October 19, 2008

VOCs and their contribution to Autism.

I can’t take credit for this headliner.

A TwitterMom left a comment for me when she visited my page, stating her curiosity about whether there was “any research on VOCs in the home and autism”.

Her comment made me think… even more than I already do when it comes to autism and its causes.

To be honest with you, I had never really thought about VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and their connection with autism before.

Sure, I’ve done a lot of research over the years, but I somehow missed this one.

I researched the best car for my family and the best car seat for my son, so I knew I was okay in those areas.

I only clean my home and launder our clothes with eco-friendly products (vinegar & water, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, Seventh Generation, Clorox’s Green Works™, just to name a few).

My family uses natural and/or organic products on our bodies (Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap All-In-One, Alba‘s lotions).

I’ve donated 98% of my son’s toys because they were plastic (aka Made in China), and I wanted to reduce his exposure to petroleum-based plastics (not caring a ruckus tuckus about any “scientific evidence of its safety”.) I wanted him to only play with hand-made, eco-friendly (sustainable), kid-powered toys.

Plus, we eat natural and organic food.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve thought a lot about environmental toxins and the effect they have on our children, but I never really narrowed that thought down to the VOC levels in my home.

I never did any research on the level of VOCs emitting from every day products like our drapes, bed linens, bath/kitchen items, etc.

I lease my home.  The thought of repainting the entire interior with zero-VOC paint sends shivers down my husband’s spine as well as his wallet. The only reason we repainted the master bedroom, before we moved in, was because it was Pepto Bismol pink.  {sigh}  I’m also living in a historic home (built in the early 1900s), so I have that to think about that as well.

I know I can’t hide from VOCs because they’re everywhere.

Wanting to learn more, I searched for VOCs and autism and found a few items that actually addressed the connection between the two.

I printed and read Karen Slimak’s paper, The Effect of Environmental Chemical Exposures on Autistic Children.

It wasn’t until she had the methodology for studying food responses (reaction to foods resulting in an intolerance) did she have the methodology for studying and documenting the effect on humans to VOCs.

Effects of environmental exposure where isolated and studied in 49 autistic children.  Elimination of food-related reactions entirely allowed effects of environmental chemicals to be thoroughly studied indefinitely in the absence of food-related symptoms.  Initially unaffected by  social contexts, the autistic subjects acted out the ways they were affected by their environment without the altering effects of societal influences; and severity of the adverse effects made observation and study easier.

Karen speaks of how her interest in VOCs didn’t initially begin with its connection to autism.  She began studying food reactions because her first child “never seemed to be well“.

My gentle introduction to the problems with food allergies began about 15 years ago, when I struggled to cope with a never-ending set of problems with my first child.  This child never seemed to be well!  There was constant congestion, repeated eat infections, occasional bronchitis and pneumonia, susceptibility to viral infections, occasional diarrhea and constipation.  But we had no clue that food allergies were a problem.

Karen is the founder and President of Applied Science and Technology International, Inc., a research organization for studying the relationship between environmental exposures, food allergies and sensitivities, and chronic disease.

I also came across an author/mom/autism recovery educator who has made some significant strides in “healing” her son by eliminating food/environmental triggers.

Michelle Cheney authored Climbing Out of Autism: One Bite at a Time as a tool to help parents recover their children.

In it, Michelle writes of how she “used a simple, two-pronged approach called Comprehensive Organic Intervention, to help her son, Raja, achieve and maintain a stable state, naturally empowering him to make physical, cognitive, social, and behavioral gains”.

By identifying and eliminating impediments to a stable state, your child can become physically, mentally, and emotionally receptive. Positive, measurable, and lasting improvements have been witnessed in demeanor, language development and skills, social skills, eye contact, interest in surroundings, enthusiasm to learn, employing empathy, use of imagination, and reduced or eliminated tactile and sensory defensiveness. Researched and developed by the mother of an autistic child, Comprehensive Organic Intervention has facilitated her son’s miraculous recovery without the use of additional therapies. Using a step by step format, this must-have manual includes recipes, quick reference guides, and theory.

I wanted to know more about Michelle and Raja and their road to “recovery”.

After working my way through most of her nav bar, I came to the link, Raja Cheney’s Autism Recovery Photo History.   What a fantastic way to document her son’s journey.

Some would argue that “recovering” our children means we don’t like them the way they are.  This isn’t true.

As parents of these amazing people, we’re merely looking for something, anything that will help them live a more ‘balanced’ life.

Why else would a parent change their child’s diet?

Why else would a parent consult a DAN! doctor?

Why else would a parent choose vitamins designed for autism?

Why else would a parent choose Methyl-B12 injections?

We make these choices for our children.  Because we love them.

I’m always interested in learning more about what I can do for my son… while eliminating the need for additional therapies.

I’m all for helping his little body to do what it was designed to do which is heal itself… naturally.

I’m interested to learn more about Michelle’s journey which means I’ll probably read her book.

I already know Jenny’s story; it’s time I heard someone else’s.

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