She was normal at birth — that is, a hearing test showed no hearing problems, and she breathed well and looked around her with apparent interest. Out of fear for her future I allowed a doctor to give her the infant Hepatitis B vaccine containing mercury. We lived in a house that had been heavily sprayed by elderly stupids who had gut symptoms. But we didn't have any understanding of toxins and autism.
She could hold her head up from birth, and for the first 4 weeks was a happy, well fed baby. Then a respiratory infection brought home by our son from childcare seemed to develop into whooping cough, but each time I took her to hospital (both Wollongong and Bulli) they told me there was nothing wrong. I once held her in my arms while she coughed 42 times without taking an inward breath. Nobody believed me because she looked so healthy between coughing attacks. Once she really did whoop, unusual even in a case of whooping cough in a 2-3 month old baby. The hospital refused to let me stay there in the waiting room long enough for her to cough again so they could see it for themselves (the doctor said she wouldn't see her again, no matter what).
She had oral thrush for months, despite treatment. Nevertheless she was a fun baby; she laughed at everything. She enjoyed strange word sounds. In the mixture of unnoticed symptoms and basic 'thereness', she just seemed wonderful.
After the coughing illness, she began to wake every night and lie there laughing and playing for hours, then sleeping all day. We would lie awake listening to her, befuddled with lack of sleep, unable to comprehend.
At 5 months she started refusing breastmilk. She had to go on a bottle despite being only breastfed to that point (and me at home with her, so no interruptions). It was wholly her choice — one day she was breastfed; the next day she wanted nothing to do with it.
At nine months she had no interest in playing with children at childcare. She went around on her knees, not fully standing to walk until 14 months old. She held clutches of teddy bears in her arms and kissed and cooed over them, but wouldn't interact with other infants.
At 14 months the night giggling sounded insane.
At 18 months the childcare worker noticed that she didn't respond to her name. Things began to deteriorate very quickly from that point on. A hearing test couldn't be completed because the puppets scared her. She wouldn't drink out of bottles with pictures of animals on them, nor eat off a plate with a cartoon character. She wouldn't lie in a bed with character-decorated pillowslips.
After one look at her the paeditrician said 'autism'. We put her on a casein/gluten free diet, and her deterioration began to gallop. She stopped talking, though it's true that she'd never really acquired proper speech, only two-word couples like 'come out'. At age 2 she didn't talk at all, and I once saw her struggling to say 'come out', her face creased with confusion, so that all she could manage was 'muck out'. She stopped eating and drinking. For eighteen months it was all we could do to keep her above the starvation line. She went limp and floppy and screamed all the time. She grew back to her old clothes, to year 1 age and below. Her thighs were like sticks. Her ribs showed. We used to syringe liquid into her mouth and she'd scream and choke all the way through it. She went four days without food and drink.
We had her hair tested, revealing heavy aluminium, arsenic and other heavy metal loads. We had our water tested, and also her rice milk, which came in foil-lined packs. The rice milk was found to have massively higher aluminium levels (hundreds of times higher, according to the lab technician) than drinking water. The NSW Food Authority explained that I wasn't allowed to tell anyone packaged rice milk could be dangerous, or I would be sued. Naturally I'm not saying it now. And the arsenic and chromium-loaded deck can't be accused of causing dangerous arsenic and chromium absorption in a gut-lining-compromised infant because there's no 'safe' level set for arsenic or chromium loads showing up in hair.
Is this complex enough yet? Does it sound like something science, with its insistence on simplifying casuality through the deliberate elimination of variables, could understand?
After she'd gone 4 days without food or drink, I began to chelate her with alpha lipoic acid. The symptoms reduced markedly. She was able to coordinate her mouth to swallow liquids. Her limp went away. Whatever the science of chelation and heavy metals, she began to improve, and has not been seriously anorexic since.
When I look back, I can see that she was deteriorating within the first few weeks of life. When a baby says 'tickle' at four and a half months, any parent would feel proud. It's not counted as a sign of deterioration, and yet it probably is.
One medical writer's view on autism is that there may be a link between vaccinal inflammation, immune overreaction, and the subsequent infiltration of brain cells by environmental toxins. In other words, in this theory, the inflammatory response makes cells more permeable. Since vaccines create an inflammatory response for some time after injection, they may be more likely to allow toxins like pesticides to harm brain cells than an ordinary disease (which of course produces similar inflammation).
Well, it's an idea, isn't it?
But is anybody researching in this direction? It seems the research money is all being spent on gene hunting. Try telling that to parents whose own parents were unaffected, but whose child or children are still in nappies at age 5.
Something causes autism. But it's going to take a scientific paradigm shift to work it out.