Looking back is a good thing, sometimes.
You need to see where you’ve been to understand how far you’ve come. This is an article I originally posted on December 13, 2010, before our journey had really started. The photo above was taken a few years earlier at Zoe’s 3rd birthday. Those two photos are within a short span of each other. On the left, before she blew out her candles; on the right, after eating the cake. I remember this birthday clearly because shortly after the photo on the right, she was so upset she had to be put to bed, and all the kids went home while the grown ups filled up their wine glasses. She missed a portion of her own birthday. Mama guilt like that is not easy to forget!
Yet if I had *just* opened my eyes, it’s clear that the meltdown was maybe not the influx of people and sensory like we thought, but the influx of gluten, dairy, soy, dyes (that cake is BRIGHT GREEN), and sugar and God knows what else. It took almost no time at all after clean eating for her to last through an entire birthday party, even if it was not her own.
Without further ado, here is my post from just a few months before we started changing their diets, when we embarked on biomed to help my daughter stop having horrible birthdays.
So this all started a while ago. I had a friend from when I used to live in the Poconos who cured her son of all kinds of disorders just by realizing that he had extreme allergies to most of what he ate. We talked a number of times but frankly, I was so naive I didn’t believe Zoe had autism for a long, and I didn’t think sensory issues were a big deal because I’d seen amazing progress from therapy. I blindly thought things could only get better on their own. Besides, my friend’s children had allergies issues, my kids had disorders.
OK, go ahead, laugh at my expense. So many people had no idea what autism is, for pete’s sake, they can’t even figure out what causes autism, why some kids get it while others don’t, why it affects boys more often, etc. I’m not alone in my cluelessness and I worked for many, many years to be hopeful and optimistic.
The thing is it’s become a ridiculous amount of work to get Zoe…well, anywhere. It’s a battle for her to wear a shirt, never mind a coat, even in cold weather. Sleep is a nightly battle…don’t even recall the last time I slept all the way through. And she’s in no way ready for kindergarten, much less full time school!
Then, 2 years or so after that last talk with my Pocono friend, a bunch of things started happening. First, my daughter’s aide tells me about melatonin. Then my pastor tells me he used to be a vitamin guy for years and knows what supplements do what, and even recommends a few. Next, my neighbor tells me she’s going to a DAN doctor, something, believe it or not, I’ve never even heard of! (UPDATE: DAN = “defeat autism now”, and DAN doctors are those who take an in-depth and usually biomedical approach to relieving the symptoms. Doctors no longer refer to themselves like this. They are now integrated with MAPS: The Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs.) A few more weeks go by. Zoe gets harder and harder to get on the bus, owing to her refusal to wear a shirt or a coat as it gets colder & colder. Sleep is nearly impossible. My ability to create solutions reaches new heights of creativity but saps my energy.
Then this week, as my mind is broadening to find new solutions, I am contacted by someone from my daughter’s school who has lots of ideas for me after reading my blog. AND this weekend met more people who told me great things they heard about taking children off dairy, and how spaghetti squash can replace our house’s staple of wheat pasta.
In addition to the challenges with Zoe, we are now having issues with Amelia. Dietary? I don’t know. Zoe’s sleeplessness can be keeping up Amelia. It’s one of those things it’s easy to forget: how is this affecting my other child?
So we begin, gently, with a few more supplements, and replacing dairy. And look, the supplements have already arrived! Wish me luck.
Today, we know that food caused so many of her struggles, and were easy to fix and heal completely. She sleeps just fine, she wears clothes even alone at home and I have no problem dressing her for winter either. If only I had seen what was right before my eyes, but I guess I have to be content that it’s all in God’s good time.