Cumberland Academy

Personal Testimony – Autism

Personal Testimony – Autism

by Max Desorgher

Part One – Autism, a social disorder

“For those who don’t know me, or haven’t guessed it yet, I have what is called a “Social and Communication Disorder” which the outer world refers to as “Autism”.

Yet for the first two thirds of my life I didn’t know this — I just thought that I had a mental illness, or some kind of brain damage from taking too many drugs as a teenager, or that there was something unusual that I didn’t have a name for.

Even though I was acutely aware that both my appearance and my behavior was unusual, even disturbing, to other people (from the way people reacted to me, responded to me, avoided me, made comments about me) I had no idea what it was, or what to call it. And as well as the reflections I got from others was my own inner life and mental landscape, which can only be described as unusual because the vast majority of people I had met in my 36 years did not seem to have a mental landscape like mine, or even spend much time on thinking about such things as the meaning of life, consciousness, the cosmos, and myriad other philosophical and existential ramblings that occupied my mind pretty much all the time.

I knew what autism was of course, but I didn’t connect what I experienced as my cognitive and social challenges to the little knowledge I had of autism at that time.

I was born in May 1960 and that makes me 61 years old right now, and in the summer of 1996 I remember sitting in cafe on the shore front in the little fishing village/resort in Holland where I lived at the time and contemplating that I probably suffered from depression, and I was tired of it. I was tired of sitting in cafes on my own trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I wanted to finally get some help for this.

At that time, Internet had just arrived in Holland and I was one of the first wave of people to connect to the internet via a dial-up connection and a Windows 3.1 hard drive. I had discovered a usenet newsgroup called and was reading it regularly, so I posted a simple message on it one day:–

‘Does anyone know of an alternative remedy for depression?’

Almost immediately I received a reply:–

Have you tried a Gluten-Free diet?’

The correspondent was Don Wiss, an American who seemed to be some kind of expert on Celiac Disease and gluten-free diets, so I responded to him and he started to send me articles and links on research that existed on the links between gluten intolerance, depression and mental illness.

Incredibly, Don is still on the internet and the first article he sent me is still on his website:–

From: Ron Hoggan
Date: Tue, 04 Jun 1996
Subject: Depression

There is a tremendous volume of information that ties depressive illness to gluten intolerance. . . “

He also sent me a series of articles by Norwegian researcher Dr. Kalle Reichelt which is still available here:–

. . . and information about Dr. Curtis Dohan who dedicated much of his professional life to exploring and publishing the connection between Celiac Disease and Schizophrenia :–

This was more than enough for me to embark on my first experiment with diet change, and I immediately started a GF diet.

End of Part One

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