Saturday, January 3, 2009

Autism and reflection on the past year

Historically I am not a "resolution" kind of gal. If there is something I want to work on, I start right away, I don't see the beginning of the year as a necessary jumping off spot. However, I do think it is as good a time as any for a refreshing pause in the chaos of life to reflect on where you've been and where you are headed. Often times, speaking in terms of having a child with Autism, my head is down and I am going uphill against the wind. And this is a metaphor for many aspects of my life in regards to my son, his school, diet, supplements, therapy, testing, behavioral challenges, etc. It is good to stop, catch your breath and make sure you haven't gotten off track. This past year brought us so many challenges and successes, it was a tough but good year. We found an amazing doctor, Kurt Woeller, who has guided my son's recovery in a way that no one else could before him. My son's progress has been amazing. Here's what has worked the best:

GFCF diet - going on 3 years now and we see a huge difference
Methyl B-12 injections + folinic acid - this has enable my son to sleep and also to be much more social
Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) - this has modulated his immune system so that he is healthier and also his social initiation is way, way, way up
Gaba / Theanine - this has helped his anxiety
Caprylic acid - this is a new addition and I do see big changes since adding, primarily at combating the ever present yeast overgrowth
Good multi-vitamin and multi-mineral - we use New Beginnings brand of supplements and we use their basic nutrient plus and chelate mate. I have noticed a big difference in clarity and development since adding these two
Aloe vera juice - healing for gut
Nystatin/Diflucan - yeast is something we STILL struggle with, what can I say?
Flagyl - bacteria issues, which I hope are finally gone?
Kombucha - great fermented product to help with yeast and bacterial overgrowth

Overall what do I think has gone on since August when we started the bulk of the supplements? I think his gut is healing. He has grown like a weed, finally catching up to where he probably should be. He eats food! I do not have to puree his food, his tone issues are better as are his severe sensory issues. He can actually eat things like rice and carrots (lots of tiny pieces) that would have been impossible for him to eat just 6 months ago. I can now fix a (GFCF) meal for the whole family with no extra preparations, whoo hoo!! He can eat SOME refined sugar or dyes (like in a gum drop on his GFCF gingerbread man) without a major and immediate reaction. Chalk that up to gut healing! I can hold a conversation with him. He regularly asks for kids to come over and play with no prompting from me. He fights with his little sister and takes pleasure in grossing out both of his sisters with poop and throw up references (pretty appropriate I would say!). He transitioned out of the Autism preschool class and is officially in the integrated preschool class. My son potty trained this year!!! YEAH!

How does this effect our family? What can I say? Any family with a child with Autism can be rough. Hey, 80% divorce rate says it all. It can tear you down and yet watching these accomplishments builds you back up. But knowing what we are doing is helping is awesome. We have so many more moments of pure joy, less of the screaming meltdowns (not counting tonight when I think we are having another food reaction). So many things that other families take for granted we relish, it really is the little things. For that I am thankful of this experience. I personally think my earlier aspirations of pre-med are finally coming true, even though I sucked at chemistry in college. I have gotten a lot better, even keeping up with the neuro-chemistry data presented at DAN! Who knew I could really understand chemistry after all? I think my brain is full though.....

What does this next year bring? Well for one I am scaling back his outside programs. This is his last year before Kindergarten and he is gone so much and really I want to buckle down on some things he needs to work on prior to Kinder. Being the anal retentive Type A, I feel like I can do that best. He has also been really, really resistant to some programs and that is my cue that something is not right in that environment. But, we still have plenty to keep him busy, preschool in the mornings plus OT, music and speech therapy. So much work for someone so little!

So from the standpoint of reflection, the New Year is a really good place to do that, especially for those with children in school. It is the midpoint of the school year. Can it be?? Really?? That just hit me that the school year is half over. How quickly time flies. In any event, that is our plan and I hope you all had a fabulous 2008 and are looking for an EVEN better 2009!! Here's to awareness, new found discoveries, progress, tolerance, patience and a whole lotta love in the new year!

No comments: