To recap from a few blogs ago, I set a challenge for myself to read a book by an author from every letter of the alphabet this year. The B one took... a very long time, but it was absolutely worth every minute spent reading.
"Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies," by Kenneth Bock, M.D. and Cameron Stauth is an amazing book. I never thought that a medical book could move me to tears, but this one did. While this book is filled with medical studies and a twelve page bibliography citing all of his sources, Dr. Bock also includes the stories of some of his patients and the determination of their families to seek help for disorders that so many people have given up on. What makes this book so gripping is the stories of recovery, like the boy diagnosed with autism at age four whose IQ score was 69, mild retardation. Fast forward three years later, and that same boy can describe the day he remembers his first appointment with Dr. Bock, when everything changed. He can remember how he felt scared all the time--an anxiety he described as the "snarling dog" feeling. "Most autistic kids aren't just emotionally numb, they're hurting," Bock writes. It was the stories of the kids that kept me reading. The science behind their symptoms was sometimes difficult reading, though, and I so desperately wanted to understand it.
The autism epidemic provokes heated debate in the medical community, but I like Dr. Bock's perspective. He writes, "Contrary to conventional medical wisdom, the cause of autism is not primarily genetic, but is a complex combination of genetics and environment. Genetics, so to speak, load the gun, and environment pulls the trigger." He further reports that when you add together all of the children who suffer from autism, ADHD, asthma, and/or allergies, "it comes to 20 million kids, or almost one-third of all American children." He believes that the four catastrophic changes responsible are: increased toxins/pollution, nutrition deterioration, doubled number of increased vaccinations (mercury has now been removed from most vaccinations), and decreased ability to detoxify.
Bock reports that many of his patients with one of the four A disorders have high levels of mercury, aluminum, lead or arsenic. Many children with autism or ADHD symptoms also suffer from the autoimmune disorder PANDAS, or Pediatric Auto-immune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep. The link I found most interesting is that Bock claims, "The vast majority of all children with autism, ADHD, and asthma have serious allergies. As a general rule, these three disorders can not be overcome without alleviating the damage done by allergies." Many of his patients make huge strides just by switching to a gluten-free/casein-free diet or by eliminating food allergies. I've seen my own son's asthma dramatically improve when we finally figured out that gluten was his enemy.
Bock's healing program involves an integrative approach using the four elements of nutritional therapy, supplementation therapy, detoxification, and medication. I was somewhat skeptical about some of the detoxification techniques, but the results were promising. One minor criticism I have about this book is that many of his reports are based on a 2006 Autism Research Institute survey of approximately 2,000 parents of autistic children. Though he's using many of these treatments for the other three A disorders, there's no survey of parents of asthmatic children or ADHD children, so he's making a few leaps that it will treat the cause of the symptoms the same way. My second criticism is that I wish he used actual footnotes throughout the book instead of one very long alphabetical reference in the back of the book. There were a handful of times when he mentioned research that I thought sounded interesting and wanted to look up the study. With the alphabetical bibliography, I would just be taking a guess at which study was being referenced. Still, my child is healthier since I've read this book, and I feel like I can make some informed decisions about where to go from here. All in all, I have to give this book an A.