Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Six months GFCF!!

When we began the diet (you can read about this here) everything we read said it takes six months. We saw dramatic improvement in little man's behavior almost immediately. The longer we've been on, the more progress we've made. Introducing probiotics helped even more, as well as our changed tactics.

So when all of a sudden a few weeks ago, little man took a huge leap with his coping skills and behavior we were like "what's going on?"
Honestly it didn't even occur to me that we were at the six month mark, and that this was due to a diet we have been on for what seems like ages.
I have briefly mentioned a time or two that bedtime was an extremely difficult issue for us. Right from day one, when I brought my little bundle home from the hospital sleep deprivation was the name of the game.

As little man got older, we tried different tactics to help him fall asleep, but nothing seemed to work. Bedtime became a source of anxiety for all of us. Poor Max would get himself so worked up which resulted in screaming and intense stimming (self-stimulating) behavior. My husband and I were ready to run away after years of sleepless nights and dead end frustrations. Nothing seemed to work.
We talked to our doctor about it several times and were told to let him cry it out, which only resulted in Max's several hour long meltdowns and me in tears. Then we were told it was a phase and that he would grow out of it. As is the case with any person, when you are not getting the all important sleep requires to refresh and rest, you get cranky; and cranky Max was. The situation snowballed and it became clear that fatigue was intensifying the poor behavior, and the poor behavior was taking us even further away from being able to settle him. Vicious cycle.

With all of the progress we have made, and there has been a ton, bedtime just didn't make the list. He began speaking more, playing more, being more affectionate, calming faster, handling outside situations with more ease. We have even been able to have several successful meals in restaurants! Imagine as a parent, your child not wanting to talk to you, sit beside you, hug or kiss you, sometimes not even wanting to be in the same room as you. Now imagine one day, your child abandoning that separation and seeking you out for comfort, and love. Offering kisses of his own accord, showing you things he's interested in. It was like he was letting me in for the first time. Still though, come 8:30, madness ensued. I can honestly say that I began to lose hope that this particular issue would be resolved.

As I was saying, a few weeks ago Little Man's behavior and ability to handle stresses took a massive leap forward on the progress scale, and low and behold, bedtime came with it. We took a vacation at a rented cottage for a summer-end family activity. I was concerned that Max would have difficulty adjusting. He did not, however. It was amazing. He settled right in, had a blast and began his upward movement on the bedtime ride. We don't know if it was the fresh air, the lack of stimulants, or the change of pace, but whatever it was, it worked! There was concern as the week was coming to a close that once we returned to our home and settled back into the normal routine, that we would lose the progress made. First night we were perched on the edges of our seats waiting for him to come out of his room, but he didn't. Next night was the same. Scepticism still lingered, but slowly dissipated over the next few weeks.



Now we still do have the odd night where things don't run perfectly smooth, but it is short lived and on a scale of 1-10 (1 being perfect, 10 being how they used to be) things never climbs above a 4. I`ll take it. My husband and I were honestly boggled as to why now? Why after all this time? All those tears? All of the changes we had made were long ago implemented, we had seen results. It was my husband who said whilst we were discussing the puzzling behavior, "Hasn't it been six months on the diet? Didn't we read something about giving it six months to see the full impact?" I was like: OH.MY.GOD.
Seriously? You mean to tell me that not only is this even more reinforcement that we made the right decision to put Max on this diet, but DH remembered something that I didn't? Honestly I think that's the part I had the hardest time sorting through. Seriously, he can't remember where we are going five minutes after we get in the car half the time. ;)

Ultimately what I think this post boils down to is DON'T GIVE UP! We were told by our family doctor when we first put Little man on this diet, and then again by his pediatrician just last month that it was too much work. Basically it was a pain in the ass for parents to have to do something everyday that may or may not have any effect.

Ummm... Excuse me? Pardon? I'm sure I didn't just hear the only two people I can go to for my child's health tell me that it wasn't worth the inconvenience even though there is over 80% reported positive feedback from parents of kids on the spectrum. Now I'm not sure if this is not being recognised by some doctors because it is not a pharmaceutical, or because it doesn't "heal" autism, but I think it is a no-brainer. As a parent, it is your responsibility to do what is best for your child. There are many things that are difficult and time consuming, that are not only best but expected of you. Not all autistic children will benefit the way others do on this diet, but what if they do? Wouldn't you want to know? Wouldn't it be worth six months of your life to find out?

I believe this is truly one of the wisest decisions we have made for Max and that this diet has played a key role in our success thus far. Going GFCF was a challenge, but it's just normal everyday stuff now. Things are only difficult until you do them for a bit, and then they just become culture.

For helpful hints and recipes check out some of my other posts.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Scrumptious Sneaky Smoothie

We all know the old saying "what they don't know won't hurt them", well I say "What they don't know will be great for them". At least as far as this breakfast or snack time smoothie is concerned.

Getting a toddler to eat raw veggies, vitamins, and health foods can be a serious challenge, but as parents we need to improvise, and get creative in our deception. My little man will drink pretty much anything through a straw if it's sweet, cold and fruity tasting, as will most. He thinks it's a treat! Little does he know that his delicious beverage is packed full of brain stimulation, vitamin packed nutrients remaining incognito until safely within his digestive system.

If you have tried any of the vegetable fruit blend juices on the market you will know that fruit flavour over-rides veggie flavour. Therefore you can add fairly large amounts of these guys to your fruit juices and smoothies and nobody knows ;)

I like to take this opportunity to sneak in some green veggies, however if you have a particularly fussy eater who will notice the slightly odd colour, then you can opt for veggies like carrots or beets.
I find it's usually better to put disguised drinks in opaque cups with lids and a straw, out of sight, out of mind.

I also like to take this opportunity to get my sons probiotic and coconut oil servings into one efficient meal. As i have covered in an earlier post "Probiotics For Life" Found  HERE. Probiotics are great for everyone and should be taken daily.

I make this smoothie for myself quite often as well. I sometimes leave it dairy free, but will often throw a couple of tablespoons of fat free Greek yogurt in for some protein. There are cultured almond milk and coconut milk yogurts on the market now that you can add for a creamier dairy free smoothie but my little man is happy with it as is. This is really just a guideline which you can alter to suit your own tastes. Over ripe bananas about to get binned? Throw one in! Want to boost your vitamin C intake during cold season? How does guava, kiwi and strawberry sound? Don't forget to slip,some vitamin packed broccoli in there, you'll never taste it with all those delicious fruity flavours. My point is, have fun, be creative, think outside of the juice box!


Scrumptious Sneaky Smoothie

1 cup of frozen or fresh fruit of your choice
3/4 cup of coconut milk (or any other dairy free milk alternative, coconut milk really makes up for the lack of yogurt though)
Daily probiotics (optional)
1 Tbsp melted coconut oil (optional)
1 Tbsp sugar (optional, I put it in Max's but not mine)
1/2 Cup chopped raw veggies of your choice


Place veggies, fruit, coconut milk and sugar into blender. Blend until very smooth. 
With blender running, slowly drizzle melted coconut oil through top opening. 
This will suspend the fat in the smoothie maintaining a smooth texture. 
The coconut oil will thicken it so if you would like it thinner you may add more milk. 
Lastly add the probiotic. I use the powder caplets for their ability to open and dissolve into things. 
If you have used berries, you may want to pour smoothie through a fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds.  Pour into a glass, and enjoy. 


I hope you enjoy this recipe! Feel free to comment with your favorite variations! 




Thursday, 9 August 2012

Mouth Watering Banana Muffins

This is my favorite banana bread recipe. I have been using for years, my mother also uses it, and every banana muffin or loaf I have seems to pale in comparison. So when I attempted a conversion to gluten free dairy free I was nervous. I didn't want to give it up and settle for one of it's mediocre cousins. Hallelujah! It worked perfectly... The first time! I am very pleased with the results, Max was too!


This recipe can be baked in a loaf pan or in muffin tins. I like muffins because they seem to stretch a bit farther as well as the convenience of them. They really are a great grab and go snack. I also like to freeze them and take one out at a time, leaving it on the counter for about an hour to let it thaw.


Mouth Watering Banana Muffins

3-4 very ripe bananas (I pop mine into the freezer, then use them when I get enough. They will go black, but that's fine)
1/3 Cup melted coconut oil
3/4 Cup sugar
1 Egg, beaten
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Baking Soda
pinch salt
1 1/2 Cups GF Flour mix (found in my chocolate chip cookie post Here)
1  tsp Xanthm Gum

Preheat oven to 325 F
With a fork, mash bananas in mixing bowl.
Add sugar and melted margarine and mix well. Add vanilla, egg, salt, and baking soda. mix well again.
Add flour mix and xanthm gum and stir just until combined.
Pour into greased loaf pan or paper lined muffin tin.
If making loaf, bake for approximately 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center.
If making muffins, bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center.

Cool for fifteen minutes in pan, remove and cool completely on wire rack. Store in airtight container for up to three days or freeze for up to one month.



My taste tester enjoyed a late night snack while taking up residence on the floor. His only sound while eating was: "mmmmmmmm."
Hope you enjoy them just as much!

Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies


YUM! Delicious peanut butter cookies, fresh out of the oven. And all in about 20 minutes!

I adapted this recipe from "KRAFT", however I have changed it a touch to suit our tastes better. The original recipe contains no flour and is made with KRAFT peanut butter. I choose to use natural peanut butter and i add a bit of my gluten free flour mix. You can find this mix in my post for chocolate chip cookies  HERE. This makes for a bit of a denser cookie that holds up a bit better.
There are only four ingredients in this recipe and most of them are usually on hand at all times.
TIP: Make more flour mix than you need and store the rest in an airtight container, that way you will have it on hand at all times.



Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies
1 Cup Natural Peanut Butter (chunky or smooth, your choice)
1/2 Cup sugar (if you are using regular/sweetened peanut butter instead of the natural you should lower this to 1/3C)
1 Large Egg
1/2 Cup GF Flour mix

Preheat oven to 325 F
Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon. The mixture will get quite firm as the ingredients combine.
Roll about one tablespoon at a time into balls and place about an inch apart on a lined cookie sheet.


Using a fork, gently press down on balls in two directions to form a cross hatch pattern and slightly flatten cookies (my husband says that a peanut butter cookie just isn't a peanut butter cookie without fork marks.)
Alternatively, you could use your thumb, or a rounded small object (like a measuring spoon) to indent cookies and create a well.

The well gives you an opportunity to fill the tops of the cookies with jam (peanut butter and jam cookies!) or dairy free chocolate hazelnut spread.


Bake cookies for about 10 minutes, or until very light golden brown at very edges. Remove from oven and cool for ten minutes on pan. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to three days or freeze for up to one month.

Enjoy this quick and delicious treat. Don't forget to save some for the kids!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Butter Chicken (Dairy Free)



Around here, we LOVE Indian food. The delicious flavours, the unbelievable aromas, and the added bonus of being good for you (well, most of it).

Butter Chicken is an all around crowd pleaser. It's simple, and great tasting without overwhelming curry flavour which some people tend to shy away from.

Now when feeding an autistic child, it's very easy to fall into the same old peanut butter, carbs, bland bland bland routine. It's what most autistic kids prefer. Little man however, goes through short lived stages like this, but then quickly pops back out of them. He actually has quite a broad diet for an average child much less an autistic one. I believe that this is because we are constantly offering new food. Just because he doesn't want to try a particular something today, doesn't mean that he won't give it a go tomorrow. Same with likes and dislikes. I will not force a child to eat something that they do not like. They do need to try it though, and fairly often. Tastes and preferences change, never know when you might enjoy something if you don't try it.

This recipe however is loved by all. You can make it as spicy or mild as you like, and it reheats really well. Also, it's full of that oh so yummy and great for you coconut milk. I like to cook poppadoms to go with this dish as they are delish and made with lentil flour and therefore gluten free. You could use naan bread though if you are not gluten free, both are great.

          Hope you enjoy this recipe, I'd be happy to hear any feedback. :)



Dairy Free Butter Chicken

1 TBSP Ghee
1 TBSP Ginger 
2 garlic cloves
2 green Chillies (seeded) I like green finger chillies, but jalapenos are fine also
Cilantro, about a palm full, washed
1/2 TBSP Garam Masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 Can coconut milk (full fat)
S&P to taste
4-6 Chicken legs or breasts
Cooked basmati or jasmine rice to serve

- In a blender, food processor or with a mortar and pestle, blend ginger, chillies, garlic, and cilantro into  a paste. You may need to add a splash of water to get it to blend.

-Heat ghee in pan, add paste and cook for about 4-5 mins on med-high

-Add garam masala. Be careful that is doesn't burn. Cook for 1-2 mins, or until very fragrant.
-Stir in tomato paste. Lower the heat to low-med. Use a rubber spatula to ensure that you don't stick any to the bottom of the pan. Stir over heat for about 10-15 mins. It will get brown in colour and quite thick.

-Whisk in entire can of coconut milk. simmer on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

-Season quite Liberally. The sauce needs to be enough seasoning for the chicken and the rice.

   There are a couple of options for the execution as far as the chicken is concerned. You can either Chop the raw chicken breasts into chunks and to the sauce. This way the chicken will only take about 5 mins to cook. Or You can leave the breasts whole, seer them in a hot pan with a touch of oil and then finish the cooking of them in the sauce. Or there is my favourite, which is with chicken Legs. They're inexpensive, more flavourful, as well as more authentic.

To use legs, I like to remove the skin. I then roast them in a very hot oven, until completely cooked. Once they are cooked I add them to the sauce. Instead of simmering sauce on stove, once blended, pour over chicken legs, put a lid on the pan and pop it into a 200°F oven. leave for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until the chicken is falling apart. Serve over a bed of rice, garnish with fresh cilantro, and enjoy!


Friday, 15 June 2012

Probiotics.... For Life

Yesterday was a good day...
The sun was shining, the weather was warm, we had good friends over for a long overdue visit out on the deck, and my little man was in his typical (as of late) easy-going mood.

My girlfriend has been very close with Max since he was but a babe, she actually cared for him while I was at work for over a year. If there is anyone other than my husband who truly understands how day to day generally is with Max, it's her.

So today, when she asked what was the cause for the drastic positive change in little man's behaviour, I was ecstatic and excitedly said "probiotics".

Bacteria Clip Art

When we first began the GFCF diet, we also started a probiotic regimen along side it. Now we all know now a days that probiotics are great for everyone (thank you activia) and that they aid in a plethora of digestive and gastro-intestinal issues. It wasn't until we stopped giving Max the probiotic and then began again without the big change of the diet at the same time that we really saw the impact they were making.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that naturally exist in the healthy gut. When there is an imbalance in the gut due to illness, antibiotic use, steroids, birth control, etc. then the potentially harmful bacteria gets the upper hand and wreaks havoc on the body.

CLOSTRIDIA
One of the most dangerous of these bacteria is clostridia. A very large percentage of autistic children have much higher amounts of clostridia present than children who are not on the spectrum. Clostridia is a group of bacterial strains, some of which that are responsible for tetanus, botulism, gangrene, colitis, and food poisoning.

These bacteria are some of the most deadly having been discovered yet. They produce neurotoxins, or "nerve poison", that is destructive to the nervous system. They effect both mature and developing nervous tissue. What is most concerning about the abundance of this type of bacteria in autistic children is that this strain has the ability to target specific neurons and disturb communication between them, even turn them off.

Exposure to neurotoxins can cause irrevocable damage to the central nervous system, such as: mental retardation, persistent memory loss, dementia, and epilepsy.

CANDIDA
Now we are all aware that every body carries yeast. Within a healthy balance, yeast is not allowed to colonise or get out of control. In a damaged ecosystem within the gut however, yeast divides rapidly and has a negative effect on the host. We commonly see mild cases of this with women and vaginal yeast imbalances, as well as thrush which is quite common in babies.  

Yeast releases toxins into the GI tract and causes sometimes severe GI upset as well as damages the intestinal walls. This can lead to many problems like: leaky gut, food and chemical intolerance, mold sensitivity, food cravings (usually sugar and carbohydrates to feed the yeast), fatigue, depression, lack of concentration, unexplainable rashes, mood imbalances, headaches, loss of energy, and neuropathic problems.

Candida can over run a child's system sometimes to the point of needing the aid of an expellerent as well as a low sugar, yeast, and carbohydrate diet. Parents have witnessed their children during the expelling process vomit, urinate and pass through BM's alarmingly large quantities of yeast.

IAG (Indole Acryloglycine)
Autistic children, once again have a much higher level of IAG then non-autistic children. This is not good because IAG effects the membranes throughout the body and their permeability. This means that all those opiates (refer to "The Diet" post) that come from our children's food, are easily absorbed into the blood stream and carried right on up to the nervous system.

SO WHAT NOW?
As a parent of an autistic child, this seems not fair. We and they deal with so much already, only to find out that a hostile group of invaders have taken over their little bodies. This may seem unfair, but I truly think it is the first big step to recovery. Now that we know this, the why might get answered and the possibility of being able to completely wipe out an unhealthy gut ecosystem and replace it with a healthy one seems like a future that is attainable.

In the short of it, probiotics are good. They keep all these other bacteria at normal, healthy, manageable levels. As is the case in every part of our lives, balance is key. A surprisingly heavy regimen of probiotics is essential for healthy gut flora in most autistic children. You can get combinations of different probiotics or buy separately and combine yourself. Some of the best for autistic children are:
Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium infantis, and Bifidobacterium bifidum

PREBIOTICS
Prebiotics should be taken with probiotics. Essentially prebiotics are the food for probiotics. They specifically encourage the growth of good bacteria and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. They give the probiotics a much better chance of recolonising in the gut, thus creating a once again healthy environment.









****For more information on specific probiotic and prebiotic types and dosage, you can find information at your local health food store.****


*****I am not a doctor. All information here is based upon my own studies and opinions. Please consult a physician before making any major changes in your child's health.*******



Thursday, 19 April 2012

Super Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (GFCF)

I think that for most people, the smell of delicious home made cookies hanging in the air sends them right back to their childhood. It's one of those things that just smells like home... comfort... love.

     The thought of my babies never being able to make this subconscious link in their adult hood because we were a gluten free casein free house hold growing up just seems wrong. So alas, my hunt for the perfect GFCF chocolate chip cookie began. I am pleased to say that this is a cookie that will please all. It is chewy, moist, and rich.

    I have listed GF All purpouse flour as one of the ingredients. I would like to clarify, this is MY favorite combination of flours and startches that seems to yeild the best baked goods. I like to go to the Bulk Barn and get a bunch and then mix it up so it's all ready to go in my pantry. You may choose to use a bought pre-mixed AP flour however I do not recomend it... ever. I have not been pleased with any of these... ever. You can find my mix HERE

   

   
Super Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (GFCF)

  • 2 1/3 Cups GF AP flour mix
  • 1 tsp xanthum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Cup Ghee OR butter
  • 1/4 Cup organic cane sugar (can use white sugar)
  • 1 1/4 Cups muscovado or brown sugar
  • 1 whole egg (large)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBSP coconut milk (or any other milk alternative)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (dairy free)


Preheat oven to 300F

  1. Cream ghee and sugars in stand mixer for 2 minutes.
  2. While butter and sugar are creaming whisk all dry ingredients together, except the chocolate chips, in a seperate bowl.
  3. Add egg, yolks, almond milk and vanilla to mixer.
  4. Once eggs are incorperated add dry ingredients slowly on low. Mix only until combined.
  5. Add chocolate chips and stir in by hand.
  6. Cool dough in refridgerator for 1 hour or until firm enough to scoop and drop.
  7. Scoop 1 TBSP of dough per cookie onto parchment lined cookie sheets, leaving 2" between them
  8. Bake in middle of oven one sheet at a time for 9-12 minutes. They should be golden around edges but quite soft in the centre still.
  9. Let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transfering to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. Store in an air tight container at room temperature for two days or freeze for up to one month.

Tips:
  • DO NOT OVER BAKE!!! You will lose the chewy moist texture of these cookies if you do.
  • Use cooled cookie sheets. If you use a hot one because you only have one, then decrease cooking time accordingly
  • Choose a semi-sweet chocolate chip without dairy. I use Presidents Choice Decedant chocolate chips. Please do not use carrib chips... ewe.
  • Feel free to substitute some of the chips for dries fruit, nuts, or any other item that suits you.

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Diet


 

    Life without bread, cheese, pasta, pastries and butter......
Up until this point in my life I would have said that this is not a life worth living.

    That is until we got a diagnosis for autism for our toddler in January of this year. After three years of trying to figure things out and wondering what we were doing wrong, we finally had our answer. It wasn't any one's fault, it wasn't "bad" behaviour, it was a blessing. We now had a direction to head in. Our "whys" were being answered. There are resources available for support. So... Great! We've got this beat. Let's deal with it and move on. Right?................Wrong.

    Upon receiving a diagnosis and spending oh let me just take a guess, hmm, about 4 billion hours of research. At least. I sadly came to the same realization that every other parent of an autistic child does... There is no cure. No medication, no therapy, no programs, nothing that would help make my little man's very difficult life easier.

    Now I am not a cure monger. Wishing for my child to be different, wishing he would change. I do however, wish for a life of pleasure for him. As it stands now, pleasure is not the emotion displayed most often, frustration is.

   Who wants their child to go through life frustrated? Screaming and yelling and thrashing and hitting. Not being able to communicate the simplest of needs to feel the slightest bit of semblance in a very chaotic world. I know I don't. I love my son. I love that he is autistic. I love his quirks, I love that his autism is just like the unique icing on the many layers of cake that make up who he is.

    OK, so where does that leave us? I would like his life to be easier and less frustrating while maintaining all the wonderful things about him. Hmmmm, tall order, especially when they can't even tell you why it is that children are autistic in the first place. Why it is that rates have climbed at an insurmountable rate and now 1 in every 88 children is diagnosed with autism. It's a bloody worldwide epidemic and no one can even tell us why!

    In my, what did I say 3 billion hours, or was it 4, of research, I did notice a trend. Many parents have noticed the trend in fact. Turns out, autistic behaviour is amplified when certain foods are in the body. Common foods. Foods that autistic children tend to lean towards. Coincidence? I think not. Turns out that the proteins in milk (casein) and the proteins that make up gluten are like drugs to our little bundles of joy. Children with autism (ADHD as well) on the whole suffer from many gastrointestinal (GI) issues due to the inability to properly break down both of these proteins.

    OK, so what does that mean? It means that while I thought bread and cheese were bad for ME because they went straight to my hips, I was unaware that the danger was real for my son. These proteins have an opiate like effect in the body for autistic children. Yep, you heard me, might as well be shooting them up with heroin.

    This certainly explains why autistic children are infamous for their bread and cheese only diets, and why they all crave it like it's a glass of iced tea in the Sahara.  Our babies are junkies, and we are the suppliers.

    So now what? It stands to reason that if something is doing harm, then you don't do it any more. "OK son, now I know that you have very rigid guidelines to what and how you like to eat. Too Bad though." (pfft) I also know that i do not have them money to continuously stock our pantry with practically inedible products that sometimes cost up to 12X as much. (Have you ever tried an $8 loaf of gluten free bread? Can't even get it down, and I've eaten stuff that would make your head spin) Well, I guess that means that I'll be baking.

    Now it is a bloody good thing that I am a chef by trade, and have a love for food that runs deep. Unfortunately, watching a regular gluten laden loaf of bread rise with all of it's gorgeous glory after I worked it with my hands into a smooth ball promising to be delicious dragged through olive oil later (sorry I'm getting carried away), it is not the same as the sticky thick batter and 15 or so ingredients that make up gluten free bread. It doesn't even smell like food.

    So I am out on my own, weeding through uncharted territory and taking abuse from one bad recipe after another. All the while trying to keep my son fed. Spending countless dollars on ingredients that I only used once and feeling quite defeated. I took a break. Stopped baking yet kept on reading. Reading about every gluten free, dairy free cooking method and replacement product under the sun. Finally feeling it was worth another try, I began for a second time, armed with knowledge. And Success!

    Now I am still very much in the trial and error stage of this new cooking adventure that I am on, but there is definite progress. My son can now have the peanut butter and jam sandwich that he oh so desperately wants, and follow it up with a delicious buttery cookie. Works for me.

    Hopefully to save even one person the amount of grief that I went through I have decided to post some of my favorite recipes. I have read like a million blogs with people stating that they have figured it all out, and then been quite let down with my experience with their recipes. I hope to give other parents of children with autism and ADHD a valuable resource to turn to. One that is worth turning to.

    Oh and just for the record... My little man is improving by the day since we have started the diet. His world seems just a touch less frustrating, but he's still his fabulous quirky self.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Immersion

Sometimes I feel like all we ever talk about, all we ever think about is Max's autism.
I am probably the most guilty. If he does or doesn't do something it's linked back to his autism. If there are new or specific circumstances within our families life, it is linked back to his autism. 'How will this affect him? We have to reschedule, Max is having a bad day. Will Max be able to handle moving again? Dinner isn't an option, Max can't eat that.'

    It's not that I am resentful of the fact that we spend most of our time strategizing, thinking, walking on egg shells. It is that I find myself wondering from time to time: How is this all really making him feel?
photo credit: www.letschatautism.com

    It's funny, I don't want him to feel different, yet I truly embrace different. If he were a typical child I would encourage him to strive for individuality and a true identity of his own. Not to say that because he is autistic I will be rooting for a sheep of mass conformity. It's just that to feel different because others have dubbed you so is monumentally dissimilar to discovering your own unique qualities that make you you.

    There have been many instances where I have wished that I could read his mind. That he could tell me loud and clear what he wanted. If I had even one ounce of direction from him I would feel much more at ease with the approaches we all take to help form Max's existence into that of a contented one.

    But I can't. I can't read minds. I can't be certain of what he wants, because he cannot tell me, not right now anyway. So I go on intuition and love. Two things that I consider to be my best weapons in my arsenal of mothering.

    Unfortunately, both instinct and love push me to want to reach out to my child. When he is tired, when he is sad, frustrated, angry, overstimulated, ignored, misunderstood, when he is anything other than utterly happy, I have an instinctual need that comes from deep within my core to hold him. To hug him, kiss him, sing to him, rock him. To look into his eyes and have him see the sincerity in my heart, hear my words when I tell him that I love him and that everything will be fine. He has me and I would protect him to the ends of the earth.

    This is a pipe dream. He does not want to be held or rocked, hugged or kissed. If I sing to him or attempt to touch him when he is upset I am only adding more sensory input to his overstimulated state. He will not look me in the eye. He does not seem to register the emotion in my voice or on my face.

I feel powerless.

    I have been told I am sad for my loss, not his. That this is how he wants it. This is what feels right for him. Does it though? How do you know? Do you have this ability to peer into the mind of another that I so long for?

    When I hold my three year old whilst in the peak of a complete meltdown, with his dilated pupils, a glaze over his eyes, tear streaked cheeks and a clenched jaw, I see pain. I see it as he struggles out of my grasp to recede to a solitary state. I see it in his limbs that are corded and stiff with tension, but mostly i see it in his soul. It peaks out from behind his eyes with so much anguish that my heart breaks. I feel his pain as if it were my own. He is my heart, he is my life. When he is broken, i too am broken.

    There are many things about Max's autism that make him the wonderful little man that he is and that I love so very deeply. There are also many things about Max's autism that make me sad; Probably a little angry too. Things that make his life harder, things that make his life lonelier.

    Yes, we spend a lot of time thinking and talking about Max's autism. I guess it's just our way of trying to do right by him. I just hope we are.

About Us.......

Our family is not what you would call average.
My husband and I are madly in love (thank god) and have just recently celebrated our third wedding anniversary. We have two children together; Our beautiful 7 month old daughter and our spectacular three year old son, who also happens to be autistic. My husband also has a daughter who is 4 from his past relationship. She is wonderful, and I truly see her as my own.

    So there you have it. Three adorable kids, a wonderful husband and a dog (Tiamo), the fairy tale right? Ya... OK. If Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino collaborated in a retelling of the old white picket fence drawl. No, we certainly don't fit into the ticky tacky existence that others imagine, but I for one am damn happy about that. Normal is the oddity here. Individuality, unique, different, they are what we embrace in this house. Good thing too. Especially when a doctor looks at you and tells you that your wonderful little boy does not fit into the predetermined outlines of normal.




    Well I Say to hell with it! Go ahead, be different! In fact, if he were "normal" I'd probably be more concerned about the type of person he would become. His life will be hard, and I do worry, but he is not selfish, or deceitful, or manipulative, he just is... and that's great.

    DS has been a challenge from the beginning. I don't mean that in a bad way, I am always up for a good challenge. I believe that when I became a mother I found my true calling. There was nowhere I wanted to be then with him. I was in need of frequent reminders of this however, between sleep deprivation, a baby that screamed 22 out of 24 hours in a day, and ppd settling in, I was inches away from total meltdown. we got through it though.

    The old adage: If I knew then what I know now certainly holds true in this situation. If I understood that over stimulation and GI problems were the source of his crying we all would have slept a little better at night... literally. In looking back I think of my time with my little man fondly, but I tend to get a twang of guilt here and there too.. thinking of those moments where I would have sold him for a nickel to the first person who came along just to get some peace and quiet.

    To this day we usually dedicate three to four hours to bedtime. This is something that I have never felt as though we were making any leeway with. I have tried everything... and yet, my exhausted babe is still arranging and rearranging his prized number collection and humming to himself at 1 am.

    We don't do restaurants, we don't do long or back to back visits, even grocery shopping is strategically coordinated in hopes of keeping the peace in our fragile existence. Not anymore baby!!! Now comes the fun part. We know what we're dealing with (finally) so it's time to tackle one issue at a time. Hopefully the end result will be my wonderful boy still being him, but comfortable to do so everywhere. Wish us luck!

Introduction

       Today has been one of those days...
You know the kind I'm talking about; The baby was up all night teething, the fatigue ensued tension brought on disputes between DH and I about absolutely every little thing, and my three year old autistic son decides to throw one of his epic meltdowns that he is famous for right as I am expecting my 1 1/2 year old daycare child. AAAHHHH!!!

      Well, I feel better, how about you? Sorry for my earlier outburst, but sometimes you just need to be able to stand back and say "WHY ME?", right before kicking your own ass and reminding yourself that it's because you wouldn't have it any other way.

     So by now I'm sure this sounds like the nonsensical ramblings of an insane person, and well, it probably is. If you're anything like me however, you'll appreciate a little comradery in the colourful life of raising children. 

    I feel obligated to forewarn you though: I am not a Stepford mom who just plasters a smile on her perfectly made up face and endures everything with grace and restraint. I am a real mother. A real person. Our life is chaotic and I don't try to pretend it isn't. I use abrupt honesty to lay it out on the table and often add a spin to it with my dry sense of humour. This is how I cope. If you cannot seem to acquire a taste for my particular spin then do us both a favour and keep walking. However, I'm sure I'm not alone. So, if you can relate, then I hope you find some comfort in knowing that yes, there are others who find raising an autistic child difficult, but we can laugh, cry and get through it together.