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Brain Health, Early Intervention, and Preventing Autism


The inspiration for this topic comes from the book How to Prevent Autism by Dara Berger. 
She is a documentary filmmaker who has one child with autism and one with many fewer symptoms. 

I worked for a little over a decade as a speech-language pathologist in corporate healthcare. I loved researching and pouring into the lives of those with challenges. I think this information is so important to share with those that have children with autism, might be living with autism themselves or are having a child. I want you to feel free from fear, free from blame, free from ignorance and free to live well. Don’t live in a space of “if you would have ______, then your child wouldn't be ________.” We can simply learn from the past and prepare for the future.

When I was in graduate school for Speech-Language Pathology (1997-1999), autism was barely covered. To give some perspective, there were not any specific courses on the subject. I never recall seeing a child with autism in graduate school externships, etc. I started practicing in 1999 and worked in a school for three years as a therapist & then as a supervisor off and on for the next seven years. I began working in Early Intervention in 2001 and over the next few years, we started seeing reports of numbers of 1 in 168 children were autistic and over the next 15 years those numbers skyrocketed; 1 in 150, 1 in 110 (2006), 1 in 88 (2008), 1 in 68 (2012), and now 1 in 59 children now have autism or on the spectrum of disorders. This number will have most likely changed even by the time you read this.

Autism Speaks founded in 2005. I was seeing the prevalence change with my own eyes in the numbers I was providing services to. In 2007 when my husband and I started trying to conceive, I was pretty terrified of having a child with autism. I was seeing it, hearing about it, going into homes were there were families receiving that diagnosis, and I was researching it. I wish I would have had access to tools through dōTERRA back then, but it actually wasn't even in existence then. The families could have also had access to with powerful resources right in their own home for a profound effect.

I had started my own health journey around that same time as well with acid reflux, laryngo-pharyngeal reflux, leaky gut, and candida, but at the time, I didn't realize the connection with all of this and my gut health, my brain, my fertility, and even how that could affect the children I had. I had connected with an M.D. that had done her own research on gut health & she also saw many patients with autism. Fast forward to 2009 and I had my first child and he came out screaming, literally. In addition, he came into the world filled with antibiotics in his system from the Group B strep IV antibiotics I had pumped into my system over the 36-hour labor. I distinctly remember the nurses stating how "overly alert" he was. 

I had a lot of fear around autism. I saw how hard it was for the parents. How hard it was for the teachers. They had this precious child, who looks very typical compared to other children with special needs like, Down syndrome. When you see a child with Down syndrome and a child with autism walking together, you may notice more of the physical stature, facial differences of the child with Down Syndrome. Those children with Down syndrome have been some of the funniest, funniest kids I've ever been around - I'm convinced that God has used that extra chromosome to bring so much life and happiness into our world. But, a child with autism you don't see that usually see with many physical differences - unless there are other co-diagnoses.

So, with my first child, I did all. the. things. I looked at the vaccine schedule. We did a selective schedule based on Dr. Sears's book, The Vaccine Book. In the book, How to Prevent Autism, one of the things that stuck with me is this:  Often times we are looking for those one-off symptoms - ie. excessive spitting up in babies. 
My oldest child was very colicky and napped VERY little. He was intolerant to milk and we discovered that when he was only about 1-2 months old because of blood in his stool. At the time we would have tried soy milk, but our pediatrician informed us that soy milk could be a prob for him too (most that had trouble with milk would experience the same thing with soy). I read some research on soy milk and remembered that I had taken soy lecithin capsules daily while breastfeeding him because it was the only thing that kept me from getting plugged milk ducts. So he had been exposed to soy for the entire second half of my pregnancy. Breastfeeding for us was high stress. I didn’t have as many health tools that I have now, but I did the best I could with the information I had. 
I mentioned he was very colicky and I remember giving him gripe water like crazy. I was practically buying stock in it but it didn't really seem to help. I knew he needed probiotics because of the large antibiotic exposure he had at birth and so we did that. I definitely think that helped, but antibiotics along can throw off your gut flora balance for up to a year. We tried to take a more natural approach if possible but there just weren't a whole lot of options out there. I remember trying herbal tinctures as well with minimal results. It started feeling like "natural" = "weak" or "doesn't work".
What if we don't accept these as common childhood issues?? 

Now we know that there is a strong correlation between our gut health & brain health.

Fast forward ten years later, my oldest is now what would be considered a typically developing child. But I believe most of that is due to the grace of God and my own background and research on prevention and early intervention. 
In the book How to Prevent Autism, Dana speaks to many experts that make the notion that Autism is preventable for the most part. Yes, there is a genetic component to it, but there are so many other factors contributing that there are things that we can do proactively to provide prevention.

Here we are 11 years later with dōTERRA in existence and our family has had access to these powerful oils and supplements for 6 years! 

Even greater, young mamas or soon-to-be mamas HAVE OPTIONS - options that actually work - and are safe! I look back and it would have been amazing to use DigestZen digestive blend or the Tamer digestive roller on my son't belly - so fast and effective or even making my own gripe water for him on occasion, if needed. The good stuff that WORKS. Helping him have good bowel movements.

Monitoring bowel movements is an indicator of behavior. Of course, we want to try to expand the diet beyond Cheetos and Chicken Nuggets with sensory exploration, but at times during the transition, we can continue to intro digestive enzymes and the digestive oils to help during this process. We want to hone in are these early warning signs and ways to help soon-to-be mamas to get their own bodies in check before bringing this precious life into the world.

Here's what we all can agree upon in this arena: 
  • There is a genetic factor 
  • There are environmental influences - toxic overload happening 
  • Early intervention is KEY! 
  • Early intervention with health concerns, with dōTERRA (safe, effective, affordable place to start), with therapy. 
  • Healthy gut = Healthy brain

All diseases have the same 3 underlying causes:

  • Inflammation
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Detoxification Issues 

How do we get to the brain to help reduce inflammation? Nutrient dense food, healthy fluids, helping the body release toxins, and essential oils that can cross the blood-brain barrier.

Frankincense – This oil alone can be helpful for brain support, helping with anxious feelings, and it's EASY - just roll it on the pads of the big toes and back of the neck twice daily.

To you, new mamas who has a child just receiving a diagnosis or to you, mama who has an older child with autism.... using these oils is a perfect place to start – SIMPLE TOOLS
We encourage foundational aspects in vitamins, omegas, probiotics, citrus oils, ABA, PT, OT, ST, IEPs, diet changes, etc. You want to continue these interventions and tools, but many of you have a desire to incorporate something new. You need a new breakthrough. Start with something simple and slowly introduce more as you learn and your child becomes more accustomed, you won't be overwhelmed all at once. Stay with these consistently, you WILL see results

If you would like help navigating this or getting started, I’m here to help. You can complete our Get to Know You form and we'll schedule a complimentary strategy session to discuss our services and help you determine how we may best fit your needs. It's all about starting this process with simple steps.

Here is a list of books that we have, love and use: Book & Resource List

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