Saturday, September 11, 2010

GFCF, FYI

Hola, blog buddies! I'm not doing too well at updating here lately, and I'm doing even worse at visiting your blogs. I have no idea how people with 1000 followers manage it. I'm just glad I'm not one of them!

The reason I've been so notably absent is that I have a new (unpaid) job, which is to fill in for the tutor we had working with Rosemary's Baby. I've been learning how to do his ABA therapy from the professionals and working with him on it every morning, which takes a chunk out of my day and leaves me feeling frazzled and stressed by the time the kids are in bed at night. But the good news is that, while I can't do this long-term and stay sane, for the time being I am learning some really important, really interesting stuff here. And it's made me realize that when we do get a new tutor (and there's one on the horizon now--woo hoo!) that this is something I can creatively implement during his downtime. So this whole sorry situation hasn't been a complete waste.

A few people have asked questions which I've been meaning to answer, so I'm going to switch gears for a minute and talk about the diet my boy's been on for about a year now. If this is simply not something that interests you, by all means stop reading, go grab another cup of coffee, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. I understand completely.

When I first realized that Rosemary's Baby was, in fact, not the seed of evil, but actually autistic, the lack of scientific knowledge of this disorder was deflating, to say the least. The idea that my baby had something that couldn't be cured by modern medicine, and that no one could guarantee me could be treated with any degree of success was pretty devastating. The most frustrating thing was that I had absolutely no control. And that's when I decided it was worth it to look into some of the alternative treatments that are out there. To be honest, I didn't really expect them to do any good. I just needed to feel that I was taking control of the situation.

The first thing I should say about the Gluten-Free Casein-Free (GFCF) diet is that it does not work for everyone and it is not a cure. And despite popular perception, for the record, Jenny McCarthy has never claimed that it is one. I am no autism expert and I cannot speak for anyone else. But what I think is happening with my own child is that yes, he has autism, but he also has some other medical issues (mainly of the gastrointestinal variety) that seem to be making the autism symptoms more severe. I believe that all of his medical conditions, including the autism, are ultimately the result of genetics. But that doesn't mean that environmental factors (like the Hep B shot he received unnecessarily at birth, the severe vaccine reaction he had at 18 months and the ever-increasing amount of junk that's put into our foods to make them last through to the next ice age) haven't helped his autoimmune problems along. And putting him on the GFCF diet and a probiotic, upping his vitamins (under the supervision of a pediatrician--VERY IMPORTANT!) and reducing the amount of sugar and processed food that goes into his body has made a tangible difference to his behaviour.

For my child, the big changes we saw were as follows: he started sleeping better (which affects absolutely everything else in life, no?!), his hyperactivity level changed drastically, his focus and attention improved, his language increased, and his skin and digestive problems improved. His stimming also slowed down. He is not cured of autism. He is not cured of digestive problems. But he has improved enough that I think it's made a difference to how receptive he is to the therapies that are proven to be most effective for kids with autism. So for me, the herculean effort (and horrendous cost, unfortunately) is well worth it.

Stepping down off the soapbox.

On Thursday night I was doing dishes when I was alarmed by the most almighty crash I have ever heard coming from the living room. I ran in to find Rosemary's Baby standing on the window sill, grinning at me, surrounded by yards of curtain fabric and a pile of debris fit for a scrap yard. Turns out that when a 45lb kid wants to swing Tarzan-style from the living room curtains, he'll bring down not only the curtains, but the curtain rod and 8 feet of crown moulding with it. Like I was saying, seed of evil...

9 comments:

In Real Life said...

I think that you're amazing! What a wonderful job you are doing with your son! I adore your sense of humour too!
I think that it is just great that you are seeing positive results from the "GFCF" diet! I think that there is a lot of sense in it. We have not used the diet, but I have noticed significant improvements in my daughter's sleeping and mood patterns when I reduce processed foods from her diet. (An uphill battle as these are the foods she favours.)
I hope you have a great weekend! :)

GLENDA BROOKS said...

Well girlfriend, let me just say....You little one may have autism, but there is also a little boy in there...I have one child, a daughter, and let me just say, when she was growing up.....if she had thought of it....she would have swung on the curtains too. When they are young like yours, they think they can do anything and they have no sense of danger.....at all. So take a good deep cleansing breathe and clean up the mess and be thankful he didn't break something important, like his neck! I'm so proud of you, the way you take these things in stride and keep on stepping. YOU GO GIRL!

Suburban Princess said...

This is such an important thing for any child...I am always shocked when I go to the grocery store and see what people buy for their kids. It's always the cheapest most colourful garbage they can find! People think I am committing child abuse because I dont give my son cookies and candy and McD's etc! Ugh!

Good for you mama for getting so much education on the topic!

Kendra said...

That GCF thing seems so hard. I should try it to help my son who, I believe, has mild autism though he's never been diagnosed by a doctor. I know he definitely has problems with dairy. I salute you for doing such a good job. You're an awesome mom!!!

Janine said...

Wendy!! You are the BEST!!!
Are you ready for fall?? I am loving the weather here now. NO humidity and cooler temps.
Have a great week and keep smiling!!! Both my kids swung from anything they could find!!!

Suburban Princess said...

Hi there! Hopefully you are around today - go read my blog!

Melanie Jane said...

Well written! Many children and Adults have demonstrated intolerances for the additives in food. My daughter too. With persistence - and lots of Sunday morning prep for the week ahead - we haven't bought a box of nuggets, or frozen easy dinners in 4 months -- now we are no where near perfect - and we are not on the GFCF - however -- we are doing our best to get rid of the processed foods - or those with too many chemical ingredients, and we too have noticed small changes in our girls behaviour and digestive healt. I like what you said about being followed by a doctor. _- All this from a girl in the evidence based field :) evidence is seeing it work for the individual as well. Good Job!

Stephanie Faris said...

Congrats on the new job. I was under that impression about Jenny McCarthy's claims, too.I thought she said she cured her son through a gluten-free diet?

knitwit said...

Okay, so the Jenny McCarthy thing...I should be more clear about that. I've read her books and she's always careful to say that the diet is not a cure, but a path to recovery from the major symptoms of autism. Go off the diet and the symptoms come back, so it's definitely not a "cure". Because she's so outspoken and passionate about the diet, I think a lot of people interpret what she's saying as a claim to have cured autism.
That said, it's important to note that Jenny McCarthy's little boy didn't just go on a diet and lose his autistic symptoms. He was chelated, given thousands of dollars worth of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, treated by the top specialists in the field of biomedical intervention, and given thousands and thousands of hours of the best behaviour therapy money could buy. The diet was likely really helpful, but it wasn't the only factor in that child's recovery.
Oh, and one more thing. Our pediatrician mentioned to me the other day that while there is no evidence to support GFCF, there has been some recent evidence that a more elemental diet (ie. cooking from scratch and using organics)has been shown to alleviate some of the symptoms of autism, so those of you who have commented on eliminating processed foods are on the right track!!