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Homeopathy for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):
Exceptional Medicine for Exceptional Kids

Unique Medicine for Special Children

Homeopathy is a gentle, yet very powerful, medicine for children on the autism spectrum that can produce exceptional changes in your child. Because it addresses the whole person in a holistic way, not only are the social, learning and behavioral problems typical in ASD children addressed, but homeopathy can address related issues such as SID/SPD, anxiety, OCD, anger, feelings of sadness, frustration, and being overwhelmed.

Stephen Shore, a nationally known presenter on ASD, once said, "when you meet one person with Asperger syndrome, you've met one person with Asperger syndrome!" Because a "one size fits all" approach isn't appropriate for ASD, it is essential to individualize treatment, and this is where homeopathy shines. Homeopathy treats the whole person. In doing so, it takes into account all of the factors that make up your special child's uniqueness. There is not one medicine in homeopathy for ASD, but there is one best medicine for your like-no-other child.

Like any therapy, alternative or conventional, homeopathy cannot help every child. There are obstacles can get in the way of successful treatment, the foremost being discontinuing care too soon. The likelihood is high, if you give an experienced homeopath a one year window to find the best medicine for your child, that you will be pleased, even ecstatic, with the results. We estimate at least a seventy percent success rate within a year of treatment. In other words, parents report a minimum of seventy percent improvement in most or all of the child's complaints. We would give the same estimate for kids with anxiety, depression, OCD, and many types of acute and chronic illnesses

The prognosis with lower-functioning autistic children is more conservative but, as corroborated by Amy Lansky in Impossible Medicine, recovery can occur with homeopathy. We believe that there are compelling reasons for parents of children on the autistic spectrum to try, or at least strongly consider, homeopathy.

The Homeopathic Interview

It is helpful to know what to expect before taking your child to his initial appointment. Be prepared to spend a good two hours with the doctor or practitioner. This may vary, but it is a typical average amount of time. Allow plenty of time to arrive a bit early in order to take care of any business with the office staff. We urge you to bring another family member or caregiver so you can devote to the appointment your full, undivided attention. This is true for phone consultations as well as in-person appointments. The first visit is a unique and lengthy opportunity for your homeopath to get to know you and your child.

We typically spend the first hour, more or less, with the parent(s) alone. The child is either in the waiting room or, in the case of phone consultations, in a separate area of the house. It is essential that you, as parents, have the freedom to say anything you want without your child being present. You will be asked to fill out a medical history form before the visit, which will help your practitioner know or ask about any information or issues that do not come up spontaneously in the interview.

The homeopath will be interested in the following and more:

  • physical, mental, and emotional symptoms
  • behavior
  • how your child gets along in the family, at school, and in other settings
  • communication and speech
  • phrases or habits that your child uses often
  • special interests and favorite activities
  • any particular sensitivities
  • strong preferences in food and drink
  • sleep history
  • relevant family history
  • significant information regarding pregnancy and birth
  • precipitating events or causative factors related to your child's condition e.g., vaccines
  • reports or information from the teachers or other school personnel, speech and language pathologists, psychologists and psychiatrists, paraprofessionals, and any other caregivers
  • fears
  • dreams
  • absolutely anything that you can think of that is strange, rare, and peculiar about your child

Assembling the pieces and recognizing your child's state

Your child's symptom picture and the homeopathic medicine that is needed may be evident by the conclusion of the initial case-taking. Or more study may be needed. The homeopath may call you with more questions or schedule additional time or ask you to submit whatever additional information would be of benefit in choosing the medicine.

After the initial information is gathered from the parent(s), your homeopath will attempt to interview your child, depending on the child's communication abilities. A great deal of useful information may be gleaned from talking with and observing more verbal children, but it is equally important to observe, if possible, the non-verbal gestures and behavior of those not able to communicate as well. Since we do about half of our interviews by telephone, it is surprising how much of the time children who do not usually speak very much on the phone will talk to us for quite a long time. With the help of an observant parent, we can prescribe just as easily and effectively from a telephone consultation as from an in-person appointment. Whenever possible, though, we encourage parents to bring their child for the initial appointment and follow up visits, or to provide a picture, and perhaps, a video clip of characteristic behaviors if one is available. Homeopaths do not do traditional psychological or IQ testing for ASD, so if you want those tests done, please consult a child or school psychologist or another appropriate professional.

Once both parents and child have been interviewed, it is time for the homeopath to analyze the case and prescribe. If the pattern of symptoms in the case obviously indicates a particular homeopathic medicine, your homeopath will prescribe it on the spot. If more study is needed to determine the medicine, your homeopath has homework to do. As soon as the medicine has been determined, it will be sent to you with instructions. If the case is immediately clear and the indicated medicine obvious, your child will receive it in the office or it will be sent by mail. If further study is needed, or if the medicine needs to be ordered, it may take one to several weeks, depending on the mail and how readily available the medicine. You will be asked to contact your homeopath if any problems or acute illnesses arise. In some cases, nutritional supplements or other products may be prescribed and dietary or other recommendations provided.

Occasionally a pharmacy needs to actually make up a medicine that has not been previously available, in which case it may take a month or two to prepare. In the office the child may receive a dose on or under the tongue or in a small envelope. The preparation will be in powdered, pellet, or liquid form, administered in either a singly or daily dose. Read any instructions or recommendations carefully. They will be very different from those of conventional medicine.

What Happens Next?

During the first days to weeks after your child takes the homeopathic medicine, you may notice some changes. You may find that your child's symptoms simply improve. Or, within the first days to week, the already existing symptoms may temporarily worsen. This generally only happens when the correct medicine has been given and will be followed promptly by an amelioration of symptoms. If the closest match has not been found, there is typically no response at all. If there is only a brief positive response, the medicine may either be on the mark but not strong enough or another dose is needed. A third response, which occurs only with the correct medicine, is a fleeting return of symptoms from the past, usually lasting three to four days. This is also a very good sign. By the five- to six-week point, it should be clear to your homeopath, and you, whether the medicine has acted and your child is improving.

Follow-up Visits

Normally, you will be instructed to make a follow-up appointment in about six weeks after the child begins treatment. During that time, observe, and, if you are unlikely to remember, record, any changes on any level that you or others notice. At the first follow-up visit, all of the concerns brought out in the first interview will be assessed to determine what, if anything, has changed, and to what extent. If significant improvements are noted, even if they seem preliminary or incomplete, it is likely that the medicine that was prescribed is correct.

If no changes are evident, and the action of the medicine was not interrupted prematurely, then the homeopathy will gather more information and ask more questions in the first follow-up visit, then prescribe a different medicine. Do not be concerned if the correct medicine is not found during the first visit. We choose among over two thousand medicines and understanding a child in depth can take time, so more than one may need to be tried then carefully evaluated. Some parents become impatient when there is no change after two to three weeks, but we must wait long enough to make sure the medicine has not acted. If your child responded very well, then the medicine stopped acting and the improvement was only partial, or if he was doing great then relapsed, then a repetition of the dose or a higher dose may be required.

Sometimes additional interview time may need to be scheduled in order to understand your child more completely. In some cases it may take several tries over three to six months to find the correct homeopathic medicine. If this happens, please try to relax. The odds are that, if you continue with treatment for at least a year, your homeopath will very likely find a medicine that works, even if some trial and error is needed. In most cases a well-acting medicine is found within the first three to six months.

The more your homeopath knows your child, the better the chances are of finding the correct medicine. Some of the medicines for ASD children are relatively rare and may not be obvious in the beginning. If you can keep observing your child at every opportunity, and reporting those observations accurately, something may be said that clicks in your homeopath's mind or memory, providing just the clue that is needed to find the right prescription.

Once the correct medicine has been found, appointments will be scheduled approximately every two or three months until progress is stable and predictable. Repetition of the medicine will depend on the type of dosing being used. Your homeopath will determine the frequency of dosing, depending on your child's response to the medicine. Steady improvement should occur with proper repetition of the medicine in the correct strength or potency. With regular treatment, improvements will continue and stabilize. That is why it is important to commit to treatment for at least one to two years. Very positive changes take place rapidly in some cases, more slowly in others. It is the trend of improvement that is more important than the pace. The most profound effects in homeopathy occur over months and years, as the state of body and mind that is creating the imbalance is reduced or eliminated. Gradually, visits will be reduced to as little as once or twice a year until the desired treatment goals are met.

How to Handle Acute Illnesses

Acute childhood illnesses are inevitable at some point during the course of homeopathic treatment. Homeopaths believe that an occasional acute illness is, in fact, the sign of a healthy immune system. How to manage these illnesses depends on a number of factors: whether your homeopath is a trained medical or pediatric professional, the severity of the illness, your level of comfort with homeopathic care, and the status and timing of your child regarding homeopathic care. Many parents, particularly those at a distance, feel most reassured consulting a medical doctor to examine the child and confirm a diagnosis. This is especially true with infants, possible pneumonia, and suspected contagious diseases. It is less necessary with simple colds and flus and recurrences of mild acute illnesses that have the same symptoms as with previously diagnosed episodes. Other parents, particularly those with experience in homeopathy, feel more at ease and confident to relying on the assessment and recommendations of their homeopath, as long as the practitioner is trained to do so.

Well aware that homeopathy can work brilliantly for many acute problems, either through self-care or under the guidance of a homeopath, depending on the circumstances, we wanted to educate our patients more extensively as to what we have found to work most effectively.

Many a mom has been won over to homeopathy after finding a screaming infant with a fever of 103F pulling on his ear to be just fine after a dose of Belladonna and, perhaps, some herbal eardrops. Check with your homeopath before self-treating for acute illnesses. She may have a similar philosophy to ours or may want to prescribe herself for each and every acute illness that arises.

Using Homeopathy and Conventional Medicine Together

Many times children with ASD or related disorders are already being treated conventionally with pharmaceutical medications when they start homeopathic treatment. As licensed naturopathic physicians, it is not within our scope of practice to discontinue anyone's conventional medication. If you want to stop or decrease the dosage of your child's psychiatric or another prescription medication before starting homeopathic treatment, we suggest that you consult with the prescribing physician. Discontinuing some medications abruptly can present more problems than you had in the first place.

Some parents choose to use both homeopathic and conventional medication concurrently. The two forms of treatment may be complementary and work together well. It is unlikely that the homeopathic medicine will interfere with the conventional treatment, but sometimes the drug does impact the homeopathy. If this occurs, we simply repeat the homeopathic medicine or adjust the dosage until the problem is resolved. If we are unable to find a resolution, we may recommend using one treatment or the other in the best interest of your child.

At the beginning of treatment, we recommend against beginning another other new intervention at the same time, conventional or alternative, or changing the currently prescribed conventional medicine. If the child is already on conventional medication, it is best to continue the existing treatment while beginning the homeopathy. Otherwise withdrawal symptoms or worsening of the existing symptoms from stopping the medication can be confused with a homeopathic aggravation. It is best to keep the process as clear and simple as possible to avoid confusion for both the conventional and the homeopathic practitioners.

Most conventional medicine is not a barrier to homeopathic treatment, but can, at times, present challenges. Some conventional medications, particularly antibiotics and steroids can interfere with the action of the homeopathic medicine, inhibiting its positive effects and causing a sudden or gradual relapse. Fortunately for the treatment of ASD and related conditions, most psychiatric medications do not markedly interfere with homeopathy. Most difficulties in blending the two types of treatment can be solved by altering the dosing of the homeopathic medicine to increase its effectiveness.

The main difficulty with using both kinds of medication together is how to know which medicine is producing what result or side effect. This can be complex, especially if the patient is receiving a number of conventional medications at the same time, each with their own side effects and possible drug interactions. In order to achieve results with homeopathy, we have to be able to see the actual symptoms of the person, as well as any changes that occur. If these symptoms or changes are masked by the conventional medicine, it may be difficult to know what is happening with homeopathic treatment, and similarly, the conventional doctor may attribute the success of our medicine to the pharmaceutical drugs.

Often, since homeopathy treats the whole child, the homeopathic medicine will produce positive changes that the conventional medications do not address, confirming that it is indeed working along with the other treatment. If it is your goal to replace your child's drugs with a more natural alternative, or, at least to decrease the dosage of number of different medications, this might be a good time to ask your physician about doing so.

What to Avoid While Being Treated Homeopathically

Many practitioners subscribe to the belief that certain substances and influences tend to interfere with the actions of homeopathic medicines. This is called antidoting. When this happens, it is usually necessary to repeat the homeopathic medicine in whatever dose is being currently prescribed. Once repeated, progress is usually reestablished and symptoms once again diminish or disappear. Occasionally the potency of the medicine will have to be modified in order to allow it to work again.

Antidoting in a controversial subject. Many homeopaths, ourselves included, continue to observe that particular substances and preparations, namely those containing eucalyptus, camphor, menthol, tea tree oil, or coffee, as well as recreational drugs and electric blankets interrupt the action of our medicines. Whether these factors can exert an influence on the effect of homeopathic medicines has more to do with the sensitivity of the individual child rather than the particular exposure. Since different homeopaths have varying attitudes towards antidoting, it is best to rely on their recommendations. In any case, if the medicine was acting for your child then stops, regardless if there was any identifiable interference, let your homeopath know.

Allergens, conventional and other natural therapies, and foods to which a child is sensitive are unlikely to be a problem. In some cases therapeutic (not diagnostic) ultrasound, MRIs, and ultrasonic dental cleaning may interfere, but they are not issues of concern unless they present a problem. Childhood have also been known to interrupt the action of well-acting homeopathic medicines. Again, it is not a cut and dried matter. Do what you need to and let your homeopath know if any problems arise.

Follow up at recommended intervals and keep scheduled appointments so as not to interrupt the continuity of your child's treatment. Inform the homeopath of any significant changes in your child's, important events in the family, or academic developments and progress during the course of homeopathic treatment.

Homeopathy Is Not for Every Child

Not every youngster is a good candidate for homeopathic treatment. Here are some of the factors which can affect treatment success. Some rebellious children, especially adolescents, may try to sabotage homeopathic or other forms of treatment simply out of opposition to their parents wishes. They may miss appointments, refuse to talk to the practitioner, refuse to take the medicine or intentionally antidote the medicine.

Optimally, both parents need to be enrolled in having their child treated homeopathically and willing to give it a chance for at least a year. When one parent is in opposition, or the parents are separated or divorced, difficulties in following through with treatment may arise. These problems are not insurmountable, but need to be dealt with in order to give treatment a chance.

Some children and adolescents with ASD or other behavior and learning problems are so difficult to manage that they need institutional placement or incarceration, rather than outpatient treatment. We have successfully treated children in such settings, but the conditions are far from optimal.

Avoid the Temptation to Homeopathically Treat Your ASD Child on Your Own

While it is possible to treat yourself and your family for many first-aid conditions and acute minor illnesses yourself ASD is not an acute condition, but rather a complex chronic disorder. It takes a competent, well-trained homeopath to prescribe for these cases and years of homeopathic study and practice to understand people and homeopathic medicines well enough to match the two. In the case of any chronic condition, physical, mental or emotional, please, do not prescribe for yourself or your child. Even if you were to find the correct medicine, it takes experience to bring each case to a successful conclusion. Let the homeopath do his work. If you needed surgery, you wouldn't just get a book and a scalpel and start cutting. Homeopathy needs the same level of experience as surgery. Don't shortchange yourself or your child. Find a well-trained, experienced homeopath.

(This chapter is excerpted and adapted from "A Drug-Free Approach to Asperger Syndrome and Autism: Homeopathic Care for Exceptional Children" by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, Robert Ullman, and Ian Luepker.)

Biography Of Ian R. Luepker, N.D., DHANP