Daniel Vance - Disabilities

A National Institutes of Health website states that Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism spectrum disorder. People with it have as their most distinguishing symptom an “obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other.” The individual may have an advanced vocabulary and clumsy motor movements, exhibit repetitive routines, and not interact well with peers.

Tim Schroeder is an English professor at Martin Luther College. In 1994, his oldest child, Mary, suddenly began doing repetitive behaviors, such as spinning around and flapping her hands. She also stopped making eye contact and became anxious.

“Mary’s behavior changed dramatically after she had her measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot,” said 53-year-old Schroeder in an interview. “We have videotape of her just before and just after the shot. After the shot is when the spinning and hand-flapping started and when her social interaction with us changed dramatically. Her love to play dropped off the charts. She was a different person after the shot.”

A physician diagnosed Mary at age three with Asperger’s syndrome. Like many parents of children with autism interviewed over the years for this column, Schroeder noticed changes in his child right after a vaccination. Contrary to what some research suggests, many people believe the mercury-containing, vaccine additive thimerosal is responsible.

The Schroeders had a second child and history repeated itself two years later. “My son’s changes after the shot for a while were far more pronounced (than Mary’s),” Schroeder said. “He had been incredibly verbal, but afterwards would sit by himself and stare into space.”

The Schroeders sought answers online, in books, and through talking with parents. They had their children tested for the presence of mercury and heavy metals and both showed high levels.

Eventually, they learned of a special diet showing promise. They took Mary off all milk products and within six months her spinning and hand-flapping ended. Then they temporarily put her back on milk and the behaviors suddenly began again.

They also took her off all food containing gluten and “lots of other positive things happened,” said Schroeder. “She became more calm. We did the diet with our son, too.” Schroeder believed his son has benefited to where he no longer shows any social impairments or deficits. But not all children benefit from such a diet, he said.

He urged parents to learn more.

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