Sunday, November 3, 2013


As I have explained in previous blog entries, Alex has been dealing with chronic candidiasis, or yeast overgrowth, in his digestive tract for many months, which is fairly common in children with autism. From the time he was a baby, we have treated him for yeast infections every few years, but they always responded to medication and were not as stubborn as this current round. In June 2012, a doctor diagnosed him with thrush and cheilitis, fungal infections in and around his mouth. Since then, we have repeatedly taken him to doctors, who have treated him with runs of antifungal medications and probiotics, hoping to rid his body of these pesky infections. In addition, we were blessed to find a family doctor last spring who emphasizes restoring Alex’s immune system through vitamins and nutrition so that his body can fight infection better.

As we have dealt with the yeast the past year and a half, we have noticed the same pattern repeat itself: Alex becomes irritable, impulsive, and obsessive as we then notice his saliva becomes milky and white spots appear in his mouth. Once he begins taking antifungals, not only do his physical symptoms disappear, but his behavior also improves significantly. His doctor pointed out that when Alex doesn’t feel well, he is just cranky, and his behavior reflects that irritability. While we certainly don’t want Alex to suffer from the thrush, we don’t want to suffer his wrath when he’s feeling ill, either. Consequently, we keep working with his doctor to get this fungal infection under control.

Last month we took him back to his family doctor again with the same symptoms: white spots, milky saliva, and increased agitation in his behavior. Once again, the doctor confirmed what we suspected—the thrush had returned despite two months of taking daily doses of the antifungal Diflucan. During the time Alex was on the medication, he was healthy and happy, and we had a terrific summer with him behaviorally. However, within a couple of weeks off the antifungal, we saw a decline in his behavior along with the telltale physical signs of thrush. This time his doctor wanted to try a new medication to see if it may be more effective long term and to prevent Alex’s body from becoming resistant to Diflucan. He prescribed the antifungal Itraconazole, which Alex takes twice a day, for six months if needed. Once again, we hoped and prayed for healing with this new medication.

Within a few days, we saw improvements in Alex’s mouth and behavior without any negative side effects from the medication, which was a blessing. In fact, last week, which marked three weeks of being on Itraconazole, was one of the best weeks we have ever had with Alex. Moreover, he was the best he has been in his life in terms of his behavior, mood, interaction with others, and speech. One improvement is that he has been more independent and focused, entertaining himself by reading and watching television instead of relying on Ed or me constantly. Not only has he been cooperative and pleasant, but his language skills, which have always been his greatest weakness, have also shown huge gains in a remarkably short time. Instead of speaking in short phrases or sentences with syntax, or word order, problems, he has been speaking clearly in complete, often complex sentences. Also, we have been working with him for many months to talk loudly enough to be heard instead of mumbling, and he has recently been speaking with an appropriate volume so that we don’t need for him to repeat himself. With this breakthrough in speech, we now have a much better idea of what he is thinking. For example, the other night, he asked me, “As people get older, does their metabolism slow down?” After all the years he has struggled with articulation (speaking clearly), volume, syntax, and generating speech, despite years of speech therapy, he finally has found his voice, thank God. Perhaps now that he can express himself, he feels less anxiety and frustration, which has helped his behavior. Perhaps now that he’s feeling better, he feels less need to engage in impulsive and compulsive behaviors. I truly believe that we are finally seeing answers to our incessant prayers for healing.

Interestingly, this week we received test results that we had run a few weeks ago before we began seeing the huge improvements. I had asked Alex’s doctor if we could run an organic acids test with yeast culture and sensitivity through Great Plains Laboratory to see what his urine and stool indicated as far as yeast and metabolism. We had not run one of these tests for about ten years, and we were curious to see what the tests might indicate. Although Alex’s doctor was not familiar with the test, he agreed that this test would be worthwhile after I showed him previous test results. Not surprisingly, Alex continues to show yeast overgrowth in his system as well as some metabolic issues that previous test results have indicated. Once again, his doctor and I will discuss what steps need to be taken to improve his health, but the current antifungal definitely seems to be a step in the right direction.

From our experience, I encourage other parents of children with autism to consider investigating the organic acids test to see if their children might benefit from the biomedical interventions the test recommends if results are abnormal. Dr. William Shaw of the Great Plains Laboratory has a special interest in autism and has done extensive research trying to find ways to help children with autism. His website [which can be accessed by clicking here] has considerable information and resources that offer help and hope. The remarkable improvements we have seen in Alex after having gone through terrible experiences with aggression indicate that proper medical treatment can make huge changes in the life of the child with autism. We kept hoping and praying for Alex to get better, and now we see that he can be better than we ever even envisioned. Through the grace of God and the help of doctors, Alex is getting better, and as parents, we are truly grateful.

“O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You restored my health.” Psalm 30:2


K. C. Wells said...

That's wonderful news!! Best wishes for continued improving health for Alex!!

Astrid said...

I'm so glad Alex's physical and behavioral health have imrpoved. I've heard soemtimes that candida is common in autistics, but usually it's DAN! docs and other alternative health practitioners who say this and their tests are speculative. It's good you found that this is going on with Alex. I have a lot of physical symptosm too (I'm an adult autistic) but so far there's been no explanation.

Anonymous said...

I was so glad to read your blog today. We will keep hoping for the BEST. Love to your family.

phyllisbizeemom said...

As always, I enjoyed reading your blog! I'm excited for Alex that the new meds seem to be making a difference.

Maybe he is talking in more complete sentences, since his mouth may not be bothering him!

Also, excellent news about the Fun Fridays! Pam-you are one awesome Mom/advocate!

Also, thanks for the tips about Halloween. (Nice note about Common Sense! :-)

Take care & God Bless! -pb

Pam Byrne said...

Thanks for all the nice comments and good wishes! Fingers crossed and prayers said, we're hopeful this new medicine will finally get the thrush under control. Phyllisbizeemom, I think you may be onto something about Alex's language improving because his mouth no longer bothers him; we think his talking louder instead of being a "low talker" may be related, as well. :) I appreciate all of you reading my blog, responding with comments, and showing your kindness.
Take care,