What happened to my autistic son?

Edward P. Reilly reilly at pogo.den.mmc.com
Wed Oct 4 18:33:38 EST 1995

I have an 8 year old autistic son, David.  In the summer of 94, he 
learned all of his subtraction facts and had a healthy start on his 
multiplication facts.  Even though David is autistic, he is a very 
bright kid.  He was able to do both carry and borrow, add and subtract 
three digit numbers.  In the fall, all of that was wiped slick.  It 

At first, we thought it was because when he went into the second grade, 
nobody was doing any of that.  He simply forgot it.  But for simple 
forgetting, the expectation is that he will relearn it with the same 
facility that he learned it before.  Not so in David's case.  He has 
regressed to the point where he has to count on his fingers if he wants 
to do addition of two numbers that are greater than 10.  It is 
heartbreaking.  We know something has happened.  But we do not know 

It turns out that this is not the first time that this has happened.  
When David was four years old, he had a wonderful memory for spelling.  
I recorded over 100 difficult words that he could spell, including ones 
like refridgerator.  This also disappeared.  Now that he is in third 
grade, we know that he has difficulty with words that are much simpler 
than that.  

Naturally, we took him to a pediatric neurologist to see what he could 
learn.  All that he could find was in a MRI.  One of the structures in 
the cerebellum was "statistically small"  This seems typical in autistic 
adults.  They usually either have one that is small or in rare instances 
they have a structure that is badly swollen.  In those cases, the 
subjects were profoundly autistic.  (Fortunately those cases are rare.)  

At this time, researchers are saying that autoimmune disease may cause 
some autistic cases.  This seems to fit the data I have seen on autistic 
children and if it fits as a cause of autism it probably fits my son's 
case as well.  My problem is that the neurologist and my son's 
pediatrician do not know how to show one way or another if my son 
suffers from autoimmune disorder and if he does, what to do about it.  
There is nothing in his desk reference about how to prove it one way or 
the other.  

How do I prove it one way or the other?  And if it turns out to be 
autoimmune disorder, what can I do about it.  And what can I do to help 
prevent it?

Ed Reilly

reilly at pogo.den.mmc.com

Thank you in advance.  

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