Jan 03, 2017

Came to Hong Kong from the US for treatment, boy overcame illness of self-harm

The patient of this case was an autistic boy. His mother brought him all the way from the United States to Hong Kong for medical treatment. In order for her son to be treated and recover, she even rented an apartment, determined to fight this disease with her son no matter how long it would take. At the end, their effort and perseverance paid off. It was an ultimate victory and they returned home with happiness.

Patient was only eleven years old when I first saw him. When I saw his arms, I was shocked. His arms were covered in wounds. There were green and purple bruises that appeared like he had been severely beaten. Saddened, his mother reluctantly told the truth, “My son has a tendency to self-harm. He will bite his hands uncontrollably causing it to bleed and leaving numerous wounds. No one can stop him when it happens. He is as powerful as a madman. What’s more, he will bang his head on the ground, so hard that you can hear the banging but to him it seems like he feels nothing. There is nothing I can do and it hurts.” I could understand the mother’s pain, there is a saying, ‘wound on the son’s body, pain in the mother’s heart’, that’s human nature. The only way to relieve the pain was to cure her son as soon as possible.

Facial twitch, repeated talking

After a detailed examination of patient, I found that he had the characteristics of autism, such as unclear and intermittent speech, a habit of repeating others’ words, his head seemed blank and his gaze seemed confused, just like a mindless person. His face often convulsed and mouth crooked involuntarily. He could not comprehend the use of the pronouns like ‘you’, ‘I’ and ‘he’ and was only able to refer to himself by his name instead of ‘I’. He lacked social skills and naturally did not have many friends.

When patient came back after taking the medication, his speech was still incoherent, he was not able to answer questions and still repeated others’ words. His hands were warm but because of his allergy, he had runny nose. Her mother said that his involuntary facial twitches, blinking and crooked mouth had disappeared and she was very happy. This showed that the brain blood stasis was beginning to be discharged. The urine samples he brought had a blood red color, and two of the samples were purplish red like wine.

Since birth, patient had never really talked to his mother. However, one day, miraculously and to his mother’s surprise, he described to his mother a story about a cow. Although it was for only a little more than a minute and he could not remember the story too clearly, his ability to carry out a conversation appeared so suddenly that his mother could hardly describe her joy with words. She immediately called me to share her joy with me. Apparently, patient’s thinking ability had greatly improved, from not being able to say a full sentence, to being able to tell a story. Also, before the treatment, patient had difficulty controlling his emotions. He often screamed and yelled easily. After the treatment, he seemed to listen to his mother and did not dare disobey.

In the eighth follow-up visit, patient’s urine sample was deep blood red in color. He still had problem with speech, often repeated his mother’s words, although more loudly and clearly and I could understand, unlike before, mixing words up. For example, when I said, “How are you today?” he would repeat, “Are you how today?” indicating a problem with the order in which the vocabulary is processed in the brain’s memory bank. After the treatment, this problem had gradually improved and the word order was corrected.

Condition improved, major breakthrough

As patient’s condition improved, I felt overjoyed. When I talked to him, he did not repeat what I said. He did not repeat words either when he talked to his mother and responded quickly. Although his answers might not be accurate, it was already a good start. His mother also said that her son became much calmer emotionally. I told her that the main reason her son was irritable before was that his brain felt very uncomfortable and he was not able to express himself freely, thus the inclination of violence.

One time when patient came to my clinic, I tested his responses. I asked him suddenly if he was okay, he immediately answered yes. I continued to ask how he was doing, he said fine in English. Then I continued to ask whether he slept well the night before and he said he slept well. Based on the way he responded, he had made a big breakthrough. I also observed his conversation with his mother. Although he still repeated her words every now and then, it happened a lot less than before. After my examination for him, he took a piece of white paper and focused on writing letters ABCD and numbers 1234. After he finished with the paper, he took a second piece of paper and started writing again. He was completely focused and not distracted. His mother pointed out that her son had been stable and enjoyed watching Chinese television programs at home, something that he had never done before.

At the twelfth follow-up visit, there was a big change in his face, there was a brilliant smile, he was calm, willing to let me take his pulse, unlike before when he was reluctant, and he was very co-operative. When I asked him what my name was, he politely replied Dr. Au. All these indicated that the condition of his brain had been improving. Children with autism tend to be stunted, especially in terms of sexual characteristics. Patient’s mother said she found that her son had an increase in urine amount and his penis was more than half bigger. Hearing that, I later checked his sexual organs and saw that the size of his penis had returned to a normal length and appeared to have daily erection. This indicated that the blood clots in the brain had been discharged, enabling the growth hormones and male hormones to be secreted, enhancing development. I thought if he delayed the diagnosis and treatment, the consequence would be a major impact to his life. He would be shorter than normal and his sex organs would not develop well, which would affect his future marital life. So the sooner he was treated, the better.

Lost temper, bit his arm again

Patient had not lost his temper for a long time, but before his eighteenth follow-up visit, he was feeling very uncomfortable. He lost his temper at home and even bit his own arm. After lunch, he calmed down again. When he came to the clinic, he seemed normal. He was calm, responded well and was willing to extend his hand and let me took his pulse. After that was finished, I told him to do some movements. He was obedient and did as I instructed him to.

After five months of treatment, his condition became stable. He was calmer than before, very responsive and cheerful. His mother said she had never seen her son so stable and happy. I told her that was the result of Chinese medicine, as long as he took the right amount of his medicine on time, there would be positive effect. Due to the improvement of his brain function, he started to understand the world, what he saw and heard were fresh to him, so he was cheerful. As for his complexion, it was not as green and pale and dark circles gradually subsided. The biggest breakthrough was that his speech was not intermittent anymore. He could say complete sentences. His mother was surprised. I told her that her son’s brain memory cells had begun to function normally and his verbal ability had gradually improved and the contents showed continuity.

Rich emotions, teared when sad

At the thirty-first follow-up visit, the urine sample patient brought was still blood red in color, although it was lighter than before, and cholesterol precipitates had reduced a lot. Patient was agile and less sluggish. When I asked him to do hand movements, he would follow the instructions and complete his tasks quickly. When I asked if he was thirsty and if he would like a soda, he couldn’t wait to follow me to the refrigerator to get one. His overall performance was good. He could follow general instructions and carry out simple conversation. His mother said that her son had rich emotions. When he was depressed, he would secretly shed sad tears and even bite his arm to vent his anger and express dissatisfaction sometimes. I asked him if he had headaches. He nodded and said yes, but he just did not know how to express. I checked his sex organs again. His scrotum skin was loose and wrinkly, it was not stout enough. His eyes were sensitive and anomaly itchy and he often rubbed them with his hands.

Two months later, I examined him again. There was obvious improvement. First of all, his complexion was brighter and the green complexion had disappeared. Second, there was growth with his genitals, it was easily erected and the scrotum was full. These were all indications of good health, unlike previous condition of dryness. He told his mother about a toothache and hoped she would take him to the dentist to remove the tooth. However, his mother ignored but later, his tooth came off and a new tooth began to grow. This showed that his ability to express himself had continued to improve. As for the use of the pronoun “I”, some autistic children are not able to. Patient’s ability to use “I” to describe himself was another breakthrough. Also, when he was happy, he would sing a little song, which had never happened before and was the very first time in his life.

When I asked patient how old he was, he responded quickly and said ten years old. However, after he had thought for a moment, he immediately corrected himself and said that he was eleven years old. This showed that his thinking skills had a big leap forward. At the forty-seventh follow-up visit, the color of the urine sample he brought had a big difference. The blood red color was a lot lighter. His mother said that her son had performed very well in the past week and his thinking ability, compared to ten months ago, was like that of a totally different person. From the observation of his urine samples, his condition had approached the later stage of rehabilitation. For other tests on his response to movements, he was able to complete the tasks quickly and accurately. So his mother decided he could end the treatment and they were ready to return to the United States.

After returning to the United States, all relatives felt that there was a big change in patient. He was more mature. His mother couldn’t stop complimenting his performance. Patient was treated from February 1, 2002 to April 2, 2003 for a period of about one year and two months with a total of 52 prescriptions. After many years, I learned from friends that patient has been successfully admitted to a special school after returning to the United States and he has been progressing well.

By Dr. Au Sik Kee

Jan 03, 2017

Medical record number: 020201

For enquiry, email: sikkeeau@gmail.com