Mom Interviews

Mika Bradford

Nutritionist, consultant, and autism activist

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There are so many disorders that fall on the Autistic Spectrum -- Asperger's, ADD, SID, PDD-NOS, just to name a few. What are some of the "early warning signs" that a parent should watch out for?

Some of them are listed in this exerpt from Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Development Disorder: A Mother's Story of Research and Recovery by Karyn Seroussi. [Published by Simon & Schuster. Reprinted by permission.] If a parent is concerned about their answers to some of these questions, then they need to speak to their physician about an autism screening.
  • Does your 18-month-old child's language development seem slow?
  • Has he lost words that he had once mastered?
  • Is he unable to follow simple commands such as "Bring me your shoes?"
  • When you speak to him, does he look away rather than meet your gaze?
  • Does he answer to his name?
  • Do you or others suspect hearing loss?
  • Does he have an unusually long attention span?
  • Does he often seem to be in his own world?

At 18 months old, a child will typically do the following:
  • Point to objects
  • Interact with his/her siblings
  • Bring you items to look at
  • Look directly at you when you speak to him/her
  • Follow your gaze to locate an object when you point across the room
  • Engage in "pretend play" such as feeding a doll or making a toy dog bark

Autism is a developmental disability that impairs social and language development. It occurs in families from every class, culture, and ethnic background. It is not a mental illness, and it is not caused by trauma -- it is neurobiological and its symptoms can be greatly reduced by early diagnosis and treatment.

You've taken on a lot of different roles in the autism community. Tell us a bit about the different things you do and the companies with which you work.

I began working for Kirkman in December of 1999. I had personally become familiar with their nutritional supplements when I had introduced changes to my son's diet. I had removed the dairy (casein), and gluten from his diet and added a multivitamin called Super Nu-Thera [which is made by Kirkman]. Within weeks of making these changes, I saw an increase in eye contact from my son, something that I had not seen in a year. I began calling Kirkman, asking for samples of the Super Nu-Thera to share with other families. I wanted other parents to know that there was hope and that there were things that we could do that would impact our children's lives. I then met the owner of the company at a few autism conferences and we began a dialogue. A few weeks later, I was asked to join the company as a customer support representative. I later acquired my certification as a nutritionist.

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