I've heard it. Heck I've even said it. "Doctors over-diagnose and just use it to make money and keep their jobs". Boy, did I want to believe that for my son. I even said it to the psychiatrist who studied my son for hours on end and had me questioned in another room for many more. Questionnaire after questionnaire of all of the symptoms my boy had... I knew... deep down in my heart I knew. The more I filled out that long, drawn out questionnaire the more deeply I knew. This is not a wrong diagnosis.
If you have a son or daughter with a diagnosis of autism, adhd, or any of the other multitude of diagnoses that are placed on our children at an astronomical rate, you remember that day too, don't you? After I went home that day, all I could see was "Autism". In big, bright, yellow, neon, flashing lights; over his head and screaming, "AUTISM"!! Everything he did for those next weeks was no longer my son. It was a boy who had autism and I didn't know what to do. I became depressed and broken. Once strong and sure, I no longer felt like that mom who had life in control.
Back at the psychiatrist office, they told me this was a "neurological disorder he would have for the rest of his life". That he would be in line for 40 hours of therapy... Per week. A full time job for a FIVE year old!! That was it? Therapy for his speech, therapy for his sensory integration disorder, therapy for his eye contact, his obsessions, his inability to connect with me?
I had worked with him from very early on, instinctively doing ABA therapy with him when he would have his 45-minute long temper tantrums. I remember my husband coming home from work, with me on the floor and a boy who hadn't stopped tantrumming for over 45 minutes! I also remember the same stand off with my little guy in a Sears outlet store. Oh I got the stares. Most likely people wanting me to just give him a chocolate or whatever else he wanted in the moment. But, I held off and I was strong. I didn't know it at the time that I was actually doing a form of ABA. I just knew that I had to outlast him or my outtings would be no more after that and I'd be stranded to my house - trapped! Little did I know that my little guy was autistic and that was one of the best things I ever did for him back in those days.
I also remember walking into an Autism Therapy Support Center. It was there where I went immediately from the hospital after hearing the devastating news of my son having autism. I walked into that center and they must have known I'd been crying. A woman gently came over to me, where I told her I just found out my son had Autism and that I felt like he was broken.
Well, that struck a cord with her. Perhaps she was autistic herself and felt offended at the comment or perhaps she simply didn't want my son to have his mommy tell him he was "broken". But that's what I felt. In fact, that's what I knew. YES, I loved my son and would have loved him no matter WHAT. But I know that something was changing even in the weeks leading up to his diagnosis and I was going to get to the bottom of it.
My story is long and I could write a book (in fact - spoiler alert - my 10 year old son is presently writing a book as we speak and I can't WAIT to get it published). But to simplify things, I wanted to tell you what I did to help my son. It was a long journey. A journey I don't regret whatsoever. But a VERY tough journey that is not for the weak. But it is worth... every.. single... moment! Every step we took was a journey toward his health and fascilitating the wonderful ability within our beautiful bodies to facilitate healing. Forgive me if I don't get into too many details on this particular post. Like I said, you'll have to buy the book. ;) But in the meantime, here is what I did do to bring our son back to us.
ELIMINATION DIETS AND BEYOND
The part of our journey I have to begin with and I can't IMAGINE where my son might have been had we not done this as well as other steps was what we did before he was even diagnosed with Autism. When he was born, my son was jaundiced. Yet, no more than my other two babies after him were. He had the cord around his neck - but no more than my other two babies were. But, because he was my firstborn and my milk had not come in yet, the nurses felt like I should give him formula in the meantime; to flush out the bilirubin. Once my milk came in on the fourth day it was exclusive breastfeeding from there on out until he turned 7 months old. He had ONLY organic food and all homemade from scratch. I made mistakes I only knew about after the fact, but there was no sugar or processed foods for my first little bundle of joy. :)
By the time I was pregnant with his sister, we had become vegan. Now, I skipped a lot of info here but all you need to know is that my son had chronic ear infections and "needed" 5 rounds of antibiotics by the time he was two. This was when we discovered essential oils, but I'll get into that later. When we went vegan, every single one of his ear infections VANISHED!! Now, especially if he has a cold and he steals something with dairy, he would develop another ear infection. Dairy was CAUSING inflammation in his ears so much so that the fluid in his ears would not move through and an infection would ensue... every single time. The doctor even threatened him with tubes before I discovered that all we need to do was get rid of dairy. More than that, we watched him progress and always chalked it up to "him getting older and out-growing it". Now I know differently. We were not strict vegan but now looking back, I SO wish we were.
Fast forward a week or two before he is diagnosed, my son had yet ANOTHER bout of stomach pain like no other. For a kid with a HIGH tolerance for pain, I knew something was not right. Four trips to the doctor and being turned away every time later, we decided to get rid of all traces of gluten. It was all we could think to do. Well, my son was ADDICTED to gluten. He would eat gluten for breakfast, lunch, and supper if we let him. Boy, did his body fight back and fight back hard. He ended up being so constipated that he didn't go for five days. Once a fever ensued I took him straight to the ER. Maybe.. finally... I'll get some answers. Well, long story short, he ended up with an enema and what a release!
What I didn't realize, but remember when I was talking to his psychiatrist (it was a week later he was diagnosed with autism), was that he had started to give me some eye contact for the first time after that enema. What I realized later that although the doctors asked me if he had a bowel movement every day, he didn't ask me what texture, what size, or how much he went and these are very important questions in these Autistic kids. Well, 14 days to the day, he started using words I hadn't heard from him, his articulation started to become a bit more intelligible, and things just started exploding after that. I told his psychiatrist and pediatrician what we had done with the gluten but they didn't listen. In fact, they handed me a book called the "False Prophets of Autism" and in that book were some of the very people that I attribute to helping me get my son back. The Dietician I asked for made fun of naturopaths for putting every one on a gluten free/dairy free diet. Oh, if they only KNEW how bad these two types of foods, among other foods, are for those who suffer so long with some of these Autism symptoms unnecessarily.
Regardless of others having the same success story as mine with wanting the label removed, there are many who have had symptoms upon symptoms minimized and often times, eliminated altogether. I remember working with one family who put one of their low functioning, Autistic sons on a gluten free diet and 12 days later slept through the night for the first time in his life and his temper tantrums completely softened!! After 11 years!!!
Remove the diagnosis... maybe if they kept going... but they ended up, sadly, giving their son back the gluten, stating that they went from being a slave to Autism to being a slave to the gluten free diet. As difficult as it was not to scream at the parents, I don't know their story. They have two boys very close in age, both with low functioning Autism. Who was I to judge them? It's not an easy change. I know this. I remember staring down the grocery aisles in TEARS wondering, WHATEVER am I going to feed my kids.
Well, we went from being VERY strict gluten free/dairy free and seeing TREMENDOUS changes in our son from speech, to sociability, to eye contact, to letting us hug him and on and on it goes. But we still didn't have him back. He was still trapped somewhere inside and for those moms and dads who have a child on the spectrum you KNOW what I am talking about. I would get out my camera, JUST to look into those beautiful eyes of his. Otherwise, I could not see him. There was no looking IN my eyes, there was only looking AT my eyes and only a mother could ever know the pain that feels like.
From the GF/CF diet we ended up finding a book called "Breaking the Vicious Cycle" by Elaine Gottchall. She was onto something. We ended up finding pecanbread.org and doing a version of the GAPS/Specific Carbohydrate Diet. But I'm no fool. There's more to it than just the food. So that's when I looked into Candida, Heavy Metals, IgG allergies, Glutatione processing, Parasites, Salicylates, Phenols, Oxylates, Nutrient Deficiencies, Omega deficiencies and imbalances, probiotics, and you name it!!
I'll tell you all this though, it wasn't until my second son became very ill (a whole other post in and of itself) and we discovered the power of the Hippocrates Diet and then the amazing power of pure and potent essential oils. WOW, what a difference!! So, you know how I talked about being able to look in my son's eyes, the very window to his soul, and how that would NEVER happen before? Oh, he looked at me a LOT more and I could finally reach glimpses into my little guy, but, with the Hippocrates Diet, proper balancing of nutrition, balancing HIS biochemisty and using essential oils, my boy was more grounded, more "present", and more able to share this world with FRIENDS and has become someone we now see who would turn into a beautiful, unbroken, "normal" man into the future. Oh, he still has some articulation issues (lets face it, he's kinda had a rough start) and won't always look at me (just like both of his two sibling won't look at me and is "normal" for this age), but he is HERE and he is present and he is able to share his interests with both family and friends. We are SO overjoyed that the doctor wants to now remove his label. HOW EXCITING IS THAT?!?!!
We use Frankincense in a diffuser at night and he loves the way it makes him feel! We also use Balance and Serenity for calming and for a sense of grounding or being more present. HIS favourite oil is Wild Orange - which we learned later is also great for calming, which many autistic children have issues with.
I now work with many children with Autism, Adhd, Anxiety, Depression and other issues including sleep and behavious. Although I'd like to think that diet is everything, as it has made SUCH a drastic change in both our sons, I know that this is simply not the case and using modalities across the board including essential oils is one of the most powerful usages of plant medicine on the planet. I want nothing more than to help those suffering with neurological symptoms as they embark on healing the gut to help the mind. Essential oils have been miraculous for us with children and adults alike who suffer with mental illness. I never would have believed it had I not experienced it with my own eyes.
Well, all in all, these are the steps that brought us our son back. Posts will come about different elimination diets we've tried and the pros and cons of each. But for now, I needed to finally get this out to you. I now work with many children with the mind/gut connection and it is strongly connected. I had no idea at one time that what I put in my mouth had ANYTHING to do with disease and sickness in the body. Isn't that crazy?
If you or anyone you know struggles with Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, Depression or any of the other mind/mood management symptoms, please know that there is hope. Getting rid of a label is not something I will ever promise to anyone. I'm not here to treat, prevent, or cure. But, if you could offer yourself or your child a more beneficial sleep or a minimized temper tantrum today, wouldn't it all be worth it? <3