What Is DAN!?, What Can I Expect At My DAN! Appointment? and other Frequently Asked Questions

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As a parent, making the decision to see a DAN! doctor is a difficult task.  Surely, you will search the internet until the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out where you can find a DAN! doctor, what’s going to happen in your appointment, and the benefits of the DAN! protocol over currently mainstream Autism treatments. This week, we hope to shine a little light on the DAN! protocol, DAN! doctors, and what you can expect at your DAN! appointment.

It becomes more and more evident with research that a biochemical disruption has, at the very least, a small connection to Autism. A great deal of specialists, researchers, and parents of Autism believe that it has quite a large impact on the developmental disorder that is currently affecting 1 in every 110 children in the USA.

Where Can I Find a DAN! Doctor?

A simple internet search will bring up many lists of DAN doctors. (We like this list for US doctors and this one for international doctors) It may be somewhat difficult to get a recommendation from your family doctor depending on his or her personal views on the DAN! protocol and the DAN practice in general. Be prepared to hear reasons why you shouldn’t see a DAN! doctor. Listen to the reasons, but also take a look at the reasons why it may be a good move for your child. After all, isn’t that what it boils down to? What’s best for your child?

What is a DAN! Doctor? What makes them different than a regular pediatrician or family doctor?

If you’re a parent, then you probably just “knew” something was going on inside your child’s body. As parents its just nature to realize if something is wrong. Maybe you made an appointment at your family doctor. If that was the case, you may have walked out with a suggestion to go through a battery of tests. Or, you may have walked out with a prescription for a psychiatric medication that would help calm the symptoms.

Some Autism families decide to use psychiatric drugs prescribed by their family doctor to control Autism symptoms, but these drugs do not balance the biochemical levels. However, with the biochemical connection, some parents decide to choose an alternative medication doctor who can target the specialized biochemical imbalance. These doctors, called “Defeat Autism Now” or DAN! doctors are credentialed doctors who go through DAN! training and develop skills to treat Autism using alternative forms of medical treatments (or DAN! protocol) which explores treatments beyond psychiatric drugs.

DAN! Protocol? What is that?

The Defeat Autism Now! Protocol is a series of alternative medicine solutions for Autism. There are several avenues that a DAN! Doctor may explore, but traditionally, the following plan may be enforced.

-Dietary intervention: Omission of Gluten (Wheat) and Casein (Dairy) products from your child’s diet. Additionally omitting junk foods that have refined sugar.
-Vitamin and Mineral Supplements - To balance out the dietary changes, replacement minerals and vitamins that the body may lack will be supplemented. Some of the vitamins and minerals commonly supplemented:  Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B5.
-Chelation - the removal of heavy metals which have proven to be very destructive to the Autistic body
-Treatment of intestinal bacteria

What can I expect at my DAN! Doctor Appointment?

A large determining factor of what to expect depends on the doctor. Many parents report a friendly and helpful physician who is just as interested in the road to a cure as you are. Their focus isn’t so much on treating the symptoms of Autism so much as healing the damaged, Autistic body. With this approach, symptom improvement often comes naturally.

Your child will more than likely go through a battery of testing mostly revolving around the state of their internal body. A test for hidden food allergies will be conducted to be sure that any dietary changes that are made as part of your child’s treatment plan are beneficial and not more damaging to them.

You should leave with your questions answered and a customized treatment plan for your child’s needs. If you have questions, ask, ask, ask. Remember, these doctors chose to be DAN! doctors. They believe in this treatment method, and want to see your child healthy.

The Link Between Autism and Food Allergies

gluten-freeThough it’s not completely proven, there have been studies that show a strong connection between food allergies and autism symptoms. One of the most frequently heard connections is that between Gluten (wheat) and Casein (milk) products. These food proteins are broken down into smaller proteins, also known as peptides. The two peptides, glutenin and gliadin, and leak into the gut and attach to the opitate receptors of the autistic child’s brain. This is very similar to the body being on a morphine drip. The peptides act as a Narcotic to the autistic body.

One of the primary steps in the Defeat Autism Now! (DAN) Protocol is that the autistic child be placed on a Gluten Free, Casein Free diet for at least three months. Many parents have been reporting a link between Autism and diet for years, but it’s now being found that children who consume gluten and casein regularly have more severe autism symptoms. Some of the research reports that claim to “disprove” this theory, also depend a lot on the idea that this is an allergic reaction that is being claimed to exist. Quite the contrary. In fact, it’s not due to an allergic reaction that the symptoms worsen. It’s because the autistic body cannot break down the proteins properly from gluten and casein.  It’s not necessarily an allergy so much as an intolerance.

When parents make the move to take their children off of Gluten and Casein completely, they’re often worried. One of the main concerns is that their children love gluten and casein products. Many parents have a difficult time getting their children to not eat gluten and casein, as if they’re addicted to it. This is more than just an analogy. It could be completely true. Remember, when gluten and casein break down, they leak into the gut and attach themselves to the opiate receptors of the brain. The same receptors that morphine, codeine and heroin attach themselves to. Your child could literally be addicted to gluten and casein.

Researchers are firm in their statements that “autism is not caused by an allergy.” When some parents read about the effects of gluten and casein, they assume their child is allergic to the foods and that’s the cause of Autism. They take their children off of the foods and expect a cure. Again, as far as we know, autism is not caused by an allergy. However, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are very sensitive – especially in their immune system in how it reacts to the environment.

One of the primary focuses of the Autism Alternative Medicine field is exploring ways in which we can treat our children’s autism symptoms and getting to the source of the problem. While there have been some reports that go against the connection between food allergies and Autism, there are still researchers who very much believe that there is a valid connection and they’re exploring this intensely.

The Gluten-Casein Free Diet for Autistic Children

Bread and MilkA few weeks back, I discussed how gluten can cause behavioral disorders in children who are incapable of digesting it. Many parents have also found that removing Gluten from their Autistic child’s diet has been very beneficial. The same goes for Casein (dairy).

How does one go about removing this from a child’s diet? It’s unfortunately not as simple as cutting out just bread and milk. Carol Ann Brannon, who focuses on specialized diets for Autistic children notes that gluten can not only be consumed via food, but also through the skin:

    “Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, and any derivatives of these grains, including, but not limited to malt grain-starches, malt wash, hydrolyzed vegetable/plant proteins, grain vinegar, soy sauce, and natural flavorings. Casein is found in milk and milk products from mammals….Gluten is in even in Play-Doh, adhesive on stamps and stickers, and many hygiene products. Soy, another common food allergen, is in many foods and hand lotions, make-up, etc.”

Starting the diet is always the toughest part. Should you go cold-turkey; cutting out all bread and dairy products all at once? Or should you slowly omit these foods from your child’s diet? Some parents choose to completely cut out all Gluten and Casein all at once. It is also common that parents and other non-autistic children in the family will feel the benefits of the diet as well. Other parents choose to cut the gluten out of their diets first, and then move on the milk products.

If your child is on the GFCF (Gluten-Free Casein-Free) diet, what CAN they eat? It seems that living without bread and milk takes the majority of food choices away.

“Children can eat a wide variety of meat, chicken, eggs, fruits, and vegetables -– anything that does not contain wheat gluten or casein. It is generally recommended that organic, whole GFCF foods be consumed whenever possible.”

It is very important to share your child’s diet with family, friends, doctors, etc. so that they are all aware of such changes. Even a small amount of bread or dairy could have an effect on your child. Also, make a habit of reading food labels and taking note to all of the ingredients.

Amino Acids

Amino acids play a major part in metabolism and as building blocks of protein. They are so essential that they have become known as “the building blocks of life”. Amino acids cause reactions in the cells of the body and control cellular process.

Egg

There are 22 amino acids needed by the body to manufacture around 50,000 proteins to keep the body healthy. Out of these 22, there are 8 that the body cannot produce itself and these are referred to as “essential amino acids”. These essential amino acids must be obtained on a daily basis from the food that we eat because they cannot be stored for later use.

Amino Acids and Autistic Children

Children require more amino acids in their diet than adults because they are growing, developing and also use more energy.

Studies have shown that some autistic children are deficient in certain amino acids and that they have an increased need for amino acids, when compared to other children, because they have problems metabolizing amino acids. It is therefore essential that parents make sure that their children are receiving adequate amounts of amino acids (from protein foods), particularly if they are on a restrictive diet like the GFCF Diet or SCD.

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A Menu of Biomedical Treatments

What are Biomedical Treatments?

If you are a parent or carer of a child with an autism spectrum disorder, you are bound to have heard of biomedical treatments for autism, but what are they?

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Unlike traditional psychotropic drug therapies, biomedical treatments work by addressing what is triggering or causing the autism in the child, rather than just treating or masking symptoms.

Biomedical approaches are working wonders all over the world and are helping children that some doctors had given up on, and working what many parents would call “miracles”. What could be more miraculous than having eye contact with your child for the first time in years or hearing them say their first word?

A Menu of Biomedical Approaches

In an interview, Jenny McCarthy, autism crusader, writer and mother to Evan, spoke about there being a menu of biomedical treatments to choose from and that you need to work through this menu until you find what works for your child. Every child is unique and has different needs, and the right treatment for your child will often depend on what is actually causing your child’s autism.

Here are some examples of biomedical approaches which are being successfully used to treat autism :-

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