proud that he is nobody’s fool.
As a science teacher I’m aware that my parental life presents me with a classic science experiment. I have one child with no trace of autism or other neurological problems, and another who is severely affected. Granted, the sample size is small, but it might yet present some intriguing data for further consideration.
My daughter was born without complications and developed normally for the first six months of her life. Around Thanksgiving she went off breast milk, graduating to a bottle with a formula using regular cow’s milk. Her six-month checkup in early December was normal, but around Christmas we saw the first little head-bobs of what we would later realize were seizures. At ten months she was diagnosed with infantile spasms and we entered a new world of doctor’s visits and medication; her diagnosis of autism was at age three. Along the way she had several rounds of antibiotics for ear infections, and we discovered she had a milk allergy, eventually putting her on a hypoallergenic milk formula.
Along came my son and when he made the switch from breast milk to a bottle, he also received a hypoallergenic milk formula. My wife’s family has a history of milk allergies, so this was a natural thing to do. But a hypoallergenic milk formula is expensive, and so at around fifteen months we decided to switch him to regular milk formula.
I took my son to his eighteen-month well-baby visit and the pediatrician ran him through an entire developmental check-up, because I thought she might have missed something with my daughter at six months. Ben passed with flying colors, responding appropriately to stimuli, and had about 15 to 20 words. With that part of the appointment over, Ben got his shots and we left the office. Within three days he went mute.
By the grace of God, that Sunday night I was at a book store and came across the book Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder by Karyn Seroussi, which first introduced me in a serious, compelling manner to the concept of vaccine injury and the gluten-free/casein-free diet.
Both my son and daughter went on the GF/CF diet the very next day. After twelve days my son spoke again. I will never forget the moment. We were outside Nordstrom department store in Walnut Creek, CA, right near a statue of a lion’s head with a small stream of water coming from the lion’s mouth into a pool. My eighteen-month-old son was mesmerized by this small stream of water, gazing intently at it, and finally from his lips burst the word “Bubbles!” It was as if something in his brain had realigned, and he kept saying “Bubbles! Bubbles! Bubbles!”
Read Kent's full post at the HealthChoice.org site.
Kent Heckenlively is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.