Any time your child isn’t feeling well it’s miserable.  I recently tried to explain it to a childless friend after he has watched a mom have a melt down because her child threw up.  He couldn’t understand why the mom was freaking out.  “It’s the flu,” he said dispassionately “It’s messy and inconvenient, but the kid’ll get over it in a few days.” 

I explained that when it’s your kid and they don’t feel well your brain doesn’t just automatically assume that it’s a small thing that will be over soon.  Your brain worries and stresses and hopes it’s just the regular flu, but it watches for other things as well, and it weighs when to go to the Dr., when to push fluids, when to introduce food.  It’s stressful!

When your child has behavioral or attention problems it’s an entire other ring of hell.  Your mental questions include recriminations about whether you aren’t strict enough, or whether you are a bad parent.  A long time ago someone explained to me that if you worry that you are a bad parent it automatically means you aren’t.  Bad parents don’t ever even consider that it might be their fault.

I think the worst part of having a child who isn’t well is wondering what to do.  I remember the three month time period it took for my son to get diagnosed with Autism.  I have to remind myself that it was only 3 months.  It felt like, still feels like, thirty years.  Even before he was diagnosed though, I had a turning point.  I asked a speech therapist who was evaluating him, “Isn’t there anything I can do now, while we are waiting for a diagnosis?”  She said, “Oh, there’s a diet you could try.  I don’t think it works, but if you want something to do….”

I didn’t want something to do…I NEEDED it!  I was lucky in so many ways.  I have a wheat allergy so I already knew how to do Gluten Free.  It was easier for me, because it meant I just switched his food to mine.  I also saw immediate results.  My child who was down to a 5 word vocabulary and in danger of slipping completely away from me began to add 5 words a day to his vocab after just a few days of being gluten free.  Not everyone gets such a motivating start. 

I also had a sweet teenager tell me the truth when the gym day care accidentally fed my child a bag of pretzels and lied about it.  We had seen a huge back slide in behavior and couldn’t attribute it to anything.  We were on the verge on saying the GFCF diet didn’t work, that the sudden progress must have been caused by something else.  But this tall, gangly high school kid followed me to the parking lot and told me the truth, risking his job in the process.  It was a bad experience that ended up being a blessing.  We had our confirmation that gluten could not be in our child’s body.

We have stayed on the GFCF Diet, we are coming up on 5 years.  I always tell parents to try the diet and to give it at least 6 months of a true trial (no infractions).  Science has clearly shown that even if it doesn’t reverse behavioral issues in all children,  it does heal our children’s intestines.

I talk to parents everyday and the ones with huge success stories generally tell some version of the same story:  First they cleaned up their child’s diet, then they got ABA therapy and then they used biomedical intervention to some degree.

If you are a parent looking for hope, I urge you to follow that model.  If you don’t want to start GFCF start by taking artificial colors and flavors out of your child’s diet, add in some organic produce and then go GFCF.  It isn’t as hard as you would think.  Recently parent of children were asked to rate a variety of interventions by how effective they were.  The GFCF diet was first on the list, with Methyl B shots second.  They were also the two least expensive interventions on the list.

This page is titled hope, because it is what you should have if your child has an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis.  Have hope and take action and when you need help, ask.  There are plenty of us around who are ready, willing and able to give help and advice.

Shannon Penrod is the host of Everyday Autism Miracles on Toginet Radio.  Everyday Autism Miracles broadcasts live every Friday at 2pm Eastern Standard Time and 11am Pacific Time at www.toginet.com.  The toll free number for questions and comments is 877.864.4869 Free podcasts of all of the shows are available at www.toginet.com/shows.everydayautismmiracles and on iTunes.

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