Peace Talk

Finding peace when someone you love is on the Autism Spectrum

Defining Autism – I hate 90% of definitions I come across.

What is ASD?

1. How do experts define ASD?

Outside of defining ASD biomedically, I find this to be an accurate, intellectual explanation:

“Autism is a genetically-based human neurological variant. The complex set of interrelated characteristics that distinguish autistic neurology from non-autistic neurology is not yet fully understood, but current evidence indicates that the central distinction is that autistic brains are characterized by particularly high levels of synaptic connectivity and responsiveness. This tends to make the autistic individual’s subjective experience more intense and chaotic than that of non-autistic individuals: on both the sensorimotor and cognitive levels, the autistic mind tends to register more information, and the impact of each bit of information tends to be both stronger and less predictable.

Autism is a developmental phenomenon, meaning that it begins in utero and has a pervasive influence on development, on multiple levels, throughout the lifespan. Autism produces distinctive, atypical ways of thinking, moving, interaction, and sensory and cognitive processing. One analogy that has often been made is that autistic individuals have a different neurological “operating system” than non-autistic individuals.”

Nick Walker /
Walker is Autistic and works as a psychotherapist and consultant. I refer to him frequently and greatly appreciate his efforts to improve education about the spectrum.

Kartzinel (2009) provides a straightforward definition that helps parents to understand what their child is actually experiencing-
Autism is simply the abnormal response to everyday stimuli. These stimuli are routine, such as a child not responding when his name is called, not responding appropriately to the senses (for example, high pain threshold), not responding to hunger, thirst, danger, etc. This is, as you can see, is a potentially very long list (p.4).

Dr. Julie Buckley offers a biomedical definition of the autism diagnosis by discussing what causes autism, and how it is most effectively treated. She proposes the “five brave, basic truths” of autism:
1. Autism is a medical illness. It only looks like a psychiatric disorder.
2. [Disorders on the Autism Spectrum] are treatable. The foundation of treatment rests in proper diet and nutritional supplementation.
3. Autism is a series of vicious biological and chemical cycles gone awry within the child’s body. These cycles interact, impacting immune function, gut function, and methylation chemistry, among other biological symptoms.
4. Breaking the vicious cycles at the cellular level and normalizing the function of your child’s systems is what biomedical intervention is all about.
5. There are safe and effective starting points for each step of the biomedical intervention process.
(Buckley, 2010, p. 7).

2. If Autism is a physiological illness, what does that mean for diagnosis and treatment?

As outlined in Dr. Buckley’s beliefs about autism (2010, p. 8), the biomedical approach offers the opportunity to find the specific biological and chemical markers that are correlated with the behavior and social ability of autistic children. Rather than focusing on observable deficits in communication or behavior, biomedical doctors are concerned with the underlying causes of those symptoms. Dr. Dan Rossignol has established laboratory testing helps to further define what is causing autistic behavior:

We find that some of the core problems in autism include toxicity (including elevated levels of heavy metals, pesticides, and other chemicals), inflammation (potentially in the gastrointestinal tract and brain), oxidative stress (damage to tissue caused by free radicals, which are neutralized by antioxidants such as vitamins C and E), impaired glutathione production (which is the body’s main natural detoxifier and antioxidant), and impaired mitochondrial function (which are responsible for producing energy)
(Autism File, issue 32, p. 8)

When biochemical data of this nature is collected from a suffering child, the treating physician is able to pin-point where the child’s systems are most broken. It is established that ASD children have major deficits in their ability to make glutathione and methionine- primary implications of the deficits are an inability to effectively detoxify the body, and most importantly to make a healthy amount of dopamine. This leads to ASD children’s general disinterest in interacting with other people, and the physiological response of increased inflammation and oxidative stress (Buckley, 2010, p. 20).

3. What is the process of diagnosis like?

A friend who has an autistic son describes the experience of “cyclical grief.” The nature of autism is that the only thing constant is change. Children regress and improve on a regular basis. Referring to a childhood illness as a spectrum is advantageous because it conveys to parents that their child can improve. The grief and pain of a diagnosis is easier to swallow when it is fluid, and parents are able to understand that there are lots of tools in the medical toolbox, especially for biomedical doctors, to make major changes in the health of their children. For adults on the spectrum, it is a process of normalizing the diagnosis and finding a narrative that serves them well.

go to:

4. What does the DSM say (concerning diagnostic codes for ASD)?

It is most clear to cover the diagnostic criteria for Autistic Disorder/Autism Spectrum Disorder by combining the most effective information from both The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV-TR) and DSM-5 because both manuals are clinically relevant at this time. See below to review the diagnostic criteria for Autistic Disorder provided in the DSM-IV-TR, followed by the DSM-5 explanation of the levels of severity along the Autism Spectrum.

299.00 Autistic Disorder
DSM IV-TR Diagnostic Criteria

Qualitative impairment in social interaction- manifested by at least 2 of the following:

a. Marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors (ex) eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures that facilitate social interaction
b. Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
c. Lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests or achievements with others (ex) showing someone an object of interest
d. Lack of social or emotional reciprocity
Qualitative impairment in communication- manifested by at least 1 of the following:
a. Delay or total lack of development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate non-verbally)
b. In those with adequate speech- marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
c. Stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language
d. Lack of spontaneous, pretend, imitative play appropriate to age development
Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities- manifested by at least 1 of the following:
a. Encompassing preoccupation with 1 or more restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal in either intensity or focus
b. Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
c. Repetitive motor activity (ex) hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements
d. Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years: (1) social interaction, (2) language as used in social communication, or (3) symbolic or imaginative play.
The disturbance is not better accounted for by Rett’s Disorder or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.
(American Psychiatric Association, 2000)

DSM-5 Severity Levels
The DSM-5 offers clarification of the autism diagnosis by diagnosing children with a severity level based on the child’s ability in social communication as well as the types and severity of repetitive or restricted behaviors. The levels of severity are described as:
• Level 1: Requiring support.
• Level 2: Requiring substantial support.
• Level 3: Requiring very substantial support.
(American Psychiatric Association, 2013)

American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,
Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2012.

“Healing and Preventing Autism” By: Jerry Kartzinel, M.D
“Healing our Autistic Children” By: Julie Buckley, M.D. – Autism File Magazine


Educate before you vaccinate! Dr. Mayer Eisenstein & vaccine awareness


About his most popular book and to purchase on Amazon:

Scientific FACTS about vaccines: How Mercury Triggered the Age of Autism

Scientific FACTS about vaccines: How Mercury Triggered the Age of Autism.

Starting Biomedical Interventions

I love TACA! Have a plan!

Click on the link above to access an awesome, comprehensive, but APPLICABLE “Talk About Curing Autism” plan for Spectrum kiddos.

L- Methylfolate: Healing Autism and multiple chronic illnesses

Mental Health Moment: check out






ADHD Children & Treatment Options: Review of Academic Literature

Treatment of ADHD: Parental Choices and Treatment Options

“The school wants him medicated. My mother wants him medicated. Doctors want him medicated. I think, at the end of the day, I am his mother. I need to make that decision for him. In my heart, I just- I don’t think it’s the right thing for him” (Jackson & Peters, 2008). A mother shared this with researchers whom were interviewing mothers of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Navigating the various treatment options, combined with a grab-bag of social stigmas, leaves many parents of ADHD children feeling the same way that this mother does. A literature review of research on this topic reveals that the mental health community and popular culture have perpetuated, not mitigated, the stress felt by ADHD families. My reaction to Jackson and Peter’s (2008) research about the maternal role in choosing ADHD treatment inspired me to further investigate 2 topics pertaining to early intervention in ADHD treatment. Here I have outlined my reactions and research objectives in the form of 2 questions:

1. Why do mothers and fathers of ADHD children experience such profound stress in choosing treatment , and what are the primary causes of these stressors?
2. What are treatment options for these children, and are parents being adequately educated?

Question 1: The Pressure to Medicate and Shame
Singh (2004) conducted research specifically focused on the “blame game” associated with hyperactive children and the decision to use medication for their symptoms: “Responses to the ADHD/Ritalin phenomenon often center around the question of blame: Who or what is to blame for rising ADHD diagnoses and Ritalin use? Answers are situated within a web of vigorously pointing fingers” (Singh, p. 1194).

Singh’s research echoed many of the interview responses from mothers in Jackson & Peter’s 2008 study who said:
When mothers are accused of using Ritalin as a quick fix to make their own lives easier, they stand accused of violating a cherished ideal for the sacrificing mother: Good mothers sacrifice themselves for their sons, not the other way around.
(Singh 2004, p. 1208)

This creates a severely toxic, nuanced environment in which parents are expected to make very important decisions on behalf of their children. Brene Brown (2013) has extensively researched the correlation between blame and shame and she has found mountains of evidence, and personal stories, that support the fact that shame is psychologically paralyzing.
We have to understand the power of shame and fear. If we can’t stand up to the never good enough and the who do you think you are?- we cannot move forward… When the shame winds are whipping all around me, it is almost impossible to hold onto any perspective. (Brown, 2010, pp. 8-9).
The blame, shame, and finger pointing also perpetuates the problem that there is not enough good information available to ADHD families. “They experienced a degree of ambivalence that was further complicated by the confusing array of conflicting information from various sources” (Jackson & Peters, 2008, p. 2727). How are parents supposed to make the best decision for their kids under these circumstances?

Question 2: Treatment Options
In addition to handling pressure from family, friends, and society- parents are thinking about their child’s future and the quality of life for their family.

“Though there was acceptance that the medications could bring some benefits, some of the mothers wondered at what cost these benefits came. Some worried that their child’s personality would be altered, while others feared that their child’s emotional development could be stunted by using medication”
(Jackson & Peters, 2008).

Mothers have every reason to have these concerns- articles published this month confirm that medications can have negative emotional side effects:

Personality changes are a common side effect of stimulants, according to pediatrician Sanford Newmark, an ADHD specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. Although many children tolerate drugs, others can become emotionally flat, angry, anxious, or lose the ability to feel joy… After one girl discontinued her medication, her mother likened the Adderall to a dam that had been holding back her daughter’s happiness.
(Laber-Warren, 2014, p. 63)

Laber-Warren’s (2014) also talked to researchers at Queens College who are looking for new answers to help ADHD youngsters. They have developed a 5-week protocol that centers around “brain games” aimed to help children develop cognitive skills to better cope with their hyperactivity and inattention (p.62). The games have proven to be very effective for the children- and an added benefit is that parents are completely integrated into the process, allowing them to incorporate the “brain game” fundamentals in their child’s daily life (Halperin, 2008). ADHD symptoms improved markedly in several research studies that postulated the effectiveness of these games. In one study, not only did behavior improve, but parents reported that their children still showed the improvement 3 months later (Halperin, 2008). ADHD parents would benefit greatly from knowing this research, and these treatment options exist. Playing games versus administering stimulants certainly sounds like an attractive option for parents.

Here you see a consistency with Halperin’s (2008) work in treating ADHD children- aiding the activity in the prefrontal cortex yields positive outcomes for ADHD individuals. Amen (2008) has numerous protocols for raising dopamine levels and increasing prefrontal cortex activity that does not require the use of stimulants (p. 75). Parents who learn about the biological implications of ADHD will find that Amen’s work is consistent with other research findings: stimulants are not the only answer.
Vitamin D supplementation is an example of an intervention that could be used to treat ADHD children. “Neurotrophins are the family of protiens that induce the development function, and survival of nerve and brain cells. Vitamin D upregulates neurotrophins, such as nerve growth factor, up to five-fold” (Neveu, 1994) Omega-3 fatty acids are also an essential nutrient that can greatly improve ADHD symptoms (Amen, 2008, p. 97).

In conclusion, there must be solutions to reduce the psychological trauma that parents of ADHD children face when choosing treatment options. This will result in more empowered parents and a healthier disposition toward hyperactive and inattentive children. The evidence based treatments in this paper are a very important part of this discussion, however I feel the most fundamental piece of solving this puzzle is to focus on Brene Brown’s research. As long as having an ADHD child is associated with shame and blame, our children who need treatment will suffer as a result. Parents simply cannot make informed, self-aware decisions in the current cultural climate regarding ADHD children and stimulants.

Amen, D. (2008). Magnificient Mind at Any Age. Penguin Press.
Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection. Hazeldon.
Halperin, J. M. (2008, September). Neuropsychological Outcome in Adolescents/Young Adults with Childhood ADHD: Profiles of Persisters, Remitters and Controls. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(9), 958-966.
Jackson, D., & Peters, K. (2008). Use of drug therapy in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): maternal views and experiences. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17, 2725-2732.
Laber-Warren, E. (2014). Concentrate. Scientific American Mind, 62-65.
Neveu, N. (1994, July). 25-dihydroxy d3 regulates the synthesis of nerve growth factor in primary glial cells. Brain Res Mol Brain Res, 70-76.
Singh, I. ((2004)). Doing their jobs: mothering with Ritalin in a culture of mother-blame. Social Science and Medicine, 59, 1193-1205.

A New Paradigm for Thinking About Autism with Nick Walker & The Wisdom of Spectrum Children

#346 – A New Paradigm for Thinking About Autism with Nick Walker.

This is a great resource from an interview on Shrink Rap Radio. The podcasts are very easy to access.

I LOVE what I learned from Nick Walker about Behavioral Therapy.

This is an example of how we tragically underestimate these kiddos:

Kannon is 3 years old and he is one of my Spectrum treasures. I’m honored to be one of the (very) few people outside of his family that can hold him closely the way that he is holding Dr. Buckley in this picture. Kannon met Dr. Buckley ( for the first time Monday at her office.
It was clear to everyone in the room that Kannon completely understood why we were there on Monday. He knew Dr. Buckley was on his side. This was such a special moment- Kannon looked so at peace sitting there with Krista as they listened to Dr. Buckley talk about his treatment. He could FEEL Krista and Jason’s relief. It is like he was saying “Thank you, Dr. Buckley. With your help, I am going to make them very proud.”

Watching Kannon with Dr. Buckley helped me to solidify some of my beliefs about the Autism Spectrum- First, and most importantly, that these children understand infinitely more than we give them credit for. Second, they are hyper-aware of the feelings of the people around them and they care deeply about connecting with the people who love them.
I know I’ve said a lot- but I really want to express how blessed I feel to watch Krista & Jason love, and champion Kannon through this process. Kannon had a peace about him throughout his appointment that can only come from feeling very loved and advocated for. ♥♥♥

“Please don’t assume that The Reason I Jump is just another book for the crowded autism shelf. . . . This is an intimate book, one that brings readers right into an autistic mind—what it’s like without boundaries of time, why cues and prompts are necessary, and why it’s so impossible to hold someone else’s hand. Of course, there’s a wide range of behavior here; that’s why ‘on the spectrum’ has become such a popular phrase. But by listening to this voice, we can understand its echoes.”—Chicago Tribune (Editor’s Choice)

“Please don’t assume that The Reason I Jump is just another book for the crowded autism shelf. . . . This is an intimate book, one that brings readers right into an autistic mind—what it’s like without boundaries of time, why cues and prompts are necessary, and why it’s so impossible to hold someone else’s hand. Of course, there’s a wide range of behavior here; that’s why ‘on the spectrum’ has become such a popular phrase. But by listening to this voice, we can understand its echoes.”—Chicago Tribune (Editor’s Choice)



Psychobiotics: Don’t let sh!t go to your head

Research shows that probiotics belong at the center of every psychiatric treatment, and new information indicates that every Spectrum family should have this supplement at the top of their “Autism toolbox.”

A study done at Harvard specifically outlines the benefits of using probiotics in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Dr. Buckley has had great success in applying the new research findings with her patients.
Link to a summary of the research:
Harvard GI Study


Dr. James Oschman on Earthing

Stay grounded in 2014!


Even Emmajean loves Earthing 🙂

Peace Talk

Finding peace when someone you love is on the Autism Spectrum

Everyday Asperger's

Life through the eyes of a female with Aspergers

peace talk

Janeen Herskovitz, MA, Owner of Puzzle Peace Counseling