My 16-year-old son recently asked why I went rogue from mainstream medicine to successfully treat his autism, Asperger’s Syndrome specifically, with food instead of medications. Seeing his friends struggle with mainstream pharmaceuticals and behavioral treatments, his question wafted with a mix of survivor’s guilt and gratitude. It seems logical that my naked gardening self has a history of bucking the system.
Not true. Much of my life, I’ve cowered in fear of authority, blindly following directions. I spent my childhood and young adulthood irrationally afraid of parents, principals, employers, and other people in power. After my partial hysterectomy, medical professionals advised me to consume as much water as possible. Faithfully, I did. Unable to eliminate, trained hospital staff urged me to drink even more water. My blind faithfulness distended my bladder that required me to use a surgically inserted catheter for 62 days. This having-to-hide-my-pee-in-a-bag-under-long-skirts experience, while wrangling four young stair-step boys ranging in ages 1 to 4, happened less than a year before connecting the behavioral and symptomatic dots that led to an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis for my oldest son, the now quizzical 16-year-old.
Perhaps this incident gave me incentive to question the institution of modern medicine. Perhaps this incident opened my heart to the then (2004) prevalent drug alternative touted in online stories posted by parents who removed gluten and casein from the diets of their autistic children with miraculous results.
Within three days of eliminating gluten and casein, my oldest son, a month away from turning 6, colored in the lines for the first time in his life and many of his autistic behaviors disappeared or improved.
It worked! Changing his diet worked! For a few months. Eventually his behaviors returned with a vengeance to the point that school authorities gave him six weeks to improve in mainstream classes or he would be sent to a specialized autism school. I grasped at music and horse therapies to no avail. While desperately seeking answers, a flash of intuition and inspiration incited me to revisit diet.
Back online I went. I found that removing gluten and casein was not enough. A series of additional food eliminations eventually led us to “breaking the vicious cycle” by improving intestinal health with the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) until we later upped the gut healing ante with the GAPS™ (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) protocol. It worked! Not only for my oldest son, but also for myself and my other five kids! Changing our diet worked!
To answer the question posed by my 16-year-old, I pursued the healing food route over psychotropic pharmaceuticals because when I sought answers, dietary intervention found us. We were very fortunate that my oldest son showed initial improvements by going gluten and casein free, as some kids do. However, many kids do not. Removing only gluten and casein is not the answer because other offending foods get overlooked allowing gut function to remain impaired. My youngest son showed more severe autistic inklings than my oldest son. My youngest son experienced zero improvement at the removal of gluten and casein. When non-glutinous corn was removed from his diet at the age of two, he lost his autistic behaviors, avoiding a similar autism diagnosis as his oldest brother. If my fourth son was my first son, lack of tangible improvements from removing only gluten and casein may have prohibited any further dietary healing pursuits. Never before or since has refrigerator art invoked such gratitude. It worked! Answers always find the seeker.