Our journey so far has been interesting and rewarding. It has also had many ups and downs as well as revelations.
First of all, I feel so lucky to be part of so many great autism community groups. I continually learn so much from these people. They persevere and never give up. The dedication they have to their children is indescribable.
At times I have to stop myself from saying “I wish I…, why didn’t I…, If only I….”
Secondly I think we have one of the most amazing Functional Medicine doctors on the planet. He is so knowledgeable and he has never steered us wrong. I feel that we were incredibly lucky to find him.
Since we didn’t start biomedical until our son was 12 years old, his issues are far more complex than if we had discovered this when he was much younger. Certain things had already been in his body for many years as well as new exposures to things that we weren’t aware of that were harming him. It was and still is, a huge puzzle. One piece has to be in place and then you can work on fitting all the other pieces together. And for each child the puzzle fits together in a different sequence. Visually, that is the best way I can describe it.
I knew logically as everyone knows how important diet is for everyone, but what I didn’t understand was that because our son’s immune system was compromised that even if he wasn’t actually allergic to certain things, there were just certain things that he shouldn’t eat because they created other problems in his body. For example, children on the spectrum tend to do better if they don’t eat gluten, dairy, soy, sometimes corn and sugar. Also, by not eating these things, his mind actually became much clearer and it allowed him to concentrate better.
Another thing that became apparent was that his body was lacking in many nutrients. He has had leaky gut on and off. Leaky gut is when bacteria and toxins are able to leak through the intestinal wall. This affects how your brain functions as well. When you can’t think clearly, you can’t learn to your optimal ability and you generally don’t feel one hundred percent.
Working on the diet is a constant daily struggle for me, I must admit. I’ve had to read labels, research sometimes each ingredient at a time and come up with a plan that I know will help my child. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by this portion of the journey and honestly I wish I was better at this part, but I just do my best. My goal is to make one new thing every month and see if our son will try it. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes I’m not, but I just keep trying as that’s all I can do.
Another thing that I didn’t realize was that exposure to certain chemicals can have lasting effects in a person’s body. For us, we have 4 people who live in our house and we can all use the same products but with our son if there are additives that are bad (i.e. like in creams or soaps or toothpaste) he may not have any reaction but the exposure to these additives can build up in his system and if there are too many things like this, it starts to create chaos in his body. This can be manifested in behaviours or pain and possibly irritability. It can be seen in many different ways.
So this is another really huge thing that I worked on over a period of time. Using glass containers instead of plastic, ensuring we were using natural cleaners and soaps as well as shampoos and non-toxic cookware.
I’m still not where I want to be in this area but I feel that I have made significant progress and I don’t beat myself up about what I am not doing.
We have noticed decreased agitation, more focus and concentration and just the ability to be able to go with the flow and not get upset at all the little things that can go wrong along the way. We also notice that he is much calmer and has a greater sense of his body. For him, this is huge because he is also going through puberty which in itself can create changes in emotional regularity so we feel like we’ve hit the jackpot, so to speak! This is something that perhaps only an autism parent can understand. Needless to say, we are very pleased!
This part of our journey is still a work in progress…..more to come!