Saturday, March 2, 2013

Probiotics, Enzymes, Epsom Salts, and the ATEC

Answers to three more of the most common questions I'm asked by parents.
Please note that this is not medical advice. Always ask your doctor before beginning any new treatment.

Where Can I order probiotics and enzymes? is a great place to order safe brands at a reasonable cost. They carry all the main brands parents of children with Autism use. (Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, meaning they are not required to test for things like allergens, lead, pesticides, etc. The brands on this site are usually third-party tested and considered safe.)  More information on testing is here.

What's the difference between enzymes and probiotics?  My take is that enzymes help you digest proteins, carbs, sugars, fats. Probiotics help heal your gut and make digestion easier/possible and help you fight off infection. Both are needed for a healthy gut.

You keep mentioning Epsom Salts. What's up with that?  What's it for?

Grandma always said to soak my feet in epsom salts and I kinda thought it was a placebo effect. Now I know that epsom salts really works. When Hayden had constipation, ten minutes in the epsom salt bath made him have a BM, every time. When he and Rylie are over-excited, it calms them.  When they get in a chlorine pool, it removes the crazy behaviors they used to have as an after-effect of swimming.

TACA mention here regarding removing chlorine 
TACA Biomed article regarding sulfates and baths (all the way at the bottom of the article)


You need to start with a very small dose (1/4 or 1/8 cup). Epsom Salts helps the body detox and therefore your child could (and probably will) display some behaviors. Use less if there are lots of behaviors. (Hayden was slightly more hyper and aggressive.) After a week the behaviors will calm down and your child should display less behaviors than before you started the baths. If you didn't know that there were die-off behaviors you might think it was making your child worse and stop using it, but it is actually helping. I use epsom salts and baking soda in every bath for my kids. (Baking soda helps with yeast and other things.) Don't use more than 2 cups per bath, more than twice a day.

When Hayden was constipated, I had him blow bubbles in the bath. This helped him ingest some of the epsom salts (I didn't put any soap bubbles in the bath) and therefore increased the effectiveness of the treatment. If he is suffering from diarrhea, I ask him not to blow bubbles, which could make that condition worse.

I buy a 6 lb bag of epsom salts at Meijer for around $3. Cheapest Autism intervention there is!

How do you keep a record of the changes your child has made with different therapies? How do you prove to others that s/he is improving?

I use The ATEC Online Checklist.  There is also a Printable ATEC here.

You don't need to fill in the top part, just skip halfway down to the questions about your child's abilities and behavior:

It actually gets harder for me to answer some ATEC questions each time I fill it out, because I try to be very conservative in my answers. Meaning, I ask myself, does he do this as a "typical" child his age would? 

For example, Stage I #9 asks: "Does the child explain what he wants?" Hayden has shown huge gains in this area, and compared to other children with Autism, he should probably answer "Very true." But compared to a typical child, I think his ability to tell people what he wants is still at "Somewhat true." For example, he doesn't always tell teachers why he is frustrated, or that he needs a break, or needs to use the restroom, while a typical child in these situations would usually do so. I think there's still room for him to improve in this category, so I don't give him a full score.

Skip the email and code part at the bottom and click Submit. It will show you scores for each category:

Then go to the bottom of this page to see where your child falls in each category:

For example, a score of 19 on Scale I Speech would put your child in the moderate range for Speech. An overall score of 103 would put your child in the Severe range for overall Autism behaviors. The scores for each range are helpful to me to know where Hayden's biggest gaps are, and what I should focus on. (Usually his highest score is in Scale IV, so we focus on improving his skill at dressing himself, not hitting others, adapting to change in routine, trying new things.)

The point of the ATEC is to see the effectiveness of the different treatments and therapies you're doing with your child over time.  Fill out a new ATEC every 3 months to help you gauge change over time.

Some of Hayden's scores over time: 


10/10  102 (Severe Range)  About two years ago
5/11  90  (Severe Range)
9/11  83  (Severe Range)
1/12  77  (Moderate Range)   One year ago
3/13: 43  (Mild Range)  Today

He has made huge gains in a short period of time. Recent changes:  adding carnitine, B12, moving his diet toward SCD (fewer carbs and sugar), removing food dyes, changing his school environment to pullout instead of mainstream, and sending more supplements for him to take at school to help me get all his supplements in each day.

If you have questions please add them in the comments and I'll address them in another blog post. Or, you can message me on my Hope and Lavender Facebook page. Take care, friends!

Usual disclaimer:  I am not a doctor, therapist, dietitian, or expert. I am just a mom who's seen these therapies work and wants to help others. 

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