Preventing Autism?

Eli is showing some red flags for autism. We are waiting for an appointment with a neurologist in a couple of weeks to find out, although some friends who have been down this road have recommended we see a pediatric psychologist instead. I’ll be looking into that this week. I honestly don’t think Eli is autistic right now. He is incredibly relational, shows empathy, likes to do everything with somebody else, and has been recently been showing vast improvement in giving eye contact.

I do however have this feeling that he is in danger of becoming autistic… kind of like he’s on the tipping point and it is important to keep him from going over. It is a gut-feeling, intuitive thing and it is very strong. It has only happened a few other times in my life and each time I have been later so thankful that I paid attention. I’m kind of feeling that God is giving me a heads-up here. And while it may seem a bit screwy to other people, especially with an issue like autism and all of the controversy that surrounds the condition, I don’t want to find myself a year from now with my son locked in his own world bemoaning the fact that I didn’t listen to the voice inside that was doing everything it could to get my attention. If in the end he does end up with an Autism diagnosis  despite our interventions and precautions, at least I will know I did everything I could and not waste any time or emotional energy on guilt.

So what will we be doing?

First, we will see the neurologist and most likely the psychologist as well to make sure he doesn’t already fall on the spectrum. I may think he doesn’t, but I’m not a expert in this area and I’m also not completely objective when it comes to my little boy.

We will continue with the speech therapy and occupational therapy that he already receives for his speech delay and Sensory Processing Disorder. These are the same therapies he’d receive with an autism diagnosis. When we are at therapy I am trying to learn as much as I can and am continuing the activities at home. If he does get a diagnosis we will add on any other therapeutic interventions they recommend.

We took Eli to see Dr. Sears last week. It was an extremely helpful appointment. The biomedical theory about Autism makes sense to me. We will be following Dr. Sears’ advice found in the preventing autism chapter in The Autism Book: What Every Parent Needs to Know About Early Detection, Treatment, Recovery, and Prevention (Sears Parenting Library). See here for an overview of the book.

 (This link is provided through the Amazon Associates program.)

We have decided to stop all vaccinations (we were previously on his alternative vaccination schedule), at least for now. We will likely reevaluate this decision in a couple of years. We are starting Eli on the recommended supplements (multivitamin, cod liver oil, vitamin D, and a probiotic). And the biggie is we are now doing the gluten free casein free diet (GFCF). There will be future posts about that one, I’m sure.

(I know some of this stuff is controversial. I’ve read quite a bit from both sides, and this is direction we have chosen to take. While I am generally open to hearing conflicting points of view, this is a time of struggle for me and I don’t want the comment section on this post to turn into a heated discussion. It’s fine if you don’t agree with me, but please don’t choose this place and this time to spell it all out. I just don’t have the energy.)

As a footnote… We also spoke to Dr. Sears about how hard it has been lately to get Eli down at night. (Actually it always has been, but prior to therapy I could just let him sleep in in the morning and it wasn’t such a big deal.) It doesn’t matter when we try to start putting him down, or what we do, we are lucky if he falls asleep by 10:30 and often it is 11 or midnight. The doctor recommended we give him melatonin at night. I had wondered about that before but don’t feel comfortable giving supplements to the little guy without medical advice. Well, let me tell you, the stuff is amazing! Eli is out for the count and snoring away within 15 minutes of taking it.



  1. March 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Good you are acting now. Better sooner than later. Good luck

    • March 27, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      Thank you for your comment. It’s how I found your blog… I’m now following.

      • March 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm

        Thanks! I remember our diagnosis time, It was a stressful time for us but I think once we got the diagnosis, even as hard as it was to hear, it gave us an understanding of what to do and how to move forward. I hope things work out how you’d want them

  2. growingslower said,

    March 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks for your post! I think what you’re doing for Eli is wonderful. He is lucky to have such a mama. 🙂 I had never heard that it may be possible to prevent autism. I love the Sears books though, and I will definitely be checking this out from the library. What you wrote about using diet to treat autism reminded me of this blog post I recently read. Maybe it could be of some help to you…
    Praying for you!

    • March 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      I’m still waiting to receive the used copy of the book I bought on Amazon. The one I’m reading is from the library. Thank you for your kind and supportive words. I checked out the link you sent and I can tell there is a lot I can learn from that blog. Thank you for sending it on… and for taking the time to enter your comment twice when it looked like it didn’t get through the first time. Above all I appreciate your prayers.

  3. ReStitch Me said,

    March 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    No one loves Eli more than you and your husband. You are trying to do what you think is best for him–you are good parents. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

  4. dawn aldrich said,

    March 27, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    You’re a great mama, Karen. Follow those internal cues and pray, pray, pray. God created Eli, knitted him in your womb. He knows exactly how to heal and mend even what we cannot see or understand.

  5. dawn aldrich said,

    March 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    You are a great mama, Karen. Follow those internal cues and pray, pray, pray. God, who created Eli, knit him inside your womb knows exactly how to heal and mend – even those things unseen by human eyes.

  6. growingslower said,

    March 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    My comment dissappeared when I logged in. Well anyway, I wanted to tell you about this other blog post I just read about diet successfully treating autism.
    Maybe it can help? I had never head of autism being preventable before your post. I love all the Sears books, and I will definitely be looking into this! Thanks!

  7. March 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Sounds like you’ve done your research and are making informed decisions that will work for you. That’s really all you can do. Good luck.

  8. Inder said,

    March 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Oh, wow. I’ll be keeping you and Eli in my thoughts and prayers (in my experience, these times are usually harder on mom than they are on the child!). I know it is probably cold comfort right now, but many very, very bright (even brilliant) folks are on the autism spectrum. Some of my favorite people (caring, empathetic people, mind you) are definitely a bit “Aspie.” It’s a very wide spectrum, after all, and there’s a lot of variety. Whatever happens, Eli is a lovely, bright, happy child. Nothing can change that.

    • March 27, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      I appreciate your prayers and well wishes. Actually, it is a comfort to know one child who is on the spectrum who is a really incredible young man. Regardless of whether or not Eli has autism, I have trouble imagining myself any more delighted with him than I am on a daily basis.

  9. jensellers said,

    March 28, 2012 at 9:16 am

    You are an inspiring parent! And you are so right to enjoy Eli as he is. He is a shining being.

  10. Kelley said,

    March 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Poor Eli has been going through so much lately. I know everything will be just fine. You are such an awesome mom!

  11. Maysem said,

    April 4, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I didn’t realize that autism can actually be prevented. You have gotten me wanting to learn more about this. Thanks Karen for the wonderful post as usual! Eli will be in my prayers as always.

    • April 4, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      Thank you, Maysem. I didn’t know about prevention either until just recently when we began wading into all of this. It’s empowering to know there are things you can do instead of just sitting about looking for signs and dreading what each one means.

  12. korrale said,

    July 7, 2012 at 1:57 am

    The more I read through your blog the more I find that your son is very similar to my son. James started speech therapy at 18 months. He had 2 huge speech regressions and was just saying bah and gah at the time. He could make very few sounds. He had neatly every autism red flag at the time.
    He started speech therapy, a group socialisation class, and was doing activities to help with his hyposensitve SPD.
    Over the past year nearly all of his red flags have diminished and become quirks. His speech is no longer delayed, he is more social and his SPD is manageable. James may still be on the spectrum, but he sounds to be very high functioning like your son.

    I just wanted to share our story and commend you for going forth and seeking the early intervention for your son that you have. 🙂

    • July 7, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      Thanks for leaving this comment. It helps to connect with other people who have “been there”. It does sound like our sons have many similarities. How old is James now… about 2 1/2?

      • korrale said,

        July 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm

        James is a Decemeber 2009 baby. So he is 31 months now.

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