ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Medication, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Autism, Autism and Mercury, Autism Treatment, Dore Achievement Centres, Dyslexia

Are we too quick to medicate children?, a good round-up of the issue from the Las Angeles Times. Whilst The Guardian has a piece on the rise of students using brain boosting drugs such as Ritalin

The Spoof! has a short piece on PHADD (Pseudo Hyperactivity Attention Deficit Disorder)

Questionable Study Claims ADHD is Under-Diagnosed

Good Vibrations, a new, drug-free treatment for ADHD?

Understanding Chelation therapy, a brief round-up of this dubious autism therapy.

National Institutes of Health will intensify its efforts to find the causes of autism.

No explanation for ‘scary’ rise in autism in New Zealand

A Dore Program presentation at the Hallowell Center in Sudbury, MA.

Experts Demand End to Child Drugging in the US.

Shire reveals the effect size for it ADHD medication, Vyvanse.

Study on Concerta shows significant effect on ADHD sufferers.

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Over the last few weeks this website has been attracting comments from various members and ex-members of staff of the Dore Achievement Centres. This has come to the attention of the CEO of UK branch, Bob Clarke, who has posted comments on Myomancy and also to Wynford Dore himself who has phoned me. Conversations with Wynford are always enjoyable but challenging because Wynford believes so passionately about what he does. So when Myomancy runs a negative story about the Dore Program he tends to forget all the places on Myomancy where I’ve said the Dore Program works and that it changes lives.

In light of all this I thought it wise to make a clear statement to all my readers about why I devote a considerable amount of time and money to running Myomancy.

  • The goal of Myomancy is to provide independent information on treatments for dyslexia, ADHD and autism so that parents and sufferers can make an informed choice about what is the best approach for them.
  • Myomancy is a blog, a personal web site. It represents my views and my views alone on all things connected with ADHD, dyslexia and Autism.
  • These views are researched and expressed on Myomancy to the best of my abilities but I am not a scientist, teacher or a professional writer. I am just someone who’s life was changed by the Dore Program and felt a need to express myself.
  • I believe in free speech which is why I allow anyone to post comments on the articles regardless of whether they are for or against my views. Only post that are illegal or purely offensive are removed.
  • Myomancy generates a small amount of income for advertising. I would like it to be more so that I can afford to spend more time on Myomancy. It is up to the reader to decide what, if any, impact that has on the independence of Myomancy.

With reference to the above I have removed one comment from the website that is highly critical of the Dore Program and, based on additional evidence I have at my disposal, is completely false.

Autism and Mercury, Food and Drink

The US FDA sets the limits of tuna’s mercury content to 1000 parts per billion (ppb). However Defenders of Wildlife have just release a large document showing that tuna’s mercury content from some countries is at 1500 (ppb).

According to the document Is Our Tuna “Family-Safe”? Mercury in America’s Favorite Fish [ PDF ] tins of fish from Ecuador, Mexico and Costa Rica had dangerously high mercury concentrations. It is worrying as people are being encouraged to eat more fish because of the benefits of omega 3. The whole tuna / mercury problem makes having a safe but effective omega 3 diet hard.

This study does not appeared to have peer-review and the document is more like a glossy sales brochure than a scientific study so please read with a suitably sized pinch of salt.

For more information on the tuna / mercury health risks, see The Omega 3 Diet.

Autism, Autism and Mercury

A couple who claimed that RhoGAM shots the mother received during pregnancy had caused their children to be autistic have had their lawsuit thrown out by a US federal judge. They were blaming thimerosal, a mercury based preservative but the judge was not impressed with the expert testimony by Dr Geier.

  • When subjected to extensive cross-examination, Geier could not point to a single study that conclusively determined that any amount of mercury could cause the specific neurological disorder of autism.
  • Geier’s conclusion that the peer-reviewed literature he has relied upon supports his theory that autism can be caused by thimerosal is flatly contradicted by all of the epidemiological studies available at this time.
  • Geier’s testimony was excluded or accorded little or no weight in more than ten of the vaccine cases. In one case, the special master who presided over the case referred to him as “intellectually dishonest.” In another case, the special master referred to him as “a professional witness in areas for which he has no training, expertise, and experience.”

The judge’s memorandum has been posted at CaseWatch. Further coverage on EBD Blog

Autism, Autism and Mercury, Autism Treatment

Autism is a disorder that just inspires controversy. Maybe its because we know so little about what causes autism or maybe its because of the emotions connected with childhood problems. Either way, any debate about autism tends to become very polarized and nothing divides people more than the question of mercury, chelation and autism.
The controversy started in the early nineties when it was become apparent that mercury contamination, especially in fish, was become a significant issue. About the same time, there it was there was a growing number autistic children around. Finally someone noted that the symptoms of long-term mercury poisoning in young children is similar to the symptoms of autism.

Chelation itself is a term coined in the 1920 for a chemical process. A ligand or agent attaches itself to a metal molecule to form a chelate, a new, inert substance. The chelate can then be removed thus carrying away the molecules of metal. As a medical treatment, chelation has a long history. In World War I, chelation was used as a treatment for arsenic based poison gas. It also used for treating heavy metal poisoning such as mercury, arsenic or lead. In the UK incidences of heavy metal poising are very rare because of our strict environmental and health & safety laws. However once someone pointed the finger at mercury as a cause of autism then it was obvious that chelation would be tried as a treatment for autism.

It is with doctors interested in alternative medicine that chelation has taken off. No mainstream hospital or clinic offers it but Defeat Autism Now has a list of several hundred doctors who offer chelation. This grass roots movement in favour of autism means there is little direct scientific evidence on the effectiveness of chelation. Consequently we are left with anecdotal evidence about the treatment’s effectiveness which cannot be trusted because parents and doctors involved in the treatment both want the therapy to work. The parents are desperate for any glimmer of hope and may well notice a difference when in fact there has not been any. Doctors providing the treatment clearly believe in the treatments effectiveness so may not be as rigorous as an independent doctor. This does not mean that parents or doctors are deliberately misleading others about the success of a treatment. Strict double-blind protocols for testing medicines have been developed over the last fourty years because time and time again human nature and the subconscious desire to see the what you want to see has made a fool of even the best scientists.

It is not only autism that chelation is believed by some to treat. Since the 1960’s, heart and vascular diseases have also treated using chelation by practitioners who believe heavy metals can cause a range of diseases. Fully controlled, double-blind studies have found no benefit to chelation in these area. Lead poisoning also damages the brain and chelation has been used by mainstream medical practitioners to treat it. The results are mixed with some studies showing no cognitive improvement after treatment and others showing some improvement.

The chelation treatment is normally administered through an intravenous drip though some oral treatments exists. It is a slow process requiring regular doses of the chelation agent over weeks and months. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is the most common chelation agent and it comes in two forms, Calcium Disodium EDTA (generically known as Endrate and Disodium EDTA (known as Versinate). In 2005 an autistic boy died during chelation because the two agents were mixed up and he as given Versinate by mistake, causing a cardiac arrest.

Whether chelation works or not is highly debatable. As a treatment it is based on the idea that mercury is the cause of autism. This in itself is far from being proven and many if not most in the medical profession do not believe mercury causes autism. If we accept the mercury is the cause then chelation is the logical treatment to remove the mercury. However there is no evidence that once the mercury is removed the autistic behaviour will be reduced. Based on the current evidence chelation has little or no benefit as a treatment.

Previously on Myomancy: Of Mice and Mercury: Big Heads and Thimerosal, Autistic in the 1930’s. Playing Golf Today

Sources: Wikipedia – Chelation Thereapy, Generation Rescue, Quack Watch – Chelation Therapy: Unproven Claims and Unsound Theories; Declining blood lead levels and cognitive changes in moderately lead-poisoned children; Effect of Chelation Therapy on the Neuropsychological and Behavioral Development of Lead-Exposed Children After School Entry

Coverage of Chelation on the Myomancy Blog Roll

Autism, Autism and Mercury

A new book is putting the blame for the rise in Autism on pollution in the environment and its just received extensive coverage in The Times.
The number of people — and particularly young children — who have autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) has risen dramatically over the past two decades. ASD used to be identified in a few children in every 10,000: it now affects as much as 1 per cent of the population. Part of this rise is certainly due to a broader definition and increased diagnosis, but some experts are convinced that there has also been a real rise. Lathe is one, and he believes that this is in part due to an increase in environmental toxins — pesticides, PCBs (from plastics) and particularly heavy metals including mercury and lead (both known neurotoxins).
I’m a little skeptical about whether there really is a rise in actual cases though certainly better awareness of the problem has lead to an increase in diagnosis (see Autism Levels Higher But Stable). It also easy to point to the environmental and blame it but no bio-medical mechanism for pollution to cause autism has been found. However there is some interesting data linking rises in power stations emissions with rises of autism.
Finally the article makes some suggestions for parents of autistic children based on the book, such as “eat organic”. The advice is good and I’m sure that any autistic child’s life would be improved if their parents followed it but this does not prove causal link between pollution and autism.

Autism, Autism and Mercury, Science

The results of two seven year studies, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, say that mercury amalgam fillings are safe for children. Many autism campaigners believe that mercury causes autism and it might in some children though autism tends to show itself when the child is under two years old. An age when not many children have fillings.
The first study looked at 534 children aged 6 to 10 in New England and tracked IQ, memory, visuomoter ability and urine analysis. It concluded:
In this study, there were no statistically significant differences in adverse neuropsychological or renal effects observed over the 5-year period in children whose caries were restored using dental amalgam or composite materials. Although it is possible that very small IQ effects cannot be ruled out, these findings suggest that the health effects of amalgam restorations in children need not be the basis of treatment decisions when choosing restorative dental materials.
Neuropsychological and Renal Effects of Dental Amalgam in Children
The second study followed 507 children in Portugal aged 8 to 10 and tracked memory, attention/concentration, motor/visuomotor skills and nerve conduction velocities. Its conclusions were
In this study, children who received dental restorative treatment with amalgam did not, on average, have statistically significant differences in neurobehavioral assessments or in nerve conduction velocity when compared with children who received resin composite materials without amalgam. These findings, combined with the trend of higher treatment need later among those receiving composite, suggest that amalgam should remain a viable dental restorative option for children.
Neurobehavioral Effects of Dental Amalgam in Children
Whilst this is pretty conclusive evidence that fillings do not significantly impact on their owners. The only real question left is if there is a effect of a mother’s mercury amalgam fillings on an unborn fetus.

Autism, Autism and Mercury, Autism Tests & Diagnosis

In a reproduction of a 1987 study, researches have demonstrated that intensive one-to-one training can have a dramatic impact on autistic children. Working with 24 autistic children for 40 hours a week over four years the researchers lifted the children’s IQ by an average of 22 points. Eight of the children had an increase of 45 points, lifting the children into the normal range of IQ. Interestingly, though the children were of well matched before the start of the study their improvement could be clearly grouped into rapid learners and moderate learners. It would be interesting to know if this is linked to this research on Different Types of Autism: Complex and Essential.
The importance of early detection and intensive intervention of at least 25 hours has been shown in other studies. The result from these treatments is at least as good if not better than those claimed by cheatlation, a treatment with little scientific evidence to back it up. Though intensive intervention is expensive, it is cheap compared to the cost of leaving an autistic children untreated so that they need 24 hour care for the rest of their lives.
Papers: Replicating Lovaas’ Treatment and Findings: Preliminary Results, Intensive Behavioral Treatment for Children with Autism: Four Year Outcome, Residual Symptoms and Predictors
Archives: Autism, Autism Testing & Diagnosis

Autism, Autism and Mercury

A few days ago I covered a study showing that autistic children develop larger heads. My take on the story was that as there this may be evidence against the autism / mercury link because growth happened after birth but before vaccinations began. In response to this, Dr King contacted me with a copy of a letter he had sent to the Archives of General Psychiatry.
The full text of the letter is below but in summary experiments where certain strains of mice are exposed to thimerosal resulted in larger brains and autistic like problems. Suggesting that the development of larger heads in autistic children could be a symptom of mercury poisoning.

Brain Size & Mercury Poisoning

Please review Mady Hornig, David Chian, and W. Ian Lipkin, IMMEDIATE COMMUNICATION, “Neurotoxic effects of postnatal thimerosal are mouse strain dependent,” Molecular Psychiatry, pages 1-13, (Jun 8, 2004). [ PDF ]

Here the innoculation of one strain of mice with Thimerosal at development times and amounts comparable to the childhood vacination schedule for humans resulted in “autism”-like mice and “larger” brains — attributed to mercury’s immunigenic/autoimmunigenic-triggering effects.

Thus, this article’s findings are “expected” and point to the fact that low-level in-utero poisoning is a fact of life (e.g., though only about 15% of population, Rh-negative mothers are the mothers of about 50% of diagnosed “autism” cases => source of Hg poisoning => Rho Gam preserved with Thimerosal available (and in date into at least 2002), and, in the U.S., “Reduced Thimerosal” Rho Gam, which continues to be available and is the product most used in Rh incompatability cases).

If the authors want to truly break new ground, then let them develop an MRI imaging procedure to non-invasively measure the mercury level and mercury distribution in children with DSM “autism” and those without — and if you want to be complete repeated monitoring of children diagnosed with “mercury toxicity” and “heavy metal toxicity” pre-chelation and then during & after a set of chelation cycles with DMSA or DMPS to see how the mercury distribution and levels change during this therapy — which has been demonstrated to result in measureable improvement in most of the children so treated PROVIDED their other health problems have been appropriately addressed and appropriate supportive mineral supplementation furnished to maintain the proper levels of the beneficial metal ions that chelation also removes.


Dr. King

Autism, Autism and Mercury, Autism Tests & Diagnosis, Science

A new study throws an interesting light on the autism and mercury link. Researchers examined the size of autistic children’s brains using fMRI scanners and found that autistic children had larger brains. The greatest volume increases was in the temporal lobe, an area of the brain involved in language. They also examined head measurements of autistic and non-autistic children and the data suggests that enlarged head size is not present at birth and that the onset of enlarged head size in autistic children begins, on average, at around 12 months. According to researcher Cody Hazlett “These findings, together with our brain volume data, give us reason to believe that a period of brain overgrowth in autism may occur between 12 months and 2 years of age“.
This study is important to the autism / vaccine / mercury debate because it indicates that the development of autistic traits, in this case a large head and brain, starts after birth but before most children are vaccinated. This suggests that if mercury does cause autism the children do not acquire it via the mother in utero or via vaccination. The apparently rapid decline in to autism that parents have reported in their children shortly after vaccination could be explained in two different ways. Firstly it might be coincidental and that the growth in the brain reaches a crisis or tipping point six months after the growth began. This would be around 18 months old, the same age that many children get immunised. The second explanation is that the immediate bad reaction some children experience after vaccination is the final straw for a child whose bodily functions are already struggling to cope with an unnaturally fast growing brain. After which the brain and body crashes into a downward spiral leading to autism.
The location in the brain this growth occurs is also significant. The temporal lobes have significant roles in speech and hearing. The lobes also surround the hippocampi and these are important in emotion and memory. All the obvious and recognisable symptoms of autism can be explained by problems in these areas of the brain. Thus the findings of the study fit well with our understanding of the brain and autism.
A final thought on this study. If autistic children’s heads grow larger than non-autistic children could we not have growth charts for the head in the same way we monitor a child’s height and weight? If a child’s head is larger that average at 12 months then they could be closely watched and at the very first signs of autism, intervention can begin. This would provide a cheap and early way of detecting autism, something that is vital for their long-term development.
Original Press Release. Study abstract: Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Head Circumference Study of Brain Size in Autism
Previous coverage on Myomancy of the Autism and Mercury debate.