Written by Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH
The Dramatic Increase of Autism and Developmental Disabilities
Did you know that almost 14,000 children in BC currently have an autism diagnosis and receive government funding for autism therapies? That thousands more are languishing on wait lists, a year long, to be assessed?
That there are an estimated 40,000 children and youth in Ontario with ASD? Autism is now the fastest growing and most commonly diagnosed neurological disorder in Canada.
New statistics released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in November of 2017 show that one out of every 36 children in the U.S. is now diagnosed with autism .
The rate was one in 10,000 in 1980, one in 250 in 2002, one in 88 in 2008, one in 50 in 2013 and now it is one in 36.
Additionally, the rate of overall developmental disabilities has increased to include 6.99% of children, about one in 12.
Note that this figure does not include ADHD and learning disabilities. A 2008 survey which included ADHD and learning disabilities gave a figure of total developmental disabilities of a whopping 15.04%, a number which has only increased since then .Canadian statistics are expected to be similar.
Figure 1. Prevalence of children aged 3–17 years ever diagnosed with selected developmental disabilities, by year: United States, 2014–2016
The Financial Toll of Lifelong Conditions
Not only is autism emotionally devastating on families, it also creates tremendous financial pressures on families, the education system and society at large.
Children with autism require many additional health care, therapeutic and educational resources. In Canada, Children under the age of six are eligible for $22,000 per year of government funding for autism therapies, those aged 6-19 for $6000 per year. This does not include the extra 8,000 per year in special ed funding per child. As mentioned, BC alone has nearly 14,000 children receiving funding at the moment. You can do the math.
Unfortunately, those therapies are not at all guaranteed to enable the child to have a normal or productive life. In fact, the majority of individuals with an autism diagnosis will never work full time and 90% are expected to live with their parents or in various institutional settings.
One doctor who diagnosed a friend's three-year-old son with autism ten years ago told him point-blank: "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that your son has autism. The good news is that you have 16 years to save up for his lifelong care."
Kiss Your Pension Good-Bye
All this has important implications for society at large and especially aging baby boomers according to Harvard University researcher Michael Ganz :
"The substantial costs resulting from adult care and lost productivity of both individuals with autism and their parents have important implications for those aging members of the baby boom generation approaching retirement, including large financial burdens affecting not only those families but also potentially society in general."
He estimated the additional lifetime costs associated with autism to be $3.2 million back in 2007, (adjusted to 4.2 million for 2017), including the costs for health care, special education, child and adult care, respite services, supported employment, and lost productivity .
For some more severely disabled individuals with autism, life-long care may cost up to $7 million per person . Two of my clients live in small care homes to the tune of $7000 a month each, that is $84,000 each per year. And these two are only 20 years old, with a life expectancy of 70 years or more. That is 4.2 million per person, not including additional medical services. How many of the 14,000 children currently receiving funding in BC will need this level of lifelong care? 50%? $210 million, minus loss of productivity.
The current provincial debt in BC is nearly $66 billion and expected to rise to $72,756 billion by 2019-20, saving a few hundred million seems like a good idea.
It is estimated that there are currently 3.5 million people in the US with autism, including about 500,000 children under the age of 15.
Hmm, there may be no money for pensions if the trend continues. The global population is aging and birth rates are falling as this graph illustrates.
If a growing number of children and young people are afflicted with lifetime disabilities it could spell serious problems for the economies - who is going to work and provide taxes for all of us? Politicians and policy makers need to take a serious look at the economics of autism and realize that we are all going to be affected if we don't address the real reason Johnny can't read.
Special education costs are steadily rising and teachers are overwhelmed with the increase in challenged children. Parents and school boards keep asking for more money.
Unfortunately nobody in a place of authority is really asking why we are seeing such a surge in chronic and developmental disorders in children.
Many parents as well as a few researchers, clinicians and scientist have long suspected that these problems are related to environmental factors, including pollution, agricultural and other chemicals, heavy metals, medications and vaccines. New research has revealed that many developmental and chronic health conditions in children are linked to early immune system activation which can result in chronic inflammation and auto-immune phenomena.
But What If?
But what if there was a way to identify these problems as toxic injuries and create safe healing places for children to recover, leaving their parents free to work and giving them a break from managing the child's biomedical and other therapeutic interventions as well as providing an optimal environment for brain development and regeneration? Would you be interested? Moreover, could this be helpful to society?
An Accidental Discovery
About six years ago I came across the work of Dr. Tinus Smits, a Dutch medical doctor and homeopath. He noticed that children who had adverse reactions to chemicals, including flame retardants, bispenhol A in baby bottles, medication and even vaccines. Some of these children had developed eczema or asthma, ear infections or digestive issues as a result and Tinus started to use homeopathic remedies made from the substances in question. Then parents started to report, to their great delight, that these children also often greatly improved emotionally, socially and intellectually from this treatment.
Before long, Dr. Smits was treating children with all kinds of conditions, especially developmental and behavioural problems, with homeopathic version of numerous chemicals. To his astonishment, many children improved dramatically, even those with autism. Children who were aggressive became calm, those with bowel disorders started to have normal digestion, children who had regressed into autism made eye contact and started to communicate.
Like Cures Like
Homeopathy is based on the 'Law of Similars', which means that a substance that can cause certain symptoms in a healthy person can be used to treat similar symptoms in someone who already has them. Homeopathic remedies are also prepared by a special process of dilution and agitation with is called potentization. Therefor it makes sense that a substance which negatively impacted a child, could be used in homeopathic form to help them. It also stands to reason that this can be a useful method to identify the causes of a condition.
Interestingly, there is a body of research using homeopathic remedy made from toxins to help people exposed to them, including research on using homeopathic preparations of arsenic to treat arsenic poisoned mice as well as people in India who were poisoned by arsenic-contaminated drinking water [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] as well as cadmium poisoning in mice .
Nutrition, Exercise and Nature
Tinus Smits was also very interested in nutrition and supplementation with certain vitamins and minerals, all of which helped his little patients. Of course we already know a lot about the importance of good nutrition for normal child development as well as the benefits of a natural environment, exercise, sunshine and even dirt.
But how many perschool children get to spend hours a day in nature, exercise for at least one hour a day (I think it should be closer to 3-4 hours) and have a top-notch diet when reality is that most parents need to work outside of the home and many families live in cities and commute with cars?
Approved Autism Therapies
At this time only a few therapeutic intervention are officially recognized as effective, including speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and behaviour intervention therapy. Here in Canada, parents of children with an autism diagnosis who are six years old and under can access $22,000 per year in government funding for these therapies.
There is no doubt in my mind that these are helpful strategies, after all, the brain is a sensory organ and an injured brain can be assisted to recover with stimulation. But why ignore the biological aspects of brain health and the deeper causes of autism?
Are the $22,000 a year per child really best spent only on 'approved' therapies rather than on (also) addressing the root causes of these conditions? How is behavioural therapy going to help the child's body eliminate toxins from chemicals he or she was exposed to? How is it going to heal a child's gut? Address eating disorders caused by abnormal neural pathways and overactive microglia?
That being said, an integrated therapeutic childcare centre should also offer these therapies. This would make it easier for the parents to access the funding and the help that they are already entitled to for their children.
Addressing the Biological Causes of Autism
Detoxification however, could be done for less than $2000 a year and be much more effective and/or help the other therapies to be much more effective.
Autism is a biological problem, not a psychological one and should be treated as such and as early as possible. Some of the children under my care are recovering while waiting to even be assessed for autism, not with ABA but with homeopathy and nutrition for very little expense.
But the majority of parents are waiting for months or years to access funding for ABA, losing precious time for their child's brain to recover when this could be done inexpensively and quickly if only there was more awareness of the right methods as well as proper funding. It could save billions for governments as the $22,000 a year for ABA are a mere drop in the bucket for most children and won't recover them completely, whereas integrated natural medical care could.
Give parents $2000 for the first year and perhaps $1000 for the next 2 years and an immediate referral to a naturopathic physician who practices homeopathy and we could see things change in a matter of years. It is unfair that only parents who are highly educated and have the financial means are able to properly recover their children, children who were hurt by government licensed and often recommended medications, pesticides and other toxins.
It is an injustice to the children to prevent them from being fully able to engage with life and society on all levels.
It is an injustice to parents to have to care for their children potentially life-long with enormous expenses and time constraints, no matter how much they may love their child.
It is an injustice to all members of society to expect tax payers to fund the bill not only for relatively ineffective and expensive approved treatment of these children but also for their ultimate special needs education and possible lifetime care potentially costing millions of dollars, not to mention the loss of productivity and contribution by those affected.
So here we could have a choice of maybe $3000 - $4000 in total for homeopathic and biomedical care, compared to several millions of dollars of cost to society over the lifetime of an individual with autism. Which one would you pick?
Detecting Developmental and Other Chronic Conditions
Personnel in daycare centres and preschool are often the first to notice if something is amiss with a child and are in a perfect position to alert parents that something may be amiss with their youngster. They are highly trained and experienced with young children.
They are also the ones who already do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to child development, providing a safe, stimulating environment, supervised outdoor and indoor exercise and careful attention to nutrition. At the end of the day they are also often the first ones to engage with the child in a therapeutic way.
As most preschools already offer a very good environment to promote health and development maybe some could be adapted to provide integrated services for autism recovery, such as speech therapy and ABA, specialized diets (organic, paleo, gluten and dairy free etc), and more more intense physical therapies.
They could also administer supplements and homeopathic remedies during school - with the parents' instructions and consent of course - after the child is assessed by a naturopathic doctor or similar integrated health care professional. In fact, in an ideal world a naturopathic doctor would be part of the team, designing and supervising the health aspects of the care facility.
Such a facility would also be a way to prove that autism is in fact largely caused by numerous environmental toxins as the children would be treated with homeopathic remedies made from suspected substances as part of their overall treatment. In my experience, when a child receives such a remedy the reactions are pretty quickly observed by all who interact with the child.
All of this would be carefully recorded via video and files to demonstrate the effects of the program. This way not only could parents observe their child at a distance during the day, but the information could also be made available to interested parties in other locations around the world in order to create similar centres.
Back to Nature
Ideally, such a therapeutic preschool would be located in a natural setting, preferably on a large property with trees, mud, sand, water and animals. Research has shown that children who are exposed to animals at a young age, including dogs, have a reduced risk of autism. Exposure to friendly microbes from the soil, plants and animals stimulates normal immune system development. Anecdotally, it has been reported that children with autism placed on farms improved. Already there are many therapeutic riding organizations that provide help to children with autism quite successfully.
If You Build it They Will Come
I want to create such a therapeutic daycare to help children recover and to create a model which could be replicated around the world and could become a game-changer for the treatment of autism and related conditions.
Not only would it help to treat these precious children but the research accumulating as a result would help to increase awareness of the causes of these conditions and help to prevent autism in future generation.
I invite anyone interested in such a project to contact me. I am looking for input, ideas, staff, investors. I've already bought a small farm acreage to create such a centre in Sooke, BC. It could change many lives in the present and future and help to create a safer world for all of us.
Written by Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH
References - a start but not complete yet, please visit again soon
1) Zablotsky B, Black LI, Blumberg SJ. Estimated prevalence of children with diagnosed developmental disabilities in the United States, 2014–2016. NCHS Data Brief, no 291. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2017.
2) Boyle CA, Boulet S, Schieve LA, Cohen RA, Blumberg SJ, Yeargin-Allsopp M, et al. Trends in the prevalence of developmental disabilities in US children, 1997–2008. Pediatrics 127(6):1034–42. 2011.
3. Michael L. Ganz. The Lifetime Distribution of the Incremental Societal Costs of Autism. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(4):343–349. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.4.343
 Dudley, C and and J.C. Herbert Emery, JC Herbert. The value of caregiver time: Costs of support and care for individuals living with autism spectrum disorder. The School of Public Policy, Vol 7, Issue 1, Jan 2014, University of Calgary.
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6) Mitra K, Kundu SN, Khuda-Bukhsh AR: Efficacy of a potentized homoeopathic drug (Arsenicum Album-30) in reducing toxic effects produced by arsenic trioxide in mice: II. On alterations of body weight, tissue weight and total protein. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 1999, 7: 24-34.
7) Datta S, Mallick P, Khuda-Bukhsh AR: Efficacy of a potentized homeopathic drug (Arsenicum Album-30) in reducing genotoxic effects produced by arsenic trioxide in mice: I. Comparative studies of pre-, post- and combined pre- and post-oral administration and comparative efficacy of two microdoses. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 1999, 7: 62-75.
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9) Kundu SN, Mitra K, Khuda-Bukhsh AR: Efficacy of a potentized homoeopathic drug (Arsenicum Album-30) in reducing cytotoxic effects produced by arsenic trioxide in mice: III. Enzymatic changes and recovery of tissue damage in liver. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2000, 8: 76-81. 10.1054/ctim.2000.0367.
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13) Datta, S.S., Mallick, P.P. & Rahman Khuda-Bukhsh, A.A. Comparative efficacy of two microdoses of potentized homeopathic drug, Cadmium Sulphoricum, in reducing gentoxic effects produced by cadmium chloride in mice: a time course study. BMC Complement Altern Med (2001) 1: 9.
 Khuda-Bukhsh AR1, Banerjee A, Biswas SJ, Karmakar SR, Banerjee P, Pathak S, Guha B, Haque S, Das D, De A, Das D, Boujedaini N.,. An initial report on the efficacy of a millesimal potency Arsenicum Album LM 0/3 in ameliorating arsenic toxicity in humans living in a high-risk arsenic village. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2011 Jun;9(6):596-604, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/216691
 Khuda-Bukhsh AR1, Roy-Karmakar S, Banerjee A, Banerjee P, Pathak S, Biswas SJ, Haque S, Das D, Boujedaini N, Belon P. A Follow-Up Study on the Efficacy of the Homeopathic Remedy Arsenicum album in Volunteers Living in High Risk Arsenic Contaminated Areas. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:129214. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nep122. Epub 2011 Mar 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3094698/
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Physician
West Sooke, BC, Canada
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10-6 and alternating Saturdays from 10-4