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By Daniel J. Vance

Karyn Seroussi's son has recovered from autism.

In 1995, son "Miles" (a pseudonym) seemed perfectly normal until 15 months, when suddenly he quit talking and withdrew into a shell. He began dragging his head across the floor, walking on his toes, making odd noises, repeating certain behaviors, and screaming. A team of doctors diagnosed autism, which most medical professionals consider a neurological disorder.

"Now he's in fifth grade and doing great," said Seroussi over the telephone. "He hasn't had special education since age 3. He is fully mainstreamed and indistinguishable from peers. When he was 7, the Univ. of Rochester tested him for seven hours and found no autism."

She believes "Miles" recovered from autism due to a casein- and gluten-free diet. Originally, she tried the diet only to halt his chronic diarrhea. However, within three days she noticed an extraordinary improvement in his social "connectedness" and behavior. By 22 months, he was talking again.

In 2000, Seroussi appeared in Parents Magazine and authored "Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and PDD: A Motherís Story of Research and Recovery." She and author Lisa Lewis began the Autism Network for Dietary Intervention. They say many cases of autism result from an immune-system dysfunction that affects the body's ability to break down certain proteins and combat yeast and bacteria. On their website, they cite dozens of research studies to support claims that autism is biologically based.

Seroussi isn't alone. In the '60s, Dr. Bernard Rimland began the Autism Society of America and Autism Research Institute. His well-known 1964 book "Infantile Autism" defined autism as a neurological disorder. Today, he believes autism is a biological and immunological disorder.

In 1995, Dr. Rimland founded Defeat Autism Now! (DAN), which today has more than 300 doctors and medical professionals involved. Testifying in 2000 before a House Committee, Dr. Rimland suggested the mumps/measles/rubella vaccine could trigger autism. DAN's understanding of autism goes beyond just food intolerance of gluten and casein to include nutritional deficiencies, intestinal dysfunction, toxins, and microbial overgrowth. The doctors of DAN are at odds with a medical majority that for 35 years has been treating autism as something else.

As for implementing a casein- and gluten-free diet alone, Seroussi said, "Doctors prescribing it tell me more than 80 percent of their patients see results. These DAN doctors realize that autistic children aren't behaviorally disordered. They're physically ill."

For more, see www.autism.com/ari, www.autismndi.com or www.danieljvance.com