About fifteen years ago I met my very first mother of a child with autism who asked for something different. I remember it very clearly: mom told me her daughter had a yeast problem and wanted fluconazole. Flu-what-a-zole? Fluconazole – better known by the brand name Diflucan. Tempted to do what every other doctor in my position would have done – tell her how dangerous this medication is and that it destroys the liver – I paused and remembered something my dad had taught me. Way back then he was still teaching me things (he’s a pediatrician too, if you don’t know). Now I think I’m teaching him. Anyway, he taught me that one of the most important things in pediatrics is to listen to the mothers. This has served me well over the years. So I decided to take that advice to heart and listen. A week later mom called me at the office to say her daughter’s language was taking off.
That was the start of my involvement in TACA, Defeat Autism Now, and MAPS. And now, about a thousand patients with autism later, and more fluconazole prescriptions than any doctor should write in his lifetime, I realize how blessed I’ve been to see so many children with autism regain their language and social skills and lose many of their challenging behaviors and mannerisms. Of course, yeast meds are only a very small part of what biomedical doctors do. Many kids don’t even need a yeast prescription. Diet, supplements, and various other prescription and non-prescription treatments have made a tremendous impact on so many lives. ABA, OT, Speech, Hyperbarics, etc, all work together toward recovery. And the greatest blessing is when I see children recover to such an extent that the diagnosis of autism is no more, and their bubbly, quirky, talkative, affectionate and social personality shines for all to see.
Yet, there is a shadow over all this success: April was supposed to be Autism Awareness Month. Did anyone even know? I checked the CDC website, and they proclaim April to be National Minority Health Month, with the catch phrase “Learn about CDC and HHS efforts towards eliminating health disparities,” as if THAT is the most important health crisis facing America today. As autism rates continue to climb, the CDC and the medical establishment are no closer to finding the cause of autism. They seem to be spending more time trying to silence their whistleblowers and figuring out how spin their conflicts of interest in a positive direction than finding answers. The entire field of biomedical treatments for autism continues to receive very little attention or research in mainstream medicine. Oh, research is happening, and published studies are confirming some biomedical treatments bit by bit. And yet, some of my colleagues have been doing this for over 20 years, and if you ask 99% of doctors to prescribe fluconazole to a child with autism, you’ll see that glazed look pass over their eyes. And special diets and B12 shots? Forget it – those are just a fad. Those of us who do what we do are still doing it without the support of the mainstream medical community.
Probably the only thing that mainstream medicine has acknowledged is that GI problems do exist in children with autism. Yay. (No exclamation point.)
The few of us who practice this type of medicine have to continue to press on and help the kids who need it. I suppose we don’t need mainstream medicine to support it yet because we can still provide it. We don’t need our ivory tower colleagues to agree with it. We don’t do it because we want the approval of other doctors. We know it works. Hey, if biomedical doctors wanted the accolades of their ivory tower colleagues, they’d be doing something completely different, like inventing a new vaccine or running for state senate. Not us. We stay in the trenches where we are needed. And we like it. We love it. We love the kids. The warrior moms? Well, they’re a bit of a challenge (insert smiley face emoticon). But the calm dads balance it out. For us, there is no autism awareness month. It’s autism 24/7/365. We press on with the knowledge that there will be an answer some day. We’ll find the cause (causes), and we’ll find solutions that work for every child, every time.
Dr. Bob Sears