Portage holds autism lecture

HANCOCK – Autism is a neurological condition which researchers and doctors are working to understand. One doctor who specializes in the condition presented his efforts during a talk Wednesday at Portage Health.

Dr. Allen T. Lewis of Integrative Pediatrics Medicine in Gahanna, Ohio, was presented by Copper Country Autism Awareness, which is an organization of parents and grandparents of children with autism.

Lewis said his 15-year-old son was diagnosed with autism 13 years ago, and at that time, he was told there was nothing that could be done for him.

“That’s not true,” Lewis said.

Using a treatment method involving nutrition and improving general health, Lewis said he’s been successful in treating children with autism, including his son. He also occasionally uses conventional drugs in his treatment, although to a smaller degree.

According to the website of the organization Autism Speaks, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.”

Lewis said it’s possible to unlock the full potential of a child with autism medically, and one therapy for every child is not enough.

“Medicine today has become too specialized,” he said.

Lewis said there has been a significant rise in autism in the last 48 years. In 1966 in the United States, 1 in 2,500 children was said to have autism. In 2014, the rate is 1 in 68 children.

“It’s unfortunately very common,” he said.

Although part of that increase is better diagnosis, Lewis said that doesn’t completely explain the increase.

Lewis said he’s treated 4,500 children with autism, and each is different.

“No two stories are the same,” he said. “When we look at autism we look at a spectrum of disorders.”

Lewis said ASD is a result of both genetic and environmental factors.

“Our biography becomes our biology,” he said.

Research has shown that oxidation of various cells in the body is a contributing factor to the development of ASD, so Lewis said his treatment involves reducing oxidation through nutrition.

Lewis said children diagnosed with ASD also have other problems, such as sleep disorders and gastrointestinal disorders.

“Rarely do I see a child that doesn’t have other problems,” he said.

For the nutritional aspect of his treatment, Lewis said he encourages families to switch to a whole foods diet, especially organic food. Reducing a child’s intake of gluten and casein – which is found in mammal milk products – are helpful in the treatment of autism.

“Health begins at the dinner table,” he said.

Lewis said 75 percent of children he’s been involved with showed an improvement with a change in diet.

Treatment includes making certain the child reduces the amount of electronic stimulants, such as iPods, television and video games, during the day, with nothing starting an hour before going to bed.

Lewis said if each child with autism and ASD is treated individually, there can be improvement.

“There’s not a single miracle cure,” he said. “Full recovery is possible.”

After the presentation, Marion Gilles of Copper Country Autism Awareness said she thinks Lewis’ information will be helpful to those in attendance.

“I think they’re hearing things they hadn’t heard before,” she said.

Gilles, who has an 8-year-old grandson with autism, said there is no doctor in the Copper Country using Lewis’ integrative approach to the treatment of the condition.

“We need somebody like this,” she said.