A few weeks ago a woman phoned me who found my contact information on Dr. Campbell-McBride’s website under “Find A GAPS Practitioner”. The urgent call was placed on the very day the information was first published, as she had been anxiously monitoring the site, awaiting the appearance of the list of newly trained GAPS practitioners in her area. She was calling for help with her son Ganesh, age 6.5, who had been diagnosed at the age of 18 months with autism.
This call qualified in mind as my first official GAPS patient. I follow the GAPS protocol myself to address my own health conditions, and have prescribed the protocol with good results to a handful of adults in my psychiatry practice who are suffering from depression and anxiety. These patients also see me for regular psychotherapy, which somewhat confounds the picture in terms of assessing treatment efficacy of GAPS. This referral was very different. It involved a severely autistic child, and the treatment would be the GAPS protocol, and no psychotherapy. (If you do not know what GAPS is, please read my post from October 8, 2011)
After I met with the family and the patient a few days ago, I felt great excitement about the possibility of providing desperately needed assistance to this child and his parents. They had sought every possible type of help for him from nationally known autism experts in the past, assiduously followed recommendations to the best of their ability, but Ganesh was still completely non-verbal, constantly self-stimulating and locked in his own world. His case was absolutely classic as far as I could tell.
In my child psychiatry training in the early 90’s I had been taught that Ganesh was exactly the sort of patient for whom there was no effective treatment available. His parents would need to face the fact, that there was no hope that their son would grow up to become a well functioning independent adult. Yet in the GAPS practitioner training in early October, Dr. Campbell-McBride promised, that with the GAPS healing protocol, as well as behavioral interventions, that there was indeed hope, and that an austistic child like this could heal and become healthy again. She had, in fact, developed this healing protocol to treat her own son’s autistic disorder, and he was now fully recovered.
It is to be noted that the younger a patient is when he/she is placed on the GAPS protocol, the better the potential outcome. The longer a child’s brain is bathed in toxic substances, and the longer he is deprived of normal cognitive and emotional development by the fog shrouding his brain, the less possibility there is of full recovery.
I thought that it would be interesting and potentially useful to many people, to chronicle my journey with this family, and to write a series of posts about Ganesh and his treatment. We will together explore the possibility of helping a child like this with GAPS, and to see how he responds to the protocol. I called Ganesh’s mother this morning, and she generously agreed to allow me to write about this, with the hope that it may be of help to others. I plan to write these posts intermittently, as the work with Ganesh unfolds, and as there are changes (or not) in his condition.
Ganesh’s parents are from India and have been in this country for many years. Both are extremely devoted, resourceful and loving parents. At the time of the first consultation Ganesh was completely non-verbal. His repetitive self stimulating behaviors, both verbal and physical stereotypies, were reportedly so engaging to him, that he paid little attention to anything else. He is described as a very affectionate, happy go lucky, “huggy” child.
Whenever Ganesh eats, his stomach bloats hugely. Endoscopy revealed that the entire span of his GI tract was inflamed and hyperplastic from top to bottom. He used to have terrible rashes on the inside of his elbow, back of his neck and behind his ears, but since prescription of Pentasa, an aspirin like anti-inflammatory drug, often used to treat inflammatory bowel disease, they have resolved. The rashes used to be so severe that the skin on his inner elbow would bleed. He also used to have terrible constipation, but since prescription of Oxy-Powder a magnesium, germanium citrate bowel cleansing preparation, he has more regular bowel movements. His mother described that Oxy-Powder made a huge difference. Previously when constipated, he suffered from terrible abdominal pain and severe agitation. After an Oxy-Powder facilitated bowel movement, he would become calm and like a different child. His parents describe that it is possible to assess Ganesh’s state by three measures, his bowel movements, his skin rashes and his behavior.
Ganesh is in an inclusion classroom in the first grade of a public school. His parents report that he is fully accepted at the school by the teachers and children. The kids wait for him at the bus stop and he is treated with warmth and kindness. There is a wonderful sense of belonging in his school community, though they describe that Ganesh has no idea what is going on. They contrasted this with what they might expect if he were in school in India. His parents believed that in India it is likely that he would be made fun of by other children. On the other hand, in India they would have an extensive extended family network, where as here they are just a nuclear family, with no other relatives locally. Father stated that in India most people have never seen an autistic child, and it is poorly understood. When they described what was going on with Ganesh, their families in India thought they were being “paranoid”. In India, there is an expectation that you bring a child into the world and they just grow and develop naturally and normally; no need for all of this concern and intervention.
Ganesh receives, physical, speech and occupational therapy at school. Home based services are also provided where the focus is on living skills. He can get dressed with adult prompts, can go to the bathroom independently but needs help wiping, and can eat independently. Food is one of his principle pleasures. Interestingly, his mother, receently having learned a bit about GAPS, decided that she should remove rice from his diet to decrease his carbohydrate load. Since that time he has been mouthing things, something he never did before. Previously his diet consisted of rice, vegetables, lentils, beans and chappatis. Recently Mother has begun to give him scrambled eggs and bread for breakfast.
Ganesh was the product of a normal pregnancy and delivery. Both of his parents were in good health, however mother suffered from constipation. At 7 days of age he developed a severe urinary tract infection, was hospitalized for four days and given a course of broad spectrum antibiotics, Gentamycin and Ampicillin. Antibiotic prescription imbalances the gut microflora and is a frequently found factor in the history of children with GAPS conditions. Ganesh recovered and was the fastest developing child in the neighborhood, He was breast fed for 6 months, and all the developmental milestones were on target and even advanced. He had a big vocabulary, called his parents by name, liked to watch the TV and recognized Elmo who he referred to as MO, pointed to the meditation corner and said OM, and even had some bilingual communication on the phone with family in India.
Ganesh has an older brother, Mir, who is now 8. He carries a diagnosis of PDD NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). Before Ganesh regressed his father thought that when Ganesh grew up he would be able to take care of his brother. Today his brother is doing so well that the pediatrician is considering changing his diagnosis to Aspergers, (a diagnosis denoting higher functioning than PDD) and Ganesh is the one who is severely disabled.
At 15 months he received the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine, and within 2 weeks he completely regressed. He lost all his speech and retreated into his own world. Father said, “We lost him.” He developed rashes and allergies to milk. This story from families of children with autism is all too familiar. Dr Campbell-McBride addressed it at the GAPS Practitioner training. She said its not that the vaccine “causes” autism, but that it tips a vulnerable child over the edge, its the final straw.
If you think about it physiologically, in nature a human being would never be simultaneously exposed to three different very powerful viruses at the same time. It is too much. She recommends that if there is any sign of immune compromise in the child, that vaccination be delayed, and that in any case, that they should be administered separately with three months interval between each of them. In our health care system there is no individual consideration in terms of vaccination schedule. It is done at prescribed ages, no matter what the health of the patient.
It is very sadly the case that large amounts of money is made by the pharmaceutical companies and the health care industry by prescribing vaccinations for everyone. I just saw a big colorful placard this morning in front of Walgreen’s featuring a woman flexing her bare bicep with a caption that exhorted “Arm Yourself Against the Flu”, advertising flu shots. There are increasing numbers and varieties of vaccinations recommended and mandated. These vaccines are created from genetically modified microorganisms, and the long term impact of these agents on the body is not known. If the organisms were used in their naturally occurring state and not genetically modified, they would not be able to be patented, and no profit could be made. The health policies regarding vaccination are generating wealth for the pharmaceutical companies and the medical industry at the expense of children’s health. That is a shocking and unconscionable reality.
At eighteen months Ganesh began to receive ABA twenty hours per week. (Applied Behavioral Analysis), which is an intensive behavioral treatment for autism. Dr. Campbell-McBride describes it as absolutely essential for rehabilitation of an autistic child. It unfortunately helped Ganesh very little. He was unable to retain the small gains he made. Mother implemented what she thought was a gluten-free casein free diet, though she did not realize that the flour she used to make chapatis contained gluten. As mentioned above, they consulted nationally known autism experts, but thus far the only success they have had is in treating the rash and improving his bowel function. Ganesh’s mother is a fan of osteopathic physician, Dr. Joseph Mercola, who recently featured Dr. Campbell-McBride’s work with GAPS on his website. When Mother heard about GAPS, she thought that it might be a treatment that could help Ganesh, which led to her contacting me.
Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends that a health history be obtained on every family member. It revealed that both Ganesh’s mother and brother suffer from constipation.
I met with Ganesh’s parents in order to obtain the history, while Ganesh and his brother played with their babysitter in the car. Ganesh then came in for a brief examination. He is an adorable handsome boy who looked distracted and was wiggling his fingers in front of his face. He could not follow any verbal directives only physical prompts. His parents monitored him closely so that he did not break anything in the office. His mother showed me the area on his arm where the skin was darkly discolored from previous episodes of rashes. His abdomen was not distended. He made some vocalizations and was able to wave goodbye.
Next week I will write a formulation of my understanding about factors which predisposed Ganesh to develop autism and which will apply to other individuals with GAPS conditions. I will also include treatment recommendations for Ganesh. Further posts will elaborate topics raised by the treatment recommendations such as detoxification measures such as juicing, enemas and baths.
Part of Real Food Wednesday blog carnival
Deepak Mandal says
I am too an Indian parent, I would like to know if Ganesh’s Parents started GAPS diet and if yes would like to know the diet chart if possible, as finding it difficult to get some indian recepies.
thanks in advance
Hello. That was a long time ago that I worked with that family, and its hard for me to remember everything that happened. It’s definitely more challenging to implement the GAPS diet if you are vegetarian and dal and rice are also not part of the GAPS diet. You could use all sorts of vegetables except starchy ones and cook with lots of ghee. I have moved away from the GAPS diet in my practice. I have found that many patients have food sensitivities to foods that are GAPS legal, such as dairy, nuts and seeds and eggs. I now have moved more in the direction of a low carbohydrate version of the Paleo Auto immune protocol. You can read about that on my website. I wish you all the best.
K C says
Hi – just recently learned about the GAPS diet and am so excited to begin it with my ASD child! I’m frustrated that I didn’t hear about it before now because I did EVERYTHING I knew to do, tried everything, and had my son in every therapy I’d heard about desperate to help him after his ASD diagnosis 8 years ago. I knew that the younger you could implement therapies for these children the better your chances were to really make substantial differences for them. My son will turn 14 years old next month. Has anyone with an ASD child began the diet so late (teens) and seen significant changes? My son is high functioning but struggles with hyperactivity and is challenged socially. He self-stims a lot and is easily agitated. He is also very sweet and loving and it would thrill me to see him helped in those areas that cause him frustration and pain. I see a lot of the posts on here were 4 years ago. If anyone is still reading these I’d really appreciate any feedback on the success of helping teens with autism and ADHD when you are just beginning the diet. Has anyone seen anyone in this situation try this diet and what were the results? Thank you so much – value any advice or help so much!!! KC
Thank you for writing. I have no idea if anyone reads this blog post anymore, but since then I have learned of an organization called TACA which is parent run, and it stands for Talking about Curing Autism. They are an incredible resource. I would definitely be in touch with them to learn about what is available. They are a very optimistic can-do bunch. Many blessings and may you find excellent help for your son.
Thank you for replying and for the information about the parent run group. I will definitely check them out!
Thank you for writing. It’s inspiring and moving to hear about the fortitude and devotion of parents of children with GAPS conditions. I think that Ganesh’s parents will feel heartened to hear these success stories. I know that I am. It’s so great that your son is so much recovered and that you are feeling so well! Its a blessing.
Heather Finotti says
Hello! I am so happy to see this journey will be shared here for everyone to see. We’ve been doing GAPS for 22 months now and I couldn’t be more happy that we have chosen this road. My dear son had severe eczema (which is now 95% resolved – he get an occasional small patch here and there that doesn’t irritate him, versus being covered in it and in constant agitation from the pain and itching till bleeding), which developed after his first vaccination and got progressively worse with the following two, after which we stopped vaccinating (and we were doing one shot at a time, spread out). He also was sensitive to just about everything he’d ever eaten and has multiple food allergies (some severe). He is thriving now, as am I since I joined him in this journey – initially because he’s nursing, but now because I want to be fully healthy myself in a way I’ve never known before in my life!
Anyway, I too send my prayers and best wishes to this family. I highly recommend their using the GAPS yahoo group online for additional support. It has been invaluable for me and the group is fantastically supportive and informative. It has pulled me through the difficult beginning period, and every backslide on this rollercoaster of recovery and has also given me a place to share our small and large triumphs with others who really get it and deeply appreciate it!
Dr. Tsafrir –
I, too, will be following your blog. Thanks to you and the family for their willingness to share. We have been slowly backing into the GAPS diet with my 8 yo ASD son for almost a month. In a matter of three weeks, we have seen improvement almost globally, and we haven’t even done the full intro yet. We have great hope! We will start Stage 1 of the intro diet this Friday, because the Thanksgiving holiday means no school lunches to deal with for 10 days. We fully expect Thanksgiving to have a whole new meaning:)
Wow, Cheryl, that is so great to hear that you have already seen improvement in 3 weeks. Its so exciting. Please keep me posted. These success stories are important motivators to people who are considering making the enormous commitment that doing GAPS in the this culture requires. Its certainly not easy to put a child on a diet that is so at odds with what all his peers are eating. It takes real courage and perseverance.
Thanks you to and to Ganesh’s parents for sharing this unfolding treatment story with blog readers. As others have written, I very much look forward to blogposts to comes as Ganesh’s treament progresses.
Thank you for the work you are doing, which is so rarely found anywhere. Too many families struggle alone with a menu of treatment choices which are not holistic and simply leave out so very, very much…at an ultimate terrible expense, to all of us.
Thank you so much, Mary, for appreciating what this endeavor is all about.
There is an enormous amount to learn. I am grateful to this blog medium which allows us to share with each other in this way. Its really unique and did not exist only a short time ago. We live in amazing times.
Dr. Tsafrir, I am also very interested in hearing of Ganesh’s progress. I am certain you will be able to help his parents to turn him around. In fact I have very high hopes. I am sure you have already asked the parents, but I think it’s extremely important that the parents also read and study the GAPS book thoroughly which I think will make the “team” (you and the parents and any other helpers) strong and on the same page. They will be encouraged to know the story of Millie and Kevin, which they can read here: http://www.gapsdiet.com/Testimonials.html Kevin was diagnosed with autism and is fully recovered, he is in high school and as normal as can be! Kevin was 11 when his mother started him on GAPS, she had him on the Body Ecology Diet previously. I am so excited for Ganesh and his parents, and also the other son can be healed as well!
Thank you so much, Starlene for this message. I will pass this on to Ganesh’s mother who I am sure will appreciate the information as well as the loving support and good wishes.
Dr. Tsafrir, thank you for this post. I am excited to watch the progress of Ganesh in hopes that Gaps diet can help him!!
I am very hopeful. It will be a learning experience for all of us.