Saturday, September 26, 2009

Such a simple thing...

I'm sitting in our office/toy room posting on my Facebook account, when I look over to find Doodle drawing a picture and writing some words. I am amazed and surprised that she has just spelled the word 'Foot' all by herself - no help from Mom! The letters are formed perfectly and in exactly the right order next to each other on the paper. This seemingly small achievement for most 5 years old is monumental in our house. Just 3 months ago, we could barely get Doodle to consistently form letters - let alone in a straight line and in a coherent word.

What is the big difference? School would tell you all of the work they do with her - physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy. These things are helpful, but she's only been back in school for 2 weeks and she has made tremendous progress over the summer - more than all of school year put together last year. The difference, I have discovered, is the extra Vitamin D she started taking in June of this year. Clerks in the store comment how much more verbal she is. Sunday School teachers make the same comment. Daycare comments that she initiates play with other children now - something she had never done before and certainly something most autistic children avoid. Her attention span has dramatically increased - something I wasn't sure we would ever get under control without medication. Vitamin D has made all the difference.

Doodle's vitamin regimen is as follows:

L'il Critters Gummi Vites

L'il Critters Omega 3
L'il Critters Vitamin D
Nordic Naturals Children's DHA (for a small amount of additional Vitamin A)
Kirkman Labs Zinc Sulfate Topical Cream (Zinc is needed for your body to retain vitamins - plus it helps during the long, cold midwest winters to keep Doodle healthy)
Kirkman Labs Probiotic

I've tried other vitamin combination's - B/12 Magnesium vitamin, added Epsom Salt to her bath for additional magnesium, and a liquid vitamin with extra B6. None of these vitamins seemed to make a difference for Doodle, so I have stopped using them. I typically introduce one new vitamin at a time and watch for a difference in behavior. I started simple with Zinc lotion and the Gummi Vites. I then added the Omega 3 vitamins and noticed an increase in verbal ability. I then tried the B/12 Magnesium combination - which didn't make a difference for Doodle. I then added the Nordic Naturals and again noticed an increase in verbal ability. Finally this summer I added the vitamin D and that is when things really turned a corner.

I would recommend checking with your doctor before starting any vitamin regimen. I have done most of the research and work myself - checking with my sister-in-law who has a master's degree in nutrition. There is a lack of decent medical doctors in the rural area that I live - let alone a doctor that would believe that diet makes a difference. I tried a child nutritionist who is 60 miles away and walked out of the appointment completely exasperated, frustrated, and crying. I vowed to figure it out myself through patience, research, and trial. This approach has worked for me, but if you have the resource available near you, please use them.

I may be optimistic, but I am hopeful by next year when she starts Kindergarten she will need minimal services at school and will be nearly recovered.

My health insurance company recently sent a newsletter which contained some common questions about Autism in it. One of the questions "What are some myths about Autism?" Their answer: "Some parents believe that changing a child's diet can help autistic children. While it can't hurt to change a child's diet, there is no proof that it helps." I'm here to tell them they are just plain wrong. I have living proof in my home that diet and supplements make a world of difference! It's frustrating that a large insurance company would publish such unsubstantiated remarks. The fact is, there have been relatively few studies on the impact of diet on Autism - so to claim there is no proof, is misleading. There is no proof because you have never funded a study. My life and Doodle's life have been made infinitely better by a simple change in diet. I would never go back.

So, to all of those nay-sayers and skeptics, I say "Phooey to you!" I'm going to keep on doing my best to recover Doodle - with or without you. I know what's made a difference and that is all that matters.

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