Crossing Out an Autism Diagnosis: One Family’s Story
What’s the Episode About?
I’m excited to bring you today’s guest, Lauren Lee Stone. It’s a really honest and insightful discussion about how she navigated health challenges for two of her sons, who are both thriving adults today. It’s really a story of finding the root causes behind her son’s autism diagnosis and then later PANS and PANDAS diagnoses for two of her sons.
In my talk with Lauren, you’ll hear…
- The health concerns that began when her son was a newborn and progressed to an autism diagnosis at age four
- How getting a diagnosis was a turning point for their family
- The types of practitioners and approaches that were most beneficial for her son, including homeopathy
- The importance of gut-healing and the gut-brain connection
- How she found the unique inflammatory foods for all three of her children and changed their diets to reduce inflammation
- The role of heavy metals (and Lauren’s own mercury dental fillings) in her son’s toxicity levels
- When and why her son “lost” his autism diagnosis
- How the family treated PANS/PANDAS in two of their sons
In the search to heal her own children, Lauren came to bioenergetics, and chose to make it her career after experiencing its success first hand. In addition to a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph. D. from Cornell University, Lauren has a Master’s in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport. Lauren holds advanced certifications in Homotoxicology, BioSET and Quantum Reflex Analysis, and is a Board Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS), a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP), and a Board Certified Integrative Health Practitioner.
Lauren is also a board member of Epidemic Answers, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to reestablishing vibrant health in our children and ourselves through education, empowerment and prevention.
Lauren has a private practice in homotoxicology and nutrition located in Westport CT, although she works with clients nationally and internationally.
Lauren is author of Everyday Immunity: A Wellness Primer, and co-author of the book Brain Under Attack: A Resource for Parents and Caregivers of Children with PANS, PANDAS, AND Autoimmune Encephalitis.
You can find Lauren online at laurenleestone.com or altheahealthandwellness.com/.
Lauren’s Family Story: Crossing Out Autism
While pregnant with her first child, Lauren Lee Stone ate well and exercised, and then had a natural birth. She expected nothing less than a healthy baby.
But from infancy, her son suffered from unrelenting colic, a gassy, distended tummy and burning stools that left him with rashes.
Then around 18 months, he began hand-flapping and endured one ear infection after another. Sensory challenges made him sensitive to noise. Movies, birthday parties, bright lights, the ocean, walking on sand and even wearing shoes were all heartbreakingly too much for him.
“It became really clear that he was retreating from the world rather than moving into the world,” she says. “It also became clear that the reason he was retreating was that the world was painful.”
An Autism Diagnosis
And yet, because her son checked off all his development milestones, their pediatrician wasn’t concerned.
Trying to find answers, Lauren tried changing her own diet. With her diet down to just chicken and lettuce, still her son’s digestive issues persisted.
When the boy’s symptoms turned more concerning, with the onset of seizures, doctors took notice.
By age four, his mix of symptoms led to a diagnosis of autism. At the time, in the late ‘90s, doctors had little to offer the family other than a disheartening prognosis.
“They said basically, ‘There’s nothing you can do. More than likely he will continue to regress and eventually be institutionalized.’ I just didn’t accept that. I was like, I’m sorry, that can’t be true. So for me, my immediate reaction was I need to do more research.”
The Steps that Stopped Autism Symptoms
Back then, there wasn’t the same support system there is today for families with children on the spectrum or with disabilities. However, Lauren began seriously researching their options and found parents seeing success with alternative approaches.
Through an occupational therapist, they found a network of other contacts, including a naturopath who introduced the family to homeopathy.
“That was a whole beautiful new world for me,” Lauren said. “And that’s really when we started to see major, major changes in my son.”
With the naturopath, they implemented a number of steps to help bring down inflammation in the body and brain:
- Diet changes – They removed gluten from his diet, which is associated with leaky gut and leaky brain. With leaky gut, nutrients pass through the walls of the intestines instead of being absorbed, which causes nutrient deficiencies and the body and immune system to react to those foods.
Leaky brain happens when the blood-brain barrier around the brain gets disrupted, leading to inflammation and potentially serious brain and mental health issues.
They also removed dairy and worked on building a nutrient-dense, non-GMO way of eating.
“It was clear to me that from the beginning that his body and brain weren’t functioning because they didn’t have the nutrients,” Lauren said.
- Healing the gut – The diet changes and supplementation helped Lauren’s son heal leaky gut and build a healthier microbiome.
- Muscle testing – With muscle testing, they found individual food sensitivities for her son and which supplements were the right fit for him.
- Reducing stress – Changing schools helped reduce the stress in his life.
- Homeopathy – Homeopathy helped his immune system and mitochondria, and provided gentle detox from heavy metals.
“It wasn’t like an overnight miracle, but it was one that resulted in a beautiful young man who was able to live in the world rather than retreat from the world and who was able to thrive.”
When her son was eight, the family returned to the pediatrician for their oldest son’s annual well-check appointment. Through the alternative therapies, their MD supported and complemented their those efforts – an important factor to Lauren and their family.
That appointment was a stunning, validating point in their long journey.
“He went in for his eight-year-old checkup and she literally, she did the whole, talking to him… this, that da, da, da, da. She held up his folder, his chart. I was looking at it with her and the diagnosis of autism was there – and then she crossed it out and we both started crying.”
Homeopathy for PANS/PANDAS
While Lauren made strides with healing the root causes of her oldest son’s autism, they hit another couple of bumps in the road. Their two oldest sons both had PANS/PANDAS, which stands for Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections.
PANS is characterized by neuropsychiatric symptoms such as obsessions/compulsions, food restriction or eating disorders, depression, irritability, anxiety and difficulty with schoolwork. PANDAS presents similar symptoms but can be traced back to a streptococcal infection.
In her older son, it presented as facial tics and OCD. They tried antibiotics initially, but he continued to experience tics and OCD. Then, they tried homeopathy, nutrition and immune support to lighten the load on his body. They also took simple steps such as putting an air purifier in his classroom, where there was known mold.
With her younger son, PANS expressed as emotional dysregulation with explosive anger. In time, they finally connected his emotional issues with an infection.
They applied similar but different supports for their younger son, including a homeopathic detox. He also changed schools for a less stressful environment.
Chronic Illness and Toxins
These days, Lauren’s oldest sons – both now adults – are thriving. The oldest is completing his Ph.D. in chemical engineering and her middle son graduated from college a couple of years ago and is now working in physics and engineering.
“They’re both beautiful men, living their lovely lives and I’m just super proud of them,” she said.
Because of her experience, Lauren went back to school to study bioenergetics, human nutrition, homotoxicology, BioSET, quantum reflex analysis and integrative health. She’s driven by her own journey and knowing that 54 percent of American children have a chronic illness, from asthma and autism to other conditions.
“It’s just crazy. Like what is going on in the world that half of our children are sick and those are the ones that are diagnosed,” she said. “I mean, the kids I see… many, many, many of them are just walking around with all kinds of not-so-subtle, soft signs of things that are awry.”
Her personal belief is that it’s linked to our toxic world, from air pollution to pesticides to preservatives, and our depleted soils. She cites that, today, we need eight oranges to get the same amount of vitamin A as one orange in the 1950s.
Knowing what she does now, she believes that her own health and microbiome directly affected her children. She had countless rounds of antibiotics that altered her own microbiome plus mercury dental fillings.
Lauren’s advice to other parents:
“The first is to empower yourself and trust yourself,” she says. “As the parent, you know your child more and more intimately and better than anyone and you kno, what they need. So trust your instinct. Go, go with that. Trust your heart on that. Do your research. You really, really, really need to be informed. You are your child’s advocate. No one else is gonna take up that role.”
And she stresses, it’s not about the diagnoses, but about the symptoms.
“It’s whether or not your child is thriving. Is your child living to the best that they can live or are various symptoms holding them back?
You can find Lauren Lee Stone at www.laurenleestone.com or altheahealthandwellness.com.
If you enjoyed this episode, you might also like: Flagstaff Family Proves Possibility of Autism Recovery.
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