Diet

fruit salad in white ceramic bowl

Diet, yes, I am going to talk about this. Autism diet for our son includes no gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, corn or grains. We also just recently found out that he is in a small sub-set of kids who has high oxalates and would benefit from a low oxalate diet. Why him I ask?

Sounds simple right? Just google low oxalate foods and your on your way. But that’s not the way it works. I swear as an autism parent, you also have to be a good researcher and a scientist as well.

In addition to his current dietary restrictions we now have to reduce the oxalates. This is not an easy task. I already have to make most things especially bread and baked goods from scratch because it is extremely hard to find things that contain all of his dietary requirements. Now I have to add more thing to the mix.

To eat low oxalates you have to go slow in making switches otherwise you can go into what they call a “dumping” phase which can make you sick. Well to be honest, I think I already made him sick because I am trying to catch up on all the research for this diet.

So I joined a facebook group to try to gain more knowledge and information on this diet. There is a 269 speadsheet list of all the different foods that were tested for oxalate levels. In these sheets it tells you whether the oxalates are low, medium, high or extremely high. Then it gives you the amounts in numbers that these foods contain and you have to add up all of these amounts to come to a number for the foods that you will be eating that day and you have to stay under a certain level.

I was literally crying when I read this spreadsheet. So what I have done so far is make my own list of the foods that our son actually eats that are high in oxalates along with all of the numbers and now I have to try to figure out how much he is eating each day. I have this list beside me right now and I just want to cry looking at it because my brain is ready to explode. Now I have to look at all my recipes in which I make all these things and the ingredients and figure out how much he is eating per serving. But I also can’t just make a complete switchover as that will cause dumping.

So this is my task today to at least try to come up with a list of oxalate numbers that he is eating today so I have some concrete data to follow. Then I will be scouring the internet for more recipes.

Being an autism parent can be hard!!!!

Back to school

teacher asking a question to the class

Well, we are now almost at the end of September. Boy, it’s sure hard to get back into the swing of things and into a new routine.

Our son is back in school full days now, which is great, but also a difficult adjustment after being at school half time last year and on-line half time. Our daughter has just started university and so far for the month of September anyway, she has been totally on-line.

The wake-up times, the bathroom times, the lunches – all of that has changed this year and I must admit I’ve had a hard time adjusting to things.

On a positive note, I feel that it is very helpful for teens and kids to be back in school. I feel that a lot was missed just by not being able to be around others. The isolation was tough for all of us.

This year has started off different as now our son is staying for lunch at school whereas last year, he was only going in the morning and coming home for lunch. They still don’t have lockers and right now they are still on a quadmester thing as they call it, but at least they are in the building.

What has been difficult for our son is that with the quadmester happening, he is only taking 2 classes. So he starts his day off at 10 am and ends at 4 pm. One class is 2.5 hours and the other one is 2 hours and 45 minutes. These are extremely long classes! They have to take mask breaks and sometimes just breaks in general because of the length of the course each day. I feel for him and for the teachers for that matter having to put in that much time for one class. He likes his subjects which is great and he has an amazing EA which I am so grateful for.

Our daughter is trying to manage everything on-line right now and this has been a big adjustment. Because she is going to school in Toronto, she is still living at home. I feel for her as well as right now she is not really getting the university experience, but she is doing a great job at getting tasks completed and seems to like her classes.

Great to be back into it and I sure hope that things stay more normal for awhile, whatever that is?

Positives from Covid

sportswoman in mask training with weights in gym

Covid has been a part of our lives for awhile now. We have all experienced changes. There have been lots of ups and downs. We have had to learn to improvise, compromise and just find different ways of doing things. There has been lots (and I mean lots) of family time. There has been stress and anxiety about many things – financial, jobs, school, mental health and just plain coping on a daily basis.

Autism does not get a vacation from any of this. It is right there in the middle along with everything else. So how do people with autism cope in such an unstable environment and when things are constantly changing?

My teens have both had their fair share of ups and downs. Our daughter who struggles with social anxiety as well as autism and some other mental health challenges, has done surprisingly well during this period of time. I think the biggest challenge for her has been not being able to be in contact with friends and spending so much time in the house. Let’s face it no matter how much you love your family, being confined with them for such a long time can take it’s toll.

For our son, its been a little complicated with school and the fact that it was constantly changing whether or not you went in person or were on-line. His days were confusing and mixed up, but overall he fared pretty well and rolled with the punches, if you will. He’s come a long way in not being so rigid and the learning continued whether or not he was at home or at school.

Covid had a negative effect socially for both of our children. No matter how many things you do on-line, there is nothing like being face-to-face with peers, teachers, and friends to keep building up relationships.

There are some positive changes though that have happened in covid that have been very revealing and habits that we will continue to embrace.

For instance, being able to sit down and eat lunch with the kids every day has truly strengthened our relationship. Being with family has made us realize what is important and the fact that we don’t need to be so busy to be happy. We can just live in the moment and enjoy silence with each other if that’s what we want to do. It’s allowed more family game time and movie time. The bonding that has happened has been so very important for our family. Just being able to shut out the outside world for awhile is very valuable for our mental health.

As things now move forward and open up, I know that our family will not only cherish but we will strive to maintain the importance of our family and continue to build on the bond we share together.

New Postitives

love your life clipboard decor

Covid has been tough on everyone and has hit some harder than others. It has forced us to make changes and do things differently. We have had to adapt to things that we don’t like and we have had to create new ways of doing things at home.

It has changed the way our children learn, the way we work and the way we do things. It has created many ups and downs and we have had to adapt to things in a whole new way.

Things are slowly getting back to some kind of normal, which is good. But what I have discovered through the past year and a half is that there have been many positive things that have come from this experience.

Sure, school has been hard. One day you go in, the next day you are at home. There are cohorts, no lockers, time changes for in person learning and learning to do school through zoom. There has been lots of pressure for both children and parents.

Honestly, I am so proud of both of our children during this time.

For children with autism, one knows that changes are difficult – any changes. This could be routine, lunch, going to school, trying to do school on a computer, getting up at different times, trying to make connections etc. You name it, it’s hard for them to adjust.

Our children are both different and unique. For our daughter, having cohorts in high school really reduced her anxiety of having to be around large crowds of people at one time so the change was really positive. Since she was doing a lot of art as she went to an art school being on-line was good at times because she could be in her own space and focus on her art rather than all of the other distractions that can arise.

For our son, getting more attention in a smaller class size allowed the teacher to get to know his strengths and how he worked. For him, trying to get to know a teacher and fellow students on a computer was rather difficult. But on the plus side, he was able to learn in a comfortable environment and I was able to see first hand where he needed help and where he was self-sufficient.

For our family, it was a lot of togetherness, which as you know, can be positive and negative but for us, I want to say that it was good. We didn’t have to rush to so many appointments as things we done on-line. We were able to spend more quality time just doing things together like eating lunch and just hanging out.

Looking back on things, for our family, I know that we are going to keep some of these positive changes and incorporate them into our lives going forward. We have realized that some of the things we did were not necessary and we want to let some of those things go and focus on what is truly important.

I’m glad things are settling down and I look forward to creating a “new normal” going forward.

Relax

unrecognizable female meditating on grass in highlands on sunny day

One thing we have learned this summer is to relax. I have come to realize how important this is for everyone in our family. It is so important to relax our minds and our bodies.

This past while there has been so much stress and uncertainty with Covid that it’s been hard to think about anything else. We were stuck in our home, all together for so long.

For our family, we are fortunate enough to have a cottage to escape to so as soon as school was over, we packed up the car and headed up. It has been such an amazing summer so far. I think the past year and a half has just taught us to appreciate the little things and to be grateful for our family and our health.

Having two teens on the spectrum, you never know what challenges you are going to face no matter what environment you are in.

I have noticed with both our of children that they just needed a quiet space to calm their minds and relax without having any deadlines or pressures on them.

For our daughter, it means that she gets time to rest, do art projects, listen to music or just relax.

For our son, it means engaging in lots of outdoor fun like swimming, boating, paddle boarding, canoeing, hiking and just siting in the sun.

To relax your mind can be lifechanging for everyone, but especially for people on the autism spectrum as they have so much going on in their minds that they normally just can’t shut anything off. It’s been nice for me as a parent just to see both of our children able to engage in things they like or just not to do anything at all.

This can be hard as we are so programmed that we have to be busy all the time otherwise we are not being productive. But what I have discovered is that by being calm and relaxed is a great way to regain mental strength and become happier people.

In our cottage environment I find that the connection with nature and the water is an absolute life-changing factor for all of us. Just being able to enjoy sitting watching boats or sunsets or looking at trees can provide such calm and peace.

How do you get your child to relax? What do you do to relax you mind?