HNC Home Page
News Business Arts & Life Sports Opinion Calendar Archive About Us
Happy feet: Toes are only truly happy when you let them out to play. The return of spring has brought out the footwear of freedom, seen here outside the TSC. / Photo by Josh Russell
Today's word on

Friday, April 8, 2005

"Once you have learned how to ask questions, you have learned how to learn."

--Neil Postman, journalism scholar (1931-2003)

USU JCOM NEWS NOTE: THE JCOM Department celebrates the Class of 2005 Friday with JDay, showcasing the best of student work in print and broadcast journalism, the Web, photo, and public relations. Followed by the annual JCOM Awards Banquet--student awards, 2005-06 scholarship winner, speaker Robert Kirby of the Salt Lake Tribune, all with fine dining. For information or reservations, contact the USU JCOM Department at or 435-797-3292.

Zach and Bryce: Helping us understand the mystery of autism

By Mark L. Roesberry

March 24, 2005 | When my son Zachary was born he looked and acted as any normal child. However, when he was about 9 months old he became fascinated with numbers. His mother and I would rent children's videos to see if he would watch the movie. Nope, Zachary would rather lie on the ground in front of the television and watch the numbers on the VCR or DVD player. When my wife Andrea needed to get some work done around the house she would put him in his high-chair and he would sit for hours watching the timer on the microwave.

At 18 months old Zachary was counting, and we thought we had a child genius on our hands. Some of the things he was suppose to be doing at his age, but was not, concerned us as parents. We thought Zachary was extremely smart, but he did not show any signs of wanting to play with other kids.

Even though Zachary was showing signs of being smart for his age, his language development appeared to have stopped. Andrea is a graduate in communicative disorders. She was a little concerned about his speech development.

"Just shortly after his third birthday his father and I took him into a speech therapist to test his language development," Andrea said. "We went back and got the results and found out his scores were completely opposite from typically developing children. We decided we need to do something to help him. During the whole process of arranging for the speech test, we started talking to some friends who had children with different types of developmental delays and it got us thinking about autism."

Two of those friends are Jeff and Natausha Despain, who have a child who has been diagnosed with autism; they noticed that Zachary behaved in the same manner as their son. It was the way Zachary ate. Zachary would only eat bread, crackers, cheese and milk. We thought he was just going through a picky stage in his life. Natausha started to wonder if Zachary too might be autistic. But she did not want to say anything to us, because she saw how proud we were.

"During our visits I wanted to tell you I think Zachary may be showing signs of autism, but I saw the happiness on your faces when ever you came over," Natausha said.

Natausha's son Bryce went through a lot of the same behavior patterns as Zachary. But unlike the Despains, we did not have any other children to compare Zachary to. Bryce has an older sister who developed at a normal rate.

"Natalya, my first child, spoke really early," Natausha said. "She was already saying two-word sentences shortly after 1 year old. She was a very social child, and always made eye contact. She'd reach up to me and want to be held and she'd point to things she wanted if she couldn't say the word."

Bryce was developing much differently than his older sister, Natausha said. They were thinking that Bryce may have had a hearing problem, not some kind of developmental disorder.

Natausha said they would talk to Bryce's pediatrician, but he kept saying Bryce was fine. They would say "sometimes boys don't talk and then all of a sudden they turn 3 and they start being social and talking, and so he just kind of kept blowing it off and saying he was fine and normal," Natausha said.

What exactly is autism? The Autism Society of America defines autism as "a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities."

A problem many parents face is recognizing the symptoms. According to theNational Alliance for Autistic Research, "Children with an autism spectrum disorder usually begin to show clear, identifiable symptoms by the age of 18 months. Many parents and experts can usually detect symptoms before this time; however a formal diagnosis is typically made when the child exhibits a noticeable delay in developing language skills -- normally between the ages of 2 and 3."

One of the things we found out with talking to the Despains is the possibilities of dietary intervention. The Despains told us about Dr. Dennis W. Remington and Dr. David Voss at the Freedom Center for Advanced Medicine. We took Zachary to Dr. Remington's office. There he was given a Meridian Stress Assessment. Dr. Remington and Dr. Voss said, "this test screens for 125 common items, including weeds, grasses, trees, pollens, mold, dust, animals, foods, environmental, chemical sensitivities, and microscopic organisms. It can also determine sensitivity to dental materials, medicines, and nutritional substances."

We found out Zachary was allergic to dairy, wheat and corn. We decided to eliminate these foods from his diet and began to notice within the following weeks and months a significant change in his abnormal behaviors and speech. But we did not know how our son would respond to dietary intervention.

Karyn Seroussi co-founder of Autism Network for Dietary Intervention said "DAN (Defeat Autism Now) docs used to try to be conservative about this, and say at least a third, and then, after seeing more patients, they said two-thirds. Now that they have seen hundreds or thousands of patients, most tell us that they believe that almost every ASD child will benefit from this diet. Many will need further modifications (i.e. removing grains or sugar) before the full benefits are realized."

Just like many disorders, autism can be found in any family, regardless of status. Bob Wright, vice chairman of GE and Chairman and CEO of NBC Universal created Autism Speaks with the help of his wife Suzanne after they found out their grandson was autistic.

"Autism Speaks is dedicated to helping families find answers, through funding research and education efforts and, most significantly, by spearheading the development of a national registry of autism patients," Wright said.

After about three months is when we started noticing significant changes in Zachary. He actually started to socialize with us and other children. "There was one day that I was watching him interact with another boy who is just a few weeks younger, Zach would actually let this little boy come within inches away from him," Andrea said. "He would still wrap his arms around his chest just a little bit, but he wasn't constantly looking around for me, or coming running to me or flinching and dashing away from his friend. Zach would just hurry and put his arms up and once his friend took one or two steps back then Zach would put his arms back down and start playing and interacting again, laughing and giggling and calling his friend by his name."

The Despains also noticed changes in their son as well, but then they found out about another treatment. Natausha said she was watching afternoon television when she found out about Dr. Jepson, who has an autistic child. Natausha said Dr. Jepson explained how he received training in biomedical intervention.

Dr. Jepson works at the Children's Biomedical Center of Utah, located in Salt Lake City. Treatment begins after an initial consultation, when Dr. Jepson prescribes dietary intervention, vitamin/mineral supplements, medication to heal the gastrointestinal tract, chelation (or metal detoxification) and if necessary enhancing and rebalancing immunity and neurological interventions.

Natausha said, two months ago they started Bryce on chelation therapy. "Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) is an excellent chelator of most heavy metals including mercury," Dr. Amy S. Holmes said. "When used appropriately, it is safe and effective. DMSA has survived the testing necessary for FDA approval for use in children. This means it has been tested in children and was found to be both safe and effective."

After taking Bryce to Dr. Jepson for treatment Natausha said, "I have not bothered paying for the re-evaluation, but based on recent visits from neurological assistant and school reports, Bryce no longer has enough characteristics to be considered on the autistic spectrum anymore."

We have just started Zachary on Dr. Jepson's biomedical intervention. It is our hope and prayer that Zachary and Bryce will live normal lives.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
Best viewed 800 x 600.