Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Regression and Recovery

A lot of people get really upset if you use the word "cure" with Autism, because we know Autism isn't something that can be cured and isn't something that just goes away or a child outgrows, if anything we see the symptoms associated with Autism get worse over time. With that said, there are those who claim they were able to help their child "recover" from Autism or claim that certain therapies can help "heal" a child suffering from Autism. Naturally, I've read many books on the subject because I want to know what's out there, if it's logical and makes sense, and most importantly, if it's safe.

I'd like to point out that I think the reason we haven't found the "one" cure / healing therapy for Autism is because every child who is diagnosed with Autism isn't the same. They won't have the same food allergies, they won't all be the same age, gender, and every child falls into a different area on the spectrum. What is the spectrum and where does my son fall on it? That's a great question. At times, if I were to answer that question honestly, I'd say he's on the mild / lightly affected side. For the most part, I wanted to believe my son was a "typical" kid with just a speech and language delay. Then there were days when my son was so far from "typical" I wanted to die from embarrassment or frustration or exhaustion. If I compared Ben to the typically developing two year olds I worked with as a preschool teacher, or to my friends / relatives toddlers, I'd have to admit he was very delayed, behind and immature. But when I compared Ben to child who displayed the stereotypical Autistic behaviors (toe walking, flapping, or more extreme symptoms like head bashing, etc) my child seemed "normal" and "healthy." When the time came for me to get a professional diagnosis (because you can only ask your friends and family for so long, "is this normal?") I received a few mixed thoughts:
  • The professionals at Early Steps said he wasn't Autistic but showed a couple red flags.
  • Our DAN! doctor, Dr. Udell said he was "on the fence" and Ben could turn out typical or could continue to regress, so we left with a "pre-Autistic" diagnosis.
  • The neurologist at the Autism clinic gave a 100% confident diagnosis of Autism (without any test, communication or contact with our son)
Personally, I think Dr. Udell hit the diagnosis right on the money. Ben was regressing and without a doubt, my husband and I believe that had we not intervened, Ben would have continued to regress down the path of Autism and who knows how severely he may have been affected. So what do I mean by "we intervened"? Autism is something that occurs inside a child's body - both mentally and physically. I say this because from everything I've read and learned, children on the ASD are not only mentally locked away in their own world, unable to make the neurological connections they need to develop and function "typically" in our society, but they also struggle physically with many health issues. Many times these kids on the ASD have digestive, gastrointestinal problems, struggle with diarrhea or constipation regularly, have reflux, vomiting or other dietary issues, allergies, low immune systems which lead to constant ear infections and colds, and many of these children are malnourished, underweight, have dark circles under their eyes and protruding bellies. These health issues can be painful for a child to live with and you know how difficult it would be to concentrate and learn when your tummy hurts or you feel sleepy (many of these kids also have sleeping issues - perhaps because they don't create enough melatonin) or the child can't focus because he/she feels drugged or drunk.

Ben struggled with all of the issues I listed above (no constipation, just loads of runny stools) and so we changed the foods we put in his body that were most likely the source of his body's health issues. By removing dairy and wheat, and eventually soy, potato, certain carbs and other foods he tested positive against as a food intolerance, Ben began to feel better, look better, and thrive both physically and mentally. The probiotics and vitamin supplements we added to his diet were a big bonus on top of the elimination of the foods we removed from his diet and together the impact was great. It did not happen overnight, and it continues to be a slow, but steady progress.

An overview of Ben's speech development to date:
  • At 15 months Ben had two words: "Duh" for duck and "Dah" for everything else.
  • At 18 months he had about 10 words, "tat" for cat, "doh" for dog, "ight" for light, "cookie," "juice," "appoh" for apple, etc but still no momma or dadda. He could point to all his major body parts and could point to every single animal we asked him to find in our Noah's ark book or for every item in Goodnight Moon.
  • At 24 months or 2 years old, Ben had only put together 2 words a few times. He said, "frey-fry" for french fry, "appoh juice" for apple juice, and once said, "offle hot" for "waffle hot." He knew a handful of animal sounds but said, "nya" for "lion" "gark" for shark, and for whatever reason said, "up" for "cow" ex: "Up. Moooo" etc.
  • At 26 months all the animal noises stopped.
  • By 28 months almost all language was gone. He said, "icesee" for "lizard" or "gucko" for "bathtub." Total gibberish. He no longer could point to his body parts when asked and had no patience to look through books or point to the items we'd ask him to find.
We started Ben's diet at 29 months. The first few days of Ben's new diet we saw major withdrawal symptoms and he had horrible meltdowns. At this point he had zero language. His only word was "mow" for "no" and it wasn't used consistently. Ben had last called me "dadda" two months prior when I had picked him up from school. He couldn't tell me when he wanted to eat, drink, was stinky, tired, or was in pain. He couldn't tell me if he wanted to watch a movie, go outside, color, play, etc. Every cry was a guessing game and I had to go through a checklist to determine what he wanted. He had poor eye contact and his eyes would glaze over and he would "zone out" often.

At 2.5 years old, he had never once called for me or yelled "momma" when he wanted / needed me.

A week into the diet Ben went through the "awakening" period where he seemed very aware, alert and the mental fog he often slipped under had lifted. During that second week on his new diet, he said, "up" for the first time shortly followed by "eat" which was another first. He continued to slowly but surely use new words and around the 25th day into the diet he regained all the animal noises and most of their names that he had lost over the previous 5 months. Right away he picked up his lost ability to point to all his body parts when asked and started getting back into looking at and pointing to his picture books.

At 30 months old, or a month into the diet he tried putting two words together: "Out. Side." Then followed "Papa House" "Light House" as well as learning to say new words all the time. He went from 1 word ("mow" for no) at 29 months to 25-35 words by 31 months. He also began drawing circles for the first time, whereas before it was only scribbling. My aunt, who spends the most time coloring with him, noticed how deliberately he was attempting to color inside the lines now.

At 31 months old, Ben gave his first kiss after being asked for one (before it had been more random) after that he continued to give hugs and kisses all the time. He reached 50 words after 2 months on the diet. Ben could now follow a simple task, like "go put that in the trash" or "pick up Momma's keys." Instead of grabbing his wrist and making him hold my hand, I could now ask for him to hold my hand and he'd willingly take my hand (even if he only held it for a minute or two, it was a start). Ben could finally say "watch" for wanting to watch a cartoon, "eat" and "drink" and well as say which food / drink he wanted when given a choice, or say "mow" for no. He would sign and say "nore" for wanting "more." Ben started saying "stinky" now and occasionally peed in a toilet.

At 32 months old, just before Mother's Day, Ben learned to say "momma" and for the first time began calling me all the time. He also started learning a few colors at this point and my husband took advantage of this new teachable moment and worked with him until he learned not only how to point to the color we asked him to find but to start speaking the names of the colors. The day the Neurologist gave us the 100% certain Autism diagnosis Ben put his first 3 word phrase together. While playing at the park he told me, "Rock. Yuck. Trash." then he threw the rock in the garbage can. Later that night while Nick was throwing Ben in the air and lifting him high to touch the roof, Ben said, "Dadda. Up. Touch." and "Up. Touch. Roof." We had seen so much progress in such a short time we wondered how in the world this neurologist knew Ben was autistic without performing any kind of test or even talking to him? We constantly wondered if we were in denial or if maybe speech delay all by itself can be defined as Autism.

At 33 months old, Ben began adding lots of two word combinations to his vocabulary. There was a short time between Ben just calling "momma" to him saying, "momma LOOK" and "momma sit" or "momma help" or when Dad tickled him too much or told him not to touch baby brother, Ben would come running to me crying "Dadda bop" meaning "tell dadda to STOP." My 11 month old Jonathan at this time said his first word "ight" for light. We began praising Jonathan everytime we'd ask him "where's the light" and he'd point to one and say, "ight." One day after I buckled Ben in the car to take him to school he pointed to the light on the side of the car door and said with excitement: "Momma! Look! LIGHT! See?" which was his first 4 word phrase ever. I nearly fell over and had tears in my eyes while driving him to school because for a second it felt as though we were just having a conversation! Before Ben was born I couldn't wait to hear his cry, because I just wanted to hear his voice. For over 2 years I literally had dreams of Ben talking to me, and now I'm finally able to hear this little voice communicating with me, not just screaming!

At 34 months old, Ben has used the toilet twice to go stinky. Ben finally learned how to answer the question, "How old are you?" and he proudly opens up two fingers and says, "Twooo" and even holds up one finger when I asked how old his baby brother is, who just turned one. Ben started saying, "Tank you Dadda" or "Tank you Momma" for "Thank you" and just this past week after we say "Love you Ben" he starting replying with a "fu fu momma" or "fu fu dada." It's the cutest damn thing in the world and if those sweet little words aren't healing our broken hearts then I don't know how else to define a recovery.

Just had to add this video in: The only time Ben ever "flapped" his arms is when mocking how baby brother flaps his arms while babbling "ma ma ma ma":

Ben had a tiny bit of language and comprehension, lost it, and is slowly but surely recovering it. His stools are ever so slowly becomming normal. His language continues to grow and his comprehension continues to amaze us. We believe changing his diet made this healing process possible. What is working for us may not work for everyone, but changing Ben's diet helped us to take better care of him. I encourage everyone to explore the safe and natural methods for healing and recovering our speech delayed / pre-Autistic / Autistic kids.

*I will continue to update this post with time as Ben continues to grow!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Going Gluten Free / Dairy Free

So this post probably belonged somewhere a few posts back, but it didn't exactly go with the medical updates. I want to get this out there because it's important and our first trip to Whole Foods with the intention on going gluten free was a bit of a disaster because we didn't have a clue what to look for or what was available.

If you are just starting a gluten free diet I hope to save you a lot of headache / money (hopefully) by sharing the products I think are edible and how to save money on them. Because we are also dairy free, unfortunately I won't be able to recommend too many gluten free items that have dairy in it because I haven't been buying those.

Butter! How could I have forgotten to add BUTTER!?!

I started out using Earth Balance Soy Free / Dairy free butter (it's the red label one):

 Then learned about Ghee also known as clarified butter which is made from organic cow milk based butter, only the protein casein and whey has been removed. I first purchased ghee, but at $10 for a small jar I eventually learned how to make it myself!

Now I very very rarely use any vegetable oils, and only use Ghee or Coconut Oil / Butter:

We'll start with breakfast:

Toast - I have tried several Udi's gluten free breads (in the frozen section) some without yeast, some without potato flour, and definitely only those without dairy. I tried a few other brands (bread/food of life brand is my second favorite) but the white bread is my favorite:

I use this bread for making sandwiches and french toast too!

Waffles: The van's brand is pretty terrible but I LOVE the organic Homestyle gluten free waffles by Nature's Path. You can find these in the frozen aisle as well. They are sweetened with pear juice instead of cane sugar which is awesome and smell like real buttery Belgian waffles when toasting in the toaster oven:
Eggs and Bacon:  I now buy cage free, antibiotic free, free range chicken eggs and the Pederson's Natural Farms bacon is the very best bacon I've ever had! It's the only brand that states right on the package: Uncured Cherry Smoked Bacon, Pork raised without the use of antibiotics, or growth stimulants. Ever! No artificial ingredients, No preservatives, No gluten, No lactose, No MSG. Sorry but couldn't find a good picture of either egg brand or bacon brands online.
Cereal: Gorilla munch is awesome and comes in bulk sizes (at my store) and sometimes has a coupon. It tastes very similar to Captain Crunch only it doesn't tear the roof of your mouth off!

These kind of remind me of frosted flakes:

They sell adult brand cereals too that are gluten free, I just haven't found any I really liked yet. I do buy the puffed brown rice and use it in cooking things like apple crisp or peach cobbler so you might want to check it out - it's just bland as a cereal so I add a little brown sugar and Cinnamon when I eat it.

As for milk substitutes I LOVE Almond milk, specifically the 365 brand Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk from Whole foods, and Ben likes the Silk Pure Almond Vanilla flavor. Coconut milks are also yummy and I use those for baking.

Yogurt: There's only one kind we buy and it's SO Delicious. That's literally the brand name because it's that good. I like the plain and vanilla flavors and for the past month (through August 31st) Whole Foods has a $1 off coupon and I buy between 4-6 a week so that's around $20 a month in savings right there). I also use a store coupon for the So Delicious Coconut Kefir drink (vanilla flavor) and mix a couple spoonfuls of the kefir (natural probiotic) into the yogurt and this is a wonderful breakfast (or dessert). I like to add organic frozen blueberries and Enjoy Life chocolate chips to it or a 1/4 cup Gluten Free Cranberry Granola by Udi's. YUM!!!

I have a few recipes for making gluten free pancakes, homemade blueberry or chocolate cranberry muffins, pancakes and banana bread / muffins, but won't go through posting all that here. If you want to make breakfast foods from scratch I recommend ordering any / all of these cookbooks because they not only offer the recipes but go into great detail over WHY it's healthy to incorporate more coconut into your diet and the benefits of removing gluten, etc:




Lunch and dinner:
I make our lunch and dinners from scratch (for the large part) and use a mixture of Hol Grain Brown rice bread crumbs and Better batter seasoned flour mix for making chicken nuggets / fish sticks. I also use coconut flakes and crushed pecans for breading too.

seasoned chicken fingers

coconut fish sticks

pecan crusted salmon

Once you learn to make your own breaded chicken you can add a marinara sauce to make a chicken parmesean or a orange preserves (with a touch of white pepper, sweet red chili sauce or whatever spices you like) and can make a chinese style orange chicken:

orange style chicken

We just LOVE the seasoned flour at Better Batter and have used it on chicken and mahi mahi or halibut and it's better (not to mention healthier) than any dinner at a restaurant!

seasoned flour mahi mahi

seasoned flour fried chicken

If you are just starting out and aren't ready to take on cooking just yet, Amy's gluten free / dairy free mac n cheese is the ONLY mac n cheese that I've found to be edible and it's found in the frozen food section:

and Ian's chicken nuggest and fish sticks are also in the frozen food section:

It's very expensive to buy these foods premade though so if you aren't good at cooking, I'd suggest you learn to cook unless you have unlimited funds to spend on these preprepared foods.

Planning a gluten free / dairy free lunch and dinner is in a way easier for me than breakfast, since raw meats, fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten free. More and more items that are naturally gluten free are now proud to display a gluten free logo on their product label. Be careful with any prepackages meats because gluten can be hidden inside the ingredients as a filler. Boar's Head deli meats are now displaying which ones are gluten free. We sometimes buy hot dogs (because they are easy) and Apple Gate makes uncured ones that are nitrate and nitrite free (as well as gluten free / casein free of course!)
Pasta: I really love the Tinkyada brand noodles, De Boles makes the best lasagna noodles, and Lundberg's Penne pasta is amazing! All of these brands make Brown Rice pasta which I think is so close to the real thing you can't even tell the difference. Pasta's that use Quinoa or Corn (to me) tend to be gritty, off tasting, and crumble / fall apart more easily.

Tinkyada tri-colored veggie pasta with ground beef marinara

Pizza: Udi's makes a gluten free pizza crust in the frozen food aisle but because we don't have a cheese substitute we like we just eat it with lots of vegetables on it. Am going to try out a new cauliflower pizza crust soon so will let you know if that's any good.

Dairy free vegetable pizza

We try to only eat grass fed, organic, antibiotic free, hormone free meats and organic fruits and vegetables as well. We only eat wild caught fish too.

Snacks: Glutino Crackers, Synder's Gluten free Pretzels, Corn chips and Plantain Chips are the staple snacks in our home.
Dessert: I make all of our muffins, cookies, brownies, cakes and treats by scratch using Rice flours, coconut flours, almond flour, tapioca flour, sorghum sweet flour, garbanzo bean flour and quinoa flour. I have had WONDERFUL experiences using BetterBatter's flour (and Seasoned Flour for fried foods is amazing) and am interested in trying out their cake mixes. I have not found ANY cookies or treats that are worth the cost for the taste. I use the Enjoy Life chocolate chips that I listed above in my cookies, brownies and cakes and have not had much success using the cake mixes (the vanilla ones taste too much like corn bread to me). If you know of a gluten free / dairy free / soy free cake mix / dessert mix / premade cookies, etc that is yummy feel free to pass it along and email me at TheVeryBreastThing.gmail.com

All of the desserts below use a combination of flours but I'll list the main flour used in each one:

Homemade chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and sugar cookies using mostly rice, tapioca and sorghum flours

Coconut flour and rice flour chocolate brownies using Nestle 100% cocoa powder and Enjoy Life chips

Almond flour and rice flour cinnamin walnut coffee cake

Rice and garbanzo bean flour chocolate cupcakes

My favorite easy dessert that requires NO COOKING is Ice Cream, and Purely Decadent is FABULOUS! I love love love the vanilla bean, cookie dough and mint chocolate.
Probiotic Drinks: Good Belly has a couple that are dairy free and are not bad, but Bio-K is pretty nasty.

Some other products I tried and REALLY didn't like:

Nearly every premade cookie and many other crackers. Daiya rice milk cheese. Rice Vegan cheese was slightly better, but only just. They sell an Almond based cheese which is actually REALLY good except in the ingredients it lists Casein Protein (cow milk protein) which really ticked me off because what's the point of making a dairy free cheese if you're going to add cow milk back into it? Tofutti cream cheese is pretty good only it's made of soy and we don't do soy either :( I was not impressed, at all, with the Bob's Red Mill's biscuit mix or pizza dough mix. The buckwheat cereal and pancake mix was just plain gross. If I remember any other brands I went through, or have a bad experience with any new ones that I try out, I'll add them to this list.

Well hopefully if you're just starting out you will have a least an idea of what's out there and won't have to waste money on products that you know nothing about! Remember to ALWAYS read labels because most things will state allergy alerts. For example, nuts are naturally gluten free, but the bulk almonds sold at Sam's club (members mark brand) state: Manufactured and packaged on equipment that is shared with wheat, dairy, soy, etc or something along those lines so because of cross-contamination I won't buy those for my family.

I feel so fortunate that more and more gluten free foods are available and believe that as more doctors understand the health problems gluten is causing individuals with sensitivities / intolerances the more we will see gluten free foods take over! Thank God we live in a time that makes it easier for us to take better care of our families. I wish you happy shopping and hope you will find it easier to go gluten free after becoming familiar with some of the brands I trust. If you ever want to email me a recipe or brand you love please do so!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ben Age Two: Tests, Tests and more Tests!

In order to get the best idea of what's going on inside of Ben we had a lot of tests done. We sent his urine to France where peptides were detected for both dairy and wheat. These peptide levels showed us that whenever Ben consumed dairy or wheat the partially broken down proteins would enter his bloodstream and leave in his urine as peptides, which can act as opioid or morphine like drugs in Ben's body. This explained why Ben didn't seem to respond to pain like a "typical child" and showed no awareness to entering a hot jacuzzi or cold pool and would "zone out" and sit in a "fog" like state. These peptides showed us that these foods physically made him high. Children get a fix from this high which is why they go through such horrible withdrawals when you remove these foods from their diets and they have to detox.

We sent Ben's blood to Alcat laboratory in south Florida to determine which of the 75+ foods / additives in a "wellness panel" that Ben was sensitive to (he showed an intolerance to 23 foods, as well as Penicillin and red dye). We sent multiple stool samples (first collected and frozen or stored in special vials at room temperature with special solutions to keep bacteria from dying) to The Great Plains Laboratory in Kansas, where we learned that Ben's good bacteria levels were low (some were completely wiped out from all the antibiotic abuse) and one strain of a "dysbiotic" or "nasty" bacteria as Dr. Udell called it, was monopolizing his entire gut flora. In that test we also learned that his immune system was very compromised as his IGA levels were far below normal. The last test we sent away for was a stool and saliva test kit to Enterolab in Texas. This test was able to identify intolerances to wheat, dairy, soy and egg (probably the white in the egg since the Alcat test confirmed a sensitivity to the egg white but not the egg yolk). This test measures the body's IGA levels against these food proteins and any time the body produces a response greater than 10 the lab determines this to be considered a food intolerance.

I'll just copy and paste the results here because it's a little difficult to paraphrase:

"B) Gluten/Antigenic Food Sensitivity Stool/Gene Panel (this was the test kit we ordered)

Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA    114 Units   (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)

Fecal Anti-casein (cow’s milk) IgA    24 Units   (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)

Fecal Anti-ovalbumin (chicken egg) IgA    16 Units   (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)

Fecal Anti-soy IgA    39 Units   (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)"

The first one, the one measuring Anti-gliadin IgA is for gluten in case you weren't sure what that word meant (because I didn't) and is clearly showing an intolerance to gluten / wheat, which Ben's probably been making since birth which is why the number is so great.

So I spoke with the nurse at Enterolab and the doctor about these numbers (and taking into account what I learned from reading the Gut and Psychology Syndrome) it became very apparent that with the high wheat values most likely gluten was the first food protein Ben became intolerant to (or was born intolerant to) and as he kept creating IGA responses to it his immune system became over-responsive / sensitive and started tagging other food proteins with similar molecular structures (soy and dairy) and once the immune system is so active it becomes a snowball effect and just keeps on tagging foods.

According to what I understood from the GAP book, the walls of Ben's gut no longer have the good bacteria keeping it healthy, creating a barrier so that undigested food proteins won't enter the blood stream. If this barrier is thin / weak any food which he eats will not only not get broken down properly but these malabsorbed / digested proteins will leak through the lining of his gut walls and pass into the bloodstream, where his white blood cells attack these proteins and "tag" them as foreign invaders since they aren't supposed to be in the bloodstream. Then a signal is sent to the immune system to keep a record that every time this food protein enters the body the immune system should create a defensive response. Many individuals who have a food intolerance may not know they have one until they give up that food they are sensitive to and see the changes in their bodies (allergy / sinus symptoms, cramps, headache, fatigue, bone / joint pains, even things like infertility can be cleared up once a person avoids the foods that their body is intolerant to and gives the immune system a chance to calm down).

The nurse I spoke with when ordering this test and the nurse and doctor I spoke with discussing the results of the test spoke in depth about how children with gluten intolerances can have neurological problems when gluten remains in their diet. Children that suffer from ADD, ADHD, Autism, Schizophrenia, OCD, and Epilepsy might benefit greatly from being on a strict gluten free diet. Over 50 years ago the term "bread maddness" was coined after recognizing that some individuals would suffer from schizophrenic episodes after consuming bread. In the 1920's the Ketogenic diet was created for the only known treatment for children with Epilepsy, and surprise surprise this diet consists of a high fat, moderate protein and very low, very specific carbohydrate diet. I could go on and on about how our diets and the foods we eat affect our body's and brains, but that's not what this blog is about. I can't convince you or anyone to determine which diet is healthy or best for you or your family. I can only share what I have learned about how diet affects my family.

Our hope is that by removing the offending foods from Ben's diet we will give his digestive track a chance to heal and seal the gut lining, and by adding plenty of beneficial probiotic supplements and naturally fermented foods (yogurt / sourkrout / pickles, etc) his gut will start digesting foods properly and we can one day reintroduce some of the 23 foods on his intolerance list without them causing an immune response.

The saliva portion of this test was very interesting for me because it looks for gluten sensitivity genes, genes that are passed down from either the mother or the father or both parents. As it turns out, Ben had two copies of the same gene, which means he got one from both me and Nick. After much talk with the staff at Enterolab, I learned that the HLA-DQB1 0301 gene that Ben received from both me and Nick, this particular gene especially, has been determined to cause neurological and developmental delays.
HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 1    0301

HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 2    0301

Serologic equivalent: HLA-DQ   3,3  (Subtype 7,7)
The last portion of the test counted the fat molecules in his stool, which was collected over a period of three days. In this test we wanted to learn if Ben was absorbing fat. If he wasn't able to absorb fat (which is the easiest / first thing the body will absorb) then we'd have malabsorbancy issues which lead to malnutrition if his body can't absorb other nutrients. The results are below:
Add Fat Malabsorption Stool Test (Fecal Fat) to panel A, B, or C
Quantitative Microscopic Fecal Fat Score    Less than 300 Units   (Normal Range is less than 300 units)

Good news! Ben showed less than 300 units of fatty molecules in his stool so his body must be absorbing fat, and if he's able to absorb fat then he should be absorbing other vitamins, nutrients and minerals as well.

Although we did this test almost 2 months ago, I just want to add in this post that during this time Ben was hovering around 25 lbs. Over the course of the next 2 months, after going gluten free, soy free, casein (dairy free) and many other things free (apple, potato, most carbs, etc) Ben actually GAINED 5 whole pounds and is currently a beautiful 30 lbs (as of July 2011). I was so scared that if I took all of my rice products which replaced the gluten ones (crackers, breads, muffins, flours, cookies, pretzels, etc) out of Ben's diet that he'd lose even more weight but after reading my GAP book and speaking with Dr Udell I realized that Ben might start absorbing foods better once the bad fungi and bacteria die off. This is when Ben started growing (like he was still wearing size 18 month shirts /shorts and even some 12 month size shirts at age 2.5) and jumped into size 2t and 3t and his shoe size went from a 6 to an 8.5 in the past two months once changing his diet. I'll get to the mental growth in future posts...

Some might argue that diet doesn't affect the body or mental state. I like the argument that asks you to go drink a bottle of liquor and tell me what you consume doesn't affect you. Some might argue that my son would have "outgrown" these food sensitivities over time and maybe, after a year and a half of vomiting on a daily basis, his body might have just accepted the foods we fed him but I challenge that maybe he would have continued to shut down both physically and mentally. To those who argue that monitoring diets based on food sensitives is dangerous and it's better or healthier to ignore the lab results and continue on eating the traditional American diet, I'd like to point out that I'm not asking you to change your eating habits, just don't push them on my kid. I've had some very strong advice from concerned loved ones tell me that removing wheat is "dangerous" and from a Neurologist that a GF/CF diet hasn't been proven to treat Autism. I say test your theories on your own kids / patients, go ahead and do nothing, and see what happens. No offense to you if you happen to fall into any of these categories, and I'll respect those parents who chose not to change their child's diet, but PLEASE, allow me to TRY to help my kid by changing his diet. Some personalities are pro-active and when it comes to my child's health I can't just sit by and do nothing. Whether it's been proven to help or not I need to try it. As I told my sister in law weeks after first implementing a GF/CF diet, "Even if the only thing this diet does is resolve Ben's vomiting issue, then it was worth the change." For the record, it's been 5 months since my son has thrown up and that's the longest stretch he's gone since he was exclusively breastfed.

My point in sharing this post with you is to encourage you to look into all the many, many tests available and see which might best assist you with learning your dietary needs / challenges. These tests are costly, and most likely not covered by insurace so really do your research so that you can get the most knowledge from any given test. Also, when it comes to diets, I've learned that if parents with a child on the ASD are willing to try a gluten free diet most of them are unsure about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and are afraid to give up all their gluten free carbohydrate replacements. What helped me was knowing that eventually, if I could really give Ben's body the best chance at healing and getting strong, then eventually he could eat these foods again, but I had to at least try and give this diet all I could, to give Ben the best chance of recovery, if such a thing were really possible.

As always, please speak with a qualified professional before purchasing or running any medical tests or making any decisions concerning your health or the health of your family.