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Max's Story: A Homeopathic Cure of Autism
Read More About Autism Treatment
by Amy Lansky, Ph.D.
www.ImpossibleCure.com

Excerpted by permission of the author from Impossible Cure: The Promise of Homeopathy, R.L. Ranch Press, 2003.  For more information about homeopathic treatment of autism and to learn more about homeopathic treatment for your child, please visit http://www.impossiblecure.com

Max's Story:
A Homeopathic Cure of Autism

By Amy Lansky, Ph.D.

Amy Lansky, her husband, Steve, and their children, Izaak and Max (born in July 1991), live south of San Francisco, California. Amy's book, Impossible Cure: The Promise of Homeopathy, details Max's recovery from autism and provides one of the best-selling introductions to homeopathy for the autism community as well as for the general public.

Excerpted by permission of the author from Impossible Cure: The Promise of Homeopathy, R. L. Ranch Press, 2003. for more information, visit: www.impossiblecure.com


What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a system of medicine developed by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, M.D. in the early 1800s. Because of its successes, it quickly spread to become one of the four most widespread forms of medical treatment in the world. The homeopathic system is based on a simple law of therapeutics that determines which remedy will be curative for an individual: the Law of Similars. This law states that if a particular substance can cause a set of mental, emotional, and physical symptoms in a healthy person, then it can also cure a sick person who is experiencing those same symptoms; in other words, “likes cure likes". That is precisely what the word homeopathy means—similar (homeo) suffering (pathy).


Max's Story: A Homeopathic Cure of Autism

One of my first teachers of homeopathy told me that a person's views about homeopathy's curative powers tend to be colored by their first experience with it. For some, it is a cure of intransigent warts that suddenly dry up and drop off. For others, a case of shingles, allergies, migraine, or chronic fatigue yields and fades away, when years of other kinds of treatment had no effect. Then there are the cases that truly defy explanation: expulsion of a tumor; a man awakening from a coma minutes after taking a remedy; the discharge of mercury in the menstrual blood of a dental hygienist, after years of accumulation in her system. All of these have occurred with the correct homeopathic prescription.

The power of the homeopathic remedy has repeatedly had its impact on every member of my family and on many of my friends. I have seen tics stop overnight, a bout of cramping and diarrhea that had persisted for several days disappear in minutes, a welt from a wasp sting suddenly fade away, and my own summer allergies disappear, after years of growing increasingly more severe. But all of these pale in comparison with my first and greatest homeopathic miracle. My younger son, Max, was cured of an “incurable” condition—autism. Today, years later, I sometimes have a hard time believing it myself. We were very lucky, you see. Our homeopath found Max's simillimum—the perfectly matching remedy to his state—on the first try. Within a week, his therapist, my husband, and I were witnessing subtle yet noticeable changes in him.

The Warning Signs

It all began in the spring of 1994, when Max was 2 1/2 years old. Something wasn't right. He wasn't talking. Although he had about 10, maybe 20, words in his vocabulary, most of the time he didn't seem to understand language at all. And it was getting worse. On some level, Max seemed to be slowly drifting away.

On the bright side, Max did know all the letters of the alphabet and his numbers one to 10. He could stack blocks with amazing dexterity and could build highly intricate and perfectly symmetric structures. He even knew his way around the computer—pointing and clicking, dragging the mouse, and opening games. Max also displayed some amazingly advanced analytical skills. For instance, he could play a “Concentration”-style game, matching pairs of overturned tiles in a four-by-five grid, better than we could. And he could definitely hear. He enjoyed television and danced rhythmically to music. Indeed, for the most part, Max was a happy, though distant, toddler at home. He usually had a smile on his face and liked to play with his older brother Izaak—a precocious and mature 5 1/2 year old.

But when we all sat around talking and laughing in the evening and on weekends, Max would prefer to be off on his own. He'd go off and watch TV, play a computer game, stack his blocks, and retreat into himself. He also wasn't as affectionate as Izaak. Although, he didn't push us away, he never reached out for affection. For a long time I thought, “Oh, he's just late to speak. He's a more self-contained, more private person than Izaak.” But it was more than that.

At school, problems began to emerge. I began to sense that the teachers at his preschool were concerned. They greeted Max each morning with a kind of hesitancy. Although he had started off the school year exuberantly at age two, he had never fully settled in. Instead, he would rely on his beloved “baba”—a bottle of milk—for comfort. And though he enjoyed many of the toys in the classroom, Max never interacted with any of the other children. He was also unable to sit through story-time unless he was in a teacher's lap. He was antsy, as if there was a motor running inside him. It wasn't like classic hyperactivity—he didn't run about. He just wasn't paying attention. It was as if the story the teacher was reading was in a foreign language. Left to his own devices, Max would just wander off and play quietly with toys in the classroom that interested him. He wasn't disruptive; he just wasn't really “there.” When the children were outside playing, he would wander off to some other classroom. The teachers would find him raptly staring at some animal in a cage or a toy.

I knew that one of the teachers suspected autism. She told me that Max manifested self-stimulation activities—for example, spinning in a circle—and that he didn't have good eye contact when spoken to. But I didn't want to believe it. He did have some eye contact with us at home. He didn't really spin around at home either; he was generally happy and content.

But increasingly, there were noticeable oddities. One morning while driving to school, I asked him, “Do you know where we're going now?” No response. Max just stared into space. At night, when I'd try to read a story to him, he could not sit quietly. He would fidget and squirm all over the bed. He'd stand on his head, with his feet against the wall, or run his fingers up and down things—the table, the wall. I also noticed that he had the habit of poking his finger against people's chests or butting his head against them—not to hurt them, but as a kind of contact. Over a year later, I learned that these behaviors are all characteristic of autistic children.

What to do? I began to grasp at straws. Perhaps it was attention deficit disorder (ADD)? I read all the books. Perhaps it was the teachers? That they didn't “understand” him? But deep down, I knew Max had a serious problem. And it seemed to be getting worse. He was growing more distant, more disconnected. By the end of the school year, just before Max turned three, the preschool called us in for a conference and advised us to seek medical help. One teacher confided to us, “Max will never be able to attend the private school that Izaak goes to. He will always need special education.”

And so our family embarked upon a quest. I knew that we would never rest easy as long as Max had a problem like this; I knew that all of our lives would be severely affected. I felt instinctively that Max's entire future hung in the balance and that I had to do everything in my power, leaving no stone unturned, until I found the key.

My resolve was also deepened by another factor. This was one of my worst nightmares coming true. For years my mother and I had been deeply affected by my brother's struggle with severe mental illness. This past propelled me even harder to find a solution to Max's problem. I felt a call to arms, and in retrospect, it served me and my family well. I knew that there was no running away or avoiding the issue—no room for resignation. I knew that problems like this don't just go away; they cannot be ignored. I'd explore every nuance of our family dynamic, every food we ate, and examine every aspect of Max's life with a fine-toothed comb, looking for clues. This outcome for my son just didn't seem right to me. I was a mother on a mission.

The Search—Without and Within

In the summer of 1994, when Max had just turned three, we began to take action. On the advice of a speech-therapist friend, my husband and I decided not to take him to the local child-development clinic affiliated with Stanford University that had been recommended to us. Our friend told us that they'd just label Max and create a sense of hopelessness in us. Instead, we took him to a highly respected speech and language therapist who runs a clinic in Palo Alto, Donna Dagenais. Donna was (and still is) considered to be the best language therapist in our area, with vast experience in working with children with communication and language disorders. She didn't label Max—she merely assessed him and set to work. In addition to his private therapy sessions, she also placed him in group sessions with two other children, including one who had already been formally diagnosed with PDD (mild autism). Of the three, Max was the best behaved but the least verbal, and certainly the most “spaced-out.”

Next it was food. In my reading about ADD, I had run across the recommendations of the Feingold diet for improving children's behavioral problems [Feingold]. One of the most suspect problem-foods was cow's milk. That sure rang a bell! Max was addicted to it. He had formed a “lovie” attachment to his bottle. When he'd watch TV, when we were in a car or plane, at all times of the day, he'd request his “baba.” Some days he'd drink nearly eight bottles—half a gallon of milk! Perhaps this attachment was subconsciously related to the fact that, as an infant, Max had surgery for pyloric stenosis, a condition that closes the valve that controls the flow of stomach contents into the intestine. The most common symptom is persistent violent vomiting. Because of this condition, Max increasingly threw up all the breast milk he drank during the first month of his life. Perhaps, after a month of not getting enough milk, Max enjoyed his milk all the more now.

In any case, Max's craving for and large intake of milk was certainly suspect. We took him off cow's milk and cut his consumption to one cup of goat's milk per day. This step alone had a dramatic effect. Before it seemed like Max was behind a curtain, living in a different world. Now, the first veil lifted. He finally began to talk and build two-to-three word sentences. And he was clearly more present, more aware of his world. His behavior and language were still by no means normal, but it was a start. By the end of the summer, we also began to limit his intake of artificial food colorings, another recommendation of the Feingold diet.

Interestingly, a recent study has linked some cases of autism to a kind of brain-reaction to milk protein. This study will be discussed later, as well as the possibility that this reaction might be triggered by childhood vaccinations. Certainly, cutting down on Max's intake of milk did create a dramatic change in him. But it did not cure him.

In the fall of 1994, Max continued his speech and language therapy with Donna and, after testing, qualified for special education benefits. He made slow progress. Despite the fact that he could now talk, Max still had a decidedly autistic interaction style. For example, he could only answer questions of the most literal kind, and only about objects directly in front of him. Thus, he could answer the question, “What color is this block?” but he could not answer an abstract question like “What is your favorite color?” He also had another autistic symptom, echolalia, or speech echoing. Rather than answer a question, he would sometimes merely repeat the last few words the other person had said. For instance, if you said to him, “Say goodbye,” he would reply, “Say goodbye.” Sometimes this was a remarkably effective strategy for him: “Do you want to go outside or stay inside?” “Stay inside.” But soon we realized that he was merely parroting our words. If we asked the same question in a different way, his answer would change: “Do you want to stay inside or go outside?” “Go outside.”

During the fall of 1994, we intensified our examination of our family dynamic and other social factors in Max's life. On Donna's advice, we took him out of his play-oriented nursery school and enrolled him in a Montessori school. The Montessori framework is extremely structured and focused on reading, mathematical, and manipulatory skills—things that Max was interested in. It also encourages children to do their work completely on their own. This was perfect for Max, who could not interact well with other children but could work fine alone. The school did not see him as disabled but simply as quiet.

Next, we looked deeper at our family dynamic. At the time we were using a nanny for childcare three days a week. Steve and I each worked four-day workweeks so that one of us could stay home with the children the other two days of the week. Our nanny was a somewhat distant young woman with health problems of her own. Fortuitously, she left the area at just around this time, and we were able to find a new nanny who was extremely sweet and loving. We encouraged her to focus a bit more on Max than on his highly verbal and engaging brother. Indeed, this was one of the challenges confronting Steve and me as well. We realized that we had to make a concerted effort to spend more concentrated and focused time with Max. It was often easy to “forget” him—he was always wandering off to be by himself. So we decided to take turns, each spending intensive time with one child or the other.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we examined ourselves—our own feelings and attitudes toward Max. Deep down, I realized that I had feelings of rejection toward him in his current state. It can be truly difficult to be genuinely accepting and loving toward children with challenging problems. Yet they are the ones who need the most from us. They are also the ones who are most psychically sensitive to parental feelings and attitudes. I instinctively knew that I had to cultivate a state of unconditional acceptance and love toward Max, and that this acceptance was critical for his recovery. Coupled with this attitude, I also knew that I had to truly believe, to have true confidence, that he would recover. Steve went a long way toward helping me in this regard. Somehow, he always knew that things would turn out all right.

Homeopathy

It was now January of 1995. Curled up in bed, I was reading the latest issue of Mothering, a progressive parenting magazine. It included an article by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman about homeopathy for childhood behavioral problems [Reichenberg-Ullman, 1995]. She claimed that she was able to create substantial improvement in ADD cases 70% of the time. Back then I knew nothing about homeopathy. Like most people, I thought that it was some kind of herbal medicine. Occasionally I had taken over-the-counter homeopathic remedies for colds, but I didn't really know anything about homeopathy itself.

As I read Reichenberg-Ullman's article that evening, I was filled with an increasing fascination and excitement. I'll never forget the moment I finished reading it. A bell went off in my head. I knew that something important had happened. Little did I know that our lives were about to change forever. “Read this!” I said to Steve. The next morning I called an acupuncturist friend of mine and asked her where I could find a homeopath. She referred me to John Melnychuk, a professional homeopath new to the Palo Alto area. We quickly got an appointment and went with high hopes and expectations.

John is now a close family friend. Many years later, he told me that he was a bit stumped the day Steve, Max, and I walked out of his office in January 1995. Max was surely in an autistic state, but what other symptoms did he have to work with, besides those that were simply common symptoms of autism?

You see, although the nature of a patient's chief complaint or disease can be helpful in selecting a remedy, the symptoms that are merely typical signs of the disease aren't always that useful. Instead, the most fruitful symptoms are those that are peculiar to the individual. For example, nearly anyone with asthma will have difficulty breathing coupled with some anxiety about their condition. What will be most useful to a homeopath in choosing a remedy, however, will be that which is unusual about the patient and their asthma. The more peculiar or characteristic of the individual person, the more useful a symptom will be in guiding a homeopath toward a precisely individualized remedy. Symptoms as peculiar as “asthma, during the full moon” or “asthma, worse when listening to music” can be found in the homeopathic literature. Such symptoms are usually associated with only one or two very specific remedies that could be truly curative to a patient who experiences them. In contrast, a shallow or “routine” prescription for asthma, based only on common asthma symptoms, will most likely only palliate asthmatic symptoms, much as allopathic medicines do. Only a remedy that truly matches the person as an individual will actually cure them.

Given Max's youth and withdrawn state, it was a bit difficult to find symptoms that were particularly unique to him. However, some of the things that stood out included: his strong craving for milk, coupled with the fact that it aggravated his condition; his love of dancing and music; the tendency for his head to become very sweaty when sleeping; his preferred sleep position (on his back with his hands over the top of his head); his restlessness and intensity; a family medical history of both cancer and diabetes on Steve's side of the family and schizophrenia on my side; and a stubborn, perfectionistic, yet sweet personality. For example, during that first interview, Max became very upset when he didn't successfully write “Mom” on a piece of paper just the way he wanted to.

All of the above characteristics are associated with the remedy that Max ultimately was given —Carcinosin. It is a relatively unusual remedy, but it is not uncommonly used in such cases. Of course, other remedies have been used successfully in autism cases as well. The key is to find the remedy that best matches a child's unique symptom profile.

Ultimately, what clinched John's recommendation for Max was a particular symptom that he found in a homeopathic repertory—a reference book that provides a reverse index to the materia medica. This symptom was associated with only one remedy, and it read: “Talented, very: Carcinosin.” Apparently, I had mentioned ten times during the initial interview that Max was talented! Perhaps I was an overly proud mother, defensive of her “special needs” child. But I was quite certain of his innate talents. His observational skills and memory for visual detail were (and still are) quite extraordinary. He could watch television and perfectly imitate nuances in various characters' behavior and mannerisms. He could memorize dance routines and perform them for us. Even today, Max has an extraordinary memory for visual detail. He can watch a fast-paced cartoon and remember, days later, every bit of action that occurred. At age eight, he saw an interesting geometric figure within a painting on the wall of a restaurant, and remembered this same figure as the logo of another restaurant we had eaten at only once before—a month earlier. In recent years, he has emerged as a talented artist, with a flair for comic drawings.

As it turns out, Max had many other symptoms that are characteristic of Carcinosin as well. Because this remedy turned out to be his simillimum, I went on to study it further and write journal papers about his case for the professional homeopathic community [Lansky]. Introduced as a remedy in the early twentieth century, Carcinosin was relatively unknown until D.M. Foubister, M.D., a British physician, began utilizing and writing about it in 1958 [Foubister]. Its many symptoms include ones that Max also exhibited: bluish scleratics (i.e., the whites of the eyes have a bluish cast); a tendency to have numerous dark brown macules (large freckles); a hairy back and legs; a craving for salt, butter, and spicy foods; perfectionism and tidiness; oversensitivity to reprimand or criticism; and a love of animals. Even Max's “poking” behavior, so common among autistic children, is described in one article about Carcinosin that appeared in the July 1963 issue of the British Homoeopathic Journal:

“I have noticed that Carcinosin often has bizarre tics; one of my patients constantly tapped his brothers' skulls with his fingertips; another used to gently bite the tips of children's fingers, one after the other...” [Hoa]

Of course, my goal here is not to go over all of Max's and Carcinosin's symptoms. It is merely to illustrate the kinds of symptoms that play a role in homeopathic prescribing. It is not a formulaic “take this for that” medical system. That's what makes it so hard to practice well.

Initial Changes

Max began taking his remedy on a Thursday morning. John had recommended a liquid dosing regimen—a kind of slow and steady approach—where a small amount of remedy, diluted in water, is given on a regular basis. In Max's case, we gave him a teaspoon each morning. Each time we gave him a dose, we also tried to imbue it with our love and good intentions.

Two days later, Steve and I began to notice some changes. Max was using some phrases he had never used before and was somehow a bit more socially aware. It was subtle, but something had definitely shifted. We also noticed that his speech was slightly more fluid. Usually, he spoke in a kind of “cogwheel” fashion—as if he had to think about each word he said. Over time, we found that noticeable and sudden improvements in speech and social-awareness became Max's earmark for the effects of the remedy upon him.

The following Tuesday, five days after starting the remedy, Max had a session with his therapist, Donna. We did not tell her about the remedy, but she quickly noticed that something had changed. “What did you do?” she asked. One of Max's exercises was to try to follow a list of instructions, such as “Put the ball on the red chair and bring the green block to me.” Usually he was able to follow only a single command, rarely two. Suddenly he was able to perform two commands consistently.

And the trend continued. Each day we saw just a bit more improvement. As time went by and we went through successively increased potencies of the remedy, we began to see a definite pattern of response. A bottle of the remedy usually took a month to finish. When we began a new bottle, containing a slightly higher potency of the remedy, Max would show some increased signs of hyperactivity. These aggravations were not extreme, but were noticeable to myself and Donna. This period would usually last three to five days. It was followed by a sudden jump in verbal, cognitive, and social ability—a discrete and noticeable step upward. At this point, the hyperactivity would also tone down. Max would become more contained and relaxed. This was followed by a period of gradual improvement for about two weeks. At the end of the month, as we neared the end of the bottle, we would begin to see a gradual slipping backwards. Donna and I used to call this Max's “end-of-the-bottle behavior.” This heralded the need to move on to the next dosage level.

Skepticism

After a few months, the changes in Max had become quite noticeable. However, being scientists, Steve and I were naturally a bit skeptical about the whole affair. Was it the remedy that was changing Max? Was it our own expectations and attitudes? We decided to conduct a simple and, admittedly, not totally rigorous test. For two weeks, I would make daily observations about Max and write them down. Steve would give Max his morning dose, changing from one dosage level (bottle) to the next, at a time unknown to me. The bottle would be hidden. Truthfully, I expected Steve to change the dosage level fairly early on in the two-week period. Each day I made my observations and jotted them down, straining to see that sudden shift, but seeing none. However, on the second to last day of the experiment, it happened—I noticed a sudden improvement in Max's speech. And, indeed, Steve had changed the dose three days earlier.

As it turns out, our skepticism about the miracle happening before our eyes was not that unusual. Over the past few years, I have seen several striking homeopathic cures. In those cases where the true simillimum has been found, the curative process is usually so natural and graceful that it seems that the person is just “getting better” by themselves. Of course, this is what happens; a remedy enables the body to heal itself. It does not “do” something to the body in the way that allopathic medicines do. It does not force a chemical change, so the body will not feel forced. For this reason, a person who is accustomed to the action of allopathic medicines will often think that a remedy did nothing; they will feel that they just “got better.” Or they might attribute their cure to something else. But in truth, an appropriately selected remedy in the appropriate dose should be so gentle and effective that the person feels they just got better.

Of course, there are also situations where an inappropriate remedy or an inappropriate dose is given. In these cases, a person will either feel that nothing has happened at all, or, if they are sensitive to the remedy, that something unpleasant has come over them. For example, my mother once experienced a week of recurring mild fevers that began an hour after ingesting a remedy given in too high a dose. On another occasion, I found myself sitting and crying over some cooked onions that had been thrown away by mistake. Puzzled by the way I was overreacting, I suddenly realized, “Of course! I took a high dose of Ignatia (a grief remedy) yesterday.” There I was, conducting my own personal proving of Ignatia, grieving over lost onions.

Interestingly, people often do not attribute these negative effects to a remedy either—they just don't feel like allopathic-drug side effects. Luckily, such reactions usually disappear soon after a remedy is discontinued or after its potency is adjusted. However, such phenomena do underscore the importance of treatment under the guidance of a trained homeopath.

Because Max's cure seemed so natural and proceeded fairly gradually, it seemed to many of our friends and family that he just grew out of his autistic state. But those of us who saw him almost daily—Steve, Izaak, our nanny, our housekeeper, Donna, and I—saw the direct correspondence between changes in dose and improvements in behavior. Donna, who is extremely experienced with children like Max, repeatedly assured me that what happened to Max was atypical. When he was clearly better, after a year of daily dosing (at which point we discontinued the remedy altogether), she confided to me that Max had been autistic. She said that she had seen autistic kids improve before, but not lose their autism like Max did. In fact, our pediatrician made the same confession. Once he was better, she admitted that he had been autistic. She was quite surprised by the change in him. Many years later, when I brought the boys in for a checkup, she commented that she was still amazed at what had happened to Max.

Osteopathy, Reiki, and Prayer

Six months after starting on Carcinosin, Max continued to improve in his ability to speak and understand language. His social awareness improved as well. However, much of his inner restlessness and social distance remained. When he was four, about six months after starting homeopathic treatment, I took Max to see a traditional osteopath on John's recommendation. While most osteopaths in the United States (with the D.O. credential) function as allopaths, a traditional osteopath heals only through hands-on manipulatory techniques. One of the goals of treatment is to balance and free the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, through very gentle, sometimes almost imperceptible, manipulations of the cranium, spine, and sacrum.

Max had a course of three osteopathic treatments in a month, followed by an occasional treatment once every few months. After his first examination, the osteopath felt that Max had signs of cranial compression, which he was able to correct. And indeed, Max's initial response to treatment was striking. While the homeopathic remedy had its primary effect on his language production, comprehension, and social awareness, osteopathy created the first major shift in Max's desire for physical affection. It also seemed to create a calming effect in him, quelling that sense of internal restlessness.

The night after his first osteopathic treatment, Max crawled into my lap and said, “Mommy, sing me ‘Rock-A-Bye Baby!’ Although he did not usually push me away, this was the first time he directly asked me for this kind of physical loving attention. From that point on, Max did. Soon he began crawling into bed with me in the morning and snuggling at bedtime. He also began to run after my husband or me when we left the house to make sure he got that extra kiss goodbye. What a change from the distant “self-contained” Max!

Throughout the healing process, I also prayed for Max on a regular basis. When times were particularly rough, I would go into his room while he was sleeping and use a form of therapeutic touch called Reiki [Stein]. I truly believe that the effects of prayer and hands-on healing are not to be underestimated. In fact, an increasing number of studies have proven the beneficial effects of both on cases ranging from open-heart surgery to AIDS [Targ]. Many nurses are training in the use of such techniques and are beginning to use them in hospital settings. In my own experience, osteopathy, hands-on energy work, and prayer all work marvelously with homeopathic treatment. They seem to be complementary, boosting each other's beneficial effects.

Joining the Crowd

In the fall of 1995, after nine months of homeopathic treatment, Max began his second year at the Montessori preschool. At this point, his speech had definitely become more complex, spontaneous, and fluid. Donna tested him again and found that he was approaching age level. She decided to discontinue therapy, but kept him “on the books” as far as eligibility for special education.

Now that Max was talking, he was also trying to join in with the other children socially. But he was behind. Having started so late, he was awkward in his initial attempts at social interaction. He was stubborn and cried too easily when he didn't get his way. To get attention and acceptance, he often resorted to excessive silly “toilet talk.” Of course, as a parent, I was thrilled that he was beginning to reach out to other children. But the school was not as supportive. They had pegged Max as a quiet child and did not like the new changes they saw in him. They gave him no support in his awkward transition from social withdrawal to social acceptance and savvy. One of his teachers said to me, “Max was such a nice boy before. Can you put him back the way he was?”

Although it was awkward to change schools in the middle of the school year and cope with this teacher's attitude, I had learned by this point that not changing to meet Max's needs would stall his progress. It was clearly time for some changes on the school front. So, when Max was 4 1/2, we found a new school for him—a more socially oriented school that followed the Montessori style, but not as strictly. His new teachers had no preconceptions or biases toward him, and they easily helped Max adjust. Within a few months he knew everyone at school, was interested in what was going on around him, had a couple of friends, and was having playdates.

During that school year we also made some more changes on the home front. When our nanny decided to leave her position to follow her dream to become a beautician, Steve and I decided to stop using nannies altogether, opting instead for after-school childcare three days per week. This change had many beneficial side effects for our family. For one thing, we finally began to eat dinner together every night as a family. Given the hectic schedule of families with two working parents, the institution of the family meal has gone by the wayside in many American homes. Returning to it created a feeling of greater coherence and stability in our lives. It also assured a better diet for our kids.

Remedy Adjustments, and a Hint of Vaccination Damage

By the end of 1995, it became increasingly clear that Max was being aggravated more than helped by his remedy. He was consistently more hyper and revved up. We began to decrease the frequency of his dose, but the aggravation remained. Finally, in January 1996, a year after Max began homeopathic treatment, we stopped it completely.

Sure enough, just like Max's marked improvement with each monthly change of dose, going off the remedy now led to a huge leap in language and social ability. This leap continued for about four months until it evened out. Max calmed down and his true personality began to emerge full force. He is an entertainer. He is sociable and sensitive. Although he was still immature at this point, he was ahead of his peers academically. He was respected and liked by both his teachers and classmates. In May 1996, Donna tested Max once more. He was testing above age level! On the day that Steve and I joyfully signed papers releasing Max from eligibility for special education, Donna told the county social services representative that it was not her therapy that had done the trick for him; it was homeopathy. She also invited John and me to present Max's case to her clinic, which we did that summer.

Max was now almost five years old, and it was tempting for Steve and me to believe that he was fully cured. However, John was less sure, and he turned out to be right. There were still vestigial signs of his former autism, though they were not readily apparent. For example, his language production continued to be awkward at times. In times of stress (for instance, if he was sick), he would retreat into himself and use echolalia as a speech strategy.

But overall, Max was functioning extremely well. He engaged in real discussions with family and friends. He asked for explanations about his body and his environment. He related stories about his day at school and about TV shows. He was also fascinated with fantasy play and dress up. Max was even becoming popular at school, with children running up to him and greeting him. He was able to adjust easily to new social situations the summer of 1996, readily adapting to two new summer camps. Max had also become an avid reader—another Carcinosin quality. Before he began kindergarten he could already read simple Dr. Seuss books.

However, by the end of the summer of 1996, I began to notice a slight decline in Max's speech and social awareness. It also happened to be time for his five-year-old checkup at the pediatrician. And for the first time, I declined the routine vaccinations. At age five, it is customary to give the full battery—measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT), and polio. Having read about a possible link between autism and vaccination damage, I didn't want to rock the boat. Our pediatrician did not argue with my decision either. But she did convince me to give Max the tuberculosis (TB) test that is required for kindergarten entry in California—now administered as an injection rather than the old tine test.

Unfortunately, this injection led to a marked aggravation and deterioration in Max's state. For the next week, he became increasingly sensitive, crying for no reason. The teachers at his camp and at school remarked about the change in him. He had become more withdrawn and fearful. He was not his usual self. This reaction made us wonder if, indeed, vaccination was the root cause of Max's problems in the first place. Years later, I discovered another hint of this. After going through his medical records, I realized that at age 18 months, Max had been given a dose of the MMR vaccine only one week after recovering from roseola—an ailment related to measles. Perhaps he had been in a compromised state. Indeed, the MMR vaccine has been highly implicated in triggering autism [Wakefield].

Luckily, after a couple of tries with other remedies, our homeopath suggested that we simply return to Carcinosin. After a single dose, Max was back to his normal self within hours. We breathed a sigh of relief. Max started back on the remedy and remained on it for another eight months, once again changing dosage level about once a month. Again we saw the same characteristic monthly pattern of response. After eight months, in March of 1997, I readily recognized the consistent aggravation and stopped the remedy. And once again, this was followed by a long period of noticeable improvement.

An Ongoing Process

Since that time, Max has no longer needed daily doses of Carcinosin. Just like the rest of our family, he visits our homeopath and osteopath about two times a year, or when the need arises. Sometimes he receives a remedy to deal with minor behavioral or emotional problems that crop up. Sometimes he receives a remedy when he gets an infection or virus and needs a bit of extra help getting over it. The same is true for me, Steve, and our other son Izaak. We are all part of an ongoing process of healing and growth.

In the fall of 1997 I felt that Max was ready to leave his Montessori school. At age 6, he entered first grade at the private school that Izaak attended. Since then he has done well both academically and socially. He is an openhearted, sensitive, and somewhat comedic fellow who loves drawing and art (he is especially fond of the quirky and enigmatic paintings of M.C. Escher), playing computer games, reading fantasy and science fiction books, and writing and illustrating his own works of science-fantasy.

But like all children, Max is growing and changing and occasionally needs homeopathic and social supports. When he was in second grade, input from his teachers alerted us to the fact that he was still having some difficulty processing auditory input. For example, he sometimes missed parts of oral instructions or key points in stories, especially when they were read out loud to the class. Being quite sensitive to disapproval, Max tended to cover up for these deficits and did not ask for help or clarification from the teacher. The result was sometimes an excellently executed assignment or essay, but written about the wrong topic. The teachers were puzzled. Max's behavioral affect was quite normal and his execution of assignments was always excellent if he understood what was expected from him. There seemed to be something askew to them.

You see, up to that point, I had not told Max's teachers about his former autism. I didn't want to bias them in any way. And perhaps I wanted to forget about these problems myself. When these new issues arose, I told the teachers about Max's history. As a result, they tried to provide visual or written instructions for him when necessary, and occasionally would check up on him to make sure he had understood class assignments. The net effect was excellent.

Max is now doing quite well in life. After third grade, his auditory processing problems seemed to disappear, thanks to ongoing homeopathic treatment. His teachers no longer report any problems at all. Today his behavior, demeanor, and day-to-day interactions with friends and family are not in any way autistic. He's a sociable fellow with many friends, and an excellent student working at his age and grade level. He takes piano and tennis lessons. He attends summer camps, including a month-long sleepaway camp. He is resilient within his peer group, always able to defend himself with a kind of entertaining humor and charm. He is also a gentle soul, loved by his teachers. Of course, he still has his issues, like any other child. But we continue to work on them and Max continues to improve. Invariably, his spirit and talents outshine any limitations. Max is no longer autistic, but he is still a “talented, very” child.

Why Autism?

According to the Autism Society of America, between 500,000 and 1,500,000 Americans now have some form of autism. And the number is rising. Check around your community—autism cases are popping up everywhere. Every day I hear about more cases of this once incredibly rare and heartbreaking condition. In a statement to Congress in 1999 supported by the Central Missouri District School Nurse Association, Patti White, R.N. estimated that the rate of autism-related disorders had risen in her district from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 150 [White]. A 1999 California government report also found an alarming increase in the number of autism cases in that state [AutismCalifornia]. In fact, in 2001, the U.S. Department of Health reported that the incidence of autism is rising at a rate of more than 20% a year [Herald].

Where did this alarming trend come from? As mentioned earlier, one proposed physiological explanation is a wayward reaction to milk protein. Two studies conducted at the University of Florida [Ross, Sun1, Sun2] have found that some autistic and schizophrenic individuals may lack the ability to break down proteins found in milk, possibly due to a malfunctioning enzyme.

Now obviously, the recent dramatic rise in autism cannot simply be attributed to milk —something that children have always been consuming. What has changed is these children's ability to assimilate milk. Indeed, autistic children are known to be sensitive to many other foods as well—for example, wheat, gluten, corn, and food colorings—and their autism sometimes improves when these foods are eliminated from their diet.

But why have these food intolerances developed? One very compelling theory is that the ever-increasing use of vaccinations is to blame. Indeed, several studies and books have directly correlated the rise in autism—indeed, the very phenomenon of autism itself—with the introduction of the American vaccine program. The earliest reported cases of autism in the United States were in 1943, among affluent families—the families who were the first to give their children all the benefits of modern medicine, including vaccinations [Coulter90].

Since then, the situation has only gotten worse. It is now an incontrovertible fact that the incidence of autism, ADD, and other learning and behavioral disorders has risen precipitously over the past twenty years, along with a sharp increase in severe allergies and various other kinds of autoimmune disorders. This rise has occurred at the same time as the increased and mandated use of vaccinations for just about every childhood illness. Indeed, the number of different disease antigens (the vaccine constituents that trigger an immune response) that are recommended for children by the time they are five years old has more than tripled in the last two decades [MercolaVaccine].

Can this correlation between an increase in vaccination and an increase in behavioral and autoimmune disorders be explained scientifically? Some scientists are starting to believe the phenomenon can be explained by the fact that vaccines stimulate a different branch of the immune system (the humoral or Th2 function) than is stimulated by actually experiencing a disease (the cell-mediated or Th1 function). As a result, it may be over-stimulation of the body's Th2 function (by an ever-increasing number of vaccines) that may be causing wayward autoimmune responses [Incao]. Another popular theory is that various vaccine ingredients—mercury, in particular—are to blame.

Whatever the explanation, people are beginning to take notice. Missouri nurse Patti White's statement to Congress asserts her suspicions about the now-popular hepatitis B vaccine. Once a staunch advocate of vaccination, White has seen a dramatic rise in childhood behavioral problems in her school district, as well as asthma, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, ever since the hepatitis B vaccination was mandated for infants in 1991 [White]. Autism and other behavioral problems have also been linked to the DPT vaccine, because of convulsions or cerebral inflammation that occurred hours or days after administration of the vaccine [Coulter90]. More recently, the MMR vaccine has been implicated in an English study by Andrew Wakefield, M.D. [Wakefield]. This vaccine is suspected to cause abnormal intestinal problems in autistic children, and is also suspected as a trigger for Crohn's disease. Although Wakefield's work has met with the criticism one would expect for such an unpopular scientific result, his suspicions about the MMR vaccine have been buttressed by other studies. For example, American researcher V.K. Singh has found evidence that autism may be an autoimmune disorder of the brain that is triggered by the MMR vaccine [Singh]. Today, many parents within the American and British autism communities feel that this vaccine, in particular, is the culprit for their children's condition. I have come to believe that this was the case for Max as well.

It will be a shocking and sad day when we as a society admit to ourselves that, in our effort to avoid the childhood illnesses (many of which are usually benign) or to needlessly protect newborn infants from diseases primarily found among intravenous drug users (hepatitis B), we may be inadvertently crippling many of our children, both mentally and physically, for life.

Luckily, homeopathy has a longstanding and successful track record in repairing vaccination damage. It also has been successful in curing (not just palliating) the allergies, asthma, and behavioral problems that may result from this damage. Max's story is a case in point. Homeopathic remedies are also available for treating and preventing the very same childhood diseases that vaccinations are trying to prevent. Thus, homeopathy provides not only a remedial tool, but also an alternative way to deal with the diseases vaccines are designed to prevent.

The Path of Healing

Max's cure was a miracle. There is still not a day that goes by without my thanking God for delivering Max and the rest of our family from what could have been a tragic outcome. But Max's healing was not without its ups and downs. Invariably, overcoming a serious problem like autism is a process that takes time.

In retrospect, I realize that we were amazingly lucky to find a perfect remedy for Max right away. Because we were able to see at least some form of progress throughout Max's healing, it was easy to stick with the process. More often than not, however, it takes time for a homeopath to find a good remedy for a patient. This is especially true in complex, chronic cases. The net effect can be a sort of zigzag path to cure, a gradual and more circuitous return to health. After all, a homeopath can do nothing more than try to match a patient's current symptoms to the best fitting remedy they can find.

Of course, there are times when a quick miraculous cure does happen. I've seen it myself. But usually, the path to the cure of chronic disease is not so smooth. There may be periods of aggravation to deal with and modifications of dose and remedy to be tried. It takes patience, perseverance, and enough education about homeopathy to cooperate effectively with the treating homeopath and to cope with the bumps along the way.

Don't forget, a homeopath needs to know lots of symptoms—including some very personal ones—to make a good prescription. Without fully understanding a person's physical, mental, and emotional state, a homeopath can work only on the surface and can have only a superficial impact on a patient's health. Even when all of the relevant symptoms are known, it is often difficult to interpret a case correctly and find the simillimum. Because of this, the practice of homeopathy, like that of many other holistic healing therapies, is an art that requires years to master. In difficult cases, even the most experienced homeopath may need some time to understand a patient well enough to find a path to cure.

Since I first published my original paper about Max's cure in 1998 [Lansky], I have been contacted by many parents of autistic children from around the world. Recently, one parent called to tell me that because of this paper, he had sought out homeopathic treatment for his autistic son—and that his boy was now recovering. That one phone call made all of my efforts to spread the word about Max's case worthwhile.

However, in most of my conversations with these beleaguered parents, I have discovered a great deal of resignation and fatalism about their child's condition. Despite my spending hours on the phone or email with them, assuring them that autism had been cured in Max's case and had been treated successfully in other cases as well [Herscu-Aut], most of these parents have not given homeopathy a thorough trial. In one case, a mother sought out a homeopath and got a remedy for her child, but was too afraid to give it to her. In other cases, parents discontinued treatment after only a month, either because they didn't see enough effects from the remedy, or because they were scared by aggravations.

From these experiences I have learned the proverbial lesson—“You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.” It is my hope that, in the case of humans at least, further education can lead to an awareness of the need to take that first sip and keep drinking. That is why I kept sharing my story about Max's cure and why I ultimately wrote a book about it and this astounding medical system [LanskyBook].

If someone comes to a homeopath because they are suffering from a longstanding chronic illness, they must give the homeopath time—at least six months—to find a good remedy and dosing regimen. Indeed, if an allopathic doctor has said that a condition is incurable, why are people surprised or discouraged when they are not cured quickly and easily by a homeopath? So often people turn to alternatives like homeopathy when all hope is lost, and they expect a miraculous cure to happen overnight. But cure usually takes time.

It also takes confidence. In the case of autism and other severe childhood diseases, parents often become afraid and despondent, and understandably so. It is hard enough for them to truly accept their child's illness. It is even harder for them to cultivate an attitude of confidence and trust that their child will be cured. In many cases, it is also difficult for them to face the potential disappointment of failed treatment. But what is worse? Disappointment, or a lifetime of handling a child with a crippling disability?

I believe that it is an attitude of loving acceptance coupled with confidence in cure that is the key to recovery for anyone. I have read that it is not the fighters who recover from cancer. Rather, it is those individuals who are able to embrace their illness and its gifts, while still maintaining confidence that they will get to the other side of it. A very difficult state of mind to achieve—no doubt about it! While acceptance of disease may be achieved by some, if it is not coupled with confidence in cure, it can sometimes lead to psychological investment in disease. When this happens, the positive intentionality that fosters the curative process becomes derailed.

For example, I have met parents who have convinced themselves that their children are just fine being autistic. While this attitude may help a parent feel better about their situation, it does nothing to help a child recover. Certainly, their child would be better off if they weren't autistic! If we want our children (or ourselves) to recover, it is imperative that our love and acceptance be coupled with an inner vision of recovery. I believe this coupling of attitudes can be the single most powerful force in achieving a cure—the second most powerful, of course, being an accurately prescribed homeopathic remedy.

Being a homeopathic patient is invariably a journey of growth. It is a transformation, not a bandaid; a fulfillment of potential and a return to proper function, not a cut-and-paste operation. It may take effort, but cure (rather than unending palliation or suppression) is worth that effort. It takes awareness of one's symptoms and a willingness to divulge all aspects of oneself to a homeopath. It takes a “stick with it” attitude.

I hope that Max's story has also illustrated another point—the need to accommodate to improvement and growth as it occurs. Because a person undergoing homeopathic treatment may actually change in fundamental ways, it is important to make lifestyle modifications that accommodate that change. In a child's case, this may require changes in schooling or childcare arrangements. In an adult, the movement toward health may cause changes in work or relationships. After all, in order to really heal, a person must often repair those circumstances that contribute to their illness.

Finally, homeopathy is ideally a family affair. For one thing, the healing of a child may actually depend on a parent's ability to change and become well too. Likewise, the healing of a child may free up family energy so that other family members can fulfill their own potential. In the end, homeopathy can improve the whole dynamic of a family, as a cycle of change and growth is set into motion. In our family, once Max was better, Steve and I were able to work on ourselves and our marriage. Eventually, Izaak was enabled to express his needs and have them addressed too. And the cycle still continues. I hope that my telling you about our experiences will help you, your family, and our society and world at large to find true healing. Because cure is possible.

References

[AutismCalifornia] “Changes in the Population of Persons with Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders in California's Developmental Services System: 1987-1998,” Report to the Legislature, Department of Developmental Services, California Health and Human Services Agency, 1600 Ninth Street, Room 240, Sacramento, CA 95814 (March 1, 1999).

[Coulter90] Coulter, Harris L. Vaccination, Social Violence, and Criminality: The Medical Assault on the American Brain, North Atlantic Books and Homeopathic Educational Services, Berkeley, California (1990).

[Feingold] Feingold, Ben F. Why Your Child Is Hyperactive, Random House (1985). Also see the extensive site of the Feingold Program, www.feingold.org.

[Foubister] Foubister, D.M. “The Carcinosin Drug Picture,” British Homeopathic Journal, 47, 201 (July 1958).

[Herald] Reported in The Sunday Herald, “Autism Figures Soar in America,” www.SundayHerald.com/21347 (Sunday, January 6, 2002).

[Herscu-Aut] Latchis, Spero. “Homeopathy and Autism: Report on a Presentation by Paul Herscu, N.D., DHANP,” in Homeopathy Today, Volume 21, Number 10, pp. 20-21 (November 2001).

[Hoa] Hoa, J. Hui Bon. “Carcinosin: A Clinical and Pathogenetic Study,” The British Homoeopathic Journal (July 1963).

[Incao] Incao, Philip, F. “How Vaccinations Work,” www.garynull.com/Documents/niin/how_vaccinations_work.htm (May 1999).

[Lansky] Lansky, Amy. “Max's Story: A Carcinosin Cure,” Homeopathy Online, Issue 5, http://www.LyghtForce.com/HomeopathyOnline/Issue5 (January1998). A condensed version of this article appeared in Similia, Publication of the Australian Homoeopathic Association, Volume 11, Number 2 (July 1998). Also see: www.RenResearch.com/autism.html.

[LanskyBook] Lansky, Amy L. Impossible Cure: The Promise of Homeopathy, R.L.Ranch Press, Portola Valley, California (2003). For more information and ordering, visit www.ImpossibleCure.com.

[MercolaVaccine] Mercola, Joseph M., “Vaccine Insanity,” The Mercola Newsletter, www.mercola.com/2002/feb/2/vaccine_insanity.htm (February 2, 2000).

[Reichenberg-Ullman-Mothering] Reichenberg-Ullman, Judyth, “A Homeopathic Approach to Behavioral Problems,” Mothering, Number 74, pp.97-101 (Spring 1995).

[Ross] Ross, Melanie F., “Milk in Diet May Be Linked to Autism and Schizophrenia,” University of Florida Press Release, Science Daily, www.ScienceDaily.com/releases/1999/03/990316103010.htm (March 17, 1999).

[Singh] Singh, V.K., Lin, S.X., and V.C. Yang, “Serological Association of Measles Virus and Human Herpes Virus-6 with Brain Autoantibodies in Autism,” Clinical Immunological Immunopathology, 89:105-8 (1998).

[Stein] Stein, Diane. Essential Reiki: A Complete Guide to an Ancient Healing Art, The Crossing Press, Santa Cruz, CA (1995).

[Sun1] Sun, Zhongjie, J. Robert Cade, Melvin J. Fregly, and R. Malcolm Privette, “Beta-casomorphin Induces Fos-like Immunoreactivity in Discrete Brain Regions Relevant to Schizophrenia and Autism,” in Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice, Volume 3, Number 1, pp. 67-83 (March 1999).

[Sun2] Sun, Zhongjie and J. Robert Cade, “A Peptide Found in Schizophrenia and Autism Causes Behavioral Changes in Rats,” in Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice, Volume 3, Number 1, pp. 85-95 (March 1999).

[Targ] Targ, Elizabeth. “Distant Healing,” IONS Noetic Sciences Review, Number 49, pp. 24-29 (August-November 1999).

[Wakefield] Wakefield, Andrew, et al. “Ileal-lymphoid-nodular Hyperplasia, Non-specific Colitis, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder in Children,” Lancet, 351, pp. 637-641 (1998).

[White] White, Patti. “Hepatitis B Vaccine: A school nursing perspective for the congressional hearings on May 18, 1999 regarding the safety of the hepatitis B vaccine that is being mandated for newborns and now older children in America,” Statement to the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources of the Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives.

Update for Second Edition (September 2005):

Max is now 14 years old and a freshman in high school. He remains completely autism-free—no teacher or friend suspects his past. I still try to keep him away from cow's milk, corn, and food colorings. But when he goes to sleep-away camp in the summer, he eats all of these things with no problems. (Given the opportunity, he will eat a whole pile of tortilla chips before I can stop him!)

Max, like the rest of our family, still sees our homeopath about once or twice a year. He gets remedies to help with acute ailments or with the stresses of being a teenager. I would still classify him as a bit more on the spacey or forgetful side—especially in comparison to my older son, who is much more Type-A. Max can tune out conversations easily if he wants to, gets a bit lost in his thoughts, and sometimes does miss social cues. But by and large, he is a more resilient teenager than his brother. He is loving high school, has many new friends there, is doing well with his studies, has grown his hair out long now (he likes the artistic counterculture image), and is most interested these days in girls (he has already had a girlfriend or two), music, and his passion: computer animation. So Max remains the talented fellow—the sensitive artist type!

Readers might be interested in hearing more about homeopathic treatment of autism by tuning into my monthly radio show at: www.AutismOne.org/radio, or checking out the information and referral lists at my book website, www.ImpossibleCure.com.



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