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From 2005 Defeat Autism Now! Conference

Autism survivors speak in L.B.
By Kevin Butler, Staff writer

LONG BEACH — Hundreds of people attending an autism conference on Friday heard from parents who say that various treatments greatly reduced, or eliminated, their autistic children's symptoms.

The three-day "Defeat Autism Now!" conference, organized by a San Diego think tank, The Autism Research Institute, featured parents saying their autistic children dramatically improved, thanks to dietary regimens, behavioral therapy and various medications.

Not all researchers believe that all the touted remedies have been scientifically demonstrated.

About 10 children whose parents say have recovered from the condition were interviewed on-stage in front of a large audience at The Westin Long Beach.

Stan Kurtz said he and his wife were devastated when they learned their young son had autism.

"It's life-changing," he said. "You lose your child. … and you have to rebuild. You have to see what's really going on."

[His son], now 4 years old, didn't speak and often just stared out the window, Kurtz said.

Now his son's symptoms have largely gone away, thanks to a combination of drugs and dietary changes, said Kurtz, a Tarzana resident.

Kurtz on Friday asked his son to describe his favorite book, "Charlotte's Web." Speaking of the main character, a pig called Wilbur, and Kurtz's son smiled and said, "He was a baby, and then he grew up."

Cindy Goldenberg said until her son started a drug treatment when he was 3 years old, he wouldn't speak, make eye contact or play appropriately.

At around age 3, her son Garrett now 16 years old started receiving infusions of a protein used to treat immune deficiencies, she said. She said his symptoms were gone by the time he was 5 years old.

"I feel like I not only got a miracle, but I got a second chance," said Goldenberg, a Laguna Niguel resident.

Goldenberg, like some other parents at the conference, subscribes to the controversial theory that her child's condition was linked to a vaccine used to ward off measles, mumps and rubella.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, has stated that "the weight of the evidence indicates that vaccines are not associated with autism."