Spitz in war against global epidemic
Former Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz warns the world is on the verge of a global epidemic of autism – and a cure must be found.
He’s determined to be a leading voice in that effort after seeing his twin sons develop the disorder at the age of sixteen months.
Autism makes social interaction and communication difficult or impossible for sufferers. But the problem is not clearly understood.
While many victims are born with it, Spitz says many more develop it later – and it’s essential to find out why.
He tells Examiner.com: “My children were not born autistic. They were speaking at nine months, walking, talking, feeding themselves. Later on, about sixteen months, they started to unlearn what they already learned at a very fast pace.
“Naysayers say, ‘Hey, we don’t know if autism is developed later in life.’ One of the main principles I’m trying to bring awareness to is: there is no testing. There’s no blood test, there’s no doctor’s test, there’s no anything to say your child has autism. We’re way behind the eight-ball with what is really a global epidemic.”
Spitz has returned to music with his band Red Lamb, and co-wrote its debut album with Megadeth mainman dave Mustaine. Part of the reason for coming back is to increase awareness of the autism issue – which he says affects his life “pretty much every 30 seconds.”
He explains: “Someone who doesn’t have an autistic child says, ‘Well, you know, my kids have fits too.’ Ours are quite different. They can’t handle eating. They have to drink out of the same cup with the same straw. It that cup is one-thousandth of an inch to the right of the table where he normally wants it, he’ll go into an extreme meltdown.
“He’ll literally throw himself on the floor, bash his head on the floor, bash his head on the wall. It can last anywhere from five minutes to five hours.”
Brendan and Jaden are mirror-image identical twins, and that brings an additional level of issues. Spitz says: “If you have normal identical twins they have their own language. They can talk to each other without talking to each other. So when one goes into a deep meltdown, the other reacts.
“We can’t just say, ‘Brendan, I’ve been waiting half an hour for you to choose a shirt. You’re going to wear this shirt today. I’m putting it on you.’ He feels like I took a blowtorch out. The brain reacts differently than our brain. All those motherly rules we grew up with, Mommy saying: ‘Your fit’s over, you’re going to wear this shirt,’ you need to relearn.”
After switching to a toxin-free lifestyle Spitz says the twins are improving, but adds: “There is no cure. We can’t even find a test to know if a child is truly autistic. There are other ways – a child doesn’t look at you in the eyes, he’s always looking away. But no real definitive where they put you in this machine and on Friday we’ll have your results.”
Red Lamb track Puzzle Box is based on the theme of living with autistic children.