Candida is a type of yeast that is commonly found to be a problem in children with Autism. It resides in the digestive tract and candida can get out of control and grow if the immune system becomes dysfunctional. Many children show significant improvement when their yeast issue is treated. Some children have a really huge problem with yeast overgrowth and anti-fungal treatment is crucial.
Fungus is a complex issue because they are present in our food, air and our digestive tract. Excessive use of antibiotics means that numerous bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotics also kill protective bacteria (probiotics) in the gut as well as the pathogens. Candida will spread when there are less good flora in the gut. A diet rich in sugar and carbs also feeds the yeast thus resulting in over-growth. Also, watch out for a `mouldy’ environment, mildew and fungus grows in dark, moist places – you may find it in air conditioning units, old carpets and growing in certain parts of our homes.
Fungal and yeast infection may reside in many parts of the body, however we commonly hear about thrush where there are white patches in the mouth or tongue, vaginal yeast infection (such as candida) or athlete’s foot. In our kids, the yeast issue is predominantly in the gut or digestive tract.
Urine tests may determine the presence of yeast/fungal overgrowth. However, historical findings (parents observation) should never be ignored, most parents can tell when our child has a yeast flare-up by both physical and behavioral signs.
Some of the more common complaints reported by parents are rashes, eczema (body, scalp), funky-smelling scalp, itching, redness, scratching, climbing all the time, ‘standing’ on the head (bending upside down), bloating, flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, change of smell in the stool (yeasty, bready, foul or sweet). Itching and redness may be perianal, genital or anywhere in the body.
Other behavioral signs of yeast issues are demanding behavior, noncompliance, giddy and silly behavior, aggression, inappropriate laughter, sleep disturbances such as waking up in the middle of the night and laughing, stimming, hands over ears, chewing, teeth grinding, brain `fog’, seemingly `out of it’, loss of energy, cravings for carbs & sweets.
A combination of diet, probiotics, digestive enzymes and anti-fungal treatment is required. A doctor will need to prescribe a course of anti-fungal medication, commonly Diflucan, Nystatin or Sporanox. Diflucan seems to be the most effective in our kids. Most children require a long period such as a month on anti-fungals, a short course will not be effective. Some children will need anti-fungal treatment several times throughout the period of recovery because yeast & fungal overgrowth tends to reoccur.
A diet rich in carbs and sugar will `feed’ the yeast, so cutting down on carbohydrates and sugar is crucial. Reducing fruit & juices in the diet may be necessary. Yeast will feed on any form of sugar, irregardless if it’s organic honey, organic brown sugar or organic juice. Sugar feeds yeast, and it’s very addictive. Exposure to molds and fungals should be minimized, so check your home thoroughly for hidden sources.
During anti-fungal treatment, you will find a period of regression in your child; this is called the die-off period. The die-off reaction (also known as the Herxheimer reaction) shows that the treatment is working! Also, your child will probably have an incredible craving for sugar & carbs. This addiction to sugar is the body’s reaction to feed the yeast. Some of the behaviors of yeast die-off include irritability, lethargy, hyperactivity and stimming. Your child’s Autism behaviors will seem worse. Some parents report headaches or bowel cramps.
If it gets so out of control, you may need to cut back on the medication or `mop’ up the toxins with charcoal. Giving your child activated charcoal is one of the best ways to control yeast die-off. Charcoal absorbs the toxins that are released during the yeast treatment and will help to flush it out of the system.
Maya tested low for fungal & yeast, but her behavior at times just screams out Candida. She would climb everything, furniture, windows, cabinets and she would hurl herself of it jumping onto the hard floor. We could never keep our guard down, within seconds she’d jump on the edge of the sofa, jump down and I had visions of broken legs and limbs. She would scratch her bottom till it was red, she’d scratch her back till it bled. Occasionally we’d see big great spots on her face or body. She’d pick and bite her toes incessantly. She’d bend over with her head on the floor often, we thought she was looking at us upside down. Our doctor and I discussed Maya’s test results as well as her behavior. We made the executive decision to go ahead with anti-fungal treatment.
We are now on our 2nd course of anti-fungal treatment, her die-off reaction has not been as horrific as I expected it would be. Maya’s climbing has much reduced, her dare-devil feats of jumping off great heights have thankfully ceased and even though she’d pick at her feet at times, it has reduced greatly. Candida will be a pesky little monster that we’d have to deal with from time to time, if untreated it will go on to be a great big monster of a problem, resulting in more Autistic-like behaviors.
Jenny McCarthy’s son Evan had such a huge problem with Candida, and one of his core treatments was anti-fungals. They had to undergo several courses of anti-fungal and his doctor went all out to help Evan fight it. In fact, they underwent what is affectionately known as the Anti-Fungal Parade in DAN circles. And that was the key to his recovery.