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Autism Diet Challenge: Just Try It! March 1, 2010

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, autism diet, Children, Health, Parenting, specific carbohydrate diet.
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Right off the bat I want to warn you that I am sticking my neck out here in an effort to save the world, instead of  just worrying about helping my own son. And I’m sure someone is going to make me regret that I did, but I’m going for it so I can sleep at night…

Ok. I try to be open-minded, and I love a good debate. And I really try to be respectful of other people’s opinions when they differ from mine.

But if I’m being truly honest with myself, I need to face this one pet peeve I have that sort of deviates from what I just said.

I can’t for the life of me understand why parents won’t at least TRY an autism diet to see if it would help their child!

Let’s examine some top reasons why people won’t try it:

1. There’s no proof it works, and recently, there have been reports that say it doesn’t.

To that I say: Not everything, especially something like the implementation of a diet and it’s affect on behavior, can be adequately tested in a study. Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t trust their own gut and eyes over a medical report? Let’s not forget how many decades the government and medical establishment let us go on thinking cigarettes weren’t harmful…

2. It’s too expensive.

Yes, it is more expensive in the sense that you will spend more money on food for a special diet than a mainstream diet… unless of course your regular diet is one of take-out food. But, if your child felt better and behaved better, wouldn’t that be worth the cost? Maybe you’d offset the diet’s cost with the money you might save on other treatments that may now not be needed.

3. It’s too hard to do.

It is hard, at first. And at times, like parties and holidays. But parties and holidays with a wild child are hard too. What if the diet helped your child and you and he could enjoy the party for a change? In time, the diet  just becomes a part of life and that’s how you’d have to look at it. Look at it as a lifestyle choice, not a diet. Otherwise, like all diets, it’ll be doomed to fail. 

4. I can’t imagine “doing this to him” for his whole life!

First of all, take small steps. Tell yourself you’ll just give it a real try for 30 days. And then give it a real, honest try. Even when it’s difficult. And it will be hard at first…especially if it is working! No cheating. You will know in 30 days if there’s some noticeable improvement in your child. And when you see that change, that is where the strength to continue the diet comes from. And support groups online. For me, I saw improvements in my son within 2 weeks, but it took about 18 months on the diet before his gut healed enough that he finally had a formed stool…just days before his scheduled colonoscopy and endoscopy, thank God.

In my son’s case, we were fortunate enough to have very specialized labwork done through an autism study he was involved in (lab work you can’t just order from a local lab) and we KNOW he has some mutations and can not digest the proteins in certain foods. In fact, his body breaks them down into harmful opiates, which, when released into the bloodstream, travel to the brain and contribute to the autistic behaviors. For me, feeding him the typical American diet is like feeding him poison. What if your child has that kind of mutation, but you don’t know it?

5. He won’t eat that food. He’s picky.

Okay, who is the parent here? This is the time to get tough.  And the earlier you implement a diet, the easier it is to do. My son was just turning 3 and you have more control at a younger age. Plus the diet will be well established by the time he starts school and he won’t even remember McDonald’s nuggets, so he won’t long for them, though he may be curious about them.

Think of those processed foods as the enemy. Most kids are picky eaters. It’s in your hands whether you are going to let your kid’s chosen 4 favorites be healthy ones or not. If you stick to your guns, your child will eventually give in since his survival instinct will make him eat this way if that’s all you offer. Plus, some kids are actually addicted to foods their bodies are craving because bacteria in their guts need those foods to live. If that’s the case in your child, you need to break that cycle by depriving the bacteria from feeding. You do that by eating differently. You starve the bacteria and they die. And the gut heals.

6. It’s not healthy.

Come on. How balanced do you think the typical American diet of chicken nuggets, hot dogs and pizza is? With so many children becoming obese and diabetic, these diets are actually a gift of health that you can give to your child.

Even adults would do well on this diet. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet that my son is on has been helping celiacs, Crohns and IBS patients for over 50 years. Have you noticed how middle aged folks are suddenly unable to tolerate dairy or gluten? I’ve been told it’s because our bodies haven’t evolved fast enough to keep up with the processing of the foods we eat today. We so-called healthy people can’t break down these chemically-processed foods. How can our children then?

Under the supervision of a medical professional and with the proper nutritional supplementation if needed, these diets can resolve intestinal and digestive problems that you may not even realize your child is suffering from. Don’t you want to feed your child a diet that makes him or her feel their best?

7. My child doesn’t have any food allergies or sensitivites so he doesn’t need the diet.

Maybe. Maybe not. A doctor can give a diagnosis. But a mother’s instinct says a lot, too… if she knows what to look for. Does your child have any of the red flag signs of an allergy or sensitivity…such as red cheeks, skin rashes/eczema, dark or reddish circles under their eyes? Maybe constipation or diahhrea? Does he eat certain few foods to the exclusion of most others…almost like an addict? Can’t sleep at night?

8. I don’t know where to start.

First, find a doctor who supports autism diets. A recommendation from a friend is best, but failing that, look for a DAN (Defeat Autism Now) doctor or chiropractor. Allergists and immunologists with autism practices may be able to help you. Some, but few, pediatricians may too. Be sure they have experience with autism diets.

Do some research. There’s a few different diets out there. The best one (in my opinion only) is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet  my son has been on for 5 years and you can learn all about it by reading the fascinating book Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall. SCD is like GF/CF to the extreme since it allows no grain at all and my challenge is to try this diet for 30 days if you think you can handle it! (For more info, see the Autism Diet Help tab in this blog). But there’s also regular GF/CF (gluten free/casein free) diets and the Feingold Diet.

****I’ve always been an advocate of therapies that may improve the lives of our autistic children …so long as they do not have the potential for harm. These diets are healthy ways of eating for anyone. There is no harm if a doctor is on board with any nutritional supplementation. It may not make any difference in your child’s behavior, but it won’t hurt him or you to try it. 

But what if it helps him? What if it even recovers him?

Can you live with yourself if you didn’t take that chance? It could be the simplest of answers. Just 30 days to see if it may help. You don’t need Jenny McCarthy or me to tell you. You will know if it’s helping. And if it’s not, go off it with the peace of mind of knowing you gave it a real try, instead of living with the nagging wonder if you should do it.

By April 1st, those persistent red cheeks and shiners could be gone. Maybe even some language. Please trust me and just try it. And come back and let me know how it went!

What has your experience been with autism diets? I want the good, the bad, and the ugly…

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Autism is like the Olympics February 24, 2010

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, autism diet, Children, Health, Parenting.
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The Thrill of Victory…and the Agony of Defeat.

My last post was clearly a thrill of victory one.

This one  is more of an agony of defeat kind.

Been going through a rough patch with Fabio. I recently messed with his diet in one of my very rare attempts to broaden it ever so slightly. Nothing crazy or not permitted. Just some things high in salicylates, which he is kind of sensitive to…so we avoid them for long stretches of time and then periodically attempt to reintroduce them.

That attempt sadly sent my little guy over the cliff just like that Olympic skiier whose famous wipe-out in the 70’s lived on for decades as the “face” of the agony of defeat.

He’s been having trouble in school attending to his work and focusing. He’s been aggressive and often full of rage when the slightest demands are put upon him.

During the never-ending month long week the kids were just off from school, I finally took him to the DAN chiro, who took one look at his eyes and said, “What did you do to his diet?” Then he looked at my eyes, full of tears. All I could blurt out before they ran over was “One of us needs medication.”

Every minute of every day so often, I second-guess myself about the choices we’ve made regarding Fabio’s care. The natural/holistic autism course we’ve taken. But deep down, I think it was right … for us.  Is right, for us. To me, it is more important that we do no harm. Even if the choice means that he doesn’t advance as far, as fast. It’s so easy to imagine that the other road would have lead to a happier place when we hit a bump in the one that we’re on.

So …to continue with my cheesy sports analogies…we’ve decided to stay the course. When the going gets tough, the tough get going …  I’ve removed all of the offending additions from his diet, and finally after a freakin week of insanity am now seeing  my happy little man emerging from the edge of the cliff he’d gone over.

So I’m forced to face that as Fabio’s coach and biggest fan, I can dictate the course of his daily routine and diet, guide him as best I can, and cheer loudly from the sidelines as he works so much harder than the average person, day in and day out. I can triumph in his victories and cry over his setbacks along the way. I can help make him the best that he can be. But there are factors out there that I can not control. All any of us can ask of ourselves …and those we love …is to try our best.

And if he doesn’t get on the podium this year, there is always next time. Training begins hard… again… tomorrow.

Autism and the School Play February 18, 2010

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Children, Parenting, school, special education, special needs, specific carbohydrate diet, Uncategorized.
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“He’s going to be a horse.”

The note came home from his second grade teacher. The play he’s been working so hard for since October in his mainstream Music class was rapidly approaching.

A HORSE??

What the heck kind of play is this? Is it all horses? Is the horse a central character? And most importantly…can the show go on if the horse runs away?!

The note continues. “Must wear solid black, brown, or tan. A headpiece will be provided.”

HEADPIECE?!

You’re freakin kidding, right? Ok. Now, I’m starting to sweat. What kind of headpiece are we talkin about here? Doesn’t matter. I don’t see him even trying it on, much less wearing it for a 30 minute production.

Thirty minutes?

What are the odds of Fabio and his one other autistic classmate making it through this mainstream version of “The Tortoise and the Hare”…with about 35 other “typical” second graders?

Thirty minutes of standing in place on risers, many musical numbers with hand and arm gestures, taking turns, NOT running away, even in the face of all those parents and grandparents and their camcorders…and all the noise.

To date, Fabio has had bad experiences with stages. Graduation from his special needs program right before kindergarten didn’t go well. He was miserable, wouldn’t wear the cap, and was melting in the gown. And he refused to go up for his diploma. One of only 3 kids who wouldn’t. Ditto in two award ceremonies for reading since then.

But time has passed since those events. And Fabio has also had a chance to see his sister perform in several concerts and live theater productions in the community. He goes to the shows, sits nicely, and gives her flowers at the end. And he loves music. Maybe this would be different.

I figured I’d better prepare him in advance for the idea that we’d be coming to see this play. So a few days beforehand, while he and I were laying in my bed relaxing before bedtime,  I said in my happy but not too excited voice, “Mommy and Daddy can’t wait to come and see you be a horse in the show.”

“No.”

“Well, um, yes, honey. We are going to come see you just like the other mommies and daddies of your friends. Ok?”

“No.”

Time for a new approach. “Honey, Mommy and Daddy want to come see you just like we come see Nic (Sister) in her shows. We are so happy and proud of you and want to come see your play. And we’ll bring you a present.”

I see the wheels turning as he considers this. I brace myself for the request. Surely he’ll ask for some costly toy…

“Bring flowers.”

Did I hear that right? Flowers? For a school production? For a boy? Well, why the hell not! You got it, bud. And I secretly applauded his connection between his play and his sister’s plays and the ritual of giving flowers.

So we grabbed the camcorder, special treats for the after-party that he could eat on his diet, and of course, the freakin flowers, and we hurried off into the snowy morning traffic to get good seats for whatever was in store for us. And we waited. All the “typical” kids came in and took their places. All the kids in the classes of those kids came in and took their places.  All those kids’ parents and grandparents came in and took their places.

Where is he?

Then, bringing up the rear… like a cowboy hearding cattle… marched my “horse” with the horse headband on! He went right to his spot on the riser. The music began.

He was perfect. PERFECT. He was typical. In fact, he was better than typical. No one there would ever have guessed that he or his classmate beside him had autism.

I started to cry. My husband started to cry. His teachers and aides started to cry. His former teachers who came out in the snow from other schools and from maternity leave just to see him…started to cry. And for about 30 minutes we all watched in awe as he did every single thing just right. And he radiated happiness. The little black horse with the headpiece on his head.

And when it was over and the tears were dried, that little horse rode off into the hallway… carrying flowers like a champion.

Regression by Strawberry May 2, 2009

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, autism diet, Children, Health, school, specific carbohydrate diet.
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Gotta love those care-free days of youth and all the fun school projects you do in special ed first grade. You’ve got the non-edible projects with macaroni and glue. And, occasionally, you get the edible ones.

And when your kid is on a totally restrictive special diet from hell , these projects are the ones that make you want to kill somebody. Or kill yourself. Oh, and it’s extra special when you get only one night’s notice about the project…

So the note comes home:

We’re going to be making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in class tomorrow. Can you send something in so that Fabio can participate?

Unlike the hundred of thousands of kids who’d die from it, it’s not the peanut butter that’s a problem for Fabio.  I have a special organic peanut butter with no additives that he loves.

And it’s not the bread. I make Fabio bread from cashew butter, eggs, baking powder and a pinch of sea salt. 

It’s the freakin jam/jelly that is the challenge.

I’ve been canning jams and jellies for competition for almost 20 years, so thankfully, I have a leg up on most folks in that area. And I can substitute honey for sugar in the recipes. The trouble is the fruit options.

Fabio can eat many fruits, but not the ones that make popular jams. He can’t tolerate berries, grapes, or apples due to their high natural salicylates and/or phenols. And what’s worse is…he loves them. If you put out a bowl of blueberries and a cake, he’d go for the berries every time.

When he eats these fruits, he is in heaven. Until the next day. And the five to ten days thereafter. Yes, you heard me. The effects far outlast how long the food was in his body.

It’s like a Jeckyl and Hyde thing.

He regresses across the board. Total loss of eye contact and any functional language. Very bad behaviors. Repeated tantrums. And it goes on for days! Of course, it’s never worth the moment of pure joy he had while eating the coveted fruit. And yet again…

Still, every 6-12 months a situation will arise when the temptation is too great. When heroic efforts would be needed to avoid the fruit. When just enough time has elapsed since the last time to let me forget how hard those several days of hell are going to be on all of us.

When you think that maybe… just maybe… this time it will be different because maybe… just maybe… he somehow outgrew this allergy.

So I stay up til 2 am making this gorgeous, ruby-red strawberry jam for my little man. And I bake him a fresh loaf of his bread and slice it a bit thicker so he’ll be able to spread on it without ripping. And I packed a little container of his peanut butter. And I crossed my fingers.

Sleepyhead walks in to the kitchen at 7am, sees the jam in his lunchbox, removes the container, and says very nonchalantly: “No thank you.”

Umm… No freakin way!!! I thought. And… with the look of daggers coming from my tired eyes as I replaced the container in the lunchbox… I said through gritted  smiling teeth:

“Mommy made you yummy jelly to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches today at school.”

“No thanks.”  As he removes it again.

Okay, this is going nowhere. So, I give him a tiny taste. And in one instant a memory awakened inside him. And his green eyes widened. And he smiled. Big.

So he happily went off to school with the promise of more jam in his future. And I met him up there later to give him some enzymes to help him digest the berries. And he came home begging for more PB&J sandwiches…which I gave him… until the small allotted amount of jam was gone. And he was in heaven.

Until the next day when regression set in.

But I’m happy to say that it is less severe than it’s been in the past. He has more language now and has retained it. Eye contact is okay for the most part. The bad behaviors are only evident when demands are placed on him that he doesn’t want to do and even then, not as bad as before.

It gives me hope that my boy will someday be able to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

Like fresh strawberries in the summer.

And maybe a friend to share them with.

Drop Those Peeps You Pesky Wabbit! April 12, 2009

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, autism diet, Children, Parenting, special needs.
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Ahh. Autism and Easter.

It’s hard enough to deal with the regular holiday stresses, and the challenge of the stiff clothes. When there’s a special needs kid in the house on a restrictive diet… like Fabio and his Specific Carbohydrate Diet… life is just that much more challenging on a day like Easter.

Sure I’ve done my share of almost heroic attempts at making a homemade candy or confection that is legal on this diet. Sometimes, they are even edible. Sort of.  But, I’ve burnt gallons of honey along the way too. I’ve made lollipops and marshmallows from scratch. I’ve made animal crackers, painstakingly cut into mini-animal shapes.  But Fabio never eats any of these things. Maybe it’s a texture thing. Maybe they just suck.

In any event, we have become a candy-free Easter house. And we like it. We have our own traditions that work for us and keep things stress-free. Well, you know what I mean…

“The Rabbit” …as my mom always referred to the Easter Bunny… always brought me stuff in an interesting, reusable container of sorts…but NEVER a basket. Things like a kiddie plastic wheelbarrow or, when I was older, those funky round holders for your stacks of 45 vinyl records…Oh my God, I am ancient!  (It’s true, the first time I saw a microwave was in college… and it took up that rich kid’s whole closet.)  Anyway, the tradition of “no baskets” continues in our home.

Daughter’s computer game and theater tickets and small trinkets are beautifully held by a funky painter’s style cap she can wear later. Fabio’s got a CARS pail full of garden tools, CARS die cast cars he’s been asking for, kooky pens, and a computer game he’ll love. No one will miss the basket… or the candy. 

The egg hunt for plastic eggs filled with coins, stickers, tattoos, and trinkets of the non-candy variety is yet another great tradition that we’ve gently tweaked to be sweet-free, but still fun.

I do confess that while shopping today, I bought a Lindt chocolate bunny specifically because 10 cents of my purchase (never mind that that one bunny came to freakin $8.00…) was being donated to autism research. It’s a win-win-win, right? Lindt gets $7.90. Autism gets 10 cents. I get another two pounds heavier. Can you say sarcasm? I don’t mean to sound like an ingrate, or to look a gift horse in the mouth, but can’t Lindt do a little better than one dime out of $8.00? Fine. I’ll be quiet now. In fact, you won’t get a “peep” out of me…literally!

So I am wishing you all a Happy Easter. One free of sugar rushes and allergic reactions to colors and dyes and other candy ingredients…or at least free of the stresses that often come with holidays. And for anyone who is so inclined, feel free to share your Easter traditions or tips for special needs family fun.

100 Days of School February 9, 2009

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, autism diet, Parenting.
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So, this week we celebrate the 100th Day of School. Around here, it’s a big deal, but …thankfully… it is only celebrated by the first graders. (I know there’s other states that have each grade celebrate it each year.)

When my typical daughter had to do her project, we did this pretty fancy thing involving painting a wooden plaque, screwing 4 hooks into it, threading 25 colorful beads onto 4 wires (100 beads), attaching the strands to the hooks, and placing sticker-letters on the plaque proclaiming her name and the school name and “100 days of school”.

Tonight’s project with Fabio was simply to glue 100 things onto the big piece of construction paper the teacher provided with a big “100” in the center. Easy, right? Well…

First I made the mistake of taking Fabio to the craft store to pick out what he wanted to glue on. I had already decided on those foam stickers that you just peel the back off and they stick on anything. If I had to deal with glue for 100 items, I’d surely have passed out from the fumes…

So, Fabio was a pain in the butt in the craft store. It didn’t help that I had a return to do there first and the clerk was slow as molasses.  Fabio’s rarely good in the stores. Which is why I rarely bring him. Which is why he isn’t good there. Vicious circle.

So we grab the foamies and get home and get started.

By the time we got to about 40 items, I was losing him. And we had 60 to go. Lots and lots of re-directing later, and the masterpiece is done! It’s covered with fish, alligators, turtles, frogs, dolphins, penguins and lots of stars!

The thing I hate more about the 100th day of school celebration than the project is the traditional McDonald’s Happy Meal party they are having in Fabio’s class to celebrate on Thursday. ARGH!

The form came home last week requesting $4 if you are participating. Fabio can’t eat anything that I don’t make for him…so McDonald’s is OUT. But how do I handle this? I can’t have him eat his regular food when his class is all eating happy meals. Do I keep him home?

So here’s what I came up with. On Thursday, Fabio will have a happy meal…sort of. I bought one this weekend and kept the McNugget container, the cup/lid/straw, the apple dippers bag, the happy meal bag, the boy toy. I will make him nuggets for the teacher to heat up and sneak into this container, a peeled and sliced fresh apple to sneak into the apple dippers bag, his own juice to put in the cup. His meal will look like the others. I think it’ll work.

Its times like this that it’s so hard to have a kid on the spectrum on a diet.

New Autism Diet: GF/CF… and B/F? January 8, 2009

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Health, Parenting, special needs.
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People think I’m crazy. They do.

When I explain the diet that ‘C’ has been on for almost 4 years…the Specific Carbohydrate Diet…I always get that same slack-jawed, glazed-over look. It is because SCD is like GF/CF on steroids!

He has no gluten…in fact, the has NO GRAIN AT ALL. No dairy. No sugars…in fact, no sweetner of any kind except honey. No yeast, soy, corn, flavors, colors, dyes, preservatives, yada yada. Nothin. Surprisingly, he can have nuts and eggs. But he can’t tolerate legal SCD foods which are naturally high in phenols and salicylates either.  It’s a bitch. But it’s worth it.

But this post is not about that… Its about Delthia Ricks’ article on page A4 in Newsday yesterday.

Are you wondering what “BF” stands for?

It’s for Bug Free… BUG FREE! (Yes, I just said freakin BUG FREE!)

Would you believe that food manufacturers are allowed to use bug-based dyes in our food, drink, and cosmetics and merely label the dyes as “artificial color” or “color added”!  Better think twice before guzzling that ruby-colored grapefruit beverage you love for breakfast. Or feeding your kid some popular brands of yogurt.  Or even kissing your mother with that mouth.

Apparently, it will take another two years before the food industry will be required to disclose on its ingredients labels an extract made from the crushed wingless beetle-like creature known as a cochineal. Two more years.

Now, I consider myself to be a pretty damn savvy label reader. And my gut can withstand the most fiery, spicy food. But the thought that we have been allowed to consume pulverized bugs …and that we’ve unwittingly fed them to our potentially immune-challenged children…is enough to make me toss my tacos.

Really….Would anyone KNOWINGLY ingest bugs? I bet the people who make that stuff don’t eat their own products! And it has no nutritional value.  It just provides lovely shades of red, pink, orange and purple to your food and cosmetics.

But it gets worse. The Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA in July 1998 to create a new labeling rule regarding this bug use because some people had suffered severe…even life-threatening… allergic reactions after consuming or using products containing the bug-based dyes!

11 YEARS of potentially life-threatening allergic reactions… well, make it 13 by the time the new law takes effect. WTF?!

Some companies already list the dye, but not using words that would be a red-flag…or a Black Flag!… to the average label reader who doesn’t have a bug-ology degree. So here’s what you need to watch out for if you want to avoid consuming dead bugs:

  • carmine
  • cochineal
  • E-120

Is it any wonder that people are starting to consider that in some children there may be a link between autism and diet? Do we really need to color our food or our lips with crushed Peruvian beetles?

And most scarily, what other petitions about other dangers impacting our autistic kids are sitting around in the FDA…that we won’t learn about for another 11 years?

It makes my skin crawl.

Oh wait…it was just a Peruvian cochineal.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor…On Call November 9, 2008

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, autism diet, Children, Health, Parenting, special needs.
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There’s something really wrong with the world when a little boy can be harmed by an apple.

Yes, an apple.

Brief history here: Some people…including my son…are sensitive to can’t tolerate foods that are naturally high in salicylates/phenols. Apples are one of those foods. For most people they’re a food that’s as natural, healthy and as “American wholesome” as it gets. One a day is supposed to keep the doctor away, right?  Well, not exactly…for my son, anyway.

Apples are “legal” on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet he follows, but they have given ‘C’ some grief in the past, so we’ve avoided them for about a year. In a weak moment, and with a special enzyme to help avoid the problems, I gave ‘C’ an apple. What I didn’t realize I needed to do was watch him like a hawk while he ate it. After all, he’s 6 and he’s eaten them before…

In the two seconds that I turned my back to open the front door to an arriving friend… (Isn’t that always the way these tales begin? )… ‘C’ runs over to greet the friend. Does he say “Hi”? No. He was too excited. Instead, ‘C’ held out his hand to show the man his special treat…his treasure. 

His apple… or should I say, the nub that was left of it.  SON OF A B#TCH!!!!!!

There in his hand was the bottom inch of the core. Did he eat the top half? The friggin stem? The little brown pits…which have arsenic in them??!! Panic struck. I tried to get his to throw it all up…until he almost bit off my finger in self-defense.

Quick, call the chiropractor (who treats him for everything). God Bless this man. He is always so calm and reassuring and never makes you feel like the bad mother you feel like you are.

So ‘C’ got his apple…with an activated charcoal “chaser”. Of all the supplements, vitamins and such stuff I’ve had to force into ‘C’, this charcoal was by far the most vile. But the doctor said it’ll absorb everything…not to worry.  And ‘C’ appears no worse for the wear. Thank God.  But me?  Well…

I am glad I listened to that “voice” that said to buy the activated charcoal. Its been knocking around in the very back of the kitchen cabinet where all the vitamins and supplements are stored for several months now.  I  highly recommend every household get some for emergency use. You never know when it’ll save a life…or at least a trip to the doctor or ER.

Hmmm. There’s something very fitting about the thought of Santa stuffing some activated charCOAL in my little devil’s angel’s stocking for being on the shit nice list this year again…

Halloween Should Be National Autism Day! October 31, 2008

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Children, humor, Parenting, special needs.
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Why can’t every day be Halloween?

There is just something magical about Halloween. It’s always been my favorite holiday and it’s obvious that ‘C’ inherited that gene. For the past three Halloweens, it’s really been like a witch cast a freakin spell on ‘C’ and made him typical for the day. The whole day. And night.

Any day of the year, if you ask him what we do on Halloween, he will snap out of whatever he is doing and answer “Go trick-or-treating at Carly’s house!” (his sister’s friend). Halloween can… and has… been used to blackmail him into good behavior for at least a week now. He’s been talking about being the Hulk for weeks. He even put on the horrible hard plastic with flimsy elastic band mask…whose eye holes don’t line up.

I let him go to the party at school and I’m happy to say it went well. I’d gotten the teacher’s assurance that she’d be on him like a hawk.  I gave him a precautionary enzyme, because, well, let’s just say I have trust issues…I spent the entire freakin morning preparing brand new recipes so he’d have new treats there which would be “legal” on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

I found and modified some recipes on the pecanbread website and made him pumpkin-shaped pressed cookies (which I cursed because as they baked and puffed up, the shape looked more like a circle than a pumpkin). So I rolled them and cut them into ghost cookies with raisin eyes and mouths (which I also cursed since I had to keep re-freezing the dough). Then I made mini cupcakes with fake fluff-like frosting in Halloween liners. And I caved in and let him have some blueberries since the enzyme is designed to help him with the phenols/salicylates in the berries and the raisins. Blueberries are his favorite food in the world. They just don’t love him back… Because all the kids were given Clay’s treats too, he didn’t seem so different and he didn’t cry… despite not having those glowing orange cheetos on his plate.

He was so excited to go trick-or-treating after school. We did our neighborhood first then went to Carly’s. All this language came out of nowhere. Mr. Chatty all day.  Mr. Manners too. Lots of unprompted “thank you”s as he left each doorstep (of course, whenever they opened the door he’d state excitedly “I want some!”)  He’d be the first to get to each door out of the pack of 10 kids…so he could ring the doorbell.. one of his favorite old stims. It makes me laugh now to think back on the behavior plans we’d make to get ‘C’ to stop ringing doorbells and opening/closing doors. And then Halloween would come and undo all that work.

Each year on Halloween, ‘C’ gets better at the whole thing. This was the first year ‘C’ didn’t even try to get into someone’s house! (Last year, he made it into 2 houses despite one of us being right there on him!) Talk about progress. He is always the youngest, and the last one standing, and would keep going til midnight if we let him. He is so good about not being able to eat any of his candy–ever–because he never sees anyone else eating theirs. All he knows is that the fun is in the collecting!  He could barely stay awake for his bath tonight. My tub will never be the same…black hair spray and green face makeup. Yikes!

I don’t know if it’s simply that Halloween is a night for craziness, for acting up, for packs of kids running wild in the streets and that’s why ‘C’ fits in so well. Maybe… as the harvest moon shines overhead… the typical kids take a step onto the spectrum with their behavior and ‘C’ takes a step off the spectrum with his… so the gap between the two worlds seems to close for 24 hours?  Does the anonymity of the costume factor in somehow…Is he just not ‘C’ because, well, he’s not ‘C’ on Halloween (i.e. he’s the Hulk)? Did he think in that smart little head of his, “Hey, I’m the Hulk. I’d better get my friggin act together!”? 

Well, whatever is behind the magical transformation of ‘C’ every Halloween, I’m always sad to see it go. Especially since it leaves behind a mountain of candy just waiting to glue itself to my ass. 

So if anyone knows the witch responsible for this spell, please let her know that my soul is indeed for sale. All I ask in return is that it be Halloween every day… Oh, and that all the homes give out MaryJanes.

Green M&Ms Make Me…Angry September 19, 2008

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, autism diet, Health, specific carbohydrate diet, Uncategorized.
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Argh! Another dietary infraction at school. It seems ‘C’ got an M&M…from the floor, no less! And here’s the ironic thing… when the school nurse called my cell to tell me about it, I was eating breakfast with some of the moms from his class. And one of them sent in M&Ms that morning.

This mom is a new friend of mine. A few of us formed a breakfast club of sorts, meeting for french toast, bacon and support every Thursday morning at the diner. (Don’t know why we didn’t start this club up last year, but I guess we just had to get used to our own transitions to kindergarten.)

These women are already so important to me. We not only have parenting an autistic child in common, but our kids share the same teacher. Our shared experiences really empower us. We are becoming our own little “force” to be reckoned with. A little like “Don’t mess with the kids in class 1-5”. Wait til we join the SEPTA team next week!

So, the M&M thing really set me off… especially coming right on the heels of the “raisin incident”. And mostly because it set ‘C’ off–literally. It had chocolate, dairy, sugars, and artificial color/dye, just to name a few of the offensive parts. Who wouldn’t want one? Especially a little boy. Or the little girl who was the intended recipient of the candy.  In fact, I know several people who can’t push themselves away from a bowl of them. (Of course, they are my husband’s family and that’s a whole other post…)

So ‘C’ is not his usual self now. And how long that will last remains to be seen. (Bananas do him in for 10 days.) The regular ‘C’ is gone… replaced by a boy who waffles between maniacal laughter and bouts of sudden crying and sadness. He squeeks out “feel better”, but can’t tell me what hurts. His verbals are down.  He peed a little in his pants because he is not as focused. He peed a little in the tub for the first time in his life.  He’s even limping a little, but he didn’t injure himself. And so we wait…

So I’m mad about it all. Not at my friend. After all, she sent them in as a reinforcer to motivate her child. If ‘C’ didn’t have these diet issues, I can’t say I wouldn’t have sent them in for him, too. Though I do wish the kids, who are all advanced enough in age and skill, would all just move on to non-edible reinforcers, like stickers, playgound or computer time, or something similar and a little more toward mainstreaming. No one would argue that most kids would be better off without candy-especially in the morning.  (Of course I’ve always been put off by the food reinforcers, even when used on ‘C’ as a toddler. They always made me feel like ABA was dog-training. “Do this trick, and here’s your treat”)…

I am mad ‘C’ can’t have M&Ms. I’m mad other kids can–and do–in front of him. I’m mad that they are always at my husband’s family’s functions. I’m even mad at myself for eating them when ‘C’ is not around.

So, I guess green M&Ms make me mad. And to all of you out there with your minds in the gutter… they certainly don’t make me horny. What’s that  anyway?  Anyone remember?