Laird crosses channel for Autism awareness documentary
Oct 26, 2006 / Community
All Islands, Kauai, Oahu
by Katherine Fisher- Hawaii Health Guide.com
What could inspire two of the world's best watermen, Laird Hamilton and David Kalama to take a week and go on a 500 mile marathon across Hawaii, traveling by bike and surf board from South Point on the Big Island to the Kauai’s Kilauea lighthouse, the northernmost point in the main Hawaiian Island chain?
The purpose of the marathon odyssey is to raise funds to promote a documentary film about autism made by Don King and his wife, Julianne Yamamoto King. The film “Beautiful Son” is about the Kings’ son Beau, 6, who has autism.
It was Hamilton's idea to undertake the seven-day feat to publicize a documentary, "Beautiful Son," produced by friend and underwater cinematographer Don King about his autistic 6-year-old son, Beau.
Don King said he is hoping to raise $40,000 to distribute the nonprofit film to a wider audience. King's wife, Julianne Yamamoto King, is director and producer of the film about their quest to "recover Beau from autism."
Aquatic legends, Hamilton, 42, and Kalama, 41, have been tow-in surfing partners for the past several years.
Hamilton constantly tests his physical endurance. His latest adventure in May entailed a 426-kilometer crossing between London and Paris in two days, biking and paddling.
King said the hardest part of the journey is paddling from Oahu to Kauai Sunday and Monday, as "only a few people have done this. ... It's a really rough channel." The Alenuihaha Channel crossing between the Big Island and Maui is also grueling, he said. Along the way the pair encountered winds, nigh
"I was really touched by Laird's generosity for offering to do this crossing as a fund raiser for the film. While he and David Kalama did it together, I followed as a film maker and saw firsthand the amount of effort it took to undertake the challenge, I went to thank Laird, and Laird just told me: "This amount of effort is what autistic families are dealing with all the time."
King has filmed Hamilton, for commercials and a film that won for best documentary short at the 2005 Maui Film Festival. King, best known for his underwater cinematography, currently shoots for the popular TV series "Lost."
The Kings are hoping to raise public awareness through their film as well as funds for research to help find a cure for the disease.
Father and film maker Don King said the Big Issues around autism include the facts that has become so common. The incidence of autism has increased from 1 in 10,000 in the 1970s to 1 in 150 today, an increase of over 6,000% a huge increase in the last twenty years King said Beau was normal, happy and bright his first two years of life, but by the time he turned 3, his son was not even making eye contact -- "the light went out."
Autism is a neurological disorder that severely affects development according to the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Considering how common Autism has become (more then childhood leukemia, diabetes and cancers combined) yet receives less attention then other childhood diseases. "It is imperative as a society that we figure this out right away disorder that affects family and society the cost of educating and taking care of autistic children. It costs about 3.2 million dollars over course of lifetime for care of autistic children according to Harvard. Autism occurs by the age of three. There is some kind of window of vulnerability in development.
"For Beau we have tried biomedical intervention after seeing the success with some kids are having with special diets, heavy metals detox. Beau did receive mercury-containing vaccines. He appeared to be developing normally but he also swallowed mercury amalgam filings when he was about 2.5 years. He has tested high for body burden mercury.
Beau speaks and understands but cannot hold a conversation. It is the distance between Beau and the rest of the world that burdens their heart most heavily, King said. Thankfully, he is not prone to violent outbursts -- "he's a very sweet kid with very few behavioral problems," King said.
With my own son, there have been a lot of little things that have helped, like seeing how well he responds to behavior therapy. It is critical the autistic children receive Applied Behavior Analysis but families are struggling to get these services.
A lot of parents have had success with special diet and so have we, by eliminating foods containing casein (dairy) Some kids respond well but this is not part of a standard treatment protocol. We need more study in this area, and have this (dietary and environmental causes) be part of doctors training. In addition to genetics, research and focus should be on possible external triggers and treatment.
One theory is that autistic children are less able to detoxify themselves making them more vulnerable to effects of accomulated toxins.
But the couple does not want to just "tolerate it (autism)," he said. For a parent to be told there is no established treatment for something "way too common" is unacceptable to him -- "there's got to be something. I wish we knew more," King said.
"It is discouraging the at doctors would not take a precautionary approach to mercury. Especially when your child regresses, and you want to bring them back, there has to be a way to bring them back, so when you run into the old theory of autism being untreatable and you want the best for your child and you want the success story. The government has been dragging its feet because of the controversy over Mercury. Mercury is a Nero toxin and should not be used in childhood vaccines. Most flu vaccines contain mercury, but it is also available in a mercury free version. Whenever there is a mercury free vaccine option that is the one we should use.
"My wife and I tried last year to put into legislation to ban mercury in vaccines in Hawaii, it passed but was vetoed by the governor"
Tax-deductible donations to promote the documentary film "Beautiful Son" can be made at www.beautifulson.com or mailed to Swell Cinema, 182 Grand View Ave., San Francisco, CA 94114.
Hamilton says through this fundraiser he expects to "see, feel, and experience different things this week. Hopefully we get people to realize how lucky they are to be healthy."