Friday, January 28, 2011

Autism Recovery

I recently read this post from Holly Robinson Peete on a segment done by the Today show on Autism Recovery: . I can so identify with what Ms. Peete has to say about the response from traditional pediatricians to treating Autism with anything other than behavioral therapy. I am met with the same resistance and reluctance by my family doctor.

My doctor has seen the tremendous different that diet and supplements have made in Doodle's life, yet she refuses to acknowledge that the diet had any effect on her behavior. It's maddening! I met the same reluctance the first year Doodle was in pre-school. Her special ed teacher and therapists nodded their head as I described the differences that I was seeing in Doodle's cognitive reasoning, limiting repetitive behavior, and improved eye contact. Because she still had tremendous attention issues and difficulty conducting conversations with children in her class, I felt like my observations were dismissed. It wasn't until she returned to pre-school in the fall, a transformed child, that the teachers and therapists started to pay attention. She was a different kid! The difference? Vitamin D added to her diet and supplement regimen. There was such a tremendous difference that they couldn't help but agree that she had changed - she wasn't the same child they had seen just 4 months earlier.

Now, her doctor and teachers say they don't see Autistic tendencies in her any longer. Sure, she still needs help with her physical coordination and paying attention, but she's in the top of her class for reading and writing. She maintains friendships at school and at home. The best part is I can ask her how her day was at school and she can describe the day in detail to me - usually putting it into context. I'm thrilled at her progress. I'm thrilled that she is full of possibilities and less about limitations.

For all those parents out there struggling with whether or not to try the diet/supplements on their children, take the plunge. Not every child is "recovered" like my Doodle, but you don't know if your child will recover unless you give it your all. Commit to the change. Have patience for the results. Believe there is help and hope. If I can do it, so can you.

If you ever get the chance to watch the HBO film "Temple Grandin" I would highly recommend it.I love what her mother used to say about Temple and Autism: Different, not less. Being different then the other kids does not make my child less - she has a gift to offer the world and it's my duty as her mother that she has every opportunity to use that gift in life. That's my gift to her. I love you Doodle!

If you've had success with the GF DF diet and autism, drop me a line, I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dreaming of Summer

It's the dark days of winter here in Minnesota. January is one of the bleakest months of the year, in my opinion. The excitement of the holidays are over, spring is still a distant hope in the future, and the weather turns bitter and cold. Yesterday it was -16F - with a wind chill that made it feel even colder. Yuck! I often ask myself why I still live here, but then spring rolls around and winter is just a distant memory. Tonight we made corn on the cob to remind ourselves of summer nights eating dinner on the deck. Oh how I long for those nights!

I find that corn on the cob is best prepared on the grill. If you're somewhere warm enough to grill, then this recipe is for you. It's simple, but yields the best tasting corn ever!

4 Ears of corn - shucked
4 Tbsp Dairy Free Butter
4 Sheets Aluminum Foil

1. Heat grill to medium high heat.
2. Place each ear of corn in the center of a sheet of aluminum foil.
3. Place Tbsp of Dairy Free Butter on top of corn.
4. Wrap up corn with aluminum foil and place on the grill (upper rack, if possible) and cook for 15 minutes (or until tender). Keep away from the flames or the corn will become charred.
5. Unwrap and serve with a juicy steak, flame broiled burger, or some Jerk Chicken

I can almost feel the warmth of the summer sun beating down on us as we sip some lemonade and enjoy a cool breeze. I'll keep telling myself only 7 more weeks until spring. If you're somewhere warm, soak up some rays for us and send some of that warmth our way here in MN, we need it!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hot Dish # 2

Winter has definitely settled in at our house. I find us craving warm cozy food that warms the soul after coming in from the frigid temperatures outside. While January has been milder this year, than last, it is still colder than I typically like a winter to be. To help take the chill off after a long day at work and school, I find myself looking to old favorites like chili, spaghetti, and hotdish in disguise. Remember, my family doesn't know what a real hotdish looks like!  While Doodle claims she doesn't like this hotdish, I made it last week and she ate every last bite...maybe she does like hotdish after all!

Chicken & Pasta Hot Dish with Sundried Tomatoes

1/2 Package Tinkyada Brown Rice Spirals
8 oz Prosciutto
4 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
1/2 Cup Sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)
2 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 2 inch strips
1 Clove Garlic
Red Pepper Flakes to taste
1/2 cup white wine
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Package Rich's Dairy Free Creamer
1 Package Rich Whip
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
1/8 Cup Chicken Broth
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Cook Pasta according to package directions just until it is slightly al dente (still a bit firm).
2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute Chicken in Tbsp Olive Oil until fully cooked. Remove from skillet.
3. Add remaining Olive Oil and saute Prosciutto. Once slightly crispy, add in Sun Dried Tomates and cook 1 minute longer.
4. Deglaze pan with White Wine. Add in Chicken Broth, Dairy Free Creamer and Rich Whip. Bring to a simmer.
5. In a small bowl, place corn starch. Mix with 1/8 Cup Chicken Broth, stir until smooth. Add to skillet and simmer until sauce is thickened.
6. Add back in chicken. Drain pasta and add to hot dish. Season with Salt & Pepper and Red Pepper Flakes to taste. Serve immediately.

On a positive note, Doodle received her first report card for Kindergarten. She ranks in the top of her class for both reading and math! Great progress as she learns to read and recognize words. She received encouraging comments from her teacher, however she continues to struggle with focus. If anyone has some great ideas on how to help my child focus, I would love to hear what has worked for you! I'm resistant to putting her on medication and would love to work on ways to control through diet and supplements.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Power of Probiotics

I'm going to start the New Year off by talking about supplements again. Supplements were a key ingredient in helping Doodle recover from Autism and her developmental delays. Over the past two years, I have tried different supplements - one at a time - and monitored their affect on Doodle's behavior. Did she seem to improve? Was there any difference in her verbal skills? When taken off of the supplement, did she regress? Was her school noticing any differences? (Rule of thumb - never tell the school or daycare when you have made a change in the diet. Wait and see if they mention any differences to confirm what you are seeing is true.)

This past fall, I took Doodle off of Probiotics. Mostly because the brand we buy is fairly expensive and I wasn't sure they were really doing any good. So, we went for a period of several months without taking any Probiotics. I didn't think much of it, until we went Trick-or-Treating for Halloween. I watched as Doodle repeatedly stumbled, fell, and lost her balance (and it wasn't because she had on a tricky costume). She couldn't seem to run like the other little girl we were with - like her limbs weren't coordinated at all. She also didn't have this problem during the school year prior - when she was completely on Probiotics.  I told Doodle that she seemed "trippy" that night and we placed an order for Probiotics the very next day. Since being back on the Probiotics her "trippy" behavior has been eliminated and she is much more in control of her limbs. Lesson learned for me - keep up the Probiotic supplementation!

Doodle in her Halloween Costume

There have been some studies to support the use of Probiotics for Autistic children. Some Autistic children suffer from an imbalance of bad bacteria in their gut and the Probiotics help to bring stability back.  I read this article recently about how a study on Probiotics in Autistic children was so successful, it failed. Parents of Autistic children who were given the Probiotic noticed such a difference, that when it was time for the two groups to switch (and go onto a placebo), the parents in the initial group dropped out - they didn't want to take their children off of the Probiotics!

For my Doodle, I've found the use of Probiotics with a daily supplement of Zinc also helps with her ability to focus. I had also been lax about giving Doodle her zinc every day and her teachers have been complaining about her ability to focus in class. Saying she needs to be re-directed many times during an activity. I decided to be diligent about giving Doodle zinc every day (I use a zinc lotion for this). After only one week, her teacher sent home a note saying that her ability to focus had greatly improved that week. Another note to self - be diligent about zinc!

Both the Probiotics and Zinc I order from Kirkman Labs. You can find them here, if you are interested.

Zinc -
Probiotics -

I offer this advice based on my own experience. I am not a medical professional, so please consult your doctor before applying to your own circumstances.