As many of you know, our oldest son has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, and we have been on the road towards healing with him for some 5 years now.
The start of the “healing road” was a fast and furious one. Well–actually, I take that back.
The start of our healing road actually seemed like more of a major road block.
Our family physician recommended an appointment with the Dept. Head of Psychology at our local children’s hospital and a mental nervous drug prescription. I had already started down the “alternative medicine” path prior to the autism diagnosis, but at this point I found myself moving quickly into a brand new world.
The following months are a blur now, consisting mainly of mom being up until midnight (or later), scouring the internet for therapies that might help, reading accounts of healing, wondering if what other parents said had healed their children –might.just.heal.mine.
I have mixed feelings as I write this, because I do not want to insinuate that what I have done might work for your child – and thus set up for you expectations that might not become a reality. However, at the same time, I feel that to not share the things that have helped us would be a true disservice to others who are looking for help.
So here is a brief history of our treatment path. Some successes. Some “failures”. What we have done and what we are doing now. And what I think is perhaps the best healing technique of all.
1. Occupational Therapy -
We did a lot with this at the beginning of our journey. Sensory Integration, massage, touch, brushing… we tried to fit a number of these things into our schedule. It was hard to do and got tedious frequently. But we did feel that it helped at least to some point. One of the books that we found to be the most helpful was The Out-of-Sync Child.
2. Genetic testing & Nutritional Supplementation –
This was overall a flop. While the testing was interesting, the supplement regimen was completely overwhelming both mentally and financially. We could not afford the expert-directed evaluations and I was unable to handle the intense trial-and-error approach to supplement management. We spent quite a bit of money up front and quickly moved on. Luckily, I still had all my hair :-).
3. Dietary Intervention
- Gluten-free and Casein-Free
There is a lot of information available in books and on the web about gluten and casein (a protein found in cow’s milk) and the roles that they are thought to have in aggravating autism. I won’t go into all of this here, but suffice it to say that I think that removing these proteins from your child’s diet is imperative. There is data showing that the real effects can sometimes take quite awhile to show up, though there are plenty of stories about children showing marked improvement almost instantaneously.
While I follow more of a whole foods approach than the author, the book Special Diets for Special Kids contains a wealth of information on this topic.
To see how manageable (and tasty :-)) a gluten-free and dairy-free diet can be, take a look at my Recipes page. There, you’ll find healthy, whole food ideas for some of our family’s favorites like:
- Chocolate Almond Chip Coconut Milk Ice Cream
- Dairy-Free Bean Fudge
- Dairy-Free Berry Mousse
- Focaccia Flax Bread
- Whole Foods
This means whole grains, and few to no processed foods. Basically, no “junk.” This is crucial. It sounds overwhelming, but basically, kids with autism have broken bodies and we need to do everything we can to allow them to heal. Putting “junk” food into a broken body will just continue to muck up the mechanisms and delay healing of all kinds. In fact, it might even worsen the situation.
- The Candida Diet
Our son, like many persons with autism, struggles with candida overgrowth. Candida basically is a candida albicans, a fungus that is present in all people’s bodies, but, when one’s digestive flora is out of balance, grows out of control and starts to cause systemic issues.
I love baking and, well, my son loves to eat. For a good part of his childhood, I was baking whole grain goodies regularly, and he ate them–well, too regularly. At one point, things really got out of hand and his trunk was covered with a rash and he was lifting up his shirt in public to scratch himself. Suspecting that the rash might be caused by candida, we took him off of all sugars, including dried fruit and fruit, and limited his grain intake. The rash cleared up within two days, following one night of worsening, which is typical when the candida is starved of its food (sugars).
We kept him on a pretty strict diet for a while, and his skin is perfectly clear now. He now has fruit and dried fruit occasionally, and we are not limiting his starches as much. But refined flours and sugars are out of his diet almost 100%, and I suspect that that will continue for his entire life.
4. Nutritional Balancing
This is the name of the current protocol that we are using for our son. Basically it is a program that naturally coaxes out heavy metals and toxins by re-balancing the body nutritionally and with supplements. I have been genuinely pleased with his progress and scientifically measured tests have demonstrated that the metals are coming out of his body. We are working with a specialist named Theresa Vernon and have been thrilled with her expertise, compassion, and knowledge of the adrenals and their role in total body health.
Update: 3/17/14. We have moved on from Nutritional Balancing. I hope to write soon about what we are doing now.
5. Essential Oils
As I mentioned in my post on Natural Sleeping Tips, I have begun gradually experimenting with essential oils. The main way that I have been using these with our son is when his anxiety gets out of control. The
YL Peace & Calming blend and Lavender oils (I am currently working on choosing another essential oils company to work with. Read Which Essential Oils Company is Best for more info.) really seem to help him better manage his mood swings and get the sleep that his body so greatly needs. In fact, while I put the finishing touches on this post, my son had a panic attack and asked that I would please rub some of the lavender oil on his feet. Within two minutes, the panic had subsided.
6. Perhaps the Best Therapy of All – “Low and Slow”
There are, in my opinion, a number of causes of autism. My theory is basically that it is a “whole person” affliction, affecting the nervous system, brain, digestive system, and endocrine system. The more I learn about adrenal health, the more I see how healthy adrenal function is crucial to whole wellness.
Basically, the more stressed out one is, the less toxins are filtered out of the body, digestions worsens and everything goes downhill from there.
So while it is my tendency to try to find new ways to help my son and to work tirelessly at them, I find that really, one of the best ways to help him is to do whatever I do calmly.
A dear friend told me of another mother of a child with Asperger’s who called being calm with her son, “Low and Slow.” How appropriate.
Just simply loving our son as he is, speaking softly and sweetly, and having a sense of peace has an almost magical effect on him. Literally any day that I can slow down and live at a more restful pace is a day when I can really “see” him healing and blossoming.
It isn’t easy, but it is cheap! And keeping my own self calm truly is the most effective healing technique that we have tried (though it is likely the most difficult).
In closing, I don’t mean to insinuate that any of the above methods will for sure help your child with autism, and here is the classic, but necessary, disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor a nurse, nor any kind of medical practitioner. I was pre-med for a brief time in college and I devour medical information voraciously, but that’s about it. I’m just a mom struggling to heal her son, hoping to help other parents along the healing road as well. Please consult with your own physician prior to following any of my recommendations :-).
Blessings to you and yours as you continue down this road.
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