>As part of our Autism journey, we have met many people especially in the medical and special education field. Some have been incredibly helpful, many were not. And because Autism is such a complex disorder, we often have to resort to second opinions. So, like most Autism parents here, we have had many many consults with doctors and other professionals. Preparing for a 1st consult is important, not only do we sit together to discuss our child, we are also trying to size up the person sitting across from you, whether this is the right person to guide you in the journey towards recovering your child.
Apart from medical degrees and other professional diplomas, we also base it on their bedside manner, how they treat our child and us, whether they are respectful or condescending, if they have the right attitude, whether they think they know best and disregard the parents’ opinions. Most of the time, the professional that listens to the parents are usually the best for us. A plethora of degrees and certifications doesn’t impress us as much as willingness to listen and learn, being open minded and considerate. They don’t have to be my best friend, but they have to be willing to work together with me. I don’t want someone to steamroll and override me, neither do I want someone who will blindly follow my wishes and not contribute to the occasion. Though we are not medical experts, we are the experts where our children are concerned. We know our child best and a good doctor will listen and take into account your opinions and your views.
For some reason, we have consulted with a total of 6 biomed doctors in the 2 years since we implemented an intensive biomedical treatment for our 2 girls. Not to mention countless other professionals including mainstream medical doctors, naturopaths, homeopaths, psychiatrists and psychologists, behavioral specialist and special educators.
When seeing a new Biomed doctor for the 1st consult, I would prepare the following to ensure that we get the most out of the time provided. Most consults are 1 hour though some doctors require even up to 1.5 hour to 2 hours for the first consult. Though some parents initially balk at the seemingly long time for a consult, I usually find that it’s never enough. Most parents are used to very quick doctor’s visits, ranging from 5-15 minutes. Usually, the wait in the waiting room is usually 5 times longer than the actual consult! The irony is, when observing other patients in a pediatrician’s waiting room, the parents and child gets swished in and out within 10 minutes with either vaccination shot or antibiotics. Whereas if we come in and mention that we would like to put my child on the GFCF diet or do a simple fungal infection test, we get lectured by the doctor for an entire hour!
For the first consult, you must bring your child along. It usually involves a thorough discussion of the patient and family history. His symptoms and behaviors, medical history such as vaccinations, diseases, chronic medical issues and any hospitalizations. The doctor will also ask you about the pregnancy and birth. I advise you to bring all medical and psychological tests done just in case the doctor might find it useful. During the first consult, the doctor also conducts clinical/physical examination, what they look for depends on what issues are suspected during the course of the discussion. Time is also required to obtain test samples, discussing treatment options, how to prioritize treatments, regarding supplements dosages and how to go forward.
Some parents prefer to let the doctor lead the session, satisfied to answer any question posed to them. Other parents come armed with a long list of their own questions to ask the doctor. Though it may seem that the 1 hour consult is a long time, we need to use the time wisely. I suggest you do some reading up beforehand so that we don’t waste the time with simple questions such as “What is Gluten? What is Casein? Can my child eat this or that?” Also, reconsider some of the questions you may have, think whether the foreign doctor would really know much about certain obscure traditional herbs or whether a certain local dish is suitable for your child.
Do prepare a list of questions beforehand in case you forget. Communicate to the doctor your priorities, for us it was sleep and constipation, for others it was speech, for some it was aggressive behavior. Don’t forget to bring pen and notebook or, as I do, my trusty iPad to jot down my notes. During consults when my husband is not able to attend, I can easily email the notes to him. I frequently refer back to these notes later on.
The clinic will probably provide an ice pack for chilled supplements if any. But if you are not going straight back to your hotel room afterwards, or you are facing a long drive back to your home or you are flying back, I suggest bringing an insulated bag for the chilled supplements just in case of delays.
Some parents buy more than 20 supplements (which I do not recommend) thinking that they can save on a trip and delay the next consult, but in the end, the plan usually backfires. Some parents insists on getting more supplements from the doctor, thinking more is better. For me, I prefer to buy only enough supplements that I think I can safely introduce or implement within the time frame before the next consult. On average, 6-7 supplements for the first consult is a comfortable figure for me, however this is highly subjective. Some doctors do not supply any supplements at all, some parents prefer not to buy from the doctor.
Remember, please introduce each supplement slowly, keep track with a daily log, in case of side effects or unsuitability, you can quickly identify which supplements caused it. When first starting with Biomed, go cautious. We cannot predict which supplements will backfire on a child, some kids have trouble even on vitamin C, cod liver oil or probiotics, these are all basic supplements. Starting at half or even a quarter dose, I would slowly increase the amount every 3 days. However, some parents prefer to give all at once and later should any unbearable side-effects occur, they will deal with it when and if it comes. It is up to you how you wish to introduce new supplements. However, when it comes to medications eg pharmaceutical non-natutral antifungals, antibiotics, antimicrobial or antivirals, then it’s recommended to straightaway go to the full dosage.
Please check beforehand if the doctor accepts credit card payment or only cash. The consult is generally 1 hour, but check beforehand how long is the first consult going to be. I would add an additional 20-30 minutes to collect test samples if required as well as checking the supplements given and verifying the price or dosage. I suggest bringing toys, game consoles, drinks and snacks or even portable DVD players to occupy your child during the consult as well as during the trip.
Typically, the doctor would recommend several tests. However, this is not a definitive list as each child is unique, thus tests would depend on the child’s unique issues. If cost is an issue, you can ask the doctor on staggering the tests perhaps, prioritizing the ones recommended to do first etc. Also, different doctors have different preferences on what tests are required. These are the list of the common 4 tests required; however some doctors may request for additional tests depending on the child’s needs;
Basic 4 tests-
1. IgG Food Intolerance Test- this is a bloodspot, requires a prick on the finger
2. Comprehensive Stool Analysis- stool sample.
3. Organic Acid Test- commonly referred to as OATS test, need first morning urine sample
4. Hair Analysis- hair cut from the roots, minimum 1 inch long
Additional tests depending on child and doctor’s practice-
1. Urine Prophyrin- urine sample, do not expose to light
2. Blood tests – Complete Blood Count, Kidney & liver function, IgE etc.
There are ot
her tests required, but generally these are usually done at a much later stage when you are ready to implement Tier 2 and Tier 3 protocols.
Some kids are not toilet trained or non-compliant. Some kids can’t urinate or poo poo on demand so I suggest you bring urine and stool samples with you. Please collect the samples at home, bring 2 x urine, 1 x stool. Bring 1 urine sample for OATS from first morning void, if it’s too diluted it may be rejected. In separate container 1 urine taken in the dark, anytime is fine. Cover this container in foil, do not expose to light in case you need to do urine prophyrin test. For stool test sample, you must stop antibiotics, probiotics, antifungal, digestive enzyme 1 week prior. If there’s not enough time, inform the doctor and bring the complete test kit home and send it to the lab directly from home. Make sure samples are not contaminated eg stool in urine. Please fill all containers till full just in case.
Samples must not be more than 3 days old. Place in sterile containers (get from local clinic or labs) and keep in the fridge. Transport it in insulated bag with ice pack. Otherwise, get the complete test kit from the clinic, fill it up at home and courier to the labs directly. If so, you must explain to the nurse you are sending it yourself to USA from Malaysia or your country. Otherwise they won’t give you the complete test kit which also includes the customs declaration form. The Hair Analysis requires hair to be 1 inch long minimum. Please wash hair the day before with organic shampoo, as you don’t want the hair to be contaminated from chemicals, thus skewing the results. The blood draw may be required in some cases eg the doctor will advise to do kidney and liver profile test for kids with suspected liver damage.
If your child is not already on the GFCF diet, be prepared to do so as the doctor will definitely ask you to start it asap. Most doctors also recommend to go soy-free and egg-free too, even before the test results come out. In fact, you can start it now. Discuss with your doctor how often you are expected to consult and if you need to bring your child to each consultation. Some doctors prefer to see you every month, some prefer every 2 months. Commit to seeing the doctor regularly for consults, include the trip expenses into your budget. By showing your commitment to the doctor and to his protocol, the doctor too will in turn show you his commitment, often trying harder and harder for your child. I strongly suggest getting a 2nd opinion at least once a year. However, it is too soon to decide to change to a new doctor after just 1 consult. Usually, I suggest 2-3 months to see whether his protocol is suited with your child before you decide to change doctors, unless of course you have very strong reasons to dislike him or her.
I hope this helps in preparation to seeing a Biomed doctor for the first time. The information above is mostly relevant to the current Biomed practice in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. The first consult is usually the most stressful I find. Even after doing many consults, I still need time to prepare before each and every consult, wanting to make the most of my face to face time with the doctor. I have learnt from each and every biomed doctor I consulted with. I wish you and your child all the best and hope that you find the consult fruitful.