Friday, July 6, 2012

The Autism Revolution ~ A must-read for families on the #Autism spectrum

The Autism Revolution: Whole-body strategies for making life all it can be
by Martha Herbert and Karen Weintraub

Dr. Herbert is a pediatric neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and director of the TRANSCEND Research Program. She is an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and a correspondent to the Boston Globe.

For many years, scientists have said that autism is a genetic condition that requires a cure. During her career, Dr. Herbert has worked with many autistic children during her neurology research. During this time, she started noticing that autistic children seemed to have other similar health issues that were "not related" to autism. When she started "prescribing" treatments such as acidophilus or omega oils depending on the condition, not only would the health issue improve but many times the autism behaviors improved as well. Dr. Herbert started seeing that autism was more like a web. Many factors come together to influence the brain and body as a whole.

When a part of the body is out of sync, it pulls on part of the web and affects the entire web. These pieces can become out of sync due to many factors: nutrition, toxins, bugs, and stress. When these weigh on the body, the body becomes out of balance. Dr. Herbert likens this to a lake that has a mountain in the middle. When there is sufficient rain, very little of the mountain can be seen. However, when the heat outweighs the rainfall, the water recedes and you see more of the mountain. Or in this case, the autism behaviors.

By looking at the systems of the body as a whole and supporting the systems that are out of sync, parents have been able to reverse the autistic behaviors and their children move off of the autism spectrum. This is not saying that every child will respond enough to not have any autistic behaviors, and it doesn't necessarily happen quickly. However, Dr. Herbert's book is filled with stories of actual children who have improved when the parents looked at the symptoms and supported those areas of the body that are weak or not operating properly.

In the second section of the book, Dr. Herbert walks through the inner workings of the brain so that you can understand the effect of stress and body systems that aren't working properly. This part is a little heavy to read through, but as a lay-person it wasn't overwhelming and I was able to pull many nuggets of wisdom out of this section that help me understand my son.

The 3rd and final section of the book talks about the Autism Revolution. Dr. Herbert lays out how we, as parents, can combine everything we've learned in the first 2 sections to help our kids, teach our doctors and specialists, and influence the autism community.

This book was a phenomenal help to me as a parent of a child on the autism spectrum. The insights Dr. Herbert has combined through her research, listening and learning from families of autistic children, are invaluable. I've read the book through once, and I've underlined many things along the way that I want to remember and incorporate into daily life. Information about diet and nutrition, chemicals and toxins, and bugs and viruses. Ideas about repetitive behaviors, anger and outbursts, and what your child is trying to communicate. I definitely want to read through the book again, and this time with a notebook where I can take notes and organize them into a plan of action.

This book is an amazing resource. I feel every family with an autistic child should read this book to gain the valuable information and resources it gives. Thank you, Dr. Herbert, for caring enough to learn from autistic families, and thank you for putting what you have learned into a resource for the rest of us. Onward to the Autism Revolution!

I purchased this book on my own. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


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