Hello there lovelies! Hope that you have enjoyed your week thus far, and are coasting into the weekend (long for some) with great joy and peace.
Today, I want to get a little personal, and semi educational about something that has been in the news a great deal. Autism. While I do not have a child that has been diagnosed with Autism, I am fully aware of several cases close to me, and don’t ignore that even more cases will be diagnosed each year. April was Autism Awareness month, but I do feel that it is something that should be discussed year round, so that we can break the stigma that is often given to parents of and children who have Autism
I was given the chance to speak to Dr. Robert Melillo about his research and his tireless work towards educating and helping to raising awareness towards something that LOTS of people who don’t understand the entire spectrum of this medical condition.
Our interview started bright and early in the morning, and got to the meat of the matter quickly. While I could embed the file, I’ll do a typed version, because we kept losing connection (technology,right?) and it moves easier.
HFofNicholes: Full disclosure, I don’t have any children who have been diagnosed with autism, do you? And is that why you became so vested in researching and raising awareness?
Dr. Melillo: I don’t have a child with autism, but one thing I know is that we are all impacted by children with autism, and society as a whole are impacted, and we can’t ignore the issue.
HFofNicholes: How do you feel when people respond in a way that is unsavory? Meaning, they say things alluding to the fact that parents or teachers want an “easy” way out, and therefore would like to medicate children instead of work with them?
Dr.Melillo: I kind of understand when people see ADHD and “see” bad behavior or bad parenting in general. However, autism is an extreme issue and it’s not something that is just made up. It’s an epidemic, so for it to be dismissed as anything other than a neurological disorder is wrong. It may not be detected in the blood system, but it’s there, and to say that it’s not a real issue is just wrong. We went from 1 in 10,000 kids being diagnosed thirty years ago to 1 in 50 today. What I’ve been able to show in my most recent book is that this is a significant increase, because we were missing the symptoms thirty years ago. This also means that until we find a way to combat this, we’ll see another doubling in about 5 years.
HFofNicholes: When people have children that have been diagnosed, is there anything else they can do to decrease any other children they may have from having autism?
Dr. Melillo: Absolutely. I actually talk about this in my book Disconnected Kids. We know that the increase of cases of autism have to be driven by environmental factors, which then allows us to identify those factors and lower the risks before you get pregnant. Those risks are identified in my book, and I even give ways to lower the risks.
HFofNicholes: A lot of controversy has surrounded vaccinations and their link to autism. Do you feel that there is a direct correlation between vaccines and autism? Or vaccinations that the parents have had, and contribute to their child’s diagnosis of autism?
Dr. Melillo: I do not believe that autism is caused by vaccinations. I understand that many parents have seen their children regress after vaccinations, and this is confusing because we don’t understand completely why it happens. I can tell you that every parent or child that I’ve seen in this type of situation already had a developmental problem happening prior to getting vaccinated. Looking at milestones, such as walking, talking, rolling over. The immune system is already out of whack, and applying the vaccination throws something that is already bad, activate in a worse way. It’s not a cause though.
HFofNicholes: Are there any early signs that parents should look for aside from developmental delay?
Dr. Melillo: Developmental delays don’t always rise to the level of autism, but there is some level of disability there that may be tied to Aspergers, ADHD, etc. Looking at immunal responses can be signs as well. Eczema, cradle crap, lots of colic, problems with bowel movements, problems finding a formula that children don’t have a problem digesting. These can be early warning signs. Eye contact is a huge signal as well. If there is lack of eye contact, that can be a contributor to a neurological disorders.
HFofNicholes: I see that you started your research with someone that you happened to be treating. Are you still in contact with that patient?
Dr. Melillo: I don’t keep in touch with that patient, but I do have contact with several of my former patients, and I was just contacted by a mother who had a child who was diagnosed with a higher spectrum of Autism. She informed me that her son had gone on to college and is leading a pretty successful life.
HFofNicholes: That was going to be my next question. Can someone be diagnosed as severely autistic and go on to lead a “normal” life?
Dr. Melillo: There is often confusion with Autism diagnosis. There are two subsets: Sydromic – which is a genetic disorder, which also makes them look different and Essential – which is a neruological disorder. They can be genuises, or function in one area of their lives better than most other people. So, those diagnosis can very well go on to lead very normal lives.
Overall, I learned so much in the small time that I was able to speak with Dr. Melillo, and with the restructuring of so many of the Chicago Public Schools, I am interested in how those children with IEP’s will be protected. I know that I am also a little more aware of the challenges that so many parents have to face each day.
Thank you to Dr. Robert Melillo for spending time with me, and helping me understand a very misunderstood subject!
Dr. Robert Melillo is an internationally known lecturer, author, educator, researcher and clinician specializing in the areas of neurology, rehabilitation, neuropsychology and neurobehavioral disorders in children. He is co-founder of the Brain Balance Achievement Centers and developed the Brain Balance Program, a multi-modal approach to the remediation of ADHD, dyslexia, autism, Asperger’s, Tourette’s, learning disabilities and processing disorders along with other neurobehavioral disabilities found in children. Dr. Melillo has written two books for parents focusing on brain imbalances in children; Disconnected Kids and Reconnected Kids. His third book, Autism: The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders – and What Parents Can Do Now, is now available.