Updated: Jun 25, 2019
Two days before her 3rd birthday, Mayah* was diagnosed with autism. Her mom, Jessica, immediately began doing countless hours of research. Through alternative health tests, detoxification and dietary changes, she was able to start the healing process and significantly lessen Mayah’s autism symptoms by her 4th birthday. Jessica shares her daughter’s story to give hope to other parents with autistic children.
* The names of individuals in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.
Mayah was the epitome of health for the first two weeks of her life. She was happy, sweet-natured and rarely cried. Then on day 15, Mayah’s world turned upside down and she started screaming relentlessly for hours. The pediatrician told Jessica it was colic, but Mayah’s horrible, painful screams did not go away. For the next 4 months, Mayah cried all the time and didn’t sleep well. Being strapped into her car seat made things even worse. This caused sensory overload for Mayah, who at the end of a car ride would be soaking wet from the sweat caused by her pain and anxiety. The combination of these issues led Jessica to believe there was something more than just colic affecting Mayah. (Jessica later learned that Mayah was suffering from encephalitis, believed to have been an adverse reaction to her newborn vaccinations.)
At 18 months, Mayah was not hitting age-appropriate developmental milestones. Her new functional medicine pediatrician suggested discontinuing her vaccinations. Up until then, she had been receiving vaccinations, but they were on a delayed schedule spread out over a longer period of time than what that was recommended by the CDC. Mayah’s pediatrician requested a full evaluation, the results of which were diagnosis of speech delay, sensory processing disorder and mild developmental delays. She was immediately put in occupational therapy focused on sensory issues, speech therapy and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), as these were the mainstream recommendations for these disorders. She continued these for the next 18 months.
During this time, Jessica started swimming regularly with Mayah, as she thought it would be a gentle way of helping with sensory issues. She also began using essential oils (doTERRA brand Lavender, Balance, Serenity, Copaiba, DDR Prime and Wild Orange) on Mayah’s feet and spine and noticed that they helped to calm her down, improved her ability to sleep and speak. At age 2 ½, Mayah began seeing an osteopath doctor, who over time was able to help alleviate some of her constipation issues and calm her nervous system.
Two days before Mayah’s 3rd birthday, she was officially diagnosed with autism. Jessica remained determined to do everything she could to help her daughter. She considered changing Mayah's diet despite a neurologist saying, “Don’t waste your time on expensive supplements and dietary changes. You’re not going to be able to change this.” Nonetheless, Jessica believed dietary changes could help. Mayah’s pediatrician told Jessica about an upcoming TACA autism conference. Jessica attended and found an amazing and very supportive community of parents and doctors. She recorded every speaker and took copious notes. Armed with this new knowledge, Jessica made immediate changes to Mayah’s lifestyle.
First, Jessica eliminated all gluten and dairy from Mayah’s diet.
After an IgG test for allergies and food intolerances, eggs, nuts and soy were also eliminated.
Mayah’s blood work showed very low zinc and cholesterol levels, so both were added to her diet. According to Jessica, the increase in cholesterol reduced the overwhelm to Mayah’s sensory levels and resulted in her being less irritable (1).
Vitamins C, D and a high quality multi-vitamin were also added to supplement her diet after further testing showed these deficiencies.
Toxicity & Genetic Testing
More testing (OATS, comp stool, genetic, heavy metals and environmental toxins from Great Plains Labs) revealed additional underlying issues, including heavy metals and environmental toxicity build-up in Mayah’s body.
Genetic testing showed a homozygous MTHFR gene mutation. Both Jessica and her husband have it, and they both passed it onto Mayah, causing her body to not methylate properly. Methylation is essential for detoxification processes to occur correctly (2). Everything toxic in Mayah’s world, including pesticides, herbicides, toxins in vaccines, the environment, her food and weed killer in the local park, were not being processed out of her body. Instead, they had been building up in her system since the day she was born (3).
Mayah also tested in the 75th percentile nationally for glyphosate toxicity (4). Glyphosate is a toxic herbicide sprayed on many non-organic foods and is listed as a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization (WHO) (5). For Mayah’s parents, this proved that her body was not effectively eliminating toxins like an average person. Despite Mayah’s diet being 90% organic, supposedly free of the worst toxins, including glyphosate, even small amounts of glyphosate exposure were remaining in and wreaking havoc on her body.
Since Mayah’s body was not methylating properly, outside intervention was required to help her body eliminate the toxicity build-up that had occurred over the previous 3 years. Jessica took the following steps to make that happen:
First, the inflammation in Mayah’s tissues and organs, caused by toxic overload, had to be reduced. Mayah's functional medicine pediatrician and TACA informed Jessica that it was very important to do this first in order to open Mayah's detoxification pathways. Otherwise, the toxins would just be redistributed throughout her body during the next step (detoxification). The aforementioned dietary changes were used to reduce inflammation. Mayah had always been constipated because of her reduced ability to methylate. It took about 6 months for her system to become regular, signaling she was finally ready for detoxification.
Beginning at age 3 ½, Jessica began to detox Mayah with an ion footbath in order to pull toxins out of the body through the feet, stool and urine. The AMD brand ion footbath was recommended to Jessica at the TACA conference, so that is what she had Mayah use (6).
A couple months later, Jessica added TRS spray to Mayah’s detox arsenal. TRS Spray (available here and here) is a mineral water used for detoxing heavy metals and toxins from the body. Jessica says that once ingested, the spray attracted and encapsulated toxins, allowing Mayah to urinate them out (7).
After Mayah's 3rd birthday, Jessica dropped the ABA therapy. She kept Mayah in speech therapy and over the next 6 months added horseback riding and dancing to Mayah’s schedule, as she wanted Mayah to be in neurotypical activities.
The results were immediate and incredible. Beginning a few days after making changes to her diet, Mayah started to feel better. Ultimately, it took 6-9 months to see major improvements.
At age 3 ½, Mayah was still not potty trained. However, just three days after beginning to detox with the ion footbath, she awoke and announced she was going to wear underwear that day. She did just that and has been potty trained ever since.
Mayah no longer complains about the texture of her clothes. Previously, she could only wear very soft clothes and Jessica had to cut all the tags out.
Mayah’s speech has improved dramatically. She now speaks in full sentences.
The daily battles with severe pain and anxiety of brushing her hair, her teeth and getting dressed are gone.
Car rides that previously caused Mayah to scream are now filled with her singing voice.
Before, Mayah couldn’t sit through a single birthday party. Now she can’t wait for the next one.
Wearing a ballet costume would have been unthinkable a year ago – too tight, too itchy. Now Mayah loves dressing up and dancing.
Mayah’s friends are now kids her age instead of her therapists!
Recently, Mayah’s glyphosate levels increased to the 95th percentile nationally, which alarmed Jessica. However, since Mayah showed no signs of regression, Jessica and her husband decided to stay the course with their current protocol. Jessica and her naturopath believe that it is normal for Mayah’s urine to test higher for glyphosate since that is how the toxin is being flushed out of her system (8).
Mayah turned 4 in September and is now very highly functioning. Jessica believes that if Mayah were evaluated today, she would not be classified as autistic. However, with her body’s composition, including the MTHFR genetic mutation, Mayah will always need to detox and be extremely cautious about environmental toxins. She will have to maintain her current treatments for the foreseeable future to keep her body balanced. This is a never-ending battle that Mayah and her parents fight everyday. As Jessica says, “We all live in a toxic soup.”
This past winter, Mayah experienced behavior regression as a result of two very high fevers. As a result, her parents changed her supplements to re-balance her system and they continue to evaluate ways to reduce toxins in Mayah’s environment.
Jessica’s personality won’t allow her to ever give up. From the moment Mayah was diagnosed, she says she KNEW there were answers out there. She was determined to find them and to fight for Mayah’s health. She did countless hours of research, and she trusted her instincts. Each night after Mayah went to bed, she spent hours reading about every alternative option for treating autism. Jessica stresses that she had to find the right combination of treatments for Mayah. What worked for Mayah might not work for others. In her circle of parents with autistic kids, there are more differences than similarities among the kids. Her recommendation for any parent with an autistic child is to keep researching until you find the right solution for YOUR child. She highly recommends adding a biomed or functional medicine doctor to your child’s support team and connecting with TACA for additional resources. And NEVER GIVE UP!
(1) A. Aneja and E. Tierney, Autism: the Role of Cholesterol in Treatment. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2008 Apr;20(2):165-70. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18386207)
(2) S Jill James, Paul Cutler, Stepan Melnyk, Stefanie Jernigan, Laurette Janak, David W Gaylor and James A Neubrander, Metabolic Biomarkers of Increased Oxidative Stress and Impaired Methylation Capacity in Children with Autism. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 80, Issue 6, 1 December 2004, Pages 1611–1617. (https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/80.6.1611)
(5) International Agency for Research on Cancer Volume 112: Some organophosphate insecticides and herbicides: tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon and glyphosate. IARC Working Group. Lyon; 3–10 March 2015. IARC Monogr Eval Carcinog Risk Chem Hum (in press). (https://www.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/MonographVolume112-1.pdf)
(6) TACA Webinar 1-12-2016 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DLMaQkufIQ)
(7) Dr Tracy Holdford - Effects of Environmental Toxins and a Safe Alternative for Detoxification (http://www.autismone.org/content/dr-tracy-holdford-effects-environmental-toxins-and-safe-alternative-detoxification?fbclid=IwAR1vo2PpvEDpGDovJdPua-LsuvhxQnva5Bvt_tRcoWTUl9T6eUfRRv_mgbY&autismone_video_block_tab=0&referer=node%2F28954&args=)
(8) At this point there are no studies that provide conclusive evidence for or against bioaccumulation of glyphosate.
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