As promised, a little about Alex’s hellishly awful start to life. Looking back – which I really, really try not to do, as it only causes me pain (but I’ve had some emails of readers asking so here goes) – it does seem as though everything that could have gone wrong did. I liken it to a snowball rolling downhill. I have to believe that the severity of his autism and long history of physical illness were the result of insult after insult.
Autism is probably never caused by just one thing. But in Alex’s case it was…kind of everything.
I already had a long history of immune issues myself and then got the flu (perhaps forming the original little snowball) in my 7th month of pregnancy. Undoubtedly, I was told to take acetaminophen to keep the fever down. (snowball rolling…)
Alex developed a fever at about 24 hours old, just after we were released from the hospital. As per normal protocol, he was re-hospitalized and put on an IV of antibiotics, while tests were run (mainly looking for meningitis). For 5 days, antibiotics were pumped into him, 24 hours a day. (snowball rolling…)
To boot, as Dr. Parker points out in the previous post, he was likely given acetaminophen every 4 hours during those days in the hospital. (snowball rolling…)
He stopped breast feeding and I was told that if I didn’t put him on a bottle, we’d be kept in the hospital longer, as he was becoming jaundiced. Not knowing any better, I of course complied (snowball rolling…)…as long as he could get soy formula, since I have always had horrendous lactose intolerance. (Alex was probably doomed to autism by the time he was 3 days old.) (snowball rolling…)
While his development was normal, and he certainly was not autistic, there were bad signs early on. He projectile vomited with almost every bottle. He screamed way more than normal in those early months. He didn’t hold his head up until 4 months, at least.[i] He never, ever, EVER slept normally. He had an insanely violent startle reflex and a proverbial pin dropping on the other side of the apartment had him jerking awake even after only a few minutes sleep – and staying awake for the next 18 hours. I had to carry him everywhere, all the time, that Baby Bjorn strapped to my chest day and night.
A typical day in his first year of life…
I still remember only too well, when Alex was probably about 4 months old, being so tired I thought I was going to die. I thought to myself, I’ll just hold him in my arms and lie down to sleep a little…and when I did, he promptly vomited formula all over me and the bed. I cried and cried as I now had to not only not sleep, but clean the mess up.
However, while he had these physical signs and symptoms, there were no real signs of autism 15 months old. Prior to that, he was social, had normal eye contact, met all developmental milestones on time, etc. He and I both came down with a stomach bug. It last 24 hours for me; it last 3 weeks for him. And when it finally was gone, so was Alex. He abruptly stopped playing with me, stopped responding to his name…just left me.
So very little has helped Alex over the years. He is, without a doubt, one of the worst non-responders I have ever come across. I can count on 1 hand the things that have had any kind of positive impact on him. The two biggest hits were, without anything else coming close, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and helminths, both of which have profound effects on the composition of the biome, as you know.
So, yes…there is reason behind my madness.