Defeat Autism Now! Conference 2010 Day 3 Sunday, Apr 11 2010 


The last day of the journey is finally here. It has been an overwhelming whirlwind of ideas and information. I almost feel like I need to go to a debriefing just to make sense of everything I’ve learned!

We started the day with Dr. Sidney Baker and the autism360.org tool . This thing is amazing. First of all, its free for doctors and patients, which helps a lot. Second, it is totally confidential. Finally, it shows you what kids have a similar profile to yours and what worked for them. It is a powerful and awe inspiring gift to our community.

Next up was Dr. Jeremy Nicholson, another brilliant researcher who did an amazing job showing a way to approach autism using systemic models. Then Dr. Dan Rossignol told us how to assess and prioritize treatments using evidence based medicine. He was especially helpful for the parents in the audience.

After lunch we were greeted by Dr. Jim Adams with some exciting results from a DMSA study. One benefit they didn’t expect was glutathione normalization after just one round of DMSA. Finally we heard from Dr. Laura Hewitson on the primate models of vaccine safety. Most folks will remember this study from the first paper that showed developmental delays after the administration of hepatitis B vaccine at birth. This study is exactly what we need and will surprise some people when the results are published.

All in all I feel it was worth the time and effort. The ideas and interventions are here. This is the place to come if you want to know more about autism as a physiological condition. I will definitely be writing more about what I learned, but right now I have to drive home and see my boy.

Defeat Autism Now! Conference 2010 Day 2 Saturday, Apr 10 2010 


After a good nights sleep and a greasy muffin I took my venti americano to the science session. Again, it is amazing how friendly everyone has been. I love the attitude of everyone here. Its amazing how a shared tragedy can make strangers into friends.

Our keynote speaker was an odd choice. Duane Anderson, political medico and establishment shill, started us off with a boring statistical rundown of things we already knew. He was nonconfrontational only in tone, not in content. Thankfully our moderator countered his points to thunderous applause.

Our first speaker, Dr. McGinnis, spoke about the brainstem hypothesis. The brainstem hypothesis posits (roughly) that the blood brain barrier is weaker in certain areas which are easy entry points for toxins to cross into the brainstem. Fascinating and scary stuff, especially considering the sheer volume of toxins in our environment. Next up was Dr. Anthony Fasano, a research doctor specializing in leaky gut syndrome. He was an engaging and animated speaker and revealed a great deal of clinical data relating to gluten issues in the intestines. The Q & A was even more enlightening.

I needed the lunch break. Kelly and I did some shopping at the vendor tables and decided to go for a walk. After a nice lunch at a nearby taco place I returned to class. This was Dr. Simon Gregory sharing epigenetic evidence of oxytocin receptor deficiency in autism. This was pretty dry stuff, but the bit on DNA methylation was worth the time. Also, the thought that incorrect methylation alters gene expression is exciting. We have been trying to help Raymod methylate since we started biomedical intervention.

Next up was Dr. Martha Welch who I found to be fascinating and informative. She originated some critical research on oxytocin and secretin receptors in the gut, finally tying the gut-brain axis together chemically. The information and research on oxytocin alone was awesome, but when you think about everything oxytocin does for socialization and regulation you can really start to get excited about it. We finished up with Dr. Judy Ven de Water talking about Maternal Antibodies to Fetal Brain in Autism. She was brilliant, but my mind was gone. I must admit I hardly retained anything she said, although the depth of her research is incredible.

I must say this conference is everything I hoped it would be so far. I definitely feel like it was worth the time and money. The only thing missing is Raymond. Maybe if we come again next year we’ll bring him with us. That would bring it all full circle for me. Luckily we get the night off as we’re meeting some old friends for dinner at the Annabelle Lee. See you tomorrow!

Defeat Autism Now! Conference 2010 Day 1 Saturday, Apr 10 2010 


Okay, so my wife and I decided to attend this year’s Defeat Autism Now! Conference in Baltimore MD. If you haven’t heard of the DAN! Protocol then you should check out the Autism Research Institute, which maintains and updates the protocol. Although we have been practicing biomedical interventions for some time we had never made it to a DAN! Conference. Naturally we were both thrilled.

We made it on time, with me checking into my Friday only Nutrition seminar and my wife in the first day of the three day General track. I am doing the Science track tomorrow and Sunday, so Nutrition was my only option for today. We’re hoping our “divide and conquer” strategy nets us more info for the same amount of loot. We shall see. Having been told by several folks that the pace is fast and the knowledge copious we were somewhat anxious going in.

Luckily, for me anyway, my panel was wonderful. There is no way I can even begin to relay the data shared in the sessions. First off, because there is so much information I would be here all night typing and still not finish. Also, though, one of the best reasons to come to a DAN! Conference is the community, the exhibitors, the smiles and the warmth. I must have discussed different situations with at least 10 people, and every one of them had some insight.

I spent the bulk of my day learning about dietary interventions. GFCF, SCD, GAPS, LOD, you name it I heard about it. The speakers included Kelly Barnhill from ARI, Dana Laake author of “The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook” and Vicki Cobliner from Holcare Nutrition. All three of them had wonderful information and advice although Dana Laake had the quote of the day. “If you wouldn’t serve your kid a martini then don’t serve them a soda.” How true.

I ended my day with Doctors Ken Bock and Sidney Baker discussing Immunity and Inflammation. I was happy to hear Dr. Bock speak, as I’ve been a fan since I read his book 3 years ago. Dr. Baker may have missed his calling as a stand up comedian, although I’m glad he stuck with medicine as he is also a brilliant doctor. I love how a good instructor can put everything I’ve read into perspective because its like the whole picture suddenly comes into focus. The Immunity lecture did just that.

Thanks to all the folks at ARI who make this happen. I’ll report back tomorrow night with an update.

World Autism Awareness Day 2010 Friday, Apr 2 2010 


I’m just gong to say a few words here. This is my son playing the piano. At age 3 we weren’t sure if he would be able to do anything requiring this level of motor planning. However, with therapy, biomedical intervention and hard work (his, not ours) we have helped him increase his function level to the point that he can succeed in difficult tasks. He is 6 now. He is in a mainstream classroom, albeit with para support, and has a good group of friends who accept him. He also rides a horse and plays the piano.

This autism awareness day I’m asking that folks put aside their respective opinions about autism and spend the day celebrating what the world of autism has brought us. People with autism can contribute, and if you take the time to listen they will tell you about a remarkable world right in front of your eyes. Thanks.

Autism Awareness Month again already! Friday, Apr 2 2010 


I look back on the year between when I last blogged about Autism Awareness month and this post, and I think of some of seemingly little things I have accomplished, and the major things my son has accomplished.

Raymond has friends that he asks to play with daily.

Our play group is up to 30 families.

Raymond has started to self advocate by telling us what input he needs.

I went to Capitol Hill and advocated for Raymond.

Raymond is in a typical kindergarten classroom. (Major goal met!)

It blows my mind that so much could happen so fast. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting in my home office trying to figure out how to engage people on this subject. It turns out that all I had to do was start talking to people, letting them know how things worked with these folks and that they can be helped. People on the spectrum all have a story and every one of them is compelling.

I think also about some of the benefits that are coming to our community as a result of the work of many other folks. I have been lucky enough to be invited to participate in some of them, and for that I am thankful.

The Autism Society of Northern Virginia has expanded into Fredericksburg.

Commonwealth Autism Services helped start the Fredericksburg Regional Autism Action Group. (more on that in another post!)

We made the calls and sent the emails to keep waiver services alive and well in the Commonwealth.

We helped push the Keeping All Students Safe Act through the House of Representatives.

So for my celebration, I’m just going to keep talking. I understand the hoopla over “lighting it up blue” but for me nothing works better than the sound of my son’s voice. I’ll keep talking for him until he’s old enough to do it himself. I hope all the parents out there do the same.

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