4th Annual Autism, ADHD, OCD and Tourette Conference

Two weeks ago, Natural Care Clinic hosted our 4th Annual Emerging Trends Conference focused on biomedical treatment of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders.  This blog was supposed to be ready a couple of days later.  A bright and interesting account of what happened during the event.  Well, as you can see it has taken me a little longer for me to write this post.  I have found myself incredibly contemplative over the last two weeks.  I was thrilled to have so many families, health care providers, therapists and educators attend our event this year.  Our keynote speaker, Dr. Elizabeth Mumper was incredible.  I enjoyed immensely learning from other professionals like Dr. Fink, a local optometrist and Dr. A from Kid Solutions.  I learned that peanut butter is extremely high in PCBs, and that PCBs are linked to autism and other developmental issues.  But my heart has been heavy these last couple of weeks and I would like to tell you why…

The 1st conference, four years ago, was hosted in response to new research presented at Autism One in Canada.  The families I worked with wanted to know how the research applied to kids who were currently diagnosed with autism.  To be honest, I thought the first event was a big success; but mostly because we had people show up and things went fairly smoothly.  What stuck with me from that first event were the parent stories.  Autism, for some people, is something they are hearing more and more about in the news.  It is something that has been talked about in relationship to vaccines and gets mommy chat groups worked up all over North America.  For the parents who attend and speak at our conferences; it is a major part of their daily life and what defines their families.  I am humbled and in awe of the parents who are brave enough to tell their story to others.  To stand up in front of a crowd of 200 people and talk about how they embarked on a scary, unknown path of innovative intervention; known as biomedical treatment.

So, as I think about our event this year, what sticks with me is the parent stories, and the children themselves who stood up as a testament to the hard work it takes to recover a child through diet, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, probiotics, botanical medicines, phospholipids, injections and more.  When I speak about recovery, I am equating the damage done to children by the interplay of genetic predisposition and environmental triggers, to being hit by a bus.  If I was hit by a bus, hopefully I would have incredible medical attention to save my life.  Then I would be put on a therapeutic program to recover.  Recovery is how biomedical practitioners describe the process of increasing the speed at which children gain back their potential.

More than ever, we know there are major biological aspects to autism, ADHD, OCD and Tourette Syndrome.  Unique impairments to a child’s biochemistry or immune system can put them in the high risk category for damage from environmental toxins.  On June 15th, Dr. Elizabeth Mumper reviewed some of the research identifying differences in digestive, metabolic and genetic expression experienced by children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.  Both elegant and knowledgeable, Dr. Mumper led parents, health care providers and educators through the research in a comprehensive and understandable way.  It is crucial to hear from a traditionally trained physician about the medical aspects of neurodevelopmental disorders.

So, why the heavy heart?  As a Naturopathic Doctor in Canada, I am pretty used to people not taking me seriously.  It frustrates me because we are the absolute best profession on the planet when it comes to getting the body better.  It is with passion and commitment that I approach each new patient and work diligently with parents to help recover as many skills as possible for each child.  It is child by child that we are spreading the word about biomedical treatment.  This is a parent driven movement with very little help from the traditional medical community in Canada.  The parents, who hear my “spiel” and think it makes enough sense to try, are usually blown away by the language, social, cognitive and behavioural improvements.  They transform their homes and their lives to help their children get better.  Therefore, it shocked me to learn, that a pediatrician who has been helping recover children for over 15 years is receiving the same sort of skepticism down in Virginia.  I assumed, this was the plight of NDs practicing biomedical treatment.  It didn’t occur to me that a medical doctor, embarking on the same path could lose the respect of colleagues and be forced to stand alone as a pioneer of change.  Dr. Mumper is a medical hero.  Someone who is standing strong in what she believes to be one of the most important paradigm shifts in the history of medicine.  And with some estimates putting the autism rate at 1:54 children, we need brave doctors like Elizabeth Mumper.

So, I ask you this;  With all of the mounting evidence showing digestive, immune, biochemical, metabolic and physiological differences in children diagnosed with autism, HOW ARE WE STILL CALLING THIS A MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE?   When and where will we see our Canadian physicians get involved in helping with the medical aspects of autism?  It is not good enough to say there isn’t enough evidence.    It is not okay that children who have chronic diarrhea and/or constipation do not receive the medical care that they deserve.  It is not acceptable that children with ADHD commonly have sleep disorders that go untreated.  Something needs to change and guess what?  If you are reading this, you are on the list of people who can do something about this.  So, I say, with a heavy heart thinking of the 1 in 6 Canadian children who has a diagnosis, it is time to join the movement.  How can you get involved?  Buy your MD a book like The Autism Revolution or Healing the New Childhood Epidemics.  Download the physician handbook from Autism Canada Foundation http://www.autismcanada.org/resources/physicianhandbook.html.  Consider donating to charities that support research on biological aspects of autism.  If you are raising money for autism, find out where it is going.

Thousands and thousands of North American families are helping to recover their children using innovative treatments based on ground breaking research.   It is tough to help families with this great divide of belief systems between traditional medicine and the biomedical movement.  I believe neurodevelopmental disorders are treatable and reversible.  Every year, the rates of diagnosis are going up.  Every year that goes by without action, reduces the chances of improving developmental potential by treating medical concerns.  Maybe this will be the year of the tipping point.  If it isn’t, I will focus not on my frustration but on the courage of the two children who stood up in front of a crowd of strangers this year, and told the world that biomedical treatment worked for them.


Sonya Doherty, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine