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This is our update 1 year after using the Nemechek Protocol. We began in November 2018; I wrote updates at 11 weeks and 6 months. I am not an affiliate nor compensated for my review; just a parent who has used the protocol.
Who is Dr. Nemechek
Dr. Patrick Nemechek, D.O. is a former HIV researcher, that today focuses his expertise on the Autonomic Nervous System. He believes that when the Autonomic Nervous System doesn’t function properly, that our brain is no longer able to fully control our cells, organs and inflammation. By reducing inflammation and feeding the brain, he believes that everyone has the opportunity to improve or restore Autonomic function. There is more information on his website.
How does this help Autism?
There is a school of thought and increasing research that suggests some of the challenges associated with Autism are due to a gut-brain connection. Personally, I see many co-existing issues that my daughter experiences, most markedly, stomach pain. I also have experienced a blatant lack of interest in treating co morbid conditions from doctors who simply blame every symptom she has on “Autism.”I have experienced a blatant lack of interest in treating co-morbid conditions from doctors who simply blame every symptom my daughter has on "Autism." Click To Tweet
Is it a miracle cure?
Dr. Nemechek does not refer to this protocol as some fly-by-night miracle cure. Some parents report incredible gains, and improved scores on the ATEC, along with reversal of various symptoms. Likewise, there are parents who report limited gains after some time using the protocol. Being that Autism is a spectrum, as well as the associated conditions and levels of inflammation, I suspect that results vary when using the protocol.
Why we started the protocol
We started the protocol after reading Dr. Nemecheck’s book, and interacting with parents who used it. Additionally, the protocol uses all-natural ingredients and is a non-invasive way to tackle my kiddo’s digestive issues. Her doctor is aware we are using the protocol, and has no concerns.
Overview of the Protocol
I recommend that you read the book, but in a nutshell the protocol consists of 3 simple things to reduce inflammation, support the brain and heal the gut: inulin fiber, certified extra virgin olive oil and fish oil.
The Nemechek protocol helps to heal the gut through the use of inulin fiber, and reduce inflammation with certified extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), while feeding the brain with fish oil. The book explains that many processed foods today use Omega 6 oils (like safflower oil, vegetable oil, and sunflower oil) which are inflammatory, and it’s imperative to avoid them. The book goes on to say that once the gut is healed, there won’t be a need for a special diet (like GFCF), and that developmental delays will catch up slowly but surely with healing.
A year later
It’s been a year since we began the Nemechek Protocol, and we have seen slow, but continued improvements.
Memory has continued to improve. She remembers important papers for school, and permission slips that need to be signed. Additionally, she brings home dirty gym clothes (that used to stay in school for weeks and weeks), and reminds me when her RAH (reading at home) logs are due, without me asking. This kind of memory and self-initiation has continued to improve over the last year.
Making friends and being accepted by others has become important. Since starting the protocol she’s asked for play dates and attended a successful sleep over at a friend’s house.
She is more aware of social interactions, and is conscious about being perceived “different” by peers. When she comes home, she’ll tell me about interactions that are bothersome, and seeks to understand how to resolve/address them. A year ago, I *might* have gotten a “Good” in response to “How was your day?” Even asking a different way, like “What was the best part of today?,” I’d usually get a one-word answer like “Lunch.”
Awareness/Acknowledgement of Others
Her younger sister had a birthday recently, and she asked to go to Target to pick out a gift. The fact that she (1) Acknowledged her sister (2) Knew it was her birthday and (3) Genuinely wanted to purchase a gift, understanding that it is a social norm is something I have not seen prior to starting this protocol.
If you’ve followed this blog, you know we found successful ways to get our daughter to sleep through the night, after years of sleep troubles. [In fact, our most popular download is our one-page Roadmap to Sleep]. I was thrilled to see her sleep through until 6 and occasionally 7 am. Gone were the days of waking at 1 or 2 a.m. for the day.
Since starting the protocol, however, her sleep seems more restful. She is sleeping in well past 6 a.m. On the weekend, she’ll sleep until 9 a.m. Some weekend days, she will even decide to take a nap when she feels sleepy — and it doesn’t impact her ability to fall asleep at night.
My daughter started getting reading help about the same time we began the protocol. She was reading at a kindergarten level. The school, due to her cognitive deficits, was reluctant to start 1:1 reading intervention. [I write about our experience here]. With a combination of intervention, practice, and what I believe is improved memory as a result of this protocol, she’s improved 2.5 grade levels in one year. Although this may not be completely related to the protocol, improved memory is helping her retain skills she’s learned without experiencing regression.
This has continued to improve. What I mean by improve, is that she is initiating it, such as asking to take a bath. Additionally, she’s doing more self-care on her own with prompts (rather than needing hands-on help). And, she brushes her own hair and teeth, most times without prompting. She even asked for a mirror to put in her school locker.
I see an improved ability to make connections from information. For example, she hears a conversation and asks smart questions based on what she’s heard. In the past she would ask the same question in a conversation [scripting] and now she is asking meaningful questions.
Improved Standard Test Scores
She takes our state’s alternate assessment. For English Language Arts she jumped up to level 4 (from 3 the previous year) which means she meets the Alternate Achievement standards with distinction. She scored 100% on Determine Critical Elements of Text; 88% on Construct Understandings of Text; and 85% on Integrate Ideas and Information from Text. A year prior, these scores were 40%, 24% and 27% respectively.
Certainly the reading help has contributed to these scores too, however, this represents a significant improvement in these areas in a relatively short amount of time. I believe there is a synergy with adding extra help at the same time supporting brain function through the protocol.
Our daughter follows a gluten and dairy free diet , and has for years. It helps her avoid stomach pain that occurred after eating either. According to Dr. Nemechek’s book, once the gut heals, special diets won’t be needed.
Although we have not abandoned a gluten and dairy free diet, we have relaxed it. In other words, on special occasions, she has dairy ice cream or a regular piece of cake. In the past, any dairy re-introduction would result in a stomach ache. Since the protocol, she’s enjoyed homemade yogurt and ice cream without any ill effect.
We will continue to use this protocol. It’s easy and inexpensive. Moreover, olive oil and fish oil are both health additions to our diet. Olive oil, a main staple of the Mediterranean Diet, has long been studied for it’s beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, there have been studies related to the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids for ADHD and neurodevelopmental disorders, as found in a good, quality fish oil. The idea that we’ve seen some slow-but-steady developmental gains is just icing on the healthier-diet cake.
For more information, Dr. Nemechek has a website, blog and many YouTube (free) videos with great information. I strongly recommend getting the book as a first step. The book explains the proper dosing based on the age of your child, along with the preferred therapeutic brands of olive oil and fish oil. I also recommend joining the (free) Facebook Group, as it offers easy-to-read files to support the protocol. Also, you’ll interact with other parents who are actually using it, and happy to share their experiences.
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