Autism And The War On Alternative Medicine
By Alexander Ostroff
I recently visited my good friend Lajos “Lalee” Hugyetz, a legendary Hungarian kickboxer and MMA fighter. Lalee’s accolades in the world of competitive fighting are truly mindboggling. 5-time World Kickboxing Champion; 7-time European Kickboxing Champion; 5-time European Cup World Kickboxing champion; 4-time USA Kickboxing Champion; 31-time Hungarian kickboxing champion, and Guinness Book of World Records holder. Outside the ring Lalee is a gentle giant and a master instructor who runs a successful personal training business in Los Angeles. His clients range from regular folks to celebrities and everyone in between. Lalee also works with kids and teenagers who have disabilities. One of his best students is Armand Stevens, a second generation Hungarian-American teenager who is autistic. I thought this was very inspiring and asked Lalee to put me in touch with Armand’s mother, Ildiko Cseto Stevens.
I arrived to Ildiko’s home not knowing what to expect. Up until then I’d heard sound bites here and there about the whole vaccine-autism controversy. My understanding of autism was mostly limited to movies and television. All my preconceived notions were swiftly dispelled when I met Armand. He’s a handsome and extremely fit young man, polite and welcoming, a bit shy, though no more than any teenager would be if a new person came to visit. Little did I know how much improvement he made since childhood, all guided by the wisdom and love of his dedicated, seemingly indefatigable mother.
Armand disappeared and I was lead to the kitchen by Daniel, a burly war veteran. After serving his country for five years in Afghanistan and Iraq, Daniel returned home a war hero and received two Purple Hearts. He went on to earn a degree in nursing education and became an expert in helping autistic and disabled adolescents.
Ildiko Cseto Stevens was waiting for me at the kitchen table. Autism is an emotional issue, so I was prepared for a challenging interview, but she was surprisingly candid about her life. Ildiko is a successful attorney with a practice in Beverly Hills; a self-made woman who’s learned how to transform challenges into positive results. She’s an elegant and classy lady with a calm, soft-spoken manner; the kind that comes from having great inner strength and hard earned wisdom.
Ildiko says that Armand was the perfect Gerber baby. A friend from Germany had warned her about the dangers of MMR vaccinations. She made a decision to postpone the vaccinations until she could obtain more information. Ildiko’s husband was unsure and questioned the merits of her friend’s warning. He decided to consult his physician son, who strongly advised that Armand get vaccinated as soon as possible. Needless to say, this created a lot of tension between husband and wife. According to Ildiko, her husband eventually made a unilateral decision and took Armand to get vaccinated without her knowledge. After receiving the MMR vaccination, Armand went into a seizure. From age two Armand didn’t speak or make eye contact. Taking him out anywhere became nearly impossible, as the sensory overload would provoke meltdowns. Ildiko has absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Armand’s autism was triggered by vaccinations. Glutathione is the body’s main detoxifier and is created through methylation. Healthy children are able to naturally detox. Toxins never break the blood-brain barrier, so there is no brain damage. Research has shown that 90% of children on the autism spectrum have impaired methylation, meaning their bodies are unable to effectively remove toxins like heavy metals, pesticides and chemicals from the body.
“I wish I had known about these tests when Armand was a child,” said Ildiko, referring to special DNA and chromosome tests that can determine if the body has an impaired detoxification process. “I would’ve never let him get vaccinated… Parents must use their own judgment. There are pediatricians who will agree to a lighter schedule of vaccinations, phasing them out—no more than one vaccination a year—or even not to vaccinate at all.” Ildiko recommends doing a detox protocol before and after the vaccinations. She also warns that parents should never allow a physician to vaccinate a child whose immune system is down, such as from a cold or flu.
Those blessed with never having to deal with more than an annual check-up tend to have romantic misconceptions of how the American healthcare industry works. Perhaps such ideas are influenced by poplar television shows, where scholarly looking medical sages in sleek lab coats go to the ends of the Earth for their patients. In reality, patients often find themselves becoming pinballs, fired into a world of inimical moving parts.
Ildiko recalls the time when she took Armand to see a prominent pediatric neurologist at a major medical center in Los Angeles. They waited two hours in a tiny room with no windows and no toys. By the time the neurologist showed up, Armand was overwhelmed by anxiety and red eyed from crying. The physician scrutinized Armand’s inflamed appearance and ordered him to undergo twenty-four-hour observation, while tied down to a bed and with electrodes on his head. Ildiko reluctantly agreed.
Once again they sat in the waiting room, this time for half a day. Ildiko even brought a sleeping bag in order to be next to Armand. When it was finally time to do the test, she was shocked to discover that there was a sick child in the test room. Enough was enough. No more testing, it was time to go home. The pediatrician stormed in and launched into a diatribe.
“There are physician healers who are at the highest level of their profession. Then there are those who just practice medicine,” said Ildiko, recalling the early years when she had to navigate through the dark, foggy waters of the healthcare system. “Doctors who push multiple vaccinations in one day are not intentionally trying to hurt the child. They’re following what they’ve been trained to do. A parent must be strong and listen to gut feelings when making a decision. Read a lot. Ask around. Always do what feels correct. A diploma on the wall from a good school doesn’t mean the doctor is good, doesn’t mean they do their research and are open to new ideas.”
The social challenges associated with having an autistic child can easily overwhelm parents. “Every family with autistic kids have their share of horror stories, said Ildkio. “There are some very evil people out there, but there are also angels.” Traveling with an autistic child is particularly challenging. Ildiko recalls the time when they had to fly out of state to see a specialist. It was Armand’s first time on a plane and he had a meltdown shortly before takeoff. One of the passengers raised hell and threatened to sue the airline if Armand was not removed. They left and took another flight, on a different airline, which turned out to be a blessing. “US Airways were very nice,” said ildkio. “Their entire crew did everything possible to make Armand feel comfortable. They understood that this trip was a chance for healing and that I couldn’t ride in a car with Armand.”
Ildiko and her husband divorced when Armand was nine years old. Spouses strive to work together seamlessly to maintain unity and happiness while caring for their autistic child, but it’s a 24/365 job. Maintaining emotional and mental stamina throughout what is essentially a life time commitment of care requires all kinds of strength. Sometimes spouses disagree over what is the best form of treatment for their autistic child. A confluence of social and interfamily issues can build up over time, until love is no longer able to override stress and a marriage starts to crumble.
Although Ildiko has moved mountains for her son, she knows that Armand’s treatment milestones of eye contact and speech would’ve been unattainable without her faith in God. “When you’re a spiritual person and when you enter another dimension through prayer or meditation, and ask God for help, it will be given,” said Ildiko, who is Jewish. “It has been given to me every single time I asked during the healing process. This is something that works for me and I believe in it.”
Ildiko recommends that parents choose carefully when seeking therapy for their autistic child. “Therapists can be leaches,” said Ildiko. “There’s speech therapy, occupational therapy, this therapy, that therapy—therapists have built lucrative careers off of autistic children. ABA is good but it only works for a period of time”, said Ildiko, referring to Applied Behavior Analysis. “Armand would do six hour sessions every day, until he plateaued. I was always there watching carefully. I combined the therapy with floor time, play time and more fun.”
The Son-Rise Program has helped Armand tremendously. This special program was created by Barry (Bears) Neil Kaufman and Samahria Lyte Kaufman, founders of The Options Institute and the Autism Treatment center of America. “These children must be reminded that they are perfect. There’s no point in reminding them that they are different,” said Ildiko. “The Son-Rise program uses a very loving and positive approach. Autistic children understand everything that is going on, they just can’t communicate. They would like to do what we want them to do, but they cannot. If we try to force them, they will withdraw even more. That’s why it’s important for the learning environment to be full of love and praise. If they feel relaxed and are having fun, then they will learn.”
By the time Armand was eight or nine, other than his autism, he was a super healthy child. “Except for gluten and casein, I don’t follow any absolute restrictions,” said Ildiko, discussing Armand’s diet. “He doesn’t eat shrimp, which has a lot of metals. The smaller the fish the better it is. Less seafood is best. I built up Armand’s taste buds by giving him healthy foods. For dessert he likes fruits. I introduced him to healthy veggies. We don’t use sugar. Raw honey is good. Nuts and seeds are good.” Armand also takes various supplements like B-12 and probiotics. Ildiko explains that gluten and casein have an opioid molecular structure. Most autistic children only eat a few items like bread and milk. When Ildiko first instituted a gluten free diet for Armand, he went cold turkey. “I didn’t know that I should’ve gone slowly. Armand got withdrawal symptoms like headaches, dark circles, aggressive behavior, insomnia and all that. It takes about nine weeks for the opioid substance to be out completely.” Ildkio emphasizes the importance of detoxing the body. “The toxic metals and viruses from the vaccinations damage the gut and cause a lot of stomach problems,” said Ildiko, adding that chelation therapy and neurofeedback have been part of Armand’s treatment protocols. Although conventional medicine tends to reject these types of alternative treatments, Ildiko has been through it all and knows what works and what doesn’t work. Armand has made incredible progress using alternative medicine. No doctor can deny this fact. Ildiko is quick to point out that alternative treatments must be respected and properly administrated by well-trained professionals. Most of the reported dangerous and failures stem from improper application.
Ildiko remembers when she took Armand to see an allopathic pediatrician for the first time. When she mentioned that Armand’s autism was triggered by vaccinations, the pedestrian hit the roof. He told her that this is total nonsense. A couple of years later she and Armand went to see him again. By then Armand was able to speak. The pediatrician was flabbergasted. “I’m very sorry I was rude to you,” he said, eyes welling up with remorse, “It was I who was the ignorant one. I’ve seen hundreds of cases of autism and never, ever have I seen such remarkable improvement. Whatever you have done and are doing with Armand, I want to learn.”
Exercise is a critical part of Armand’s routine. “I believe that the body is the temple of the soul,” said Ildiko, who used to be a competitive gymnast in Hungary. “Even when Armand was a baby I started doing baby gymnastics with him. He’s great on the trampoline and very good at swimming and horseback riding.” Presently, Armand is focused on martial arts and working out with weights. At first, Ildiko was afraid to let Armand train in Taekwondo with Lalee Hugyetz. She was afraid the movements would be too complex for her son to handle. Armand’s exceptional memory assuaged her worries. He was able to pick it up faster than any of Lalee’s regular students. Armand is currently working on getting his green belt.
One huge sign of progress has been Armand’s amazing ability to self-regulate. “Armand is a self-healer and does whatever he needs to do to make himself better,” said Ildiko. “He knows homeopathic medicine, how to eat properly, how to get good sleep. Most importantly, he knows how to heal through the power of love, prayer, meditation, and the belief in the higher self.
Then there’s the issue of household toxins. “Autistic children are extremely sensitive,” said Ildiko. “Get rid of as many toxins from the household environment as possible. For example, just changing the cleaning supplies, like the cleaning agents and the solvents. Use all natural products for laundry. Most people don’t realize how much toxicity there is in the things they buy and use.”
Armand was home schooled until he became verbal. He currently attends Vista Del Mar, a one hundred year old Jewish orphanage in Los Angeles. A few years ago Vista Del Mar went into special education. It’s a unique school with a unique program that allows autistic students to receive a well-rounded education. “Armand is athletic but he’s also very creative,” said Ildiko. “He paints, plays piano, he loves to sing and entertain. Vista Del Mar is built around entertainment and athletics, next to the academics. They have extensive athletic facilities, including pool, basketball courts, and tennis. The temple serves as a theater.”
The vaccine-autism debate brings attention to the ongoing war against alternative medicine. Most doctors continue to question and attack anything that is not approved by the conventional medical establishment. Ildiko doesn’t deny the merits of medical science, she simply refuses to allow a highly dysfunctional healthcare system to dictate her son’s future.
Overall, there’s a lot more awareness and acceptance of alternative medicine among Americans. Getting access to it is another matter. Some health insurance policies cover acupuncture and a few other kinds of naturopathy, but even then it’s usually for an insufficient amount of sessions. Alternative medicine is not a feel good pill. It takes time to work. A patient should expect to spend more time with a naturopath than a physician, which is good thing.
Skepticism of alternative medicine is not unfounded. There are charlatans out there who peddle unproven treatments that are a dangerous. Proper research and common sense are the best defenses against bad apples, which exist in every profession. In truth, the majority of naturopaths are knowledgeable and caring professionals. The medical establishment criticizes alternative medicine, yet seems to ignore the following statistics:
According to Dr. Gary Null and colleagues in their March 2004 article entitled Death by Medicine, the number of people having in-hospital, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs to be 2.2 million per year. The number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections is 20 million per year. The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million per year. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million per year… Conventional medicine kills 783,936 every year. That means that medical errors are the leading cause of death in the United States. Keep in mind that this is from 2004. Needless to say, things haven’t improved.
Part of the vaccine-autism debate has to do with the use of thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative used in some vaccines. In July 1999, from an abundance of caution, various health organizations and vaccine manufactures agreed to reduce or eliminate thimerosal from vaccines. The medical establishment claims that there is no convincing evidence that low doses of thimerosal are dangerous. This may or may not be true. How do we know what the health effects will be in twenty or thirty years from now? Consider the history of lead, which used to be added in “low doses” to a plethora of consumer products.
Clair Cameron Patterson was a brilliant American geochemist who discovered that there were increased levels of lead in the food chain and the environment. Patterson started his push against lead around 1965. Lead was officially removed from all gas and consumer products in 1986. That’s how long Patterson had to fight the top notch scientists hired by the lead additive industry. The pro-lead scientists probably knew Patterson was right about the dangers of lead. But truth is always despised by all except those who seek it. In the wrong hands science offers countless nooks and crannies where seeds of deception can be planted. The pro-lead scientists didn’t need to prove to Patterson himself that he was wrong; they were paid to persuade layman decision makers like judges and politicians, and the public, that Patterson was wrong. It took decades for Patterson’s work to finally result in lead being removed from fuels and other consumer products.
When someone takes on the powerful medical establishment, their only chance of success is indefatigable persistence, fearlessness and the ability to get people to actually sit down and think for themselves. Relying only on proof to force the medical establishment to reverse their entrenched positions on various health issues is like pitting a military reenactment battalion against a real military battalion.
Government and the healthcare industry work together symbiotically. Their motivation is painfully obvious; the healthcare industry ranks as one of the most profitable industries in America. If we factor in all the healthcare subsectors, then it’s by far the most profitable industry on the planet. Their army of lobbyists have Washington by the testicles and the recipients of this ever increasing grip are enjoying every moment. It is one thing to present scientific research for consideration. It’s quite another to shove it down parents’ throats as unquestionable truth. The fundamental problem with the vaccine safety studies is that they’re directly or indirectly controlled by the companies producing the vaccines. The fact that researchers have been discovering more and more bias in medical publishing is hardly a revelation. The conclusions of these studies are released to the world via medical journals and magazines. Most doctors and all health agencies accept these conclusions as gospel and use them to make decisions.
The pro-vaccine medical establishment cites numerous studies concluding that vaccines are safe. In summation, all these studies claim there is no evidence that vaccines trigger autism, and that complications arising from their administration to children are extremely rare. Rarity proves existence.
These vaccine studies are sophisticated operations conducted by the best and brightest, using the most advanced research methods available. That’s fantastic, except they only show positive results that support the pro-vaccine positon. This creates the appearance that science was used to figure out how to arrive at a mandated pre-exiting conclusion.
After many individual studies were concluded over the years, the medical establishment decided to conduct a meta-analysis. This form of study aggregates and examines the results of multiple, earlier studies. By increasing the size of the research study sample, scientists can generate more accurate conclusions. The meta-analysis concluded that vaccines do not cause autism. Not much of surprise since the earlier studies used to conduct the meta-analysis arrived at the exact same conclusion. Apparently the pro-vaccine medical establishment felt that a huge meta-analysis would sound so profound and authoritative that no one would ever bother notice that it was actually completely redundant.
What about a massive official study of children who were not vaccinated and did not get autism? There is anecdotal evidence derived from a number of physicians around the world who claim that out of the thousands of unvaccinated children examined, none of them had autism and all were far healthier than vaccinated children. A number of surveys have also arrived at the same conclusion.
Studies have shown that a decrease in vaccinations caused an increase in preventable diseases among children. However, none of these studies provide any details about what conditions these children were living in and how their parents were taking care of them. More importantly, these studies fail to point out all the unvaccinated or lightly vaccinated children who have never got sick, or did get sick and fully recovered. Nature gave us an immune system for a reason. Otherwise human civilization would’ve died out a long, long time ago.
Until truly objective medical research can provide definitive, indisputable proof that vaccines are completely safe in the long-term and do not trigger autism, then there is no bases to say that the viewpoints held by the anti-vaccine movement are false. Whether or not parents chose to vaccinate, the fundamental point is that no public or private entity has the right to embargo or revoke their right to make this choice. It may be for religious or spiritual reasons, not believing the research, or other personal reasons—it really doesn’t matter. The American people are not obligated to explain themselves to government or the health care industry. It’s supposed to be the other way around.
In the 1980s, the vaccine manufacturers were forced to endure expensive lawsuits over injuries caused by childhood vaccines. The manufactures claimed that these lawsuits were preventing them from developing new vaccines. In 1982, the pharmaceutical industry told Congress that they will deprive the nation of vaccines unless they are provided with liability protection. In 1986 Congress enacted a law that gave them this protection, making it extremely difficult for vaccine victims to obtain federal compensation in the U.S. Court of Claims.
On October 1, 1988 the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) went into effect. According to its website, the VICP provides a streamlined approach to compensate children and their families in the “very rare instance that a vaccine causes injury.” It is a no-fault system, paid by a small tax on every vaccine. The VICP has already awarded millions of dollars to families, and there are over five thousand pending cases. Here’s the kicker, all of the medical records and other case details are unpublished.
Considering the immense resources of the pharmaceutical industry, it’s hard to believe that any amount of lawsuits could impede their ability to develop new vaccines, not to mention that creating more vaccines would equal more profit. It appears that the vaccine manufactories were so scared of the cluster you-know-what of lawsuits, that they defecated their pants and blackmailed the government into creating VICP. All of this leads to one obvious question: if it is true that vaccines are not dangerous and do not trigger autism, then why did all of these legal events take place? If the families’ lawsuits were baseless, the issue would’ve died out long ago. Obviously these lawsuits were not baseless, otherwise millions of dollars in damages would not have been awarded. Everything happens for a reason.
Nevertheless, it’s unfair to vilify the entire pharmaceutical industry. Modern pharmacology has enabled many people to live productive and active lives. The pharmaceutical industry employs some brilliant and caring researchers. Sometimes their work sees the light of day and ends up helping a lot of people. Other times it conflicts with the purgatives of the C-suite.
Ildiko says her upcoming book and documentary film will be educational, but will also focus on the beautiful and positive memories of raising Armand. “All of these children have the potential to be healed and improved to a point where they can have a meaningful life,” said Ildiko. “The biggest challenge to healing these children are their parents. I would like to help parents change their attitude, thinking process, emotions toward this so-called incurable problem. Nothing is incurable.”
Ildiko emphasizes the importance of positive thinking. “God has given me this challenge for a reason,” said Ildiko. “The experience has taught me so much about life and health. Without it I wouldn’t be the strong woman that I am today. Having an autistic child is a tragic situation, but what we think about is what we create. Healing can only start to take place when we weed out every negative thought and learn to be happy and in the moment. Our thoughts are powerful energy. Most people live in the past and never get over it. But the past is gone. The future may or may not happen, no one knows. I’ve made the choice to be happy. No experience can make me feel unhappy. This is the only way to heal.” The strength of any nation is intrinsically linked to the health of its people. The health of the American people continues to rapidly decline. Healthcare costs and medical errors continue to skyrocket. Something is clearly not working. No public or private entity can fix it for us. Medical technology has made great progress, but there will never be a magic pill for perfect health. The American people must find the courage to step back and consider all the options that exist for both preventing and treating health problems. Enlightenment does not originate externally. It comes from choosing to be open-minded and then putting in the intellectual work necessary to obtain the answers we seek.
Contacts Lajos “Lalee” Hugyetz www.lakickbox.com