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The Subcellular Cause of Autism
Jan 27, 2019
The Autism Symptom Elimination Study
The Subcellular Cause of Autism
Long-Term Autism Treatment Results
Autism Client Evaluation Forms
Trauma-based Approaches by Other Researchers
For treatment of Asperger's Syndrome, click here.
Autism is a disease of 'unknown etiology'
One of the biggest problems that researchers face in trying to find a treatment for autism is that the cause - be it underlying biology or a disease process - has not been identified. Hence, different research groups have different ideas for what the problem might be, and as you would expect, treatments are very hit or miss.
Currently, there are no consistently reliable ways to treat or completely eliminate the disorder. Sometimes, a treatment might help to some degree in some autistics, leading to the problem that parents spend their life savings trying different treatments without success. The current treatments of choice are not cures, but rather a kind of 'retraining' that works within the context of the child's disability - and sadly even this does not help most severe autistics.
From a diagnostic perspective, there is currently no way to easily identify the disorder (as with a simple blood test, for example). Thus, various different problems with vaguely similar symptoms get lumped into the same 'autism' category. This is a problem for researchers, because they have no idea if they are trying to find a cure for one disease, many diseases, or something else entirely.
The Institute's research timeline
We also faced this same issue of an unknown cause in our own autism research work. Around 1998 or so, we had identified when in prenatal development the child first became autistic. Using this, we were able to come up with a preliminary treatment that targeted relevant epigenetic damage using trauma-healing techniques (for more, see 'epigenetic damage and generational trauma'). This approach was surprisingly successful. In 2000, we were able to eliminate autism symptoms in four out of six of the children we tested. However, we still did not understand the cause of the problem that we were somehow successfully treating in these children; so we were unable to improve on the treatment to help the two that did not respond to the process. Hence, we cancelled this research project while we continued our work in other areas.
Around 2008 in Denmark, we decided to take another try at treating autism. Working with 10 diagnosed children (of whom to our surprise only four were actually autistic) we tested an 'improved' process. Unfortunately, this new treatment was far less effective than the original one, and again we did not know why. So, with a lot of disappointment, we again cancelled the project.
By 2015, we were finally ready to really solve this issue. From an engineering perspective, it was pointless to continue if we did not totally understand the cause of the disorder. So we focused on just this; but this time, we did so by looking at one of the successfully treated families from 2000. The assumption was that they would be a sort of stepping stone - perhaps they still had some of the cause, but not enough to interfere with seeing what it was. And this worked! (We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Linda Johnson who volunteered hundreds of fairly painful hours to help us solve this problem.) With this approach, over a four month period, we were finally able to understand the cause of autism, and see what our original process had been treating.
We now think the cause is two different subcellular pathogens
With several more years of work, we were finally able to isolate what we think is the cause of autism as two different diseases that damage the interior of cells. These diseases turned out to be multigenerational infections, infecting both the mother and child, with the problem being carried in the mother's line. To our surprise, the mother is also damaged by these two diseases, but the symptoms are 'subclinical' - symptoms that the parent is used to and works around. The next question we addressed was why were these diseases suddenly showing up as severe autism after generations of relative inactivity? At this point, we believe the trigger is mercury toxicity in the mother, making the infections much more aggressive in the in-utero child and during its early development.
If we look at these two pathogens, the first one that comes into play happens in utero. It is a bacteria that damages the cell nucleus, triggered during the birthing process. In a very interesting dynamic, the cell nucleus is like the prototype for the brain - and damage to the nucleus causes problems in the brain even though there may or may not be obvious brain pathology. This also explains another puzzling thing about autism - this damage in the nucleus is rather random (albeit preferentially found on the right side), as if a mouse had gnawed holes in a block of cheese. This can cause various different symptoms depending on what areas are damaged.
The second pathogen appears to be a type of prion disease. This one appears to be responsible for the well-known observation that children appear to be normal until about 18 months old, when they seem to suddenly lose their normal, happy baby state and become what we think of as autistic. This disease becomes active during a key developmental moment in the child which occurs at this time.
Are we certain that these diseases are really the cause of autism? Well, until we've got a treatment that works fully, we cannot say for sure. However, these are the two diseases we see in our clients, and those are the diseases that we're targeting for treatment. Once effective psycho-immunological treatments are derived and tested, we'll know for certain if we've really solved autism or not.
In one case, we found the reason the autistic child was having seizures. It turned out in some of the 'empty' sections of the nucleus a particular bacterial species makes its home. This organism acts like an electrical short circuit to the surrounding structures, resulting in seizures. As of this writing (August 2016), we have not yet checked if this is true for other autistics or non-autistics with seizure disorders.
With our older existing technique, once the subcellular damage is repaired, the child goes through an accelerated developmental sequence - as if catching up on all the stages of growth that they missed in early childhood due to the disease. This takes a few months. But the restored emotional connection between parent and child happens immediately.
With this new information on the cause of autism, we were able to revise our old treatment. To test this, we then worked with a family that had no improvement with our old approach, and were able to finally eliminate the child's stimming, epileptic seizures and emotional outbursts.
How about brain damage?
From a treatment perspective, when a parent brings in a child in for help, reasonably enough they want the kid to be fully restored. Unfortunately, there is yet another kind of damage that blocks some kids from being 'normal' - the problem of brain injury. Although brain injury is unrelated to autism, we do see this in some children diagnosed with autism, because the symptoms can be somewhat similar and so get lumped into a diagnosis of 'autism spectrum disorder'. And of course some unlucky children can have both problems simultaneously. How do the two problems differ? Autism is about chunks of the 'brain' that are simply missing; brain injury is about regions of the brain that are present but either work sub-optimally, or in the extreme, are unable to work at all.
Fortunately, we developed a treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2009. After the autism process is completely done - and the regions of the brain (actually, the nucleus that corresponds to the brain) are now present - the TBI process can be used to repair any damage to the child's brain that might be present. Note however, we don't think this process will work on damage from diseases like viral or bacterial encephalitis - it was designed to treat more mechanical damage.
In essence, the TBI technique restores 'resiliency' to the brain. To explain, imagine ten people who were identically impacted in the head. Some will have nothing more serious than a headache, while some will be permanently injured. How a person reacts depends on their brain resilience - and this is something that can be increased, causing brain damage symptoms to go away.
What about Asperger's Syndrome?
Around 2013 or so, we were able to track down the cause of Asperger's Syndrome. For those of you who are not involved in the autism field, it was sometimes identified as a 'milder' form of autism. A few years ago in the US it was rolled into the general category of 'autism spectrum disorder' and eliminated as a separate disease. It is still defined as a separate category in Europe's ICD-10 F84.5.
However, our work showed that Asperger's syndrome is an entirely different disease from autism, and our treatment for it is not based on our treatment for autism. People with Asperger's experience themselves in a kind of transparent glass tube, unable to reach out or feel the world around them. This disease can be easily diagnosed - simply move your hand towards the person's body. At a certain distance from their body, the person can suddenly 'feel' the presence of your hand. (This distance varies from person to person and from side to side of their body.)
Treatment is very simple and fast. Asperger's Syndrome symptoms are usually eliminated in one or two office visits. For more on the symptoms and treatment, please visit our clinic webpage.
- Subcellular Psychobiology Diagnosis Handbook by Dr. Grant McFetridge (2014), pg. 176-177.
- "Autism risk spotted at birth in abnormal placentas" by Karen N. Peart, Yale University News (April 2013).
- "New Theory Of Autism Suggests Symptoms Or Disorder May Be Reversible" by ScienceDaily (April 2009).
- The Autism Book: Answers to Your Most Pressing Questions (2005) by Bobledo and Ham-Kucharski. A good reference for parents.
- "Autism controversies". A layperson's brief summary of controversies around cause, cure, research, treatment, organizations, and neurodiversity.
- Brain white matter asymmetry in autism by Sophia Colamarino. Summary of Dr. Martha Herbert's work.
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Jan 27, 2019: Revised the material on the cause of autism to make it clearer.
May 24, 2016: First version of this webpage.