Changing the Course of Autism
by Bryon Jepson
Bryon Jepson’s book, Changing the Course of Autism, is intended for parents and physicians of people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including autism, Aspergers, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Rhett’s Disease, and Child Disintegrative Disorder. The title infers Jepson’s intent, which is also restated in the introduction; he wants parents and mainstream physicians to view ASD as a medical illness, and not simply a behavior disorder. Being a self proclaimed ‘mainstream physician’ himself, Jepson admits to a deep initial skepticism regarding the biomedical treatment of autism. In the preface, he illustrates his eventual acceptance of autism’s complex framework through his second child’s ASD diagnosis, and his wife’s subsequent investigation. After doing an enormous amount of his own research and literature review, Jepson now views autism as a combination of genetic predisposition, and environmental toxin exposure, that result in a muddled metabolic process, which affects multiple organs.
Jepson seems to understand that his book will need to withstand intense criticism. While many people, including doctors, are becoming accustomed to treating autism with dietary changes, many more people are not comfortable with the other assertions Jepson makes throughout the text. Perhaps in premeditated response to this doubtful reception, Jepson has loaded his book with medical studies, including up to 100 sources per chapter. In an attempt at transparency, Jepson also discloses when he is speculating, and when his research is incomplete. Doing his best to explain complicated biological processes before dissecting the relevant studies, Jepson tries to make good on his goal of including parents as well as physicians in his target audience, but much of this background seems fairly in depth for the average parent.
After establishing the generally-accepted-but-not-entirely-verified genetic component of autism by citing twin studies, Jepson takes the genetic factor a step further. He points to a significantly higher rate of other immune system abnormalities in people and families with autism. After connecting these immune-system imbalances with many of the DSM-IV characteristics of autism, Jepson challenges the medical community to take the list of behaviors in the DSM-IV and list them as symptoms of a more complex disease in medical textbooks.
As if this challenge was not enough, Jepson also revisits the issue of immunizations, mercury, Thiomersal, and autism. In reviewing several pivotal studies which refute the link between autism and immunizations, Jepson references faulty methodologies, fuzzy or even distorted statistics, and a damning conflict of interest as grounds to re-examine the topic. After drawing parallels between the symptoms of too much mercury, and the symptoms of autism, Jepson cites several small immunization studies with radically different conclusions as further support of his cause.
Towards the end of the text, Jepson describes some specific interventions to aid the digestive, and autoimmune health of people on the autism spectrum. While detailing various vitamin and mineral regimes, Jepson reminds the reader that his book is not intended to be a step-by-step guide to fixing a person with autism. Jepson also encourages parents to be their unique child’s advocate, and beseeches physicians to be open-minded about viewing autism in multiple lights.
APA citation: Jepson, B. (2007). Changing the course of autism: A scientific approach for parents and physicians. Boulder, CO: Sentient Publications.