Certain symptoms of autism, including agitation, anxiety and self-abusive behavior, are the result of an aberrant immune response. Down-regulating the immune response may decrease or eliminate these symptoms.
I did a literature search and found that my hypothesis was supported by the medical literature. I spent the early part of 2005 further researching this hypothesis and potential treatments. I discovered an interesting avenue of potential treatment in an area of research known as the “Hygiene Hypothesis”. This hypothesis states that asthma and potentially other autoimmune disorders are associated with increased levels of hygiene. A group of doctors and scientists in Iowa (Summers, Weinstock, Elliott et al) refined this hypothesis by carefully examining the epidemiological data. Their conclusion was that the dramatic increase in autoimmune disorders over the past several decades was the result of elimination of helminths (worms) from the human gut. These worms, which evolved in concert with the human immune system, have been completely eliminated in most developed countries. They developed several clinical trials for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease that involved introducing helminths in the form of porcine whipworm eggs (Trichuris Suis Ova, or TSO) to patients with these diseases that had not responded to available treatments. There were three published studies in mainstream medical journals; a safety study, an open label larger study, and a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Each of these studies showed very dramatic results. In many cases people disabled by their disease became symptom-free while taking this agent. The mechanism of action of TSO was thought to be down regulation of the human immune response, which was exactly the mechanism I was looking for. With this in mind, I prepared a research paper incorporating my hypothesis and the potential use of TSO for the treatment of certain symptoms of autism. I presented this paper to Dr. Hollander in 2005 and suggested that we obtain TSO and try it on my son.