End the overwhelm.

Get a head start with my researched and field tested tool kit so that your child can thrive too.

End the overwhelm.

Get a head start with my researched and field tested tool kit so that your child can thrive too.


A Child’s Journey to Autism Recovery: The Parent Perspective

A Child's Journey to Autism Recovery: The Parent Perspective

Autism recovery is a controversial and complex topic, “recovery” looks different for every child as we know each child's developmental path is unique and requires an individualized approach. 

While there is no known “cure” for autism, many parents, practitioners, or clinicians are turning to holistic and integrative therapies to help children improve their health and in turn reduce or eliminate symptoms of autism. 

“There is no way I’m going to accept that answer.” Terri Hirning, integrative wellness coach and mom from Arizona, said that after she was told they should be prepared to look for a residential program for her son when he was diagnosed with autism because they felt he would never live independently. 

In this episode, we will explore the topic of autism recovery and provide tips for parents, like Terri, who believe this journey is possible. 

We will share the inspiring autism recovery story of Terri’s son, Matthew, who recovered from autism, once non-verbal, he is now 19 and a high school graduate; loves to talk and use his great vocabulary, and is an aspiring writer!

It is all because Terri decided, “This isn’t going to be how my son’s story ends.” and so her child's journey to autism recovery began.

Chances of Autism Recovery

Although many people and practitioners say that chances of recovery from autism are not within reach, Terri as a parent, did not let people tell her what is possible for her child because she firmly believes that they can achieve anything.

That is why Terri openly shares the chances of recovery from autism and what factors can affect recovery and how recovery means different things to different people. Every child’s health and outcomes are unique.

Noticing Autism Recovery Signs: Can You See The Change?

Autism recovery signs may be subtle but they're certainly there. In this podcast episode, Terri and I share important insights on tracking your child's progress, signs that your child is on the journey to recovery, and potential triggers that might hinder their progress towards an independent thriving life.

How Nutrition Plays A Huge Role In Autism Recovery Stories

The role of nutrition in autism recovery stories, such as Matthew's, cannot be understated. Personal narratives of overcoming autism often highlight the transformative effects of dietary changes and nutritional therapy. 

Every journey through autism is unique, presenting individual challenges and outcomes. Therefore, it's essential to understand that no universal dietary solution guarantees recovery. 

However, countless anecdotes and research indicate the significant impact of proper nutrition on improving symptoms and promoting overall well-being in autistic individuals.

Autism recovery stories, like Matthew's, provide much-needed hope and connection for parents and caregivers and underscore the critical importance of nutrition in autism recovery. 

These autism recovery stories remove the stigma surrounding autism and foster a broader understanding and acceptance of the condition.

Watch the full episode now:

Things You Will Learn
  • The concept of an autistic child “recovering” and the factors that can affect this.
  • The range of holistic and integrative therapies available for autism recovery.
  • Expert tips for parents guiding their child through autism recovery.
  • Factors shaping an autistic child's ability to create a life where they are healthy, happy and thriving.
  • And much more…

Show Notes for this Podcast 

    • Is it Possible to Recover from Autism? (10:00)
    • The “sleep & language” injection that Terri swears by and wishes she had known sooner. (28:23)
    • How a “back patch” transformed Matthew’s social interactiveness and proactive speaking with other children. (29:47)

Resources and Links

Website: www.terrihirning.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/our_impossible_journey/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/terri.hirning

More about Terri Hirning:

Terri Hirning serves the autism and chronic illness communities as a mentor, educator, integrative wellness coach, co-author, summit host, and motivational speaker. It is the personal story of her son’s autism recovery journey that was the inspiration and motivation to move into the integrative wellness community to support others. 

Terri has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and then went on to complete a doctorate program in traditional naturopathy. She had an integrative wellness and detox coaching practice until 2020. She currently serves as Director of Marketing for New Beginnings Nutritionals and Business Consultant for Nourishing Hope/BioIndividual Nutrition Institute. 

She is co-author of The Thinking Moms’ Revolution book, Evolution Of A Revolution: From Hope To Healing. Recently, she and her son launched a podcast called Our I’MPossible Journey to share their story of improving the symptoms of autism and making the impossible possible. She lives with her husband Eric and two of their children in the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Tara Hunkin:
This is the My Child Will Thrive podcast. And I'm your host, Tara Hunkin, Certified Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and mother. I'm here to share with you the latest research expert advice, parent perspectives, resources, and tools to help you on your path to optimizing the health and development for your child with ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorder,

learning disabilities, or other neurodevelopmental disorders. My own experiences with my daughter combined with as much training as I can get my hands on, research I can dig into, and conferences I can attend, have helped me to develop systems and tools for parents like you who feel overwhelmed trying to help their children. So sit back as I share another great topic to help you on your journey.

A quick disclaimer, please keep in mind that the information provided is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat your child and is not a substitute for working with a qualified practitioner. This episode of the My Child Will Thrive podcast is brought to you by the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. You can sign up for free to watch 10 days of expert interviews and masterclasses at mychildwillthrive.com/summit.

Now on with the show. Hi everyone, welcome back to the My Child Will Thrive podcast. I'm Tara Hunkin and I am excited to have another episode of The Parent Perspective here for you today. I have a special guest, Terri Hirning, who is a mom just like the rest of us around here and some of the dads out there too.

But she's going to share with you her journey with her son. Like myself, Terri turned her life's work, her son, into her life's work in the community as a whole. So let's, let me just tell you a little bit more about what who Terri is and what she's doing now. Terri serves the autism and chronic illness communities as a mentor, educator,

integrative wellness coach, co-author, summit host, and motivational speaker. It is the personal story of her son's autism recovery journey. That was the inspiration and motivation to move into integrative wellness community to support others. Terri has a bachelor's degree in psychology and then went on to complete a doctorate program in traditional naturopath naturopathy. She had an integrative wellness and detox coaching practice until 2020,

and she currently serves as Director of Marketing for New Beginnings Nutritionals and Business Consultant for Nourishing Hope/BioIndividual Nutrition Institute, which both Terri and and I have participated in in that training, which is with Julie Matthews. She's also the co-author of The Thinking Moms Revolution book, Evolution Of A Revolution: From Hope To Healing. Recently, she and her son launched a podcast called Our I’MPossible Journey,

and you have to see how that's spelled journey to understand what that's about, to share the story of improving the symptoms of autism and making the impossible possible. And I think it's, I'm possible. I don't know, is that how you pronounce it?

03:11 Terri Hirning:
It is, the I'm Possible Journey.

03:12 Tara Hunkin:
I'm possible to journey. I love that. She lives with her husband Eric and two of their children in the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona. Thank you so much for joining us here today, Terri, I'm sure everyone's going to really enjoy listening to you and all the things you've learned on your journey with your son over these years.

03:31 Terri Hirning:
Thank you so much for having me. It's always a pleasure to see you and get to spend time even in this, you know, for this medium.

03:39 Tara Hunkin:
Yes, yes. I know the last time we saw each other in, in person was back last fall at a conference, so it is really nice, especially since Covid hit. It was nice to actually see you in person back, back in the fall.

So what, what I want to do is just let's, let's start from really from the beginning so people can understand where you started with your son and how, what your first feelings were when you first found out that your son was diagnosed with autism.

04:10 Terri Hirning:
Well, like a lot of families, we were confused. We didn't know what that was going to mean. And, and honestly back then, we're talking 15 years ago, we were not given, you know, any sort of great prognosis. We were told that we should be prepared to look for a home for our son, that he would not be able to live independently when he got older.

And it was very disheartening. There wasn't the research, there wasn't the information on some of the, you know, treatments and you know, holistic integrative therapies that are available. And so my husband and I looked at each other and I just thought, there's no way that I'm taking that as an answer.

And we just started searching and looking for anything that we could find that was rooted in science, but that gave us hope. You know, I think one of the biggest disservices to families is this idea that there is no hope for your child. That where they are right now is where they're going to be. And largely the messaging was around autism is genetic and so there's not much that you can do.

And of course now we understand the role of epigenetics, we understand the role of nutrition and inflammation and oxidative stress and how that triggers gene expression and can either hurt or help. And so it was literally step-by-step because you know, back then we didn't, we didn't have Facebook, you know, we had the old Yahoo groups and it felt very disconnected.

You know, here I was, this mom at the time we were not in Flagstaff, but we were still in Arizona. I'm just this mom in Arizona and you know, I think rates were one in 350, so it wasn't quite what it is now, but it certainly wasn't completely isolated at that time. There were still classrooms dedicated to children with autism and still not much talked about in terms of a biomedical treatment approach.

So I don't exactly remember what triggered me to say this isn't going to be the way my son's story ends, but that was basically the gist and we just, you know, took it from there.

06:34 Tara Hunkin:
No, I, I, you and I have talked about this before, very similar in terms of just, you know, not accepting the, the, the suggestions or the outlook or the, the options that were being given.
'Cause they weren't very hopeful for, you know, my daughter wasn't actually diagnosed on the spectrum, but, but still was not very hopeful that there was, with most neurodevelopmental disorders back then, no one was talking about the power of positive neuroplasticity and the impact of all these other root causes in terms of what we could do to,

to change their outcomes. So it was a lonely group. And I kind of smiled when you said the Yahoo groups. I actually forgot about the Yahoo groups, but that is true 'cause there really wasn't the same, same amount of information.

And now we probably have too much information in some regards as well, which is hard to filter through. Can you tell us a bit about what life looked like for your son when he was diagnosed? Like what his symptoms were and what he was experiencing at that time?

07:37 Terri Hirning:
Absolutely. First he had very limited verbal ability, so he had receptive language, but he did not have very much expressive language. He was not sleeping if we could get him to sleep four hours a night, two hours at a stretch. So even if he was asleep for four hours,

that was up three times, you know, in that, in that amount of time. He was a sensory seeker. So he put everything into his mouth, he climbed everything. He was not interested in engaging in play dates, you know, he was going through the person's Tupperware cabinet and you know, pulling out their forks and knives, not engaging with children,

very limited eye contact. I could be a foot away from him calling his name and you would think we actually had his hearing checked because we thought he may have hearing loss because he never responded. Lots and lots of meltdowns and he could not handle the sensory input. So, you know, I remember cheering the, the day we got to the point where after his preschool we could make two stops,

right? The grocery store and maybe another stop on the way home because even a trip to the grocery store was just too much and it would push him over the edge. So, you know, when, when people say, well gosh, you know, you say your son is recovered from autism, he must not have been that severe. You know,

looking back, he was very severe. He had almost, you know, no real reciprocal relationships. He has an older sibling and he has a younger sibling and his younger sibling is two and a half years younger. So she was crawling all over the place and starting to talk and trying to get him to engage and it was like he didn't even know we were in the room.

So, you know, those early days were filled with no sleep, lots of stress, trying to keep him, you know, safe in our home because when you have a child that doesn't sleep and you have a two-story home, you know, it, it strikes a certain amount of fear and makes sleeping for you nearly impossible as well. So it was a lot of stress and, and just worry at what his future would look like if we didn't change that trajectory.

09:59 Tara Hunkin:
And we're going to talk about what you did from there to get into where he is today, but let's talk about where he is today just so people can now get that idea of where that hope comes from in terms of what's possible.

10:11 Terri Hirning:
Well, and that's what I'm really excited to talk about. I mean, you know, it, it always brings a little bit of that PTSD to go back into that timeframe of where we were. Where we are now. He is 19, he graduated from high school last year. He just finished his first year at community college and he's finding his way. He, he still lives at home.

We're working on driving. He is very verbal. He is looking at wanting to be a writer. He is a prolific reader. He has such an incredible vocabulary. I have multiple people, especially family friends who come up and say, you know, Matthew, you post stuff on your Instagram about what books you're reading and your synopsis and your review. I have to look some of those words up,

you know, and, and I think not bad for the kid who was nonverbal when he was, you know, in kindergarten still. So he is just the most caring, kind, loving, young man, you know? And this is a child who I swear he didn't know he existed with others and I wondered if I was ever going to hear Mom, I love you,

you know, it, it chokes me up. But he is so loving and such a great person and he earned his Eagle scout, which is, you know, impressive for any kid, but let alone a kid who came so far to meet these challenges. He has just really exceeded any. And you know, that's one of the things that I want to tell parents,

don't let people tell you what is possible for your child because they really can achieve anything. And he just, even when he entered high school, he was still this very timid, you know, reserved young man and he has just blossomed and really become a role model and just a kind person. And everyone who meets him is just, you know, blown away at where he came from and where he is today. So I'm so proud of him and the man that he has become.

12:30 Tara Hunkin:
That's amazing. It really is amazing. And it is, it's so, it's so wonderful when we can have those conversations where we can say, look how far we've come with like the gains that he made and you made together for him so that he could be become the person that he, he he wanted to be.

You know, a lot of it, this is where we talk about the fact that the behaviors come from the symptoms and the the physical things that are happening for them, or the nervous system dysregulation from the disruption. So let's talk about, so you started from the, the diagnosis of autism and all of those things going on when he was four. At what point did you discover the ability to do, do things like manage his lifestyle factors to help influence his health?

13:19 Terri Hirning:
One of the most critical conversations I had was with our occupational therapist who happens to be a very close friend of mine. We met in a mom's group and her specialty was, you know, children with autism. And so he had not even gotten a diagnosis,

we just were in that place, right where she shows me we're at playgroups together, he's not at all interested in interaction. She's seeing all of the signs through her OT eyes, right? And she as a friend mentioned, you know, you should start looking at, you know, things like wheat and dairy and MSG and artificial colorings. And at that time we ate a very standard American diet,

you know, all of the things, all of the little cookies and crackers and biscuits and lots of wheat and lots of dairy. As a matter of fact, I used to joke that he would rather drink milk out of his little sippy cup than actually eat food. And it was absolutely true. And, and you know, it wasn't until after that I understood the mechanisms driving that,

you know, selective eating. So I started to dive down that little rabbit hole and at the same time I found an amazing integrative physician who specialized in autism and I began seeing him and we tested everything. We tested urine, blood, stool, hair, just to get an understanding of what might be going on biomedically. And like you mentioned, you know,

I'm not interested in a debate about the diagnoses or acceptance because I love and accept my son 100% unconditionally. But if I have a child that has underlying biomedical issues, just like if they had blood sugar dysregulation, I would seek to support their body and their biochemistry in a way that's going to allow them to flourish. And for me, that's what autism recovery means.

It's not about changing my child, it's about removing the obstacles that were in his way, that were preventing him from developing these different things. And so we just started picking things apart at like an onion, right? Peeling back the layers. And the first foray was really diet. And that's where I met Julie as a client. Matthew also had very lots of food allergies,

gut dysbiosis, so that was also driving his feeding behavior, right? These little critters that, you know, overgrow in the gut based on, you know, many factors. My son was a C-section and you know, could have been other factors as well, but those different things going on in his belly were contributing to him only wanting to eat, you know,

graham crackers and drink milk and eat the starchy carbies. And so we worked with Julie to address, you know, food intolerances in general, but also high oxalates, which he also had. And it just started expanding out from there, you know, all of the different therapies and options based on what he needed, right? And, and that's one of the things that's really important.

There is no one diet for autism, there's no one therapeutic protocol for for autism and it really has to be based on what your child needs. And so that's what we did. And not everything was a win, right? We had regression, I am very detail oriented, so I kept a, a very detail log every day of everything he ate,

everything he drank, how many bowel movements he had. We did a brushing protocol to calm down his sensory system. How was he in therapy? How did he sleep? His mood, like everything. And that way when we brought in whether his physician, you know, suggested a prescription medication or whether we were bringing in a supplement, whether we were tweaking his diet,

I could change one variable and then I can chart what was a win and what wasn't a win. And it also maximized our consults, right? Let's be honest, that's not cheap to do this journey. And I wanted to be as efficient and be able to work with our physician as effectively as possible. So being able to tell him, Hey, when we did this, we saw changes in sleep or changes in stool or changes in behavior, either good or bad. And that led us down the next pathway.

18:17 Tara Hunkin:
There's, there's so much going on there. Well, what I love about that though, Terri, is of course you're speaking the, my language completely. Because within the My Child Will Thrive Toolkit, which people can get for free are tools that you,

'cause I did the same thing in terms of tracking everything. And what we always talk about is that those details are, are gold for your practitioner. If you've got a great practitioner you're working with, they will take that information and and analyze it and it will help you make those next best decisions for your unique child. So it's so great to hear that you instinctually did that right from the the get-go because as you said,

it's, it is about, we all have limited resources, whether that's time or money or energy. It's exhausting to go through this process. It's a lot of work for everybody involved. So we want to make sure we're getting there as quickly as we can 'cause we are, we're all going to make mistakes along the way, but we learn from them by collecting that data. So that's really amazing to hear that you did that right from the get go.

19:21 Terri Hirning:
Trying to keep myself sane. Right? Let's be honest, when you are doing so many things, it's hard to keep track, right? Like, I can't even remember necessarily what I had for breakfast some days is if it's a really busy crazy morning and to look back and go, wait, when did we start this supplement? There's no way you're going to remember. Let's just be honest.

19:41 Tara Hunkin:
Oh yes, it, it's impossible. And then especially if you have more than one child, or in some circumstances people are caring for other generations of the family, parents and everything else. So when you have all of that going on, you can't possibly keep it all straight.

And it really does make a great big difference is like, you know, you said it exactly how you said, whenever you're bringing someone new in or you're revisiting what you have been doing, and especially when you do find that you have a regression feel like you're going backwards, it's if you have that information, that data that you're collecting about all the things you've been doing and what happened on each of those days.

Because then you can start to pick apart along with your practitioner, what really might be driving that change that you're seeing. Whether it's a positive change or, or a not so positive change. So it's, it is so, so important. Are there, so what are the things that you wish you knew at the beginning that you now know fundamentally that you've learned along the way?

20:45 Terri Hirning:
Gosh, this is such a great question. I guess fundamentally, and you know, it's, it's by no fault of anyone, right? It was where we were as a community. I would've started earlier, you know, there, there was so much time where the clues were there, and again, part of it was the time we weren't diagnosing kids at two,

we just weren't. And by the time they're missing all of these milestones, you know, you're, you're losing ground. And, and so I say that not to make anybody feel bad because you know, I think guilt comes along with the package. I know I have been really hard on myself about what I didn't do that I didn't know about or,

you know, could have done. And it, you know, that is also not helpful. I would've also focused on, this was a big part when I did have a practice helping parents with that piece. Because when we can move past our guilt and our own emotional hangups, that's not really helping our kids and being able to manage our stress most effectively through tapping our meditation or EMDR or taking a walk,

you know, just exploring what works for you and supporting ourselves as parents. All of my energy went into my son, which you know, rightfully so, but then that stretched me fairly thin. And we don't always respond the way we want to respond when we're a stressed out, you know, sleep deprived mom. So I would've started earlier, I would have taken better care of myself. In terms of his journey,

I feel like maybe I would've focused a little bit earlier on different detoxification mechanisms that could have helped. But again, we only know what we know and you know, when I look at the vast field of products and therapies and things out there, there's not anything that I think, wow, we missed the boat on that. You know? But it really depends on what is prevalent and,

you know, important for your child. I feel like we, we were a part of some spearheading of some products and trying things in very early phases and like I said, not everything worked, but I feel good about our, our journey. Again now knowing what I know, given that he was a C-section baby, I would've been bringing on some infant probiotic.

You know, like things like that. Like those are the things where I'm like, oh man, you know, so when you learn better, you do better. So, but that, that about sums that up.

23:44 Tara Hunkin:
Yes, I mean I think that's, when you talk about, you know, having guilt, we all, so one of the things you do find is that when you go through the whole process and you're looking for those root causes,

there are likely going to be things that you, the parents have inadvertently done early on that may have had some kind of impact. I had the same thing, like there's so many things I can completely list up. That's why it's going through that medical history, both of the parents as well as the biological parents as well as the, the, you know,

the kids is so important because you find those clues and those clues though aren't about blaming or saying, oh I should have done this and I wish I'd done this because you probably didn't know, like you and I, there, just the information wasn't there. That that is now. And even when it is here, we may not know 'cause it's not in the,

the fully in the mainstream yet, but it's really just information to help you make a change in the health of your child. And, and you have to, you have to look at it that way. And also, I mean, I think you've said this before, is that everybody's approach is really bio-individual 'cause we are looking for those clues in their history and what have they been through and,

and what might be the, those things that are causing things. So it's, it's all about gathering that information again and finding those clues to their, they're one specific path for sure. So I echo it. There really isn't a lot of value in either shaming or blaming or, you know, doing all those things unless that, that aspect of it,

but in finding out why and what we might have been able to do differently could really lead to some of those solutions in the end. Do you agree with that?

25:26 Terri Hirning:
Oh, 100%. I mean, at the end of the day, most of us parents of children with neurological conditions or you know, diagnoses, most of us are not biochemists or pediatricians or,

you know, nutritionists. So we are making the best decision we can and learning as we go through this, like I said, you know, this has been a family transformation and you know, I tried to make it just about my kid and it wasn't just about my kid, you know, tried to only do a gluten-free, dairy-free diet for him.

And, you know, and then you understand the methodology behind why these things are important and you understand, okay, yes, there is a genetic component, so I what part of me could be benefited from some of the same therapeutics or dietary, you know, interventions and we just learn as we go. And I think one of the biggest things for parents is trusting your instincts,

whether that's about a practitioner, a therapist, a teacher. Because even though acceptance is much broader now, there's still a lot of preconceived notions or limitations in thinking about what our kids can achieve. And I held a pretty hard line on everybody had to hold the vision of where Matthew could go or you can't work with him, you know? And, and that is an okay thing to tell people because you,

I've, I feel like whether our kids are verbal or not, they're picking up on the energy that's around them. And if you have a person who thinks they're dumb or they who thinks they're not going to make progress, that is a hindrance.

And you have to have people that are rooting for you and on your team, even if they don't completely understand it, they have to at least accept it and support what your family is doing because it's just going to hold, you know, your child back in the long run.

27:27 Tara Hunkin:
Yes, no, that is such important advice for, for all of us to make sure that we have a team of people around us that at least support the vision, even if they, they don't understand all the aspects of what we're trying to do.

We hear often from parents that struggle with either a, a spouse or, you know, it could be extended family or friends that, that don't understand and, and especially when it comes to specialized diets, because it can impact, like you said, you can't really do it for one person in the family. You tend to have to change your whole household in order for that to work,

which means, again, you're changing gatherings and all that stuff. So we all come against resistance in different things that we're doing with the kids over time and, and having a team that, that believes in that vision, even when they don't all understand it, is really important. With that coming mind, what, so you talked about nutrition and you obviously investigated gut health and everything else.

What are other interventions that you, you tried with Matthew and what, what did you, what were you surprised about or what are some of the things that you know that you wish you'd known about earlier maybe?

28:37 Terri Hirning:
Oh, I love this question. So we did methyl B12 injections that was fabulous for Matthew in terms of sleep and language, all of that methylation support was exactly what he needed.

We did, like you said, a great deal of work on his gut because he had elevated yeast and clostridia and so it was, you know, a little bit of a war zone and we would treat one and then the other one would flare and take its place and then we would treat the other and then the other one would flare again. So we were a little bit on this,

you know, seesaw until we got the right protocol together and, and you know, ironically enough managed to do that with botanicals and not prescriptions, which I'm not knocking prescriptions, we absolutely did that as well. But I love the fact that we can use botanicals as a way to gently yet effectively help manage some of these things. So dealing with gut was really huge.

Diet was also that, that component as well, right? Helping resolve those microbial overgrowths. We did something way back in the day called Respen-A and it's an MAOA agonist and works along some enzyme pathways. And that was really interesting because there was a nurse, Elaine Delac, and I found her story, I don't even know how I found it.

I brought it to my doctor and I said, this sounds just like Matthew, can we try this? And he said, I've never heard of it, let me dive into it. And then he said, let's give it a shot. So it was a preparation of reserpine, you know, very, very, very diluted. So they called it homeopathic but not quite homeopathic.

And it was a topical disc that got applied to his back and you had to kind of hold it on with a bandaid. We saw a complete explosion in social interactiveness in terms of playing with kids at the park, proactively speaking to children. And the way it really works is this nurse was noticing a rise in autism that correlated with the use of Pitocin for labor and delivery.

I believe she was a labor and delivery nurse, and I indeed had, you know, very high levels of Pitocin as I was being induced and then ended up with a C-section. And so her research was showing that normal oxytocin, right? Pitocin is the synthetic form of oxytocin. So oxytocin levels rise like nine or 10 days post-delivery in the baby's brain.

And so you have this period of time of development of critical areas of the brain and then this oxytocin kind of signals a shifting in development into other areas of the brain. So when you have Pitocin kind of flooding into mom and the baby, it prematurely shuts off development in this brain region. And so that's where she was theorizing, bringing in this Respen-A, topically.

And it was phenomenal. But you know, there were certain caveats we had to do very high dose calcium, we had to avoid things like curcumin or turmeric supplements. So, you know, it was slightly restrictive in certain ways. And then also when on the few occasions that he didn't wear the patch or the patch fell off at school, we noticed an immediate regression.

So the gains weren't holding. But I will say my son never tanned, he was very, very, very white and we lived in Phoenix at the time. And so, you know, summers are very hot. He never tanned, once we started Respen-A therapy, he began to tan. So in terms of the enzymatic processes or support, I could see changes happening by what was going on in addition to his behavior,

you know, wanting to actually engage with other children. So that was a really unique one. We did a lot of supplementation because he also had anxiety. So we did a lot of supplementation, we tried detoxification, we've had a sauna for, gosh, you know, 12 years or something like that. So, you know, sauna therapy was, was great for him.

But I would do the, you know, we would redo labs and I would still see these chemicals that were elevated in his body that we just weren't able to get at. And so I'm a member of the Thinking Moms Revolution and they were approached by a company called IonCleanse by AMD and they said, we want to do a study in the autism community.

Do you have moms that would want to have their children take part in this? Now I also worked for, you know, so New Beginnings [Nutritionals], their sister company used to be the Great Plains Laboratory. The lab has been sold and its name has changed. So we're no longer sister companies anymore, but I also worked very part-time for the lab during that time.

So, you know, I'm was very about the science and validating and measuring and when I would be at these autism conferences, I would walk by and I would see these footpaths and I would think that is the biggest, you know, hoax out there. You know, I thought, how in the world is that doing anything? You know, think about the foot pads that you put on at night and they change colors and you rip 'em off or whatever.

So I was very skeptical. So when we were approached and I said I would absolutely love to be a part of that because I would love to do my own pre, during and post-testing thinking that I was going to, you know, shine a light on this fraudulent company. I mean, honestly, that's kind of how I felt. And so Matthew was nine or 10 at the time,

so he was doing well, but I felt like he had plateaued and we were still doing supplementation and you know, doing all of the things, diet included. And we got the machine and I put him in a foot bath and we did my daughter next. So while he's doing that, she's, she's in the foot bath, he just got out,

we had just had Christmas time and there are these balls, I can't remember what they're called. It's a hard plastic clear ball with a maze inside and it's got a little BB, you know what I'm talking about?

35:17 Tara Hunkin:

35:17 Terri Hirning:
So one of our relatives have given, had given that to him for Christmas. Well, you know, it's very challenging. It's like 3D, you have to, you just spin this ball around and move this little BB through like a mouse trap, right? And get it to the end. He played with that for maybe five seconds and he was like, Nope, I don't want anything to do with this. He gave it to his sister. So that, you know, had been weeks prior.

So now he just had his very first foot bath we're focused on my daughter doing her foot bath. He gets up, leaves the table, comes back, sits down, is very calmly doing this maze ball. And my husband and I look at each other, you know, because I was highly skeptical and I was thinking, okay, something is doing something.

Because this previously had been way too challenging for him in terms of just, you know, his brain. And so after that we got into the car and we did a little bit of errands. He proactively says to his sister, Hey Emma, do you want to play I spy? And up until that point he would answer you absolutely. But he wouldn't proactively ask you if you wanted to do something.

So from the first cleanse now is that, you know, the standard because once I went into my own practice, we did this very routinely and I even did my own clinical trial using clients, in our practice. That's not what everybody sees, right? Just like anything, your response may vary, but it was profound for him. It really, really was.

And I felt like it finally got to the levels of detoxification that we couldn't get to doing oral glutathione and doing sauna therapy and doing some of these other things. That's one that I wish I had opened my mind to a little bit. And again, I went on to look at glyphosate excretion and mycotoxin excretion in a, you know, small group. It was 20 participants,

10 were in the control group, and 10 were in the cleanse group. But we saw some really, really incredible things and just what people felt, they felt more relaxed, they felt more at ease, they slept better, they had less joint pain. I mean the, the benefits were really wide ranging and it's still, you know, over the course of 15 years,

how many devices do you have in your closet? You know, it's, it is still one of the things that my family uses regularly. So I would say I wish I had done that sooner. So diet methylation support, gut support, Respen-A, homeopathy. So after Respen-A wasn't holding, I thought there's gotta be another way to deal with this.

So then we worked with a homeopath who nailed a remedy, not quite the same as Respen-A, but gave us the same effects and that was a huge win for us. So homeopathy and detox and gosh, I think those are like the big foundational pillars for him.

38:32 Tara Hunkin:
So do you find that you, does he continue with any of those therapies now? Like what does he do now to maintain his health?

38:42 Terri Hirning:
Great question. So basically he does a probiotic. He will bring in a combination product that New Beginnings has that is for anxiety if it's gotten less and less. But I also notice that I don't know about, you know, your children, but technology can be a love-hate thing. And I can tell when he's been spending too much time on a device and those are the times where I say,

you know, go take your Neuro-Serene, your mood is definitely being impacted. So sometimes some mood support, probiotic, you know, still some GI support. Again, because I was able to track all of those factors and correlate them to labs in the previous years, I'm, you know, more in tune with him in terms of what is his behavior like and what might be going on.

Oh, he's been really wanting sweets and carbs, his yeast might be an issue. You know, either rerun a test and let's take a look or cut back, go to more of a paleo diet, bring in some of those yeast fighting botanicals and see what changes. Right? So really it's kind of an as needed thing at this point. He still is largely gluten-free,

casein-free, soy-free. But we went to Greece last summer and he ate all the things and he had no reaction whatsoever. So, you know, I mean it was very rare that we were able to eat gluten-free in Greece. And certainly I brought food with me that I could supplement him with, but you know, we wanted him to experience it, it was his bucket list trip for graduating high school.

So I wanted him to really do, you know, anything he wanted. And his gut is in a place where even now in the United States, given our, you know, wonky food supply, even if he eats something with wheat or dairy, he doesn't react. Now would he, if he ate it 24/7, 365, probably, but at this point in his healing journey,

he can eat something and he doesn't have the normal, you know, he used to have meltdowns and no sleep for three days if he ate anything with wheat or dairy when he was younger. So, you know, the good news is the healing potential is absolutely there. And right now his protocol is just really, really so limited.

41:12 Tara Hunkin:
Yes, that, that's, that's wonderful because it really is obviously the, ultimately the goal. You don't want to have to be doing all these things forever. And that's why it's good to hear when, like, as you said, it takes a lot, I mean, you've been at this for quite a long time and so is he, and that healing can take a really long time, but it's nice to know that you can get to a point where there's a sort of more of a maintenance aspect to it than anything else.

This has been so amazing to hear about everything that you've been through and you've done. What's, if, just in, in terms of wrapping up, what's one piece of advice you would like to give parents that or are at any point on this journey, whether they're starting out or they've been at it for a really long time, what's one thing you'd like them to take away from everything that you and Matthew have been through over the years?

42:01 Terri Hirning:
Well, it's never give up hope. You know, wherever you are, like I said, or a hinted at, even if your child is an adult child with autism and you are just learning about diet or a biomedical approach, it's never too late. Just like with us, it's never too late to change our eating and, you know, make a better, healthier, I shouldn't say better, a healthier version of ourselves.

And that applies to our kids, especially with any sort of neurodevelopmental disorder and, you know, trust your gut on what the next steps are. And there are so many resources nowadays and parents willing to give you information,

but my caveat there is remember that you're getting their journey's information and their child's protocol that worked and it may not be applicable to you or your child, you know, so just take as much information in but filter it through the lens of what your child specifically might need.

43:09 Tara Hunkin:
That is such fabulous advice because the one thing that I took away over the years and, and from having these conversations with parents now is I always worry that someone's going to just listen to that list of things that you did and go, oh, that's, I'm going to try that now. We don't want to do that. We want to do exactly what you just said, Terri.

Just find that filter for our particular child so that we, and we're gathering all that information and then pulling it together with your team of practitioners so you can make a decision about whether or not your particular circumstance or their particular circumstance makes sense for them.

So thank you so, so much for joining us. Where can people find you and more about work you and, and also your son's new podcast?

44:01 Terri Hirning:
Yes. So everything can be found at my website, which is https://terrihirning.com/ and that's T E R R I H I R N I N G. And there is a tab that says our I'm Possible Journey and you can find our podcast on Spotify.

And because you know, it, it's one thing to hear my side and our, my version of our journey, but you know, as our kids grow up and move into the world, I feel like it's even more important for other parents out there to hear from our kids because they're the ones that went through this journey themselves. And I feel like they can give us some really great insight.

We've worked really hard to help Matthew connect the dots between what he's feeling and nutrient deficiency or GI issues or, or or right. Just empower him to know, gosh, well I have been eating a lot of sweets and now I'm, you know, my mood is not so great. Maybe that's it. So I feel like it's so important to hear from them and hear their experiences about their journey and moving forward.

So that's what our, I'm Possible Journey podcast is all about. It's really providing hope and to, you know, give a voice to these adults that had a diagnosis and were very affected by symptoms that maybe are no longer there, so.

45:32 Tara Hunkin:
Yes, no, that's wonderful. All the links or the link to Terri's website as well as actually the link to their, their Instagram and Facebook. And we'll put a link to the podcast as well in the show notes so that if you're listening to this on the go right now, you'll have a place to go to find all those things.

Terri, thank you so much for sharing your story and and Matthew's story with us today, and also for all the work that you've done over the years with other families and dug into the science by doing your own clinical research as well, and then working with all these other companies as well that are supporting families on similar journeys to yours and mine. It was great to see you again today.

46:16 Terri Hirning:
Thank you so much. It was an absolute pleasure. It's always great to see you.

46:21 Tara Hunkin:
Okay, so thanks all for joining us again, and I hope to see you again in another episode of the My Child Will Thrive podcast. Bye for now.

Thanks for joining me today. If you've enjoyed this episode, please support us by subscribing and giving us a review on your podcast platform of choice. This is Tara Hunkin and I'll catch you on the next episode of the podcast or over at mychildwillthrive.com/, where you can find articles and the free My Child Will Thrive Toolkit.


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