Aaron’s Story of Autism, Food, and Me

Aaron’s Story of Autism, Food, and Me

Welcome to TheDamageUndone.com.

My name is Patrisha Leybovich. I’m 34 yrs old, and I’ve been married to my wonderful husband, Ben, since 2002. We have two beautiful children together. They are twins, age 4.5, named Aaron and Isabella. My husband Ben and I moved to Lima from Cincinnati, Ohio in 2002 to build The Music Factory – a non profit music school where I am both Administrative Director and one of 7 teachers.

TheDamageUndone.com fulfills a purpose in my life to share with you everything I know about my son’s onset of autism and the many challenges our family has had to face along our journey to heal him. We have used a combination of strict dietary intervention, biomedical treatment, play therapy, and chiropractic therapy throughout his healing process.

Through my journey to heal my child I have gained a perspective that says autism is on the rise.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports the following stats:

  • 1960’s and 1970’s only 5 kids in 10,000
  • This number doubled to 1o kids in 10,000 by 1980’s
  • Reports in the early 2000’s indicated between 10-20 cases per 10,000
  • It then increased to two to six cases per 1,000 or between 1 in 500.
  • Recently in 2009 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control revised the autism prevalence rate to a staggering one in 110 children.
  • In 2013, the statistics are now 1 child in 50 with males as more likely to be affected than females.

What that says to me is that today its my child, tomorrow its your child and the day after that it will be your child’s child. This is a serious epidemic that requires immediate attention today. The good news is that by taking the time to figure out why this is happening, we can begin to undo the damage and thus have the power to begin to reverse these statistics. Now here’s the kicker, you might be surprised to know that same sort of evil responsible for autism, is also responsible for allergies, ADHD, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, fibromyalgia, cancer, IBS, crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and chronic pain syndrome. It all begins with the function, or malfunction if you will of the GI track.

Right now, I’m going to tell you from the beginning what happened to my son, what I am doing about it, and what you can do to prevent this or any other neuro-immune disease from attacking your family. Here is my story.

My husband and I both attended the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. We married in 2002 and moved to Lima from Cincinnati to build TMF. In 2006 we bought our first home. In October of 2008, we discovered that we were pregnant and would soon be welcoming, not one, but two bundles of joy by early summer.

My pregnancy was not ideal, and yet we managed to give birth to two, tiny but perfect babies. We were 35 weeks gestation, and when I say tiny, I mean it. Aaron weighed 4 lbs and Bella weighed 5. Despite their weight, both babies ranked 8 in the Apgar tests and did not have any issues with their hearts or lungs. It was a different story for their livers. We were released from the hospital when they were 3 days old, and then sent back to the NICU to put them in incubators for jaundice.

While in the hospital, the doctors performed spinal taps on both babies in order to rule out any other possible causes for jaundice aside for the obvious pre-maturity of their livers. Immediately following the spinal tap, Aaron and Bella began to receive a course of antibiotics to protect them from infection from the procedure.

Let me fast forward 13 months and then backfill the details. At this time, we were beginning to notice a separation in development between the two kids. Aaron appeared to have allergies to everything and was always breaking out in rashes. As an infant he had excessive ear infections for which he was given antibiotics. He was a projectile vomiter, resulting in a necessity to wash 6 loads of laundry every day. He was late in sitting up and late in walking. At 13 months where my story begins, he was not walking yet, but he was appropriately pulling himself up and making efforts to learn. He was also just beginning to say his name and say mama. I remember being taken by the sweetness of his little voice when I would open his bedroom door after a nap and see him standing in the corner of his crib. He’d look straight at me, smile and say “Hi, Aaron!” He had just started doing this when I took him to get his MMR vaccine. I had seen it only two or three times, and then I never heard it again. To be more specific, I never heard anything again. All his developing words disappeared and were replaced by random sounds with no effort to resemble speech or communication. He also regained his startle reflexes along with an odd head tick toward the right.

At this point Aaron’s development became a major taboo in our household. I knew something was going very wrong but other people in my family didn’t think so. The majority felt that Aaron would catch up to Bella when Aaron was ready. The consensus was that his sister was talking for him so he didn’t have to and that he would eventually outgrow the allergies and the developmental delays setting in. First, we were hearing, “you need to work with him more, boys are just slower than girls,” and then it morphed into “Give him time”. But “Working” with him was non-stop, and practically a thankless duty. He rarely responded and gave absolutely no indication that he heard or understand majority of what was being said to him.

By the time he was three, there was no denying anything anymore by anybody in the family. He was using maybe 8 words a day, none of which to communicate. We took him to Dayton Children’s Hospital for evaluation. We did a blood test for allergies and found that he was having allergic reactions to practically all grains and eggs. The doctors classified him as PDD, and advised us to go GFCF and put him in preschool right away.

I did as I was told. I put Aaron on a GFCF diet and enrolled him in preschool. This is right at age three. At the onset, it seemed that we had made a good decision for him because his vocabulary jumped from 8 words to 200+. The problem was that although he was clearly more vocal, he still didn’t use these words to talk. He would just say odd things, all the time. He just didn’t understand how to put it all together. Also, Aaron’s diagnosis qualified him for therapy three times a week during school. We thought this would also help him with speech, socialization, and fine motor skills (which were also behind).

Here again, I don’t have a good report. Instead of making progress, we seemed to be gaining speed heading over the edge of a very steep cliff. By the end of that school year, Aaron was failing in all but one area of his therapy. He still couldn’t ride a tricycle. He still couldn’t talk and was struggling to toilet train. What really brought things to a head was the development of extreme tantrums. Life with Aaron was beginning to feel like a nightmare that started at the crack of dawn. Every day, he would wake up sometime between 4:30 and 5am. He would come into our room and shriek at the top of his lungs. I would jump out of bed as fast as I could and rush him into the kitchen, offering him foods and toys until I found something that would make him stop screaming. It was blind guessing on our part as he could not say or point to whatever it was he wanted. This is how we started literally every day. And it didn’t stop there. Any transition was liable to send him into tantrums, so we were always walking on egg shells around him trying to keep him calm. Eventually we just resigned ourselves to the idea that taking him anywhere was impossible. He couldn’t attend “fun” classes or be involved in normal activities like his sister because he didn’t care to be around other children, couldn’t follow simple instructions. Aaron would go from laughing to crying fits and no one had any idea why he was doing either. I couldn’t bring him anywhere unless I was able to give him my full attention because it was a virtual certainty that he would melt down and I would have to physically remove him. We had to watch him like a hawk because more than once he had wandered away from home and scared us to death. Aaron would not answer when we called him so I ended up buying shoes that squeaked when he walked so that I could hear where he was. He seemed to have a death wish, showing no sense of fear for heights, traffic, strangers, and even fire. He burned himself three times, by playing near the hot grill and twice by trying to pick up lighted fireworks. He didn’t seem to care when I left for work, he made no effort to hug, kiss, say goodbye or otherwise show that he cared. What was even worse is that just the simple act of me coming home would send him into terrible tantrums that would take hours to break him out of. It was impossible to cook dinner or pay any normal attention to his twin sister or my husband because “handling” Aaron was becoming a full-time, torturous job. Incidentally, Aaron had also developed a severe case of athlete’s foot. We had taken him to the doctor. Oddly enough he never complained although the cuts were so ¼ inch deep. We tried every remedy available including prescription strength bacterial/fungal creams but we could not get it under control. Aaron had such major sensory issues that he couldn’t feel the pain in his feet. He really seemed to live in his own world, which was very, very far away from ours. This insane behavior was going on for well over a year, and the issue with his feet was raging for almost three months when we hit rock bottom. Nothing was working, everything was getting worse, and so we just decided to quit the GFCF diet, we pulled him out of school and just started praying for something to give. About three weeks later our fortune finally began to come around.

Our fortune came by way of a friend. Someone opened my eyes. I met a friend who had healed her own child from autism. She came to my house and she told me her story. It was from her that I first heard about Donna Gates BED and Natasha Campbell McBride –GAPS diets. I did some internet search on the two diets and ordered both women’s books. Both diets appeared to be built on the same basic premise, but I needed to make an immediate decision as I didn’t want to waste a single day now that I knew I could do something to really help my son. When comparing the information on each diet, I became drawn to the Youtube tutorials by Dr. McBride and so I decided to start Aaron on GAPS right away. I didn’t have her book yet, but I could see that this approach was the most logical approach to treating autism and it clearly explained why we had failed so miserably on the GFCF diet before. As I studied, I was becoming empowered to heal my son and my perspective was changing literally overnight. I went from thinking things like, “my son can’t talk” to thinking, “why can’t my son talk?” “What is physically preventing his brain from making the connections necessary to facilitate communication?” Then I began to see a clear path to attack the illness that was invading him and seeming to get worse every day that I waited. That’s not all I could see. GAPS was going to be hard for Aaron. So hard, in fact, that I couldn’t see how he could do it unless the whole family did it too. We would all have to be committed to these lifestyle changes in order to create an environment that he could actually heal in.

My life from that point was a whirlwind propelled forward only by the hope that if there was anything I could do to save my baby I would go to the ends of the earth to do it. I had to try, and the more I learned about GAPS, the more I believed it would work. When I finally received my copy of the GAPS book, I was already well on my way in implementing the protocol. It was difficult for our family but we were instantly repaid with Aaron’s progress. Since the start of the GAPS diet, Aaron’s recovery has been fraught with up’s and down’s. It is always two steps forward and one giant step back. I wish could tell you otherwise, but the daily truth is that actual recovery process of healing a child from autism is a book or a lecture all in its own. It feels like the game changes second to second. However, having said this, I can tell you that where Aaron is now compared to where he was 8 months ago when we began his treatment is absolutely night and day. Aaron calls me when he wakes up, and actually tells me he wants to go potty. He now asks for breakfast like a normal child and can tell me what he wants to eat, and what he doesn’t. He asks me clearly to help him find whatever book or toy he wants. He actively and imaginatively plays with his sister. He asks to play with other children and go to other people’s houses. He gives bear hugs now and kisses. He can ride his bike as well as his sister. He can put together puzzles by himself and asks for help when he needs it. He is in a swim and gym class at the Y and attends music class every week entirely by himself! He can let the dog out, help fold laundry, put his clothes away, and clean up his toys. And the best part is, every time I walk out the door for work my son runs up to me and asks for hugs and a kiss. Every time I come home, he runs to meet me at the door, often opening it before I can get out of the car. This child is transforming! My mission today is to tell you how our family found itself in this predicament, and how to recognize the red flags in order to prevent finding yourself in a similar situation.
I need to tell you that Aaron was not born autistic. He was, however, born compromised.

With all my current research and experience this is what I can tell you about his illness:

Factor 1: Aaron was born with two MTHFR gene mutations (which he inherited from at least one of his parents). These gene mutations cause him to produce a low level of methylfolate because his body cannot process folic acid like a normal, healthy body should. Low methylfolate results in mitochondiral weakness, which means his cell batteries are always running on low. Low methylfoltate results in development of food and environmental allergies, T Cell immune weakness making him more prone to viruses, fungus, and cancer, poor inflammation control, poor toxin clearance, and also cause him to suffer from LIMITED DOPAMIN PRODUCTION. This in itself can mean different things for different people, but for Aaron we have attributed low dopamine production to explain his poor sleep patterns, emotional instability, clumsiness and fine motor issues. On a side note, since receiving treatment Aaron is doing better on all of these counts.

MTHFR Gene mutations are being linked to prevalent environmental influences such as consumption of GMO foods, exposure to chemicals from pesticides and synthetic substances like plastics, fabrics, etc. and poisoning from vaccines. The fact is that 60-70% of people today have these gene mutations which were first discovered in the 1980’s, and they are defiantly contributing to the chronic ailments we area seeing on the rise. These gene mutations are not the cause of Aaron’s autism, they are however, contributing factors.

Factor 2: Aaron was given antibiotics before his gut flora had a chance to populate. Antibiotics in general should be avoided if at all possible, but especially so when considering an infant. Babies are born with sterile guts and they begin growing their gut flora after being exposed to various factors afterbirth. The primary source of gut flora comes from the birth canal during the birth process. In this way, the infant’s gut flora begins to grow whatever types of bacteria they swallow at birth. Ideally, this should be a good thing. However, if the mother’s gut flora isn’t healthy, or if the baby is born caesarian, or worse, if the baby is given an antibiotic within the first few weeks of delivery the baby’s gut flora begins to grow all the wrong types of bacteria. So, in effect, if the baby does not succeed in establishing a balanced gut flora by around 20 days of life, then the baby is left immune compromised. Antibiotics were not the cause of Aaron’s autism, however they were a contributing factor.

Factor 3: Aaron was not breastfed. Little did I know, bottle-fed babies develop completely different gut flora than breastfed babies. Breastfeeding is the one and only opportunity we have in our lives to populate the entire surface of our gut with a healthy mixture of bacteria. So why didn’t I do it? I’m ashamed to admit it but I honestly didn’t know. I could blame the fabulous marketing for baby formulas and the efforts of doctors and nurses to make a new mother feel that its okay not to breast feed, but the truth is that I should have done my homework. I didn’t, and so now I am dealing with the consequences. This factor is the one that keeps me up at night because if anything could have been done to remedy factors 1 and 2, it would have been this. This was my chance and I missed it.

Factor 4: I vaccinated my child. There is a prevalent argument that vaccines are causing autism, but I say that vaccines are only one of many factors that are triggering autism. At the center of this controversy is Dr. Andrew Wakefield of Austin, Texas. It was Dr. Wakefield that first publicized the link between stomach disorders and autism, and taking the findings one step further, the link between stomach disorders, autism and the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine. This was back in 1996, and since then US courts have ruled accordingly, admitting that the MMR vaccine has caused autism in our children. But I didn’t know about Dr. Wakefield. I didn’t know about any of this. All I knew is that my baby was never the same after he received that vaccine. My knowledge of this hushed-up battle only came from digging to find evidence to support my observations. What I learned is that autism is just one trigger that can get pulled when the GI track is compromised and the human body is pushed beyond capacity. In my child’s case, the MMR vaccine was not the smoking gun, it was, however, the finger that pulled the trigger. The barrel of that gun was being loaded with every factor I previously mentioned: being born with MTHFR gene mutations, receiving antibiotics within the first month of life, not being breast fed, receiving regular vaccines in spite of the fact that he had a visibly compromised immune system. The signs of impending danger were clear. The day Aaron received the MMR vaccine his little body had reached capacity for normal function. Things began to misfire in a major way and he slipped away right in front of our eyes.
Like too many other mothers, I trusted the recommended vaccination schedule proposed by my family doctor. Because Aaron crossed into the autism spectrum within two weeks of receiving his MMR, it is tempting to point at the MMR and say – “It was that vaccine!” Well, yes it was, and no it wasn’t. Many children receive vaccines and don’t become autistic. On the other hand, adverse reactions to vaccinations are becoming widespread and fortunately people are now realizing that more caution should be used when making the decision to vaccinate or opt out. My attitude was that I had confidence in my family doctor and so I was going to leave these complicated decisions to the professionals. Another one of my big mistakes! Knowledge acquisition has lead me to the realization that vaccines can do major damage to children with compromised immune systems. Did I know that Aaron’s immune system was struggling? Yes. Did I know what vaccines could do to a child whose immune system was in distress? No. Who should have known? The doctors? It’s easy to answer yes to that one, but in realty it’s a mistake to blame anyone but myself for not figuring it out. Knowledge is free to anyone who seeks it, and I just wasn’t looking. Aaron showed all the red flags which should have told me not to vaccinate. The signs were:

1) Allergies to formulas
2) Acid reflux and vomiting
3) Allergies to solid foods
4) Speech delays
5) Gross motor and fine motor delays development

Now, allergies and developmental delays can be dealt with without causing an actual onset of autism. After all, lots of kids suffer from allergies and delays and yet they don’t develop autism. At least that used to be the case. Now we see that the autism rates are skyrocketing, right along with rates of allergies, ADD, and adult onset of celiac disease, diabetes, crohn’s disease, heart disease, obesity, fibromyalgia, cancer, chronic pain syndrome, and the list goes on. You see, when the human body stops functioning properly and the gut wall becomes permeable, all sorts of triggers can get pulled. For you it may be celiac disease, IBS or a cancer of some sort. For my baby, it was autism.

I remind you that 1 in 50 children now have autism or an autism related disorder. This means that if you are pregnant right now, there is a 1 in 50 possibility that your baby will also be diagnosed. I believe that the reason we are seeing such an increase in this illness is because we, as a population, are not healthy. The autism rates are not the only alarming statistics that need attention. Just look around you at the insane number of people, young people being stricken with cancers and other life threatening conditions. Every single classroom in our schools has a child (or two) suffering from severe asthma and allergies. We have more obesity, more heart disease, more unexplained experiences with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, and this is why our kids are sick. We are giving birth to genetically modified babies, and the more illness we have in our families the more likely we are to have illness in our children.

Here is my call to action: I want people to start taking action to educate themselves about the damage we are doing to ourselves and passing on to our children. It’s true, that depending on the damage done no one’s recover is guaranteed, but I have heard miraculous stories before, and I am seeing miraculous things from my own child. Start getting educated, and start making different decisions so that we can start getting different results.

This brings me to my final thought. I want to encourage you to take your families health more seriously. Consider every minor issue as a signal of a potential danger lurking ahead. Do you have cancer in the family, chronic pain? Celiac disease? MS? IBS? Allergies, asthma? Fibromyalgia? This are warnings that you and your loved ones are in the danger zone. We need to clean up our kitchens, clean up our houses, and clean up our gardens in order to stop these statistics from closing in on us. Furthermore, knowing that our babies are more susceptible to neuro-immune disorders than every before, we need to encourage pro-activity such as testing for gene mutations at birth, and making sure that people know the signs of gut flora gone bad, and what that can mean for the future of their baby.

Today, thanks to hours of endless research I have been able to find ways to turn back the clock for Aaron and now he is well on his way to making a full recovery. We still have several steps ahead of us in his recovery process, and every day we get closer to removing his diagnosis. It’s an honor for me to share my story and help others learn from my experiences. It’s been an honor to share my story with you, and I welcome you to engage with me on TheDamageUndone.com.

Thank you.

What do you say regarding the theory that autism is being over diagnosed?

1) In effect this theory says that this type of behavior has always been around and is normal, although we are now calling it autism. This theory says that the OCD, repetitive behaviors, lack of empathy and attachment to parents and siblings, constant jumping and hand-flapping, loss of speech and ability to communicate in 1 in 50 kids has always been the case. This is ridiculous. Furthermore, this theory then suggests that our “fab” medical establishment has been missing or failing to recognize autism in 1 out of 50 kids. And since we know that if autism is not treated, it actually gets worse, shouldn’t we have 1 in 50 adults and college aged children sitting in the classrooms or getting their first jobs even thought they are autistic and can’t handle social stress, and can’t communicate with their professors and bosses? We all know this isn’t true. The effects of autism are striking our infants and toddlers. 20 years from now the entry level work force and college enrollments will reflect this.

2) What proof do you have that autism is caused/effected by diet and environmental toxins? The evidence is that in order to recover my child I have had to literally repair his gut, add a list a mile long of supplementations to restore his nutrient levels to normal states, chelate him of mercury and aluminum. The condition of the gut, hallucinogenic and intoxicating effects of gluten and dairy in the diet, and proof via blood panels that prove that these children are ill, and that they become more ill over time if not treated.

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  • My 3 part audio series Quick Start to Autism Recovery
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  1. You & your family are inspiring!

    Thank you for your willingness and hours to empower others!

    Blessings to you and yours,

    Marsha Mangin

    • Thank you so much, Marsha!

  2. You have beautiful children. They are obviously so loved. And happy.

    I am also Autistic, a very old Autistic. I have Autistic kids, grand kids, and possibly an Autistic great grand child on the way.

    I think it is great that you are so carefully and mindfully feeding your family. Many of my Autistic friends have managed their co-morbidities succesfully through diet changes.

    I think that my ideas about autism differ slightly from yours. I am a proud Autistic. I do not want that taken away. If I were able to take a pill and no longer be Autistic, I would decline.

    I believe I was born Autistic. Like many Autistic people, my basal ganglia is thicker and more densely packed than non-Autistic people [ I know this only because of the MRIs’ that accompany cancer]

    I believe, as with our sensory issues, that we are generally much more sensitive to environmental factors [ foods, toxins, vaccinations] which can trigger or excaserbate some difficult co-morbidities. I have heard that probably a quarter of Autistics suffer “leaky gut.”I commend so much of what you are doing.

    Autistic people are 28 times more likely to attempt or succeed at suicide. This last portion of my life is focused on helping Autistic and as yet unborn Autistics to be able to have the happy, productive lives they are entitled to.

    We are in the planning stages of building an Autistic community in Pueblo. No fluorescent lights, interaction badges, no seizure inducing strobes,healthy food, and freedom to stim and make “flappy happy hands” to our hearts content.[ stimming is a big part of communication with others and ourselves. Stimming is relaxing, can GREATLY stimulate our intellectual abilities, and nobody id happier than a happy, flappy, hand flapper.

    You are doing awesome with your kids. May I suggest that you study a bit on entire world theory. I believe, for me at any rate, that this is how many of us are.

    BTW, your son most likely has an extreme ammount of empathy, [more than non autistics] but is unaware how to appropriately express it.

    Actually, what we Autistics have in enormous ammounts is affective empathy. We care so deeply but are at a loss how to express it. Conversely, psychotics, who tend to a smaller than average basal ganglia, have advanced cognitive empathy, which gives them the ability to do a good job of faking empathy.

    • IJWTS wow! Why can’t I think of thngis like that?

  3. Lynn Advice: 1. Put away anything vbluaale, breakable, and sentimental. Even w/o autism, children often innocently break and destroy things. They do not understand the value of objects and these items often become a control battle. Control battles are often negative and foster resentment on both sides. 2. Check out RDI and The Autism Treatment Center of America. Both are home based, parent led therapies. She doesn’t have to committ to doing the therapies but their tips are well worth it.3. Remember her children are doing the best they can AND she is doing the best she can. 4. Practice love and accepetance of her children and herself.

  4. Patrisha, you don’t know it, but you are the hero of our clinic! When I found your YouTube video about your son and healing him with GAPS, you have become a celebrity of sorts here. When mothers say the GAPS diet is too much for them, I hand them your story and tell them they CAN do it.

    Thank you again for your courage and love for your children. And thank you for giving us so much hope! I’m so glad you started this website! We can collaborate a bit in the future if you would like 🙂 Checkout our podcast at: http://www.ForbiddenDoctor.com

    Love, Mary Stockwell, MSAS CGP (Certified GAPS Practitioner)

    • Hello Mary,

      Thanks so much for reaching out! Yes, spreading Aaron’s message has become my life’s mission and passion these days:) I hope that our story inspires and guides others who are facing the challenges of autism. I wished I’d had a GAPS Practitioner near by when I needed it, but I didn’t so I had to figure it out for myself!

      I’ll be rolling out some really great content in the next 4 to 6 months on this website, and I’d love to collaborate with you. Please feel free to contact in the future and I’ll do the same.



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