July 21, 2012

Coconut Oil and Autism

Award Winning Non-Fiction Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog DirectoryMight Coconut Oil benefit people with autism?

                              Research shows Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil has healing properties that target some serious challenges associated with treating autism.

For example, gut issues.

Coconut Oil is an antifungal agent that targets the Candida species. 

As many parents of autistic children know, candida is no joke. Untreated candida is linked to joint and muscle pain, body fatigue, brain fog (as if it's not foggy enough having severe autism), mucus in throat, sinus infections, acid stomach and formication--no not for-Ni-cation! for-Mi-cation. 

Formication is burning or crawling sensations on the skin. I guess one could assume this could lead to fornication...mmmm, okay that's way off subject.

Anyway, candida signs and symptoms are disastrous for the autistic person, especially if they can't communicate. One could see why aberrant behaviors occur during yeast infections in autism. If my skin were crawling, stomach burning and my mind was in fog, I'd be frustrated and angry too. Maybe I do have candida.

In a 2007 study, researchers with the Department of Medical Microbiology in Nigeria stated, "Coconut Oil should be used in the treatment of fungal infections in view of emerging drug-resistant Candida species." 

Isn't it funny how good studies on natural therapies are usually done in foreign countries that you never here much about? As if there is some secret location there where they must hide out in case a rouge band of FDA agents attacks them with machetes for not suggesting we ingest more pharmaceuticals to cure our ills. 

So, given Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is affordable (about 10 bucks a bottle at most health food stores) is bought over the counter (no prescription needed, yeah!) and easily added to foods, it makes sense this would be a treatment for healing problematic issues in autism. Ok, so even if it turns out to be a sham, I can't see the harm...It's coconut. You like Mounds Bars? Almond Joys?

I did it. I fell for the hype. I recently tried Coconut Oil on my severely-autistic son. I bought the Coconut Oil at a local health food store. I instructed nurses to add it to his breakfast Oatmeal and pour it on top of his beloved afternoon Quiche (he's obsessed with Quiche this month). I also add half cup of Coconut Oil to his homemade purees. It smells great. And tastes even better, especially when you've had a few glasses of wine. Me, drinking wine, not my autistic son, of course. 

Within one week, we didn't have to give as many suppositories. He actually had bowel movements on his own! We also noticed sharp increase in eye contact and slight DECREASE in nocturnal seizure activity.

How would this help. Let's try and figure this out. What exactly does or could Coconut Oil do for the autistic brain? What is the mechanism of action? Like everything else, it's unknown, or slightly known. Awesome. 

Let's start with what we do know. Or think we know.

Excessive Glutamate in the brain decreases Ketones. Ketones supply energy to brain cells and thus prevent toxic effects caused by lots of Glutamate in brain.

Medium Chain Triglyceride ingestion may improve cognition by creating brain homeostasis. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil has these special fatty acids that prevent Glutamate from attacking brain cells. We need brain cells that aren't being attacked. Life is tough enough without a battle inside our brain cells, especially if you are autistic!

Coconut oil, by the way, isn't the only way to neutralize hyper-Glutamate. You could also try (ask doctor first) a Modified Atkins Diet or Ketogenic diet, both of which may create a therapeutic Ketosis in brain. 

I'll keep you posted on the Coconut Oil therapy. If it turns out to be a nutty sham, I can always use it as hair conditioner or make-up remover. But I don't think it will be a sham. I think it's hopeful. Not a cure. But hopeful. If anybody has tried this with their autistic child, please share your story here.

Who doesn't need a little more hope.

Update: 11/19/12:

There is no doubt adding Coconut Oil has benefited our severely-autistic son. Mainly, we continue to see increased and sustained eye contact; improved fine motor skills and slight decrease in seizure activity. I'm shocked that something you buy over the counter and add to food, appears to effectively enhance brain function. We will keep using Coconut Oil and documenting long term benefits. We currently add about 1/2-3/4 cup a day in either breakfast or dinner foods. Other ways for body to absorb coconut oil: rub the coconut oil on feet before putting on socks; put a little in hair as a leave in conditioner and apply to minor cuts and scrapes during last phase of healing.

Kim Oakley

July 7, 2012

Autism Movie Review: The Black Balloon

Award Winning Non-Fiction Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog DirectoryMovie Review:  The Black Balloon 

Director: Elissa Down

Cast: Luke Ford 
         Rhys Wakefield
         Toni Colette
         Erik Thomson

One of the least understood sides of autism come to life in this 2008 movie, The Black Balloon. Here you find a young adult with severe autism living with his 15 year old brother and parents in a military housing complex in Australia. The film touches on issues like intolerant neighbors, bullying, family stress and the non-autistic sibling relationship with autistic siblings.

Additionally, we’re shown autism presenting with fecal smearing, property destruction and public meltdowns. While there is no self-injurious behavior going on, the movie paves the way for future movies about autism to take on such realities.

The actor (Luke Ford) playing the autistic brother does an amazing job. Hard to believe he isn’t really autistic. Interestingly, the character in movie is loosely inspired by a real life autistic person. Brother (Rhys Wakefield) delivers a memorable performance in showing us love, loyalty and acceptance in dealing with autistic family members.

This is a sweet, honest portrayal of what many families living with severe autism deal with on a daily basis. It also has shows a teen romance illuminating the possibility of finding love in what others may think is an unlovable, unromantic situation.

Warning: Movie is not a portrayal of high-functioning autism. Nobody's playing cards in Vegas. Nobody's winning spelling bees. Nobody's cured after eating gluten free foods. Or getting Vitamin B shots. Or riding horses. Or swimming with dolphins. Or going on a special diet. 

And while a few critics slammed the movie’s take on portraying autism, as a mother of a severely-autistic young adult, I find the movie to be quite educational, even for me, in the realities of what others dealing with severe autism may face daily.

After all, isn't that what makes a great movie? A movie that re-creates reality in a way that both educates and entertains?