Treating your autism spectrum child with homeopathy: an introduction for parents new to homeopathic medicine.The Challenges of Parenting an Autism-Spectrum Child
Having your child receive a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be one of the most unsettling, disturbing, devastating events of your life. If you are a parent of a child with autism, Asperger disorder, or other related diagnosis, you are most likely desperate to find a solution that will help your child lead as normal a life as possible. You probably have already explored many conventional and alternative approaches. We believe homeopathic medicine to be one of the simplest and most effective single treatments available that can at least to some degree address many of the varied problems on the autism spectrum and, in many cases, produce very significant improvements in development, behavior, speech and language, socialization, concentration, hyperactivity, and academic progress.
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a form of safe, nontoxic natural medicine based on the principle of "like cures like," also called the law of similars, discovered by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann of Germany in the early 19th century. This principle says that a substance in nature that can cause symptoms in a healthy person can cure those same symptoms in a person who is ill.
Homeopathic medicines are drawn from every aspect of the natural world: plant, animal, and mineral substances, as well as the products of chronic diseases or, in some cases, vaccines that may be related to the ASD symptoms.
Substances are chosen to become homeopathic medicines because they have the capacity to generate symptoms in healthy people when ingested too often or in too concentrated a form. They are tested on healthy volunteers to determine the pattern of symptoms for each substance.
The medicines are prepared by taking the crude substance through a preparation process to make it soluble in water. For example, table salt, or Natrum muriaticum, is dissolved in water and taken through a process of serial dilution and shaking that produces various strengths, or potencies, of the homeopathic medicine used in treatment. Homeopathic medicines are prepared under FDA supervision, and all but a few are classified as over-the-counter medicines in the US. Medicines from the different kingdoms have certain common characteristics that can help the homeopath navigate through all the substances in nature in search of the correct remedy for your child.
Animal medicines have characteristics of aggression, competition, socialization, sexuality, and survival. Some medicines in this group can include snakes and their venoms, spiders and their poisons, mammals and their milks, and sea creatures. Examples of common animal medicines in homeopathy are Lachesis (bushmaster snake), Tarentula (tarantula), and Lac caninum (dog's milk).
Plant medicines are drawn from both medicinal and nonmedicinal plants from all the various plant families. Each family, such as lily, daisy, cactus, or conifer, has its characteristic common sensations. For example, those needing medicines derived from the conifer family feel brittle or fragile; daisy, injured; lily, forced out or shunned; and cactus, constricted. Plants in the same family share the common sensation, yet each has its individualizing characteristics as well. Common plant medicines include Belladonna (deadly nightshade), Veratrum album (white hellebore), Anacardium (marking nut), Pulsatilla (windflower), Lycopodium (club moss), and Thuja (cedar tree).
Mineral medicines have issues relating to structure, security, health, finances, performance, attack, and defense. Their elemental constituents can be found on the periodic table of elements, arranged in rows and columns according to their atomic number and characteristics. These elements combine to form myriad naturally occurring and synthetic inorganic substances. Common mineral medicines include Aurum metallicum (gold), Mercurius sol. (mercury), Natrum muriaticum (salt), Calcarea phosphorica (calcium phosphate), and Sulphur (sulfur).
The products of disease can all be used to treat children with ASD, partly because of the intensity of their symptoms and characteristics that match the disease from which they originate. All of these extracts are safe and, by means of process of serial dilution, completely free of the original disease organism or tissue. Examples are Tuberculinum (from tuberculosis) and Carcinosin (from cancer), which was made famous to the ASD community in Amy Lansky's book, Impossible Cure.
Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders: What a Homeopath Looks For in Your Child
When we take a case history for a child on the spectrum, we are looking for what makes your child unique. There are many common symptoms of autism, including language delay, sensory issues, self-stimulation, echolalia, spinning, hyperactivity, lining things up, tantrums, poor eye contact, limitations in social skills, speech difficulties, intestinal problems, and food sensitivities. Some children have many of these features, some only a few. Some children are profoundly affected, other more mildly. We are looking to find the pattern of symptoms and characteristics that are unique to your child, to understand where the issues and problems originate and how they manifest in daily life.
Homeopathic physicians will look differently at your child than other practitioners will. We are listening and observing for distinguishing factors that set your child apart from other children on the spectrum, while also matching the pattern of a specific homeopathic medicine. The fact that autism presents as a variable spectrum of characteristics shows that individualization of treatment is likely to be more effective than trying to treat all children the same simply because they have some diagnostic features in common. Homeopathy is a whole-person approach. We look at how each patient individually presents rather than making assumptions because s/he has been given a certain label. Body, mind, and spirit are an integrated whole and must be taken into account in any truly effective treatment, not just for ASD, but for any ailment or imbalance.
What You Can Expect from Homeopathic Treatment
Homeopathic medicine can provide a base of improvement that fundamentally shifts the level of functioning of ASD children, allowing them a greater prospect of a normal life. The more profound the impairment in functioning, the longer it may take to approach normalcy, but real change is possible and likely once the correct homeopathic medicine is found.
Typical changes from homeopathic treatment for ASD include improvements in:
* socially inappropriate behaviors
* eye contact
* tantrums and behavior problems
* hyperfocus on special interests
* bizarre gestures, spinning, tapping, visual stimming
* speech and language delays
* sensory issues
* obsessive behavior
* learning disabilities
* restlessness and hyperactivity
* mood changes
* poor concentration
* leaky gut
* common childhood illnesses
Changes may occur in the first four to six weeks of treatment, but some longstanding problems can take up to a year or more of treatment. In cases of profoundly impaired children, the amount of improvement is unknown until the correct homeopathic medicine has acted initially and shown the extent of improvement that may be possible. In general, the more recent and less ingrained symptoms change first, and deeper and older symptoms during the course of treatment. Sometimes one sees a brief return of symptoms from an earlier period, indicating that the homeopathic medicine is revisiting old issues in the health history in order to eliminate them. Sometimes discharges from mucus membranes resembling a cold or allergy, or rashes may appear transiently as the body tries to cleanse toxins and waste products from the system.
ASD Children Helped by Homeopathy
[Excerpted from our book A Drug Free Approach to Asperger Syndrome and Autism]
Diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at an early age, Jared has received homeopathic treatment for the last seven years with great benefit from the medicine Carcinosin. At the age of 10, he was a very intelligent child with an unusual talent for drawing animals, especially big cats, and he wanted to make a movie about dinosaurs. His main problems were perfectionism, sensitivity to criticism, and some difficulty with social interaction with other children, who had trouble relating to him because of his perseveration on cats and dinosaurs, and his pedantic manner of speech. He also was embarrassed by bed-wetting, and had allergies and food sensitivities, and chronic ear infections. He also has a cafe au lait spot from birth that is typical in children needing Carcinosin.
After several doses of Carcinosin over several months, Jared was much easier on himself and doing better socially. His bed-wetting had stopped in the first two weeks and the allergy systems were much better. He is graduating from high school this year, has an active social life, good grades and is no longer manifesting any symptoms of Asperger syndrome.
Malik had been slow to walk, talk, and sit up. He shook his arms in a strange way when excited. Fearful and highly sensitive, he only wanted to be with his mom, Jemila, and demanded 100% of her attention. Precocious in some ways, learning colors, and recognizing letters on his own by 2 1/2, there were still developmental warning signs. He had muscle tightening, which interfered with climbing stairs and bowel movements. When overly hungry, his mom said, "he loses control of all his muscles, and all hell breaks loose." Malik also repeated the questions his mother asked him, and he looked dazed. He loved to watch things spin while jumping up and down, and seemed lost in his own world. He walked on his toes, and couldn't feed himself.
Sensory issues turned brushing his teeth into a screaming battle when he was 1 or 2. He was either very calm or highly excitable, jumping up and down and losing his temper. Another interesting feature was that Malik had a wizened appearance, looking like a little old man at the age of 3 1/2. The school district reported that he was about a year behind in development and had sensory processing disorder. He did not interact with other children. He couldn't stand crowded places and clung to his mother for dear life in the mall.
Malik was given the homeopathic medicine Zincum metallicum, at first and later Zincum iodatum, both from the mineral kingdom. Zincum covers many common autistic features, involuntary muscle spasms and the old-age appearance. After six weeks on the medicine, Malik started talking to other children. He could express "I'm upset," rather than throw a tantrum. He climbed a jungle gym all by himself, something that would have been impossible for him before. He became much more social, showing interest in other children and playing with them. Repetitive behaviors and spinning also decreased.
His mother told us, with relief, "It's like a fog lifted from his brain. I see him getting more and more like a normal kid."
Gina was immature for a 13-year-old, more the size of a girl of 8 or 9. She had been diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder at age 5, when her language delays put her two years behind developmentally, She had wailed incessantly from birth to age 3 1/2. After the pertussis vaccine, Gina shrieked even louder for two days.
Gina was home schooled, with additional tutoring. She was restless and unfocused during schoolwork with an attention span of less than a minute. Rocking her seat, kicking the chair, or banging on the computer keyboard. Impulsive and impatient, it was very difficult for her to settle down and do her work. She fidgeted, flapped, and flipped her pencil. Easily distracted by noise, Gina had difficulty with auditory processing, with sensitivity to loud noises like the vacuum cleaner.
Despite her sound sensitivity, Gina chattered incessantly and tormented her mother and tutor with question after question. Though she was quite verbal, Gina could not grasp math beyond addition and subtraction or count money. She also liked to line up her toys and play repetitively with string.
A tic disorder had developed after Gina was struck on the head by the trunk of a car, with neck jerking and grunting whenever she was pushed too hard to do her school work. Stimulant medications for her attention problems had worsened her tics, causing her parents to turn to homeopathy for relief.
Unusual compared with some ASD children, Gina was kind, compassionate, and quite social. She was desperate to have friends and tried to please them. She liked younger children who would play the simpler games like tag and hide-and-go-seek.
Gina was given the homoeopathic medicine Baryta phosphoricum. Like the better-known medicine of this group, Baryta carbonica, she was developmentally delayed and childish. While Baryta carbonica is known to be shy and timid, Baryta phosphoricum conversely is the most social, compassionate, and friendly.
After receiving the homeopathic medicine, Gina's concentration had improved and she no longer had any tics. She was doing better with her schoolwork, though she still talked too much while doing it. She appeared to be more intelligent, reading three chapters of a SpongeBob book at a sitting. She wasn't obsessed with strings anymore, and had better coordination. After four months her mother described the change as "night and day." She entered the beginning stages of puberty and continued on a sharp maturation curve. She went to overnight camp for handicapped kids and her counselors remarked on her kindness toward the younger children. She even began talking of what she would do when she grew up.
Before You Consider Conventional Approaches, Consider Homeopathy for Your Autism-Spectrum Child
These examples of cases from our practice are typical of the responses that children have to the correct homeopathic medicine. We hope that you will consider homeopathic treatment for your ASD child, so that he or she can have a much better chance of leading a normal life, at the least to function more easily in school, social, and work environments.
Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are licensed naturopathic physicians, board certified in homeopathy. Their books include A Drug-Free Approach to Asperger Syndrome and Autism, Ritalin-Free Kids, Rage-Free Kids, Prozac Free, Homeopathic Self-Care: The Quick and Easy Guide for the Whole Family, Whole Woman Homeopathy, The Patient's Guide to Homeopathic Medicine, and Mystics, Masters, Saints and Sages: Stories of Enlightenment. They teach and lecture internationally and practice at the Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, Washington. The doctors live on Whidbey Island, Washington, and in Pucon, Chile. They treat patients in person and by phone or videoconference, and can be reached at 425-774-5599, (fax) 425-670-0319, or www.healthyhomeopathy.com
by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, DHANP, LCSW, and Robert Ullman, ND www.healthyhomeopathy.com