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Psychology Today Reviews How To End the Autism Epidemic

Review-coverNOTE:  Below is a review JB Handley's book, How To End the Autism Epidemic.  The book is still ranked in the top 1000 on Amazon which is remarkable and encouraging! One  fearful commenter attacks the author Marilyn Wedge PhD* right off the bat because she takes a thoughtful approach to the environment/vaccine issue.  Interesting until you vilify vaccines. VACCINES SAVE LIVES. How unfortunate you unnecessarily created doubt and uncertainty around this.   She does not such thing! Shall we welcome her to the anti-vaxxer club and show her the secret handshake?

The Rising Rate of Autism in Kids

Is there an autoimmune connection and can diet help?

In 1970, only 1 child in 10,000 was diagnosed with autism. Today, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number is 1 in 59. Expansion of the diagnosis to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the DSM-5 might explain some of the difference in the number of children diagnosed with the disorder. But the widened criteria does not explain such an immense increase.

     The cause or causes of autism spectrum disorder are still elusive. Currently, there are two camps in the autism world. One camp holds that the cause of autism is genetic. This group says that autism is a genetic condition, something like Down syndrome. However, despite decades of intensive research, no “autism gene” or combination of autism genes has yet been discovered. Nonetheless, this camp holds that autism is a condition that a child will have forever. It can be managed but it cannot be cured.

     The second camp argues that the causes of autism are mainly environmental, though some genetic factors may play a role. They believe that environmental triggers like pesticides, certain foods, allergens, vaccines, and even stress can trigger an immune reaction in the child’s body which impacts the brain and can cause symptoms of autism.

     The environmental cause camp has a diverse constituency. It includes functional medicine doctors like Mark Hymen, MD and Amy Meyers, MD. Functional medicine physicians believe autism is an autoimmune condition. They claim success in treating autism spectrum disorder by removing gluten, sugar, dairy, eggs and other potentially irritating substances from the child’s diet. They use vitamin and mineral supplements like zinc and magnesium to correct a child's nutritional deficiencies.

     Also in the environmental cause camp are DAN doctors (Defeat Autism Now) like doctors in the San Diego-based Autism Research Institute. Similar to functional medicine practitioners, DAN doctors believe autism is an autoimmune condition that can be triggered by dietary or environmental irritants. They focus on eliminating gluten, sugar, artificial preservatives and certain other foods from the child’s diet. They claim that removing dietary irritants heals the child's gut and improves the symptoms of many autism-diagnosed children. 

The environmental camp extends to researchers who seek a connection between pesticides and autism. Recently research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that maternal exposure to the pesticide DDT is associated with autism in her infant. The study does not prove a causal relationship but only a correlation between DDT-exposure and autism. 

A recent book in the camp of environmental causes for autism is J. B. Handley’s controversial How to End the Autism Epidemic. In 2004, Handley’s son was diagnosed with severe autism at The University of California San Francisco Medical Center. He and his wife Lisa were told that their son would probably be institutionalized. When the Handleys asked if making changes in their son's diet would help, their doctor, a world famous autism expert, replied that this was merely a placebo for parents.

Wanting to try every alternative for their son, the Handleys sought treatment with DAN physician Dr. Lynne Mielke. The boy's symptoms improved significantly with dietary interventions. Seeing such improvement, Handley decided to research the connection between vaccines, autoimmune conditions, and autism. 

Although the theory that vaccines cause autism has been firmly denied by the CDC and other health organizations, Handley’s book makes two particularly incisive points that are worth considering.

First, the number of vaccinations that a child receives before the age of five has increased dramatically. In 1983, a child following the CDC’s recommended schedule would have received five vaccines by age five. In 2017, a child following the CDC’s schedule would have received thirty-eight vaccines by age five. This is nearly quadruple what a child received in the 1980's.

Secondly, vaccines are exempt from the rigorous safety testing required by the FDA for all other drugs. This exemption is based on the CDC claim that there is no correlation between vaccines and autism, even though research that justifies this exemption is limited. 

Whether or not one agrees with the argument that environmental factors like vaccines can trigger an autoimmune reaction that may cause autism in some children, trying dietary interventions widely used for autoimmune conditions--under supervision by a medical doctor--can certainly do no harm.  Read the comments and add your own here.

Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D., is a family therapist with twenty-seven years of experience helping children, adolescents and families. She is the author of three books on child therapy. Her latest book is A Disease Called Childhood: Why ADHD Became an American Epidemic (Avery/Penguin). Her previous books, published by W. W. Norton, are: In the Therapist's Mirror: Reality in the Making, and Suffer the Children:The Case against Labeling and Medicating and an Effective Alternative (published in paperback with the title: Pills are not for Preschoolers).

Dr. Wedge blogs for the Huffington Post, and her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Natural Health, People Magazine, L. A. Parent, Babble and many other publications. Her Psychology Today blog "Why French Kids don't have ADHD" has more than 15 million readers, and has been translated into Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese and a host of other languages. She has been interviewed on television (CBS-San Francisco, San Diego Living), and on National Public Radio (NPR).

Dr. Wedge is the originator of "strategic child-focused family therapy," which empowers parents to help their children heal without labeling them with so-called "psychiatric disorders" or medicating them with psychotropic drugs.

Dr. Wedge earned her bachelor's degree and her doctorate at the University of Chicago, where she was a Danforth Foundation Fellow, and had a post-doctoral fellowship at the Hastings Center for Bioethics in New York. She has taught at the California State University, East Bay and the College of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a popular speaker at national and international professional conferences and is also a frequent speaker at parenting and educational groups.

Dr. Wedge lives in Oak Park, California with her husband Gene. They have three grown children and three grandchildren.


Kim Johannesen


I see autism in the light of 3 disciplines. Neuroscience, Neuroendocrinology, and the practical application of the the first two disciplines. This becomes practices, for autism children. 4 things in the brain needs to be stronger, and this will lower stress hormones really much. Clearly studies are more in the limelight, but this is good, right. Just my two cents.

Cherry Misra

This review, as described by bob moffit, simply does more disservice to the cause of the autistic kids. If you were a young parent with a newly diagnosed autistic child, you wont buy this book because it seems to be about a bunch of fad diets that wont cure a brain disorder. If you dont have an autistic child, you think, - "Oh, forget it, - more desperate parents grasping at straws to cure their autistic child with nutty diets. Must be the crazy anti vaxxers"

cia parker


Thank your for your reply. I know that diet can help a lot with behaviors caused by sensitivity or allergy to things eaten (sensitivity usually created by antigenic vaccine ingredients), and am glad that you know what to avoid to decrease these behaviors in your son. Or behaviors caused by excessive levels of yeast and different pathogens in the microbiome, sometimes substances which are usually benign but harmful when they increase too much. My daughter used to have episodes of strange, inappropriate laughter, but when I gave her a course of saccharomyces boulardii I read about in Dr. Sears' The Autism Book, for excessive yeast in the GI tract, the strange laughter stopped entirely. I hae an e-friend in Utah whose daughter reacted to the H1N1 vaccine required by her preschool with autism, and he said the saccharomyces had done the same thing for her, stopped the strange laughter. His wife has a website with recipes and advice for these children who need the -- diet (I don't know what to put, GFCF, SCDiet, Paleo, GAPS, autoimmune diet, etc.)

I was primarily thinking of the language aspect, which used to be, probably still is, regarded as the major problem in autism, although of course it's not the only one. I have read things which say that doing this or that for the GI tract will establish normal language use, and I'm skeptical. We bought twelve small cartons of a new patented probiotic drink called Liovi which was supposed to have made many autistic young adults verbal and independent. $200, almost half of that for shipping. One quarter of a cup a night. They recommend a whole carton a night, but they're going to have to reduce the price before that happens. My daughter seems calmer, happier, but I can't tell that it has improved her verbal ability at all.

I'm really just saying that I think we need to be aware of what language is. It depends on functioning neural circuits in the language area of the brain, which may be created anew if destroyed by vaccine encephalitis, but then all you've got are functioning neural circuits which STILL have to be programmed and strengthened through use. And then once you've programmed them and built the first level of language/cultural mastery, then you have to start working on the second level. Then the third, etc. Usually this is what normal development in childhood entails, and it involves a lot of slow progress and increasingly advanced concepts, more advanced ones building on what was built before.

The capacities of most autistic children could be greatly improved, but at this time the concept I just outlined is not part of our understanding or treatment of autism. At all. All we've got now are speech therapists who think that the speech IS there but just needs a friendly environment to be expressed. Chat therapy.

I am averse to conspiracy theories as a general rule, but in this case it is so obvious that the choices are either conspiracy or st-pidity. Or both.

Angus Files

Cia thank you for your views. The golden rule applys not one childs body or brain are the same. Sometimes damage done is damage done. Sometimes the damage can be alleviated. Personally with our son without diet he is wired to the moon literally at the fulll moon hes nuts.Anyone of the interventions can ake a huge difference to somebody whilst in others not so –“the non-responders which my son is one. ABA and the like, works for a ot of kids and adults but for the ground zero low functioning non verbal vaccine damaged ,nothing gets them re-booted and going again not all but most in my opinnion. This is harder in those types as the functionality within the brain is not present anymore, wiped by vaccines in our sons case.I seen the same expression in Otto Warbiers face as in my sons where in Ottos case they said lack of oxygen and blood circulation were the symptoms.

There are many papers out there explaining the gut and how its linked to the brain and without a healthy gut you will not have a healthy brain-“you are what you eat”-never a truer saying.

“The bidirectional signaling between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain is vital for maintaining homeostasis and is regulated at the neural (both central and enteric nervous systems), hormonal and immunological levels. Perturbation of these systems results in alterations in the stress‐response and overall behavior.1 The high co‐morbidity between stress‐related psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety with gastrointestinal disorders including irritable bowel disorder (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD)2, 3 are further evidence of the importance of this axis. However, increasing evidence also suggests that the enteric microbiome greatly impacts on gut‐brain communication leading to the coining of the phrase the brain‐gut enteric microbiota axis1 (illustrated in Fig. 1). The exact mechanisms governing such communication are unclear and most studies to date focus on the impact of altered signaling from the brain to the gut.4, 5 Recent emerging studies are investigating the impact of the guts’ microbiota on brain and behavior. Approaches used to parse the role of gut microbiota on brain function include assessing the impact of probiotic agents, antibiotic‐induced dysbiosis and pathogenic infections6-9 each of which we will discuss below.”

Pharma For Prison


cia parker

Thank you, Angus, I read the article you linked. I understand that inflammation of the gut and of the brain are both involved in autism. And I agree that abdominal pain, when present, is responsible for many behaviors in autism. And that the toxins produced may be responsible for negative behaviors as well. But I don't think it is as easy as creating an optimal microbiome and that will cure autism. My daughter's GI function was normal until a summer flu in 2007 started the bowel disease: a homeopath said that fever can cause stored vaccine mercury to be released and cause bowel disease, etc., as a high fever started the symptoms of my mercury-induced MS and my nephew's bowel disease. He had Asperger's, but normal bowel function until a high fever from bronchitis at age 19. And then severe bowel disease like that of my daughter. But the symptoms of autism and Asperger's preceded those of bowel disease by many years.

And I don't think quelling the gut inflammation will also automatically quell the brain inflammation. But beyond that, the brain damage was caused by inflammation soon after the vaccine triggered the vaccine encephalitis, and there's just no easy, quick answer to correcting the years of normal development which were lost. The brain would still have to go through the long, laborious process of creating neural circuits for each individual grammatical construction, vocabulary word, and social and cultural knowledge of when and how to use them.

The brain damage is related both to the excessive inflammatory reaction to the vaccine's designed irritation of the immune system, independent of the GI tract, and to the actual physical brain damage caused, similar, maybe identical, to that of a stroke. Strokes are usually caused by a blood clot in the brain which cuts off circulation to critical areas of the brain or by blood leaking into the brain and damaging it. One theory is that the immune system releases a flood of white blood cells reacting to the incursion of the vaccine, and they clog up the capillaries so that blood can't pass through them. I can't think of any way that the microbiome would be involved in this process, or that improving the microbiome by treating yeast and bad microorganisms, or with avoiding gluten, casein, soy, or whatever, would give the grammatical structures to the person where they did not exist before. For example, several years ago in our Connect Cambridge ESL book, there was a lesson on the use of some and any. My daughter had NEVER in her life used either word, at the age of thirteen. But as soon as we did the lesson, she started asking Do we have any eggs? We need more catchup. And she continues to use them, now easily and correctly. But they were simply not there before because of the vaccine brain damage. Noam Chomsky wrote over fifty years ago about grammatical structures being inborn in the brain and activated when the child heard them used around him. But if they are broken by vaccine damage, then they're broken, and that's it, completely gone forever, because most autistic people just will not pick them up by hearing them. I think this is the way forward, but it's very hard, very laborious. We're doing Cambridge Passages now, and are doing vocab like conventional/unconventional, going with the crowd, rebelling, being your own person, amenable, etc., and they're ALL new to her, and she makes a LOT of mistakes in the exercises, mistakes that you think How could an eighteen-year old girl think that was correct? But without the vocab, even the concept is foreign to her, that sometimes it's good to "fit in," (another vocab phrase), and sometimes it's bad, that you have to have the judgment and experience to think about the situation in terms of cooperation, friendliness, sharing, but also of tyranny, bullying, cowardice, etc. Without the words, the concepts are just not there, and without the concepts, understanding of our culture and civilization are not there either.

Angus Files

wouldnt know Cia but there’s this chap Wakefield ...

Dr. Andrew Wakefield first Outlined the Gut/Brain Connection

Pharma For Prison


Hans Litten

Posted by: Gayle | October 17, 2018 at 09:53 PM

Jeff Bradstreet went to his death (murdered almost certainly) firmly believing that a cure for autism was definitely possible and in fact quite close .
He was doing apparently the impossible at the time of his death of curing terminal stage 4 cancer patients with gcmaf (and the nagalase connection). People who had just weeks left to live were being cured and were walking out fully cured. Chemotherapy\radiation is killing hundreds of thousands of people every year in the UK-US.


I will say again that the only way to cure the children/adults diagnosed with autism is RESEARCH by qualified people who can do the necessary investigational RESEARCH into the causes( and there are most likely several) of the autism epidemic we are witnessing today for the first time in human history. Without this absolutely necessary RESEARCH into the causes of such high rates of autism there can be no hope for a CURE for our children. We cannot and should not accept as fact that this is a hopeless and lifelong condition that cannot ever be CURED. We will lose entire generations of people if we don't get the necessary RESEARCH into what has happened to our children and finally find a CURE. I will never give up hope and accept this as permanent with the technology that we have today to solve this crisis. NEVER.

Brian Nomi

At least someone in the media is reviewing this great book. Good news. Now let's see this get a fair airing in the New York Times review of books.....

cia parker

I have always been puzzled by the idea that autism can be healed, even partially, by the GFCF, Paleo, SCDiet, and/or GAPS diets. We have used and continue to use all of them, and they help with the symptoms of C's bowel disease, but not with speech, development, or behavior. How could they help with speech? The problem was caused by stroke-like damage to the language and social centers of the brain as a result of the excessive inflammatory reaction of her (our) immune system to the vaccine. So many neural circuits were broken and the inborn grammatical structures were severely damaged. How would diet do anything to repair them? C. continues to make steady progress with ABA-type methods which are the same as those for learning a foreign language, English in this case: modeling and practice. And every time she uses a construction, especially when she creates it herself, another circuit is created or reinforced.


The third camp, which has many groups on facebook, believes that autism is not a disorder, but a normal brain variation that has been around forever and does not need to be cured, just understood by neurotypicals. I write many posts in these groups, trying to educate them, but they are hopeless. I haven’t read Handley’s book yet, but I think he also covers this topic. How many adult autistics do you know? There should be as many as children if this theory were true.

bob moffit

@ Brett

"Bob, I might be reading your comment incorrectly, but it appears that you are discounting Dr. Wedge's opinion based on her profession ,,,,, the strength or weakness of anyone's argument should always be based on the merits of their argument, not their profession, their gender, their race or anything else."

You are right .. I misread this article and having already formed a negative view of Dr Wedge's entire profession as it relates to autism .. my comment ought not have been directed specifically at her .. THANKS FOR POINTING THAT OUT.


There’s a handshake?!

Brett Wilcox

Bob, I might be reading your comment incorrectly, but it appears that you are discounting Dr. Wedge's opinion based on her profession. Pro-vax ideologists frequently make the same argument, often to denigrate parents, especially mothers, of vaccine injured children. The strength or weakness of anyone's argument should always be based on the merits of their argument, not their profession, their gender, their race or anything else. That said, toxicologists, immunologists, naturopaths or neuroscientists SHOULD have the most compelling arguments because of their training. But they are just like the rest of us, influenced and pressured by propaganda, corrupt systems, pressure and the need to pay their bills.


Welcome to the Anti-Vax Camp Marilyn.
We serve ORGANIC foods, do detox foot baths and far-infared saunas.
There is no wifi radiation, so you might have to plug your computer into the wall for service.
We go down to the spring and gather our drinking water.
We play all day in the sunshine and swim in the lake.
Please sign up to any detox activity.
Be sure to come to the camp fire at dusk to witness all the autistic
children who are being healed/helped from the toxic environmental vaccines.
The camp counselors are ready to educate you.

bob moffit

Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D... latest book is ... "A Disease Called Childhood: Why ADHD Became an American Epidemic." Also has written .. "Why French kids don't have ADHD"

Unfortunately .. Dr Wedge is a family therapist with twenty-seven years of experience helping children, adolescents and families .. a profession primarily responsible for identifying and treating the following 'childhood disorders":

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Bipolar disorder in children
Conduct disorder
Learning disability
Neurodevelopmental disorder
Intellectual disability
Asperger syndrome
Childhood schizophrenia
Selective mutism
Adjustment disorder
Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
Stereotypic movement disorder
Regressive autism
Pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome
Adopted child syndrome
Callous and unemotional traits
School refusal
Abandoned child syndrome
Sluggish cognitive tempo

What Dr Wedge is NOT is a trained and experienced toxicologist, immunologist, naturopath or neuroscientist .. the very critical professions that ought to be writing books and speaking out on the connection between the brain and an autoimmune system that is being overwhelmed by the ever increasing number of childhood vaccines recommended and approved for children .. beginning with the extremely reckless administration of HEP B within hours of birth.

Why does it seem that ONLY the psychiatric profession that speaks with such unwarranted authority on critical issues that toxicologists, immunologist, neuroscientists are far more qualified to do .. such as .. the obvious connection between vaccines and the chronic .. life-long .. life-threatening … inflammation of the brains of our most precious resource .. our children?

Where are their comments either challenging or agreeing with JB's well researched and documented book on "Ending the Autism Epidemic"?

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