By Theresa Lyons, PhD.
When you meet someone for the first time, the conversation is usually predictable… what’s your name, where do you live, and what do you do. When I answer the “what do you do?” question most people raise their eyebrows and lean in to ask me lots of questions. Many people won’t stop talking to me. Many people end up apologizing for asking me so many questions. Many people walk away with a deep appreciation, acceptance, and awareness. Here’s what it’s like when I meet someone and they ask me, “So what do you do?”
“I teach parents how to heal their children from autism.”
The other person’s eyebrows usually go up, sometimes their head tilts, and they reply, “Really, I didn’t know that was possible”.
I typically reply, “Healing from autism has always been possible but it’s only been lately that the scientific world has been publishing research on healing completely from autism. A well respected study by researchers published in 2016 showed that currently about 10% of those diagnosed with autism heal completely and no longer have the autism diagnosis.”
“Wow. I didn’t know that at all. I always heard autism was some horrible life-long thing.”
I smile and with complete understanding say, “That’s what I used to think too.”
“So what works?” or some variation of that is usually the next question I get asked.
“Autism presents differently so certain things will work for some but not for others although one common foundational step that is important for everyone to do is to focus on diet. There are 8 special diets that are known to heal autism symptoms and the important thing to do is to align and customize the diet to the child’s specific symptoms. This is why you might have heard that diet works great for some but not others.”
“Hmmmm. Makes sense. It must be hard to match up diet and symptoms. Is there anything that is universal in diet?”
I respond, “Unfortunately a parent can’t just pick one diet and go with it because every child’s symptoms are unique. Parents exhaust themselves if they approach diet in a haphazard way. Creating a special diet strategy is something I work on with my clients. Parents like working with me because they no longer have to worry if the food they’re giving their child is actually causing more problems. As for the universal approach gluten-free, dairy-free, and low sugar would be what is in common but just doing that will not usually be enough and there is a lot of nuances to healing autism efficiently.”
People pick up on the gluten word and zero in on that. So the next question usually is, “I thought this whole gluten thing was a fad. A way for companies to make money. So it really matters?”
“Gluten is not a fad. Sure, companies have come up with ways to profit but they are just meeting demand. The mechanism of action for gluten is the same for every person, autism or not. Gluten actually causes increased intestinal permeability and when that happens, things that should remain in our gastrointestinal tract are actually able to get in our bodies, which is not good. The gluten that we ate is then able to move throughout our bodies. There are other areas in our bodies that are highly protected, namely the brain and the spine. Unfortunately, gluten is able to make those things more permeable too. The blood brain barrier actually becomes more permeable which is not a good thing for a developing child.”
“So this is what happens when I eat gluten?”
“Yes, the mechanism of action is the same for everyone. But some people’s immune system can clean this up much better than others. The ones who have difficulty with this often develop diseases.”
“How do you know all this science?”
“I have a PhD in Computational Chemistry from Yale University and have worked in various aspects of the healthcare industry for almost 20 years. My daughter was also diagnosed with severe autism when she was 3.5 years old so my motivation for learning all the specifics came from wanting to help my daughter. It’s like my entire academic and business career prepared me for healing my daughter from autism. I combined what I love with who I love.”
The next question is usually almost whispered. There’s a certain reverence that most people show when they ask this question “So how’s your daughter?”
Since this person typically does not experience autism personally I don’t scare them with the details of what my daughter’s life used to be like. I usually say something like “When my daughter was diagnosed with severe autism she had zero quality of life. She didn’t really have a future and if I didn’t do what I did she wouldn’t have had the future she does now. Now, we actually get to do fun things together. Things like build sand castles on the beach, catch snowflakes on our tongues, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, even just going food shopping together can be fun.”
“Yes, and that is why I love what I do. I love teaching parents how to forget about autism and do the fun things they dreamed about doing with their child.”
To find out more about Dr. Lyons’ 8 Steps to Healing Autism click here and sign up for the free information.