The past couple of days has perfectly personified our lives living with a child with autism. We had an unbelievable win but were quickly brought back to reality in less than a day. When you choose to treat autism holistically like we do, the ups and downs seem to occur much more frequent and sometimes within the same day. Our newest treatment tool is the Ion Cleanse system.
After 6 months of use, it has helped Heather and I see some incredible progress with our son. However, at the same time, it may also be triggering some pretty rough times as well. This is my report of what we are seeing after 6 months of using the Ion Cleanse to treat my son’s autism and help him detox his body.
6 Month Ion Cleanse Progress Report
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote this guest post for my friend Penny’s blog, Our Crazy Adventures in Autismland. In this post, I wrote that we hadn’t seen any “huge” gains after almost 6 months of using the Ion Cleanse. My, what a difference 2 weeks can make!
Engagement is Up
One of the things I said in Penny’s blog was that he is more aware. It’s hard to quantity scientifically, but Ethan just seems to be more present. He’s looking around and noticing things more. He is singing along more to his movies. When I say singing, I mean he’ll say the last word or 2 of various lines in the song.
The past 2 weeks, I have really noticed that Ethan is much more engaged in many aspects of his life. I’m measuring engagement by how much he wants to interact with people and how he’s interacting with the world around him. He’s not just on his iPad all day or in front of the TV. Ethan’s been walking around the house looking for stuff to do. For example, he pulls out markers and asks to color, or he will go down to the basement and start swinging on his swing. He is also enjoying putting puzzles together again.
Seeking Connection with People
The really exciting thing is that he wants to be around other people more. One of his Grandmas commented that he seemed to be seeking her out. For example, Ethan was holding her hand as they walked around Purina Farms (a local place that has small animals, dog shows….), and then, he switched to Grandpa. Later, he chose to join the group and wait in line to pet a rabbit.
He Just Wanted to be With Everyone
It really appears like he wants to be around people instead of in his room with his iPad & movie. A clear example of this happened on 4th of July weekend. We were at my Mom’s house for a game night with several other family members. Altogether, there were 15 teens and adults playing Catchphrase. If you’re not familiar with this game, it can be quite a loud game, and it’s made even louder when my rambunctious family is playing. Typically, during game nights, Ethan hangs out in Grandma’s room secluded in quiet refuge. He has never ventured out unless he wanted a snack or needed a new movie. I was absolutely shocked when he walked into the living room and sat on my lap. Then, he went over to Mom and sat by her too. I could not believe it! He was happy, aware, and alert. He just wanted to be with everyone, and he hung out with us for nearly 20 minutes. It was awesome!
He surprised me during 4th of July fireworks as well. He was engaged and I couldn’t believe how patient he was with this sparkler. It took forever to light. I don’t think a year ago I would have let him hold it all by himself, but I trusted he would remain calm enough and he did!
We are seeing Ethan being more playful lately too. He will intermittently initiate play with me, but recently he’s even playing with his siblings too. He loves to splash his little sister in the pool. The other day she came outside to join him in the pool. The second he saw her, you could see the mischievous smile appear on his face. He looked at her, and waited for her to get climb in the pool. Then, he started splashing her as he was just cracking up laughing.
Gavin, our 9-year-old, is loving being able to play with his big brother too. They will sometimes wrestle and chase each other just the way brothers should. The amazing part is that Ethan is aware of what he is doing. Ethan is much bigger & stronger than Gavin and could easily hurt him. However, he has been more in control of how hard he is roughhousing and is careful not to hurt his little brother. Just a few days ago, Ethan actually was the initiator as he looked at Gavin, smiled and said, “chase-chase”. How great is that?!?!
Communication is Getting Better
Ethan’s communication is getting much better too. He’s asking for help more often instead of tantruming or shouting. For example, when he wants his movie changed, he’s not just screaming in his room anymore. He comes out, hands us the remote, and says “find the remote” (his way of asking for another movie)
Receptive Language is Off the Charts
Perhaps the most measurable of all the progress we have seen thus far is in receptive language. If we took the time to collect data on it, I am certain we’d see a huge spike on the graph. He’s now able to follow 2-step commands more frequently and sometimes 3-step.
Table Work is Better
We often work with cards since he loves them so much. The other day I was working with him, I sat out 3 cards at random and then asked him questions about the cards. I was asked him things like, what would be good in the rain? He handed me the card with the umbrella. I asked him to hand me something yummy, and he gave me the card with a cookie. Then, I asked for something yucky and he gave me the card with broccoli. I asked him to hand me the opposite of Go and he gave me the stop sign. This shows that he is able to process the question, and then focus on the 3 or 4 images in front of him to find the answer. This is a vast improvement from just a few weeks ago.
We follow a 3-day protocol for the Ion Cleanse. A round is 3 consecutive days on and then 2 days off. The challenges typically only occur on day 2 & 3 that we use the Ion Cleanse. This has been consistent over the past several months, and it tells me the behaviors we are seeing are related to a detox reaction and not something else.
Return of Self Injurious Behaviors (SIB)
Sadly, we’ve seen a return in self injury. Triggers for SIB can vary, but it’s mostly brought on by OCD or anxiety. Although, nothing will set him off faster than hearing his 2 year old sister cry. When SIB strikes, he starts biting his arms & banging his head on the wall or floor. This was common years ago, but it has reared its ugly head once again.
Aggression & Meltdowns Increased
Like SIB, aggressive behaviors used to be a big problem years ago especially when he was testing a new therapist. Unfortunately, on the bad days, his aggression can be directed at his siblings or his Mom. Lately, the walls of our house have taken a beating too. He’s kicked at least 15 holes in the walls throughout the house, but I guess that’s better than that anger being directed at the family.
Late Night Cries
A couple nights a week, Ethan will scream and cry at bedtime. There doesn’t seem to be a reason why as he has a movie in his room, and he has not demands. Sometimes, he’ll just cry loudly in his room, but then when we come in, he is just fine. I don’t really understand why, but I imagine it has something to do with him not feeling well.
Anxiety and OCD are the culprits behind nearly every problem behavior we see. Usually, we only see anxiety on days 2 & 3 of Ion Cleanse days. I’m working on figuring out a way to better support his body to ease the burden of detox. I know he needs to detox, so we’ll keep pushing. However, I’m going to do all I can to try and support him through supplementation, ibuprofen, massage, exercise, & more play. Whatever it takes to help him feel better, I’m going to try and do.
In my 30-day progress report, I told the story of an anxiety free day at the zoo. Sadly, our most recent trip to the zoo was the exact opposite. Ethan was riddled with anxiety & OCD.
Once at the Zoo, he immediately wanted to ride the carousel. Ethan said, “horse, horse, horse.” When mom said yes, let’s walk over to the horses, he erupted. He wanted the horses right then, right there. He threw his iPad on the concrete and begin biting his arms and scratching his Mom. Heather got him calm and they walked to the carousel. When they got there they had to buy tickets, and again he erupted into a similar meltdown.
After riding the carousel, Ethan immediately wanted to ride the train. A very similar sequence occurred as they walked to the train, had to buy tickets, and then once again had to wait for the train. Only this time, he chucked his iPad 10 feet and then tried to bang his head on the concrete. Luckily, Heather had ahold of his shirt and was able to pull back lessening the blow to his head.
Finally on the train, there was a random screw. Apparently, that screw was NOT supposed to be there and the the OCD kicked in.
Dangerous Ride Home
This day ended with an extremely stressful drive home. We live about an hour from the zoo. The first 10 minutes were so challenging that Heather thought she’d have to stay at her Mom’s house (which was much closer) that night. Ethan was crying, biting his arms, banging on the car window, and he even attacked Mom as she was driving. A dangerous and heartbreaking situation to say the least. Thankfully, they did make it home safely and everything eventually calmed down.
The awful day described above might have been discouraging if it were not for the awesome day we had just a day prior. The day before the terrible Zoo experience was the most amazing day for Ethan. He was happier than I had seen him in quite some time. It began when Ethan saw me playing with his little brother and ran in to play too. A few hours later, I was working on this very blog post at Panera when Heather sent me a text that brought me to my knees.
This Picture was Worth a Million Words
Ethan had gone to the basement by himself, but left behind his iPad. That’s not unprecedented but it is rare when he leaves his iPad behind. A few minutes later, Mom realized he was really quiet down there, which typically spells trouble. She came downstairs to a wonderful surprise. Ethan was playing. That’s right! He was playing independently, and he was playing with toys to boot! It’s been years since he has played with toys appropriately. He found 2 firemen and was having them walk through the doors of the firehouse. Heather said, it seemed like he was even saying “come on, come on” as they walked through the door too.
I received these 2 pictures, and it immediately took my breath away! No words or further details were needed. I started crying right there in the middle of Panera. Even as I write this right now, I am fighting the tears. It may seem like such a small thing, but kids with low-functioning autism do not play with toys and my son has not for years and years. It just fills me with so much hope for what may come next. I was so moved I had to hop on Facebook and record this video live. I did my best to keep it together, but as you can see, I was overcome by the moment.
A Wonderful Day
The amazing day continued as Ethan initiated play with Gavin again and played with me in the pool. I was blown away by his communication on this day as well. He was happy and even went to bed at peace too. I should mention that this day was Day 1 of his 3-day Ion Cleanse round, The day before was an off day and it was pretty great too! Unfortunately, day 2 & 3 brought about the really awful moments outlined earlier. This tells me that the Ion Cleanse is doing something that is a bit hard on his body and causes him not to feel great. The gains we see on off days tell me that whatever it is doing, it’s for the better. We’ll figure out ways to support him and make him more comfortable on those “on” days.
Never Heard of the Ion Cleanse?
If this is your first time hearing about the Ion Cleanse, I’ve written several pieces that cover the topic in depth, but I’ll give you a very quick intro here. Essentially, the Ion Cleanse is a tool for detox. It’s uses electric currents to stimulate the release of stuck or stored toxins in the body that may be interfering with optimal biochemical functions.
Blood and hair testing has revealed high levels of various toxins such as mercury, lead, antimony, barium, and a several others as well. We have attempted a variety of detox methods over the years. Some have had no effect, and others were too hard on my son’s body.
We are working very closely with my son’s doctor in order to ensure effective & safe treatments. You may want to do more research or speak with your own doc before beginning a detox program for yourself or your child.
Food is Medicine
The foundation of our autism treatment is always diet first. We have Ethan on a low sugar, low carb paleo-type diet in order to keep yeast overgrowth in check. Yeast can quickly become a problem when detoxing especially if you’re detoxing metals. Yeast holds on to metals quite well, so when metals get pulled away, the yeast gets agitated and can cause a raucous. Check out this post to learn the full details and thought behind our “paleo plus” diet.
The Ion Cleanse promises a more gentle detoxification with little side effects. Right now we are seeing some of the negative side effects that come with an intense detoxification program. However, it is much more manageable, and seems to be less than more powerful therapies like chelation. The benefits we’ve seen this far is giving us motivation to continue with this treatment protocol.
One Last Good Story
I have to leave you with just one more story to show you how well Ethan is communicating. This past weekend, we went to the local pool. Ethan asked to go on the slides, which he called swings, but hey, he asked nicely nevertheless. There are 2 big slides: a red and a yellow. Once at the top, he said “No” to the yellow slide. Mom asked him if he wanted to slide and he replied, “red one, yes” and then he slid down the red slide. Once at the bottom, he looked at Mom and said, “swing, fast”. Again, he called the slide a swing, but the cool thing was that he was trying to talk about his experience. He went fast down the slide! Simply, Awesome!
For a more complete picture of what the Ion Cleanse is, how it works, and to read my earlier progress reports, check these posts:
Posts I’ve written for other sites:
- Generation Rescue: 30 Days Using the Ion Cleanse Detox System: A Dad Shares Son’s Progress
- Our Crazy Adventures in Autismland: Learning About the Ion Cleanse Footbath for Detox in Autism
I will continue to share full updates periodically in new upcoming posts and smaller updates through Facebook and Instagram. Subscribe below and I’ll email you when new posts are available!
*This is an affiliate link* However this post contains my open and honest thoughts and beliefs behind the Ion Cleanse system. Should you decide you’d like to try it for yourself, I would receive a small commision from A Major Difference. Order Here
What are your thoughts on the Ion Cleanse System? Are you still skeptical or intrigued?
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