– 3 years 4 months of age at the time of his first Homeopathic consultation.
Story and Symptoms
By the time Alex had turned 2 years of age, his parents were very concerned about his development. He had several classic features of autism. He had been losing language – words and phrases – since 18 months of age and could now only say the one repetitive phrase of, “Bye, see ya”. Previously a good eater, he had regressed to only wanting bread, milk, cheese and pasta and could no longer use a fork or spoon. His fine and gross motor skills were delayed, he avoided eye contact, and he constantly ran away from his parents. Alex had no appropriate play with either toys or people, did not want to be touched or cuddled, and would walk on tip-toes and in constant circles. He also suffered from frequent respiratory tract infections, daily diarrhoea, and slow healing of insect bites and wounds.
Alex’s mother had adopted a biomedical approach (the use of diets, supplements, and drugs to correct the imbalances in the biochemistry of the body that underpin symptoms of autism) since he’d been two years of age, and had sought chiropractic and cranio-sacral treatments. The biomedical interventions meant that Alex no longer ate foods containing gluten, casein, phenol, oxalate, sulphite, salicylate, soy, or corn – all potential irritants to a child with autism. Remaining foods were free from artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives. Alex only drank filtered water. Under the guidance of a biomedical doctor, Alex was given numerous and changing supplements such as zinc, magnesium, multi-vitamins and minerals, methyl vitamin B 12 injections, coenzyme Q10, cod liver oil, and taurine, as indicated by his behaviours and pathology tests. Alex’s mother reported that there had been some improvement with these interventions.
Alex’s presenting symptoms at his first consultation included:
- Limited language (his mother reported that his speech had improved with biomedical interventions but was still not age-appropriate. Alex could now name objects and was using some two-and three-word phrases).
- Difficulty with change and transition;
- Being overly distressed when anxious or fearful;
- Screaming if things not done his way;
- Screaming – when reacting to food – if looked at, touched, or questioned;
- Shaking of body when excited;
- Visual and vocal “stims” (“stims” and “stimming” are colloquialisms for self stimulation. A stim is a repetitive behaviour that either stimulates, calms, or aids concentration. Alex’s visual stims – looking out of the corner of his eyes, and at light patterns through his moving fingers – though lessening with the biomedical interventions, were still present.)
- Echolalia – the meaningless repetition of words and phrases;
- Narrow band of precocious intelligence – knew all alphabet letters and numbers; and
- Obsessed with a children’s band, the Wiggles (if he were permitted he would obsessively watch their DVDs).
All of the above are common symptoms of autism and not especially helpful for a homeopathic prescription. As always, the idiosyncratic symptoms of the sufferer are the best guide to the needed remedy, and, in this respect, Alex was no different. His more individualising symptoms were:
- Loved having his face caressed;
- Head and scalp sensitive to touch, being washed, brushed, or having hair cut;
- Aversion to being dirty, especially hands – would not touch things such as play-dough;
- Fear of dogs, insects, and spiders;
- Laughing in sleep;
- Food cravings for milk, cheese, bread, and pasta before dietary modifications (these foods had been removed from his diet at the time of consultation but were still included in his case analysis as they were true symptoms of the imbalance);
- Current food craving: tomatoes; and
- Food aggravation: milk, which caused diarrhoea.
Physical symptoms included:
- Rash/eczema on the right side of his face;
- Daily mustard-yellow diarrhoea which had been very offensive before his dietary modifications and supplements;
- Slowness of wounds to heal;
- Overreaction (prolonged swelling and inflammation) to bites and stings; and
- Yearly conjunctivitis, always following a respiratory tract infection.
First prescription: Calcarea carbonica and Sulphur both rated highly on repertorisation and covered Alex’s symptom complex well. Sulphur was chosen because Alex avoided dirty or contaminating things and wanted his hands washed frequently. The fact that he separated easily from his parents (he would run away from them) and was not clinging or under-confident as would be expected with a Calcarea carbonica child also supported a Sulphur prescription. Sulphur was given in a liquid 30C potency. Following a test dose to assess his sensitivity to the remedy, it was prescribed three times a week.
Two weeks later: Alex’s mother reported a “huge jump” in the language he was using. His comprehension was “much better”, and he was coping better with change. His fine and gross motor skills had improved, and the facial eczema had almost disappeared. Sores were healing rapidly, scalp sensitivity was a thing of the past, and Alex was now happy on waking each morning. Alex’s therapist had also commented to his mother on his “big” improvement. Treatment with Sulphur 30C was continued at a frequency of 3 times a week.
Seven weeks after commencement of treatment: Alex’s previous improvements had continued. He had returned to having an afternoon sleep and was now sleeping well at night. His language was more complex and conversational. There were no obvious autistic behaviours, and Alex’s mother stated he was “just behind.” Bowel motions were still runny. At about this time, Alex developed conjunctivitis (yellow discharge) and became weepy, affectionate, and dependent on his mother. A prescription of Pulsatilla rapidly dealt with these acute symptoms. (From Alex’s history of yearly conjunctivitis with respiratory tract infections, it would seem that Pulsatilla may have been a remedy needed in the past, especially when its acute relationship with Sulphur is considered.) Once the acute phase had passed, chronic treatment resumed with Sulphur 0/2 being given approximately every 4 days at the discretion of his mother, who was now familiar with the “when and how” of re-dosing.
Not long after this, Alex’s behaviour and mood deteriorated in spite of Sulphur still being indicated. His mother decided to reduce some of his biomedical supplements and chelating agents. An immediate improvement took place. This is something I have seen in several children on biomedical treatment and something for practitioners to be aware of. It would seem that large doses of once helpful supplements and chemical medicines have an aggravating affect once homeopathy has moved the child to a better state of health. This phenomenon can easily be mistaken as an aggravation from the remedy, or cause the practitioner to think the remedy is no longer suitable.
Eighteen weeks after commencement of treatment: Prior to this appointment, Alex had developed a mix of old and new symptoms. While many improvements had been maintained, his stools, which had firmed, were again loose. Some visual stimming had returned and he was now jumping on the spot with boredom, stress, or excitement. He was also singing to excess. Significantly, Alex wanted to be carried everywhere by his parents and had developed a fear of the dark: he would wake frequently at night to turn the light on. With this new combination of symptoms, Stramonium 0/2 was prescribed, dosing to take place as indicated by his symptoms, and at the discretion of his mother.
Twenty-six weeks after commencement of treatment: Alex’s mother reported that her son’s clinginess and fear of dark had resolved within a week of starting the remedy. She had given him 3 doses over that period, and intermittently since then. His jumping had also reduced, and his stimming had stopped. There was a dramatic improvement in expressive language, an increase in imaginative play, and greater independence in daily living activities. At the same time, however, Alex’s fear of dogs had increased and the back of his neck and head were sweating during sleep. On this basis, Alex was prescribed Calcarea carbonica 30C, dosing to take place as indicated by his symptoms.
Thirty-six weeks after commencement of treatment: Again, Alex’s mother reported that the new symptoms had resolved rapidly with the change in prescription and a weekly dose of the Calcarea carbonica. Alex was now displaying increased confidence. He had started pre-school – which he loved – and was separating well from his mother when she took him there. Two important milestones had been achieved – toilet training and riding a two-wheeler bike. Alex was no longer considered autistic. I provided Alex’s mother with a different potency of Calcarea carbonica to use if needed before the next consultation.
Most recent consultation, 1 year 5 months after treatment commenced: Alex is now 4 ¾ years old and progressing well. Whilst he is no longer considered autistic, his mother has continued with regular homeopathic appointments to deal with any emerging health concerns or imbalances. At a recent consultation, his prescription was changed to Lycopodium clavatum 6C for constant eczema around his mouth; bed-wetting; whinging, clinging and demanding behaviour; lack of confidence; and performance anxiety – the latter being especially evident at his soccer matches. His mother reports that all these symptoms significantly improved with the remedy – a dose had been given 3 times a week.
Throughout treatment, Alex’s mother has continued his dietary modifications and biomedical treatments in an effort to optimise his health. From a homeopathic perspective, this has been as much a hindrance as help, a point to be discussed in Part 2 of this article. Alex’s mother, who is involved with several autism groups, states that dietary modifications and homeopathic treatment are the two things that consistently make the biggest improvements for Alex and other children with autism. In the meantime, that well-known homeopathic triad of Sulphur, Calcarea carbonica, and Lycopodium seems to be meeting Alex’s needs. It will be interesting to see what future treatment holds.
Parent Report: Alex
“We began homœeopathic treatment in May 2006. Prior to this, we had done diet, supplements, and chiropractic — cranio-sacral therapy. Before any intervention my son was severely autistic — he had ALL the classic signs, symptoms, and behavioural traits of autism.
Within three days of starting the GFCF (gluten free, casein free) diet, we got eye contact. And with further diet changes, and with each new supplement, he improved even more. We did some chelation and got even more improvements. He lost most of his stims, toe-walking, developed lots of language — labelling and two- to three-word phrases — and was overall heaps better than when we started.
However, after about 16 months of biomedical intervention, we started classical homœopathy using his constitutional remedy. After the first two doses, he actually became more irritable. However, just 15 minutes after receiving his 3rd dose (one week after starting), he abruptly changed and became more calm and less irritable. Within two days of this third dose, I wrote in my diary “Alex was AMAZING TODAY”. He had a huge jump in his language — both receptive and expressive. He was calm. He learned to blow bubbles — it just suddenly clicked (and this was after about 12 months of trying to get him to blow them).
He started holding my hand (previously he would only ever hold my finger — I could never hold his hand). We were able to take him out to strange places — shopping centres, etc. — and he would just hold our hand and act like a normal child. Transitions that had previously been a huge problem were suddenly no problem at all. We were able to buy him new shoes and get him to wear them. He became less obsessed with activities that he had previously been obsessed with.
He continued to progress with this remedy, and we could see a definite improvement after each dose, followed by a general decline just prior to needing his next dose, so we knew it was the remedy that was responsible for the changes. Over time, we needed to change the dose and then changed to other remedies. Each time we changed the dose or changed to a new remedy we had another very obvious huge jump in language, cognition, behaviour, etc.
After almost 12 months of homœopathy, Alex has improved to the point that most people would not think that he was autistic. He still has some catching up to do with language and other skills, but would no longer meet the criteria for autism. I believe that it is the homœopathy that has resulted in his huge improvement, however I believe that the homœopathy worked so well for us because we had already done so much healing with diet and supplements prior to commencing homœopathy. And I believe that the chiropractic / cranio-sacral also supports the homœopathy by keeping all of his pathways, meridians, etc. clear.
We now also use homœopathy for first aid — i.e. for fevers, tummy upsets, ear infections, and other acute illnesses. We have not had to use things like antibiotics, panadol, Neurofen, etc. since commencing homœopathy.”
A Recent Report
“Alex is doing fantastically. He had his “first” birthday party last week with a dozen of his “friends”. He greeted each of them, read (aloud) their card (to the astonishment of the other parents), said “Wow, thank you very much” when opening their presents, and had a fabulous time. You should have seen his face when everyone was singing “Happy birthday”. It was a real milestone for us — we were over the moon. Also, I don’t know whether any of the other parents had any idea about Alex’s autism, but I doubt it.”
written by homeopath fran Sheffield