Note: Join us in wishing Teresa Conrick well as she ends her time with Age of Autism. When Dan and Mark launched AofA 13 years ago next month, Teresa became the go-to for Dan's research. Her dedication to her daughter Meghan has always shone in every post she wrote for us. For you. We shared the bond of raising a daughter(s) with severe autism. At one time, we were fairly rare. No more. Autism has ravaged a generation and a half. Our daughters in are in their 20s. The Age of Autism rages on, even as our small rebel alliance is now, smaller.
I think we all feel a shift in our community. Some of it is the boot on our necks of censorship. Some is the natural progression of organizations and careers, such as we might call them. Some of it is sheer exhaustion. Voices and messages are changing. But who will carry the torch for the autism community that we have fought to keep in heart and minds for so many years? This group of youngsters who are now adults careening toward that day we all fear - when we leave them behind? We have much to consider about our future and the message we must continue to share. This IS the Age of Autism, after all.
Thank you, Teresa.
Dear AoA Readers,
I have been on a long pause here on AoA and after much thinking and deliberation, I have decided to retire. I started writing for AoA about twelve years ago, in fact here is my first post from February 21st, 2008: AND THE WHEELS ON THE BUS GO…
“I am no wimp. I have had my share of hard days but have learned to survive, to take it on the chin. I am no fan of the lemons into lemonade propaganda, but instead investigate those damn lemons and find out if they could help or hurt. “
And that’s what I have done for the past twelve years and longer, investigating the medical ramifications of autism. I feel now though, that I no longer am able to report on medical, autism research as the political landscape and Covid - 19 landscape have become a frenzy of impediments. I do wish good health to everyone and their children. Much of the medical research I have been following is on hiatus due to Covid-19. It is disappointing and I hope that will change as the months evolve.
I also want to share some current and past thoughts. From the past that intertwines with the present, my favorite piece here on AoA and what inspired me in many ways. From Dan Olmsted in 2007, a hero to me and many others:
As many of you know, I wrote the Age of Autism column for United Press International for two years, and I became convinced by my own reporting that autism's origins are recent -- triggered by something new in the environment -- and that treatment can work. I located the very first case ever described in the medical literature, Donald T., and heard from his brother the remarkable story of Donald's recovery from severe autism when gold salts were used to treat his juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. To state the obvious: The very first case of autism recovered with biomedical treatment, but the doctors ignored it because they were so busy blaming parents. Now they don't blame parents for causing autism, they just blame them for trying to do anything about it….The Age of Autism will be wide-open and transparent in its reporting and commentary on causes and treatments; I am beholden to no individual, organization or fixed point of view. My commitment is to in-depth reporting. ...We'll follow the truth wherever it leads, and we hope you'll come along with us and, if you can manage it, donate to The Age of Autism and help us pursue this story. Fasten your seat belts – it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Important words then and now. A medical success on a child diagnosed with autism from the 1930’s, one of the FIRST ever diagnosed. Dan’s death three years ago definitely affected many, like me, who looked upon him for his perseverance and compassion in helping so many affected children and young adults. The ripple effect of the political craziness as the years have passed, has made important, meaningful autism research more difficult. Little did Dan know that a pandemic would strike us. He and I had talked about the 1918 influenza pandemic more than once, as we were both horrified and fascinated with it.
The bumpy ride has been a constant for many of us living with our children, young or adult, affected by autism, especially severe autism. I have written dozens of articles about my daughter and her difficult, increasing medical symptoms. She has immune abnormalities and has been also diagnosed with autoimmunity. I have investigated much and discovered more along that long, bumpy ride that began in the 1930’s, with those original children, ultimately diagnosed. Here are some of my favorite contributions:
One thing I did early on and continued through all of those years, was to find and use the most reputable sources for our readers ---- journals, books, research papers, and I lived on Pubmed. I would fact check research if I was not familiar with the content, to make sure it was accurate. If it was complicated, I would try my best to define and break down information. Autism research is multifaceted and some of it can be irrelevant and driven by agendas, not always related to actually helping individuals with a diagnosis of autism. Some studies and articles were not worth our time, as they have kept autism as a genetic prisoner and wasted millions of dollars so individuals, agencies and universities could keep getting paychecks. Such a shame and that type of research should be considered criminal.
When I look back on those earlier years, Meg and I have come a long way. Pain and suffering was a life she had along with anger and frustration. Caring autism parents have been there for me. Some have recommended doctors while others have shared medications or supplement names helpful for their own child. Meg has seen doctors of gastroenterology, integrative psychiatry, neurology, endocrinology, neuroendocrinology, allergy, immunology, and our favorite doctor, our MAPS doctor, who has never given up on our affected children and is unrelentless in her search for appropriate medicines and treatments. She is the reason Meg is happier and healthier. Her knowledge and expertise has given us a new lease on life. My extreme gratitude to her and others who have touched our lives in such caring ways. Over the years, I have been contacted by parents, readers, doctors, and researchers, who have been helped by the articles I have written. I cannot tell you how gratifying that has been. Helping other families with severely affected children get on a better path to health has been my purpose in sharing here on Age of Autism. The immune and microbiome road has been the most helpful for us and that seems to be true for many of them as well.
If I were to put all of the years of research into a list, sort of like mounting evidence to a recipe of both causes and treatments:
- Autism’s start happened at a time when chemicals (ethyl mercury) were being introduced, manufactured and then used in consumer products.
- The microbiome has a role in programming brain function.
- There is increasing evidence showing that the dynamic changes in the gut microbiota can alter brain physiology and behavior which can contribute greatly to the pathogenesis of host brain disorders such as pain, depression, anxiety, autism, Alzheimer’s diseases, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.
- We now know that the gut microbiome can be negatively affected both pre and postnatally, and that an infant gut is inherited from both mother and father.
- Chemicals and environmental toxins can adversely affect the microbiome at any age but younger and elderly are more affected.
Graphic from here
- Data supports the link between mercury and antibiotic resistance.
- Research is showing that the microbiome of those with an autism diagnosis harbors many more antibiotic resistant genes than non asd children.
- The microbiome seems to have more control of the microglia of the brain than previously known. Implications for viral exacerbations are important.
- Various systemic immune abnormalities observed in ASD may also be influenced by the microbiome.
- The gut microbiome is becoming implicated more in PANDAS and PANS
- Antibiotics are a double edged sword in both PANDAS/PANS and autism, and for many, can help immensely after diagnosis .
- The OCD and repetitive behaviors of autism are becoming more evident as originating in the gut.
- It can be possible that Pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS) may be misdiagnosed as autism spectrum disorder
- Increasing research is showing that the infant gut microbiome may be related to vaccine injury .
I also want to thank Kim ❤ so much for her magnificent care as Managing Editor. She has given so much time, energy, and devotion each day, month and year. She has been the key and the glue for AoA over all of these years. I always imagine her making a strong pot of coffee each morning as the day would unfold on Age of Autism. I have always appreciated her passion in her writing and as mom to her beautiful daughters. My best wishes to her, our Contributors, and all of you.