Integrative Paediatrics: Autism Spectrum Disorders with Dr Elisa Song

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Integrative Paediatrics: Autism Spectrum Disorders with Dr Elisa Song

Autism spectrum disorders are rising exponentially, and greater awareness and better diagnostics don't appear to explain the increase.

Autism alone has risen in Australia from 64,400 in 2009 to 164,000 in 2015 with studies in the United States indicating that as many as 1 in 110 children are now affected. Parents are crying out for greater help than merely medicating their loved ones can offer, and this is exactly where Dr Elisa Song's passion lies.

As a Paediatrician with two vibrant kids, she is keenly aware of the pain caused by autism, ASD and associated neuro-behavioural disorders. In today's podcast, Dr Song explores the controversies, the major issues, and gives some answers for practitioners wanting to offer better care for their patients with neuro-cognitive issues.


Covered in this episode

[00:44] Welcoming back Dr Elisa Song
[01:59] The global issue of rising Autism rates
[04:09] The environmental impacts on genes
[05:10] Better diagnosis is not the only reason
[09:20] Understanding aetiology
[14:05] The hallmarks of autism
[22:16] Notable functional medicine deficiencies and imbalances 
[33:00] Dr Song at the 6th BioCeuticals Research Symposium 2018

Andrew: This is FX Medicine, I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook. Joining us all the way from Belmont, California is holistic mum and doc, Dr Elisa Song. Who’s a holistic pediatrician, pediatric functional medicine expert, and mum to two crazy fun kids. 

In her integrative pediatric practice,, she's helped thousands of kids get to the root causes of their health concerns and helped their parents understand how to help their children thrive. 

Dr. Song created Healthy Kids, Happy Kids to share her advice and adventures as a holistic pediatrician and mum. You can follow her blog at and get daily tips and inspiration from her on her Facebook page. Now, everyone can have their very own virtual holistic pediatrician. 

Welcome back to FX Medicine, Dr. Elisa Song. How are you? 
Elisa: I'm great. Thank you, Andrew. I'm so glad to be back again.  
Andrew: Now, we're talking about controversial and certainly confounding topics today. We're talking about neurodevelopmental disorders in kids and some of their reasons, some of their treatment options. 

Elisa: Yep. 

Andrew: So, I guess we have to start right back at the beginning. Autism. Why is autism on the rise around the globe? It seems to be exploding.  
Elisa: Well, it certainly does seem to be exploding and this is, you know, there is some controversy around what exactly is triggering autism. I think that what we're realising now is that there's not just one trigger. That there are many different subsets of autism, if you will, and it's really the interplay of the genetic risk factors with these environmental factors that then interplay to develop these symptoms of autism. Sometimes very early on, sometimes as young as three months or six months of age and sometimes not until later. I don't think it's just a matter of better diagnosis. I don't think we're just picking up kids with autism. I think that there is a very real increase. 

And you know, if you ask any parent today to look at their kids' classrooms, classrooms today look so different than the classrooms that I remember as a child and that you remember as a child. I mean, you know, if look at every classroom nowadays, at least in the United States, there are going to be at least a handful of kids who have sensory issues or autism or ADHD or other neurodevelopmental disorders and they're having a really hard time. 

So, you know the numbers, when we look at the numbers, if we are on this trajectory… right now, the U.S. has about maybe one in 68 or one in 45 kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder. That was measured back in 2014. Back in, gosh, back in 1995, it was about one in 500. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Elisa: So, at this rate, by 2033, estimates are showing that maybe one in four kids will have autism. And we're not actually, in the U.S., the highest country with the rates of autism. Australia, if you look at the top 10, Australia has the dubious honor of being number seven. 

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. 

Elisa: And, you know, the U.S. is number five, but the number one and two, number two is the UK, number one is Japan. 
So, it is hitting every ethnicity, every country. And I have to say with the environmental toxin issue, our genetics really haven't changed, right? Our genes don't change. But what our genes interact with in the environment, that changes profoundly and that has changed profoundly since we were kids. 

I mean, I still remember the first TV dinner, you know, getting our first microwave. Getting my first cell phone in pediatric residency, having Rice-A-Roni and Hamburger Helper and Kool-Aid. I mean those were like the best foods ever when I was a kid. 
Andrew: #not. 
Elisa: …And when we look at who is having kids with autism, it's, you know, my generation of parents who are having kids with autism and nowhere before in history have we been exposed to so many pesticides and artificial flavours and processed foods and electromagnetic radiation. So, I think that's playing a big role. 
Andrew: Can I ask though about, you know, we mentioned that it's not just a reporting issue, but what about being classified as another diagnosis? You know, these kids would have been institutionalised if they were severe autism. And so they would have quite possibly been diagnosed with a different psychiatric disorder, maybe catatonia or something like that.  
Elisa: You know, I think, yes, I do think it plays an issue in that we are recognising it more and identifying it more and really understanding how to pick the signs of autism in younger and younger kids. So, I do think that is playing a role, that we're able to get a handle on it earlier and identify earlier and we have better diagnostic criteria. 

But it's not just that. There's a real increase. So, I think that is playing a role, but there's also other things going on in our environment and in our society and in our households that we need to take a look at.  
Andrew: Just a point on diagnosis, I noticed that in DSM, I think it's five, they don't recognise Autism Spectrum Disorder now. But I think you and I have spoken that they've broadened the diagnosis of autism, but Autism Spectrum Disorder has disappeared. Is this convenient because it was costing money?  
Elisa: Well, yeah, so, what's interesting is it's not that they got rid of the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. They got rid of autism spectrum, Asperger's syndrome, PDD-NOS, autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, all of these different categories and clumped them all into Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

So, now there's just one term, you're not Asperger's, you're not PDD. And I think that does a couple of things. I think it takes some of the nuance out of what's going on with kids. And I don't know necessarily that having just one lump diagnosis is such a good thing. Because then we can't necessarily understand how to tailor our treatments, whether they're behavioural or cognitive interventions or speech and language and physical therapy and occupational therapy interventions or biomedical interventions. 

But… and I do think it is a convenient term though because then we don't have to necessarily go down all of the checklists and decide which specific autism disorder does this child have.  
Andrew: I remember people when the diagnostic criteria came out that there were a lot of parents throwing up their arms in dismay because what they were fearful of was that the funding for their child for support was going to be withdrawn. That was my concern. What's the reality?  
Elisa: Yeah. I don't know what it's been like in Australia. But in the U.S., there has been a greater parity for services for autism spectrum. And now insurance actually does have to cover applied behavioural analysis. 

I remember when I opened my practice back in 2005, I actually purposefully did not put down a diagnosis of autism on our insurance billing because I knew and parents knew that autism wasn't going to be covered. That it was considered a mental health diagnosis only. And services would not be covered under their insurance. 

Now, it's different. Now, parents are asking for the diagnosis on my records. So, I think that is shifting. I think that there is more recognition that Autism Spectrum Disorder is not just a mental health disorder, but it is a neurodevelopmental and medical disorder. And services are being better covered, but there's still a long way to go.  
Andrew: Yeah. I'll throw this one out to our listeners, please, if you have examples that you've verified in your country, and indeed we're in Australia, please let us know on Drop us a line and let us know what your situation is because we'd really like to get across this and find out what really is being treated and how families are being supported with this disorder. 

So, let's go into aetiology a bit. You know, there's a lot of controversy with the aetiology. You mentioned that it's multifactorial. Humans aren't good at looking at multifactorial stuff. But I do remember a couple of groups looking at certain genetic factors.  
Elisa: Yeah. So, I just actually saw a couple of papers this past week. I mean, you know, there are new genetic SNPs and mutations that are being identified more commonly in kids on the spectrum. It's so hard to say that those are causative genes. So, I think we need to look at not just what genes make us more susceptible. That would be fascinating to know because if we know that a certain subset of genetic mutations will make this child much more susceptible to developing autism, then we can be even more careful with what we put into that child's body and how we support their brain and immune system development, very early on. Which I think we should be doing with all babies, but it can help us target that a little bit better. 

But then we also know that there are some suspected environmental factors that are triggers for autism. We know that environmental chemical pollutants can play a role, and, in fact, there are pockets in the bay area with higher levels of air pollution that are correlated with higher rates of autism. 

Andrew: Ahh. 

Elisa: We know prenatal exposures are really important. So, there are some medications like acetaminophen or paracetamol, antidepressants. Maternal exposure prenatally to household chemicals like pesticides, even heavy metals, ultrasound, those have all been linked with higher risks for autism. Maternal vitamin D levels as well.  
And then postnatally, we know that gut dysbiosis can play a huge role for kids on the autism spectrum. Vaccines are highly controversial, but I do believe that vaccines play a role. They're never...there's never just one thing though. I think that we, in Western medicine, we're looking for that one trigger. What was that one thing that made this child sick? And it's not that simple. Typically, there's a culmination of various triggers along the way and then there's a tipping point, and the vaccine might be a tipping point. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Elisa: But there might be other tipping points.  
Emotional stress is a huge one because we know emotional stress creates just as much physiologic inflammation and neurotransmitter imbalance as physical stress. 

So, there's so many factors. I think though, for kids on the spectrum, we always start with the gut. In functional medicine, we always start with the gut. And I think that is a very important place to start prenatally, even preconception when we look at the factors that go into developing an infant's brain and immediately postnatally.  
I saw this fascinating study. Well, I thought was fascinating. They actually gave babies probiotic supplementation, just one probiotic. It was Lactobacillus rhamnosus. This was actually a byproduct of the study that looked at, isolatory study, looking at Lactobacillus rhamnosus with eczema and atopic illness. 

So, they supplemented babies for six months and then they measured the gut microbiota at various points in infancy up to two years of age and then 13 years of age. So, what was fascinating was that the kids who were supplemented with probiotics up to six months of age did not develop ADHD or Asperger's. And the kids who were not supplemented had a much higher risk significantly of developing Asperger's or ADHD. 

Now, what was fascinating to me though was that when they looked at the gut microbiota at 13 years of age, no difference. There was a difference in infancy. So, the thought is that these kind of probiotic supplementation and our gut microbiota prime the nervous system, prime the immune system very early on, at these critical stages of infant brain development. And when that happens at a critical point in brain development, the subsequent dysfunction that can happen in the gut-brain axis will last into adulthood, into adolescence, despite your gut microbiota composition. I mean, that's fascinating.  
Andrew: Yeah. That's really fascinating. They're leaning so more about the gut-brain axis. I've had it said to me though that we still are compartmentalising ourselves when we say gut-brain axis because we are continuous. It was a very salient point that somebody brought up with me and I went, "Ahh, Good, fair call." 

Can I just ask though...let's just go right back to basics. The hallmarks of autism. Now, most of us are...we're ofay with things like the rocking and the emotional lash outs, the inability to read emotions and the lack of effect, the lack of connection with the outside world. 

Can you give us a definite diagnostic criteria if you like, of autism and then maybe even dabble in some ASD-type symptoms as well, how they might differ? 
Elisa: Oh, That's a good question.  
Andrew: This is an hour long. Yeah.  
Elisa: Yeah. Well, I can first start with there are very early signs of autism. Now, with very early signs of autism, you can see these signs even as early as four months or six months of age. And even then, if you are an astute observer, you will notice avoidance of eye contact, not responding to their name, which six month old babies should do. Not looking at the object that you're pointing to with your finger and following.

Andrew: Right. 

Elisa: Not showing you toys, you know, kids who play with toys even at nine months of age will look at the toy in their hand and then look at their mum or dad and show it to them and reference their parent. So, there's none of that. 

Of course, speech can be delayed. And even in infancy, they kinda have this perseverative and repetitive play. And older kids are going to have those limited social interactions. But, you know, if they develop language, develop speech, then the past we called that Asperger's, right? Asperger's is really more of the high functioning autism where language is intact, but it's a repetitive almost robotic language. And there may be a lot of echolalia or perseveration on different ideas and different conversations. 

So, there is that huge spectrum and I think that's why they got rid of all of those kinds of PDD-NOS, Asperger's, autism diagnoses because it was so confusing. Because there were very few times when it was absolutely clear-cut. I think the biggest thing is the social interactions and this perseverative, sort of, rigidity. Even if language is present, it's a communication impairment. And the play tends to be lacking in that reciprocity. 

So, in terms of actual diagnostic criteria, I think the DSM-5 puts autism now more into three domains. Instead of having these separate categories.

Andrew: Right. 

Elisa: And looking at social impairments, language and communication impairment and these repetitive, restricted behaviours. And that's where we look to see, does my child have all of these? 

Because we can have children who have more repetitive rigid play, but their social interactions and their language and communication skills may be fine. Or they may not have these rigidities and stimming behaviours, but have language and communication delays.  
Andrew: What about the concept of this lack of filtration of outside stimuli? Like for instance, near and far noises. Normally, we can block out far noise as if we're concentrating on a conversation we're having with somebody close, even if that be something like a jackhammer. But it's been said that these kids can't. Is that true and how do you assess that?  
Elisa: You know, and I have to be totally honest, I don't actually diagnose kids per se with autism. Because for that they need a full battery of neuropsychological testing and they'll either see a developmental pediatrician in the States or a child psychologist who is trained in neuropsychology. 

So, that's a little bit outside of my domain in terms of exactly how you get to the diagnosis. But it is true. I mean, just from a sensory standpoint, kids on the spectrum have difficulty filtering and really specifying the sensory input that they're receiving and can get shut down because of that. A lot of kids are kind of shut down, not seeming like they're aware. 

However, once we use our biomedical interventions and dietary changes and behavioural intervention and kids can start communicating in whatever way, whether it's with a keyboard or with spoken language or they write. They can express that they're hearing everything and they understand. It's just not being filtered and it's too much and that's why that has to be locked in. 

Or you know, I've had kids where once they are headed on the road to recovery and can start writing to me or talking to me, are really angry too. Because they're fully understanding what we're saying about them right in front of them without...and we don't have that filter. We're not filtering the way we're talking about them and not talking to them.  
So, I think we just have so much more to learn about how kids on the spectrum are negotiating their sensory input and understanding what's going on and relating to us because there is that relation there. If a kid is saying, "When I'm flapping and banging my head in the corner and screaming, I am totally aware of what I'm doing and I understand what you're saying." 

Andrew: Wow. 

Elisa: So, my heart goes out to these families and these children because there is a way that they're communicating that we don't understand. 

Andrew: Oh, yeah. 

Elisa: And so most kids on the autism spectrum do not have mental retardation. And most kids with autism spectrum, if we can break through and help them to communicate in whatever way, we can learn so much from them. And sometimes...and full recovery is possible. But at the same time, we can get kids so much healthier and being able to communicate. Even if it's not necessarily the way parents want them to communicate.  
Andrew: That's right. I was drawn to tears, I've got to say, with this, I think it was a Facebook post or something of a kid with Autism Spectrum Disorder sitting on Santa's lap asking him if he was going to get presents because he's been naughty and he didn't mean to. You know, and it was this was a beautiful response by Santa saying, "You're a great kid and you're worthy of who you are." So, it was the perfect response. 

I guess the point I was going to make with regards to sensory stimulation and how a kid without neurodevelopmental issues might respond versus somebody with autism. I think it's really interesting that my wife works as a teacher aide and she helps with behaviour management. And so she goes around to these various classes and one of these classes, the teacher, who is brilliant, plays music and all the kids are sitting there quietly learning, doing their work and singing along. And it's really interesting… and they have their share of kids with autism, ASD, whatever. And these kids seem to respond to music.  
Elisa: A lot of kids do. And I'm not quite sure why that is. But it is true that many kids on the spectrum, they will respond beautifully to music. And I have one little boy who...he is in school but in a severe class. And just has behaviours all day long with tantrums and eloping behaviours, running away. And the only thing that calms him is his mum's singing. And he doesn't have much language except that he can sing every single lullaby that she sings.  
Andrew: Wow.  
Elisa: So you know… and that's a connectedness, right? There is a connectedness there. We think of kids on the autism spectrum as not having any social connections, but there are connections there. We just need to understand how to break in and make those connections and then build on those.  
Andrew: Yeah. From a functional medicine perspective, what imbalances, deficiencies are evident and what do you mainly work on? You've mentioned gut, which is the seat of naturopathic or integrative medicine. But what do you see? Like, I think I've heard even Clostridium difficile as a culprit, but what else? 
Elisa: Yes. So, specifically for autism, we know one of the first things is dietary changes. When a kid comes into my office, the first thing I'll recommend is a trial on a gluten-free, casein-free diet. And some of these kids on the spectrum, they're literally eating because of their rigidities and their sensory issues and their taste preferences, they're only eating the same kind of chicken nuggets and the same box of Mac and cheese every day. And any deviation is not going to be tolerated. 

Right? So, I totally get it. It can be so challenging, but it is doable and I think it's worth a try. Because gluten and casein, it's not because of the food sensitivities or their allergenic nature for kids, for some kids it is. But it's because they can get converted into these opioid-like compounds, the casomorphins and the gliadorphins, that literally are drugging some of our kids' brains.  
And I've had kids when their parents have gone off of gluten or casein or both, I recommend both, initially. They'll tell me it's literally like the lights turned on and their kids are finally awake. That they're looking at them, that they're aware. One of the signs for gliadorphins and casomorphins, when they're present, typically kids will have a super high pain threshold. These are kids who are falling on the ground as hard as you can imagine and you're gasping and they get up like nothing happened. Incredibly high pain tolerance because that's what opioids do. Right? And so that is definitely one of the common features for kids on the spectrum, not all of them, but it is common. 
Mitochondrial imbalances and mitochondrial dysfunction are really key for many, many kids on the autism spectrum. And it's really probably in those kids who have the mitochondrial dysfunction or not necessarily mitochondrial disorder, because there are very few kids that are going to actually have genetically verifiable mitochondrial disorder. 

But we're talking about mitochondrial dysfunction. And what's interesting is that in the vaccine courts in the United States, many of the kids who have been found to actually have been harmed by vaccines, and in fact, the famous Hannah Poling case who won in vaccine court and literally because "The vaccine caused her autism."  But they found it was because she had an underlying mitochondrial defect. 

Andrew: Right. 

Elisa: So, they got around saying that vaccines cause autism. But really it's because of her mitochondrial dysfunction that then it created too much mitochondrial and oxidative stress. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Elisa: So, the signs for mitochondrial dysfunction that we want to look at are low core muscle tone. So, these are kids that have a very difficult time sitting on the floor, criss-cross applesauce without their back completely slumped over. Or they sit in what's called the ‘W position’ where they're sitting on their bottom and their feet are kind of splayed out to the side of them. So, their legs are making a W pattern. 

These are kids who have a very poor kind of weak pencil grasp and will either put too little pressure. Their writing or drawing is going to look like a feathery line. Or they're digging down and putting too much pressure when they're writing because they can't control their muscle strength, right? 

Because mitochondria are most active in our skeletal muscles, in our hearts and our brain. And so we also see for kids with mitochondrial dysfunction, we'll see, and I always ask parents, "What is your kid's endurance like?" Because they may have a lot of "energy" and have spurts of really high intensive energy but then they lose steam really quickly. And these are kids that parents will note that when they're sick, they may have regression. 

Andrew: Right. 

Elisa: That when they're sick, they may start to lose some milestones. 

Andrew: Right. 
Elisa: And that's something that we can check on conventional labs. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Elisa: We can check our AST, our creatine kinase, our free and total carnitine, lactate levels, pyruvate levels and fasting plasma amino acid levels and even urine organic acid levels. And those will all give us hints as to whether or not the child may have a mitochondrial dysfunction. 

Although I do have the caveat that when you check for a mitochondrial dysfunction, it's in times of stress that our mitochondria show more stress. And so if your child when you get the blood draw is great in great physical health…

Andrew: Reasonably good, right, no point. 

Elisa: … not emotionally stressed. You might not see aberrations. But if your child goes when they're sick and they have elevations in their lactate, in their CK and their AST and their Alanine to lysine ratio is off, then we know. "Okay. Yes. Here's clear evidence that there's mitochondrial dysfunction because we shouldn't have these markers if we don't have mitochondrial distress."  
Andrew: Maybe that's one of the problems that's encountered with studies is that they often group a cohort and do it from time rather than the timing of the patient. When they're able you know, when is the researcher available to draw a blood draw? "Oh. It's on Wednesday the 7th. You know" 
Elisa: That's right. And then you know, of course, methylation is a big issue for kids on the spectrum. And giving Methyl B12 injections are the second intervention. So, typically, gluten-free, casein-free and a of trial B12 shots are two of the, I would say, "the biggest hitters" where you might see those big wows. 

And I caution parents when we start biomedical work, we're not going to expect huge wows. You know, immediate shifts. What we're looking for is slow and steady progress and improvement. But sometimes we have those wows. And those wows can be associated with a gluten-free casein diet, mitochondrial support, and methylation support.  
The others are kind of all...the other imbalances that we see in kids on the spectrum aren't necessarily so specific for kids on the spectrum. But we look for heavy metal and other chemical toxicity. We look for chronic infections. PANS is not uncommon to be found in kids with autism. And even if we don't have clear evidence of PANS, oftentimes, they are showing brain autoantibodies. 

And, of course, nutritional deficiencies or insufficiencies are huge because of their sensory issues, their taste issues, their malabsorption, their food sensitivities and leaky gut. I mean there's a whole variety of reasons why they may have nutrient insufficiencies. But zinc is a huge one for kids on the spectrum. 

Andrew: Yep. 

Elisa: And when zinc is deficient, that's one of the primary underlying causes for sensory issues, especially auditory sensory issues where kids are putting their hands over their ears when you turn on the blender or run the vacuum. Picky eating is associated with zinc deficiencies. These are kids who can't stand the tags on their shirts or the seams on their socks. And once you start correcting that zinc, then we can see significant improvements in those sensory issues and also even an increased willingness to expand diet.  
Andrew: It's interesting that you're saying with sensory issues, not just hearing, auditory, but you say the tags on their shirts?  
Elisa: I remember my daughter who is neurotypical and developing beautifully, but she and actually my son, both went through a phase where we just spent maybe a half an hour trying to get out the door every morning for school because their shoes could not be tied tight enough. And they would scream and cry and tell me, "It's not the right tight." I was so frustrated. And then when I stepped back and I thought, "Okay. What is going on right now?" And I thought, "Well, let me try giving them a little bit of zinc, not too much. I don't want them to get zinc toxic, but it takes a lot to get zinc toxic." And I started them on zinc and I increase their protein intake and their nuts and seeds, all good sources of zinc and it stopped. 
So, we go through these points in time where if our immune systems are stressed and we've had, let's say, lots of colds and flus and our zinc is getting depleted, we might go through those phases of heightened sensory issues even without having autism. 

Andrew: Yep. 

Elisa: And we as adults go through those phases where we're just...our clothes don't feel right or we don't like the sound of your deskmate chewing gum.  
Andrew: I don't know what goes on in your office, Elisa. Can I just ask, you mentioned nutrients. Do you find that there's certain forms of nutrients that you tend to prefer? Like for instance, in say, off topic, but Wilson's disease which is a copper overload, you tend to use zinc acetate and that's the ‘preferred form.’ Some people prefer the picolinates whereas other people prefer the diglycinates or the bisglycinates. Do you have a preference? Or do you tend to look more at the mineral that's the issue?  
Elisa: You know, it's both. For magnesium, it really depends on what I'm targeting. If there's a lot of constipation, I go for the magnesium citrate. But if there are a lot of sleep disturbances and anxiety issues, then I'll use the magnesium glycinate form. 

So, I think it does depend a bit on what's going on. For zinc, I kind of go back and forth between the picolinate and the citrate. Some will say that the picolinate is a bit easier to absorb. I haven't found that clinically in my practice, but we do use both. 

Andrew: Yep. 

Elisa: For iron supplementation, I only use the bisglycinate form because it's just easier on the stomach. 
Andrew: Yeah. Much more gentle.  
Elisa: I don't one particular form of these chelated minerals that I prefer. I kind of look to see what else is going on and how else these other forms of minerals might be beneficial.  
Andrew: I have eight other questions, but we haven't got enough time to cover them today. Elisa, can I just ask, you'll be speaking at the 2018 BioCeutical Symposium. What will you be speaking… 
Elisa: Yeah. So excited. 
Andrew: Yeah. I can't wait to meet you in person. What will you be speaking about there and what can practitioners expect to take away after listening to you and learning from you?  
Elisa: My first topic is going to be really identifying the root causes for the prevention and treatment of autoimmunity in kids. And this is a topic that's really near and dear to my heart because I'm seeing so many children at younger and younger ages with autoimmunity. Even without any family history of autoimmunity. So, there is something going on and I did a tonne of research to try to figure out the different potential triggers and it is fascinating, fascinating. Some of the issues that I wouldn't have even thought of including food additives, and of course, the different prenatal factors.  
And so with this, I wanted to give practitioners more of a basic science understanding of what we know in the evidence can trigger autoimmunity specifically in children. And from there, look to see well, what are our intervention points for prevention of autoimmunity in kids? And if they have flipped over into developing autoimmune disease, what are the biggest therapeutic options that we can really target to really heal them and get them well. And we can absolutely heal them. 
You know, kids have had such a shorter history of garbage being put in them. 

Andrew: Yes. 

Elisa: So, it's not always easy, but it is easier than in adults, most adults, to really reverse and heal their autoimmunity and get them thriving again. 

So, that's exciting. And then the second session is going to be on PANS and PANDAS and looking at...and so I know we did a two-part podcast series, but in the talk, I'm going to dig in even more into the pathophysiology of what we know about PANS and PANDAS and really get into the nitty-gritty of how do we diagnose PANS and PANDAS? What are our treatment options based on what we know in the science right now about the underlying imbalances immunologically that are going on?  
So, hopefully, with this, they're going to be some interventions and treatments that many practitioners will not have access to like IVIG, which is fine. There's so many other interventions that we can do even without heavy duty pharmaceuticals that can really bring our kids with PANS and PANDAS very far, and even recovered.   
Andrew: Dr Elisa Song, the true measure of an expert is not what they propose their knowledge is, but their fascination, their curiosity with a subject, and indeed, their care. You are abundant in all three. Seriously, I can't wait to meet you and to learn from you. 
Elisa: Well, I can't wait to meet you and give you a hug. 
Andrew: Well, it will be reciprocal. So, I look forward to seeing you in April 2018 at the BioCeutical Symposium. And I think we'll be having a couple of resveratrol supplements there with your husband. 

So, thank you so much for joining us on FX Medicine today and really detailing some of the more critical aspects of autism, ASD and the spectrum disorders that surround them. Thank you, Elisa Song. 
Elisa: Oh. Yeah. Thank you, Andrew, for having me. 
Andrew: This is FX Medicine. I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook.

Additional Resources

Dr Elisa Song | Holistic Mama Doc | DSM-5 Autism Diagnostic Criteria
The Hannah Poling Case
Scientific American: Vaccine Injury Case Offers a Clue to the Causes of Autism

Research explored in this podcast

AIHW 2017. Autism in Australia.  

A4: Autism Asperger's Advocacy Australia. Autism prevalence in Australia 2015

Weintraub K. The prevalence puzzle: Autism counts. Nature. 2011 Nov 3;479:22-24


Other podcasts with Elisa include:


The information provided on FX Medicine is for educational and informational purposes only. The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional advice or care. Please seek the advice of a qualified health care professional in the event something you have read here raises questions or concerns regarding your health.


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Dr Elisa Song

Holistic mama doc, Dr Elisa Song is a holistic paediatrician, paediatric functional medicine expert, and mama to 2 crazy fun kids. In her integrative paediatric practice, Whole Family Wellness, she’s helped thousands of kids get to the root causes of their health concerns and helped their parents understand how to help their children thrive – body, mind, and spirit – by integrating conventional paediatrics with functional medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and essential oils.