IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Jefferson County parent Jason Donnelly is taking a unique approach to helping his 12-year-old son, J.P., with autism spectrum disorder.
Donnelly and his son travel to Tijuana, Mexico, to get stem cells from sheep. He says it's the only thing that's helped his child improve his comprehension since he was diagnosed at age 3.
"He's went from just being in this world to wanting to be in this world. He knows everything that's going on, he wants to go to school and he wants to learn," said Donnelly.
A quick search on the Internet and a referral from friends led to a doctor in Mexico. Now his son takes stem cells every other day from a bottle.
"You suck it out with a syringe, take out the needle, open your tongue hold it in your tongue, for 2 minutes, and that's how it dissolves into your body," Donnelly said.
Donnelly says the $200 a month the treatment costs is worth it.
The stem cells are processed tissue from the organs, embryos or fetuses of animals.
"Until you're in a father's position that will do anything for their son they just don't know. I will do anything for my son," Donnelly said.
Pete Molino, CEO of Access Point Family Services in Idaho Falls, said although sheep stem cells may have worked as a treatment for one boy with autism, people still need to do their research on peer review journals.
"Sometimes it's better to wait for science to catch up. Is this really something that works? But in the end, how do you tell a parent, 'Don't try it'? This is their kid, and they're going to do what they feel is necessary to help them," said Molino.
Donnelly said he will continue to use sheep stem cells as treatment and said J.P. hasn't had any side-effects.
"It's a slow process, but it's a good process," he said.
Doctors say there is no known cure for autism and they still don't know the cause. They also say people receiving stem cell therapy can get bacterial and viral infections carried by the animal cells, and some have had life-threatening and even deadly allergic reactions.