Studies Show Zinc-Copper Rhythmicity and Zinc Levels May Play a Role

A study released in Science Advances shows that baby teeth can show the relationship between copper and zinc— levels present both in-utero and post-natally—can be a predictor in diagnosing autism.

According to study authors, “Using novel tooth-matrix biomarkers that provide direct measures of fetal elemental uptake, we developed a predictive model to distinguish participants who would be diagnosed with ASD in childhood from those who did not develop the disorder.”

The study authors used laser ablation to take 152 samples from each tooth. Children while in utero and in the early months of life, add a new layer to their baby teeth before they erupt. Researchers found that using these samples, they could predict with 90% accuracy which children would later develop autism.

Earlier studies such as one from Australia that links zinc deficiency to communications issues in brain cells. Children with autism frequently have zinc deficiencies. Now researchers must determine if zinc supplementation will help and if so, at what levels. Too much zinc can be toxic.


Our Daughter Lives Here Too!

Just in case you didn’t notice it in my bio, my husband and I have an eight-year-old daughter. It often seems like siblings get left out when you are dealing with one autistic child but two–whew! We have to make an extra effort to notice her achievements and praise her for things she has accomplished.

She is currently completing her requirements to get her red belt (decided) in Tae Kwon Do. After that, she’ll test for her “pre” black and begin training with the black belts. She’ll test for her black belt when her instructor feels she is ready but it’s usually anywhere from six months to a year.

Gabs began taking TKD when she was 4. We enrolled her because we were scared to death she would walk off in the mall (which she did do) or walk up to a complete stranger and begin a conversation like they were her best friend (which she also did). It was stressful to shop with her because I couldn’t really look at the merchandise in my hand–I was too distracted trying to keep an eye on her! I don’t know how many times I found myself holding an item that I didn’t like yet couldn’t remember picking it or even truly seeing it for several minutes.

Of course after Peter and Nathan’s diagnosis, the developmental pediatrician (who did not meet Gabrielle) made a comment in passing about Gabrielle likely having mild Asperger’s. When she did Peter’s evaluation, she had asked about Gabrielle’s development and then as we talked, she began asking very pointed questions such as “do you feel that she is often emotionally immature but seems to grasp concepts that seem beyond her years” to which we would laugh and say “oh, yeah, you’ve pegged her.” I thought the doctor was thinking ADHD– Gabrielle is certainly very “busy” and always has been– but at Nathan’s diagnosis the doctor offhandedly said something about Gabrielle having mild Asperger’s. You can imagine my shock. I realize that this was not a true diagnosis (it helps to have the patient present) but it has given me insight into Gabrielle’s behavior (such as trying to be pals with perfect strangers or her obsession over tornadoes) that I have gotten frustrated with before. Now I try to redirect Gabrielle and help her use her intelligence to overcome her fears or to establish goals.

Is it Asperger’s? I don’t know. But if it is, she’s grown past the worst of it and this gives me hope. As the boys’ brains mature, they may “outgrow” a good portion of their autism as well.

More Potty Training and Staying Positive

Peter actually told me he had to go “potty” today. Again, this is a big deal– so far I’ve had to ask him, he hasn’t initiated anything. We’re making progress but this is often how Peter does things. Once he achieves a level of confidence in something he doesn’t look back.

We are very fortunate that he doesn’t regress or hasn’t shown any tendency to do so. Our biggest struggle so far (and there have been many) seems to be with his allergies. He has the stereotypical autistic look (frail upper body, often dark circles under the eyes, etc.) and the wretched laundry list of allergies. So far, Peter is allergic to soy, beef, potatoes, birch, oak, walnut, grass, dustmites, cats, dogs and. . . I’m forgetting something.

Nathan tried to say “fish” again yesterday and if you haven’t already guessed, we have a fish and two cats — and yeah, I know, with Peter’s allergies, etc., but the cats are getting old so we won’t be replacing them when they go.

I know it is hard to stay positive but I can say this– a positive attitude helps you more than anyone else. I have to look at what the boys are doing not at what they aren’t doing. I have to think about what they will be able to achieve even with autism. And yes, I want to know why this happened but I think we will find that even when (and I say “when” because I think it will happen one day) we find out the whys, it may not lead to a “cure” for our own children. We may only get an explanation that could help others.

I try to remain positive because I can already see how the past year has aged my face more than the past ten years. I try to remain positive because I can’t wallow in self-pity. We have only a few short years to try to modify our children’s behavior significantly and as much as possible. I can’t waste this time feeling sorry for myself. If Peter and Nathan are still very noticiably autistic when they are teenagers I may cave in then but I have to allow myself hope (even when I’m terrified of doing so). Hope breeds hope and it is the emotion I draw on the most to get me through each day and each week.