Autism Reversal in Twin Girls Through Lifestyle and Environmental Changes: New Study
Autism Reversal in Twin Girls Through Lifestyle and Environmental Changes: New Study

By Emma Suttie, D. Ac, AP

Findings from a recent case study show that personalized lifestyle and environmental changes successfully reversed autism symptoms in fraternal twin girls diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The study appeared in the Journal of Personalized Medicine.

The study also reviewed existing literature on the impact of lifestyle and environmental modifications on ASD, supporting the findings with evidence from similar cases and studies.

The Study Details

The case study involved 4-year-old dizygotic twins who were diagnosed with “level 3 severity” autism spectrum disorder, which the study describes as “requiring very substantial support.” The twins were diagnosed at approximately twenty months of age.

Dizygotic twins, or fraternal twins, result from two separate eggs (ova) being fertilized by two separate sperm. These twins are genetically similar to typical siblings but can be as different from each other as siblings born at different times. They do not share the exact same genetic material and, therefore, can look different and have different characteristics.

The case study shows that a non-drug, personalized approach by a team of multidisciplinary clinicians successfully reduced the number and severity of ASD symptoms using a variety of methods.

Conception

The twins were conceived through in vitro fertilization using an egg donor and carried by a surrogate. Their father was 51 years old at the time of conception. They were born two months premature and spent several weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit. The twins received routine vaccinations at three and six months, but no further vaccination until fourteen months. The girls were given acetaminophen before and after vaccination.

Initial Symptoms

The girls’ parents observed some initial symptoms. One twin had sensitivity to changes, eczema, and digestive issues, and the other had problems making eye contact, babbling communication, difficulty breastfeeding, and decreased muscle tone (hypotonia).

Both twins received breast milk (from the surrogate and their biological mother) for twelve months and had no issues with eating or sleeping.

At twelve months, the girls stopped drinking breast milk, and the introduction of cow’s milk caused digestive as well as behavior and language problems in both girls.

In March of 2021, the girls received the series of vaccines that had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After this round of vaccinations, their parents noticed a worsening of some symptoms, including “significant language loss” for one of the girls, who began communicating using only single words.

ASD Diagnosis

Due to the worsening symptoms, the twins were evaluated for autism spectrum disorder, and both subsequently met the criteria for DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.

Lifestyle and Environmental Interventions

After their diagnosis, the twins’ parents began a comprehensive, personalized approach to address their daughters’ condition. Their approach was holistic and non-pharmacological and considered a variety of potential environmental and biological factors influencing ASD.

The interventions and support for both the twins and their parents began after the twins’ diagnosis at approximately twenty months of age and continued over the following two years. The following is a summary of their interventions and support:

  • The parents worked with a coach to help understand the twins’ diagnosis and gain confidence.
  • The parents learned about the “total allostatic load” concept, which links chronic stressors to disease, and used resources like webinars and forums through Epidemic Answers.
  • The parents completed the Child Health Inventory for Resilience and Prevention survey—“a comprehensive assessment of total allostatic load (cumulative effects of chronic stress on mental and physical health) among children.”
  • Made Dietary changes—They followed the Reduced Excitatory Inflammatory Diet, eliminating glutamate, gluten, casein, sugar, artificial colors, and processed foods, and focused on organic, fresh, home-cooked meals from local sources.
  • Incorporated dietary supplements—The girls took supplements that included omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and homeopathic remedies.
  • Differentiated the twins’ needs—Genetic variants revealed that each twin had different needs, for example, one twin needed more vitamin D, while the other needed support for neuroinflammation and detoxification.
  • The twins received various therapies, including Applied Behavior Analysis, speech therapy, and occupational therapy focused on neuro-sensory motor reflex integration.
  • The family addressed toxins in their home, using an environmental consultant to evaluate air quality, moisture levels, and water damage.
  • One twin had osteopathic care on the recommendation of a developmental optometrist resulting in notable improvements in communication and overall disposition.

Throughout the study, the children’s parents shared insights about their journey, “Conventional statistics have stacked the odds against the ability to recover a child from an ASD diagnosis. Our approach was therefore focused on following a nonconventional, holistic understanding of each daughter’s bio-individual needs, exploring root cause and designing customized support,” they said.

“We chose practitioners who were aligned in our belief in our daughters’ intrinsic ability to heal given the right support.”

Results

Due primarily to the implementation of lifestyle and environmental changes over two years, the twins achieved a reversal of their diagnoses of level 3 autism spectrum disorder. Significant improvements were seen in their social interactions, communication skills, and behavioral patterns.

There were also dramatic improvements in scores using the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist—a 77-question assessment tool used to evaluate the effectiveness of ASD treatment, with lower scores indicating improvement in symptoms.

Both twins “improved dramatically,” with one going from a score of 76 to 36 in seven months, and the other from 43 to 4 over the same period.

The study notes that the improvements were so profound the pediatrician exclaimed that one of the girls had undergone “a kind of miracle.”

The combined interventions, along with the commitment of the children’s parents, led to a “dramatic improvement and reversal of ASD diagnoses” for the twins.

Beth Lambert is founder and executive director of Epidemic Answers, a website made up of parents, clinicians, researchers, authors, and wellness experts dedicated to helping kids heal from health issues. She is also one of the study authors.

Mrs. Lambert spoke with The Epoch Times and explained that there is hope for children with ASD and other conditions as well as resources for parents to support them through the process.

“We’re doing research to try to gather evidence that many of these conditions are reversible. But also we’re trying to create a platform where we can give solutions to parents—we’re trying to educate them, and we have an online community [Healing Together] where we’re teaching them how to do this work themselves,” she said.

Autism Prevalence

According to the study, the prevalence of autism is growing with increasing speed. In the early 1990’s the number of children diagnosed with autism in the United States was 1 in 2000. Throughout the 1990s, the diagnostic criteria for autism were broadened to include a wider range of symptoms and behaviors. This expansion is reflected in updated editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

For example, in the DSM-IV, published in 1994, the diagnostic criteria were expanded and broken into subtypes such as Asperger’s disorder, autistic disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.

There was a further expansion of the criteria in the DSM-5 released in 2013, which merged the previous subtypes into one unified diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.

These changes contributed to a significant increase in autism diagnoses in the subsequent years—however, some physicians believe that these factors alone are not enough to account for the dramatic rise in ASD diagnoses.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, in 2000, 1 in 150 children had a diagnosis of ASD, but their most recent data state that in 2020, 1 in 36 children had a diagnosis of ASD, which represents more than a 300 percent increase in the last two decades.

The study states that “Published projections estimate that even if the future prevalence of ASD remained unchanged over the next decade, there would be approximately 1 million new cases, thereby resulting in an additional $4 trillion of lifelong social costs in the United States. Furthermore, if the current rate of increase in prevalence continues, costs could reach nearly $15 trillion of lifelong costs by 2029.”

Mrs. Lambert says, “Modern living is making our children sick, but it’s also making all of us sick—and our children are the canaries in the coal mine.”

Final Thoughts

The study findings suggest that environmental and lifestyle factors play a significant role in the manifestation of ASD symptoms and that targeted interventions in these areas can lead to substantial and lasting improvements—including a reversal of symptoms.

The study authors note that the engagement of the parents or caregivers is vital to the process.

“The commitment and leadership of well-informed parents or guardians is an essential component of the effective personalization that appears necessary for the feasibility of such improvements.”

What the study clarifies is that treating ASD requires a personalized, multifaceted approach rather than a one-size-fits-all solution, as ASD diagnoses are as unique and complex as the individuals they affect.

The twins’ parents agree, according to a section in the study containing their perspective.

“Having fraternal twin daughters diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at 20 months has given us a profound appreciation of the highly individual presentation of Autism.”

For families dealing with an ASD diagnosis, Mrs. Lambert says “You are not alone.”

“I want people to know that there is support for them. We have a conference Documenting Hope so that we can invite parents in so that they can become part of our community. We can do this together, which is working to heal our kids together.”


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