Musings

Seek and Find

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.

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2014 Naked Gardening Day Celebration

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.

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2003 Fourth of July Neighborhood Parade Preparation (with catheter)

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.

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Day Before Gluten and Casein Removal

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Three Days After Gluten and Casein Removal

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.

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“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

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.

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“What you seek is seeking you.” ― Rumi

Musings

You Are Enough!

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The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week the new rate of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is 1 in 68 children. Ten years ago when my oldest son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an ASD, the rate was 1 in 150. And just like ten years ago, the “experts” still claim, “We don’t know what causes autism.” I don’t get it. Can’t the “experts” Google? Not that everything on the internet is true, but can’t they attempt to sort through it all like parents do upon receiving a diagnosis?

Ten years ago, I surfed the web and entered the world of dietary intervention acronyms starting with the Gluten Free and Casein Free (GFCF) Diet. The GFCF Diet, incomplete in grain removal, led us to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). The SCD is the diet of GAPS™, the Gut and Psychology and Physiology Syndrome. GAPS™ amps up the healing of the grain-free, sugar-free SCD by emphasizing gut healing broths, ferments, and juicing. Autism is a symptom of a faulty digestive system, a leaky gut. By healing the gut, people overcome many mental and physical illnesses, including autism. The “experts” did not research the effectiveness of dietary interventions like we parents (including Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, parent of a son diagnosed on the autism spectrum and neurosurgeon who authored the 2004 GAPS™ book) did. The cornerstones of the scientific method of research are experimentation and observation. We experimented with our kids by taking away grains and sugar while giving them broths to heal and seal the gut, ferments to balance their microbiomes, and juicing to detoxify their bodies. We observed that their digestive issues and autistic behaviors significantly improved and/or disappeared. For anyone just now receiving an ASD diagnosis, don’t believe the we-don’t-know “experts”. Become your own expert! You are enough!

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It’s eerie how similar two gut healing experts and moms of sons no longer on the autism spectrum can look! Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride is pictured on the left and I am on the right. Before this post, I never dreamed of categorizing myself as an expert of Dr. Natasha’s caliber and I’m no neurosurgeon. I only did it to make the point that you too can be a gut healing expert and heal yourself and/or your child(ren). You are enough!

The night before the new ASD rates were announced I had a dream. In my dream, a GAPS™ client asked me (I’m a Certified GAPS™ Practitioner in real life), “How will I know if all that I am doing is enough?” I answered, “You will know it is enough, because you are enough.” You are your own expert. Listen to your body. You are enough!

I like to think that healing with GAPS™ can be charted on a line graph with a general trajectory of up, but it’s not a straight line. Healing has ups and downs. The downs teach us as much about our healing as the ups do. Healing, die-off, and detox reactions all manifest similarly. They make you temporarily feel lousy, not quite right, with possibly some of your common symptoms returning. For me, these reactions often manifest as asthma. When you experience a healing, die-off, or detox reaction you can choose to back off or plow on through. For example, if I, having not eaten any probiotic foods before, were to eat a cup of homemade yogurt and started wheezing, I may choose to back off and reintroduce this probiotic food one teaspoon at a time to breathe more freely or continue to eat a cup of yogurt a day wheezing for a few days or more. It’s important that you heal at a pace that is comfortable for you. Healing on GAPS™ generally takes about two years. For some people, it takes slightly less time or some choose to be GAPS™ lifers (like myself) because they feel like their food tastes – amazingly alive and delicious! During your healing period, the trajectory of your overall health and happiness should trend up.

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Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Pie pictured.

The night before I had this dream, my oldest son (you know, the one no longer on the autism spectrum) shared Carl Jung’s theory that the important life lesson dreams are the lifelike ones we can’t forget. Important indeed! You are enough! The teachings of Carl Jung seem be springing forth everywhere for me like a field of flowers after a harsh winter. I love this one. “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ― C.G. Jung

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On today, April 2, 2014, World Autism Awareness Day, look inside. Awake to the effective treatment of autism and other mental and physical illnesses by gut healing dietary intervention. Become your own expert for yourself and your child(ren)! After many of my oldest son’s autistic behaviors lessened and/or disappeared, I complimented him for working so hard to overcome these behaviors. He looked at me and said, “Mom, I didn’t do anything.” But he did. He ate nourishing gut healing foods. Given nourishing real food, your body knows how to heal. You are enough!

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