Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Autism Awareness...My Perspective on "Why?"

     Six years ago Grey was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome or high functioning autism. For over a  year we had been telling the pediatrician that something wasn't right with his behavior and speech but the pediatrician reassured us that he was a boy and everything was fine.  It was actually a relief to get the diagnosis.  At least then we had something to explain all of his quirks and hopefully we could find ways to help him deal with them.  I won't go through everything we tried because that has been blogged about enough already; however, I will tell you that food and our environment play key roles in not only autism but many other diseases and disorders that are so common nowadays.

    In 2007, the stats for being diagnosed with autism was 1 out of 160.  Today it has increased to 1 out of 93.  This number varies according to different studies but either way there has been a significant rise in the past six years.  You may say that diagnosing has become easier which in turn has caused the rise in the number of cases and that may be true.  But at the same time you can go to the park, the school, the library, or a sports field,  and you will see so many kids that obviously have a sensory processing disorder, autism, ADD, or ADHD and many of these folks have not been diagnosed because they are either not severe enough or maybe because the parents are still in denial.  I don't know really but my point is that there are WAY TOO MANY kids walking around in a fog right now and that should not be happening!!!!

Not to mix apples with oranges but that's what I'm gonna do here... Now look around and see how many people are overweight.  Over 70% of our population is obese.  Don't go thinking I'm a hypocrite or judge these folks because I too was overweight several years ago.  BTDT people.  Sure we sit at our computers way too long and we don't get as much exercise as we once did, but should we really be this overweight and out of shape?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Finally, look around and see how many people you know have or had some kind of cancer.  Those rates have skyrocketed, too.  Sometimes I think it's not "if" you get cancer but "when" you get it.  Sounds cynical or defeatist but some of the stats are crazy.

By now you are probably wondering where I am going with all of this randomness so I'll clue you in.  What are the things that everyone has in common across the U.S.?   We all eat.  Many of us rely on packaged foods to help get dinner on the table quicker.  What's in those foods?  Well, ingredients that you can't even pronounce should give you a good indication that your "food" is not actually a "food".  You are ingesting preservatives, dyes, and additives that will keep your food safe to eat up to a year.   That in itself should give you a clue.  The hubs recently shared a quote, "good food goes bad quickly and bad food never goes bad."  I think that sums it up quite nicely.  Then you have to think about all of the hormones and steroids that are added to livestock, chickens, etc. so that they grow bigger quicker.  All of the waste that comes from these animals (i.e. that includes the steroids and hormones) leak into the ground water and isn't completely filtered out of our water system so we are getting a double dosing here.  In addition, drugs that are eliminated in human waste have been shown to be in tap water after it has gone through the water treatment facility.  We all should be happier people since we get a free dose of anti-depressants in our drinking water each day :-).  Oh, you drink bottled water?  That's actually TAP water in a PLASTIC bottle.  Now what's wrong with plastic even if it's BPA free?  Still has carcinogens people.  How about fruits and veggies?  They're healthy, right?   Well, if they weren't genetically modified or covered in pesticides then YES, they are!!!

So maybe this is an oversimplification but I assure the research is out there to back this up.  And if you don't want to delve into the research (which I totally understand) then think back to when you were growing up.  As a kid growing up in the 70's and 80's, I remember all products being packaged in glass.  Gatorade, Ketchup, peanut butter, mayo, mustard, maple syrup.  The list goes on and on.  And while we did have some Tupperware it was very expensive at the time so most of our left overs were put in pyrex glass dishes.  Sound familiar anyone?  We didn't worry about pesticides or hormones and "genetically modified" was unheard of.  Did we have all of these health issues back then?  No, we did not.  Just some food for thought....

If we are wanting a better life for our kids, grandkids, great grandkids then we need to not only be aware of Autism but also what is causing all of these problems.  It's easy to bury your head in the sand and stay in denial and believe it is someone else's problem to fix but when Autism, cancer, or obesity comes banging on your door and affects YOUR family then you'll understand where I am coming from.  I'll be the first to say that changing your diet and getting rid of the foods we so dearly love is not the easiest thing to do but it can change your life or maybe even save your life.  In our case it gave us our sweet boys back--bright eyed and communicative instead of that lost, foggy-eyed look.

Oftentimes you can't truly understand something until it happens to you but I hope and pray that you don't have to go through what our family has experienced.  Next time you go grocery shopping or go to grab a quick snack stop and think about what you are actually eating.  Slowly take things out of your diet and replace them with healthier alternatives.  Rome wasn't built in a day and your diet overhaul doesn't have to be either.  I don't think you'll regret it in the long run :-)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2012 In Review

This is a picture of it before it was completed.
Well hello family and friends!  It's been well over a year since my last post so we have lots to catch up on.  The year of 2012 was mainly spent doing a whole house remodel and I do mean whole house.  It would have been much simpler and time efficient just to have built a brand new house, however trying to sell a 1970's Victorian-style house with storm damage would have been akin to me walking to the moon.  It just wasn't going to happen.  Plus, we really liked our house and location.  So after living here for 10 years we bit the bullet and removed walls, relocated plumbing, remodeled the kitchen and all of the baths.  We even had the bright idea to have every closet painted and hardwood floors installed in them.  Sounded simple enough but in reality it was horrible!!!!  Someone (meaning me) had to empty out all of those closets and since they were all being done at once...well, you can just imagine how much fun that was.  I would never, ever, ever want to do it again but I would if I had to.  And really, I'm only saying that because I know I don't have to do it again any time soon.

The back splash was being installed
We love how the house turned out.  The kitchen was opened up and we now have a bar where the kids eat, play on the computer, and do their homework.  I no longer feel like I have missed out on so much of their day by being stuck alone in the kitchen while they were off in another room. Truly it was worth it but I hated the fact that it was the center of our lives for almost an entire year.

The boys enjoying the bar

Hall bath with retro tile on floor, subway tile shower, and beadboard wainscoting

close up view of the retro hex tile with a black hex boarder

The outside is finished but they were still working on the inside

As for the rest of 2012, we went to Washington, D.C. for vacation and to several Tae Kwon Do tournaments.  The boys have really blossomed and are doing great.  We decided to to reintroduce Gluten and Casein in the boys' diets and for the first time in 5 1/2 years they were able to tolerate it.  Yippee!  In the past we had tried going off the diet but the impulsive and out of control behavior (along with other behaviors) would rear it's ugly head again and we would have to stay on the diet.  This time when they tried regular food no such behavior was noted.  Yay!!!   They can eat in regular restaurants, go to birthday parties, or eat in the cafeteria without worrying about restrictions or feeling different.  That in itself is HUGE!!!  You can google "leaky gut syndrome" to find out more about how gluten and casein affects behavior but I will give you the cliff note version here.  It is thought that kids w/ autism have an inflamed gut that allows gluten and casein to pass through or "leak" through the gut walls and into the blood stream.  Then they pass through the blood brain barrier and have a morphine-like effect on the brain.  The kid craves wheat and milk products (selective limited diet) to maintain the "high" from the morphine-like effect.  They may have a higher pain threshold or not feel pain at all.
At the local park

Looking for critters during Fall Break 

Grey working on crafts out on the screened in porch
Reid hanging out with our antique dog

Reid turned 7 in November and Grey turned 9 yesterday.  My boys are SOOOOO grown up now.  Time really does fly.  I love the guys they have turned into over the last year which is probably another reason I didn't get around to posting.  I was spending time with them or maybe I should say I was being the taxi driver to haul them around to their activities.  Not a bad way to spend my time especially when a few short years ago we wondered if they would ever be able to participate in regular, extracurricular activities.
At a horse show enjoying some much needed time away from the house reno

By the way, I should point out that I haven't been called "mommy" in more than a year.  I am referred to as "mom" or "Tammy" (what???) and the hubs is "dad" or "Stewart" (I don't even call him "Stewart"  just plain Stew will do.  They still think I have super powers and who am I to discourage those thoughts?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread Recipe

One of our most favorite Fall treats is pumpkin bread.  I love the way it makes the house smell while it’s cooking and to me it is a comfort food.  It’s something I enjoying tucking into in the early morning on these cool, wet fall days...or as an afternoon snack... or as a bedtime snack.  Pumpkin bread is my one weakness it seems.  I can forgo cake, chocolate, ice cream, bread, cookies, etc but pumpkin bread is my addiction. My little man use to eat it for every meal and snack but after a year or so he finally tired of it.  Now he enjoys it on occasion only.  Still, this recipe is a keeper.

I thought I would share my GLUTEN-FREE PUMPKIN BREAD recipe.  The original recipe came from Paula Deen & was pumpkin bars with frosting.  I have tweaked it a little to make it suitable for gluten-free flour and to make it more of a bread than a dessert (not overly sweet and of course no frosting!).  I have made this recipe using wheat flour and gf flour and couldn’t tell the difference.  The gf version came out just as moist and fluffy as the regular wheat flour version.  I will say that I believe it is due to the type of flour I use:  Better Batter Gluten Free Flour.   This flour is substituted cup for cup and there is no need to add in Xanthum Gum.  I also use a small container of applesauce (usually naturally sweetened version) to make it more moist.  It’s quick and easy to make.  Hope you enjoy!

100% Pure Pumpkin


1 C oil (I use canola)
1 small container applesauce (about 1/4C)
1 C sugar
1 15 oz can of pumpkin (not the pumpkin for pies!!!)
4 eggs

2 C GF Flour (I use Better Batter GF flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the first five ingredients well.  Then add the remaining ingredients and mix.  Place in an UNGREASED 9x13 baking dish.  Cook time is approximately 40-45 minutes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

In Memory of Nan

Today was a beautiful autumn day.  We were blessed with a clear, vibrant blue sky without a cloud in sight, temps above normal, and with leaves that were bright shades of orange, yellow and red.  I could hear birds chirping in the trees enjoying one of the last warm days we may have before winter sets in.  I spent a lot of time outside today, gazing up at the sky trying to find that peace that I so desperately was looking for.  My thoughts were with my family three hours away and once again I was wishing I could be with them but knew other obligations were keeping me away.  As I sat on my front porch taking in the beautiful day I thought about how my grandmother would have loved today.  I could imagine her out in her yard just a few years ago raking away, trying to win the never ending battle against the dropping leaves.  She had a big yard graced with lots of trees and lots of flowers and I do believe it was her pride and glory.  She kept it immaculate until the last couple of years when her arthritis got too bad for her to do the work and then she had to hire someone to help.  As a kid I pitched in many a time to help rake the leaves or mow the grass.  I can assure you that our work was probably never considered "good enough" but I get that now.  When you have a passion about something, you like for it to be done a certain way and to look a certain way and the only way for it to be done right is for you to do it yourself.  I suppose I get a little bit of that from her.

Nan was born on Christmas eve and would have been 92 years old this year.  On this beautiful day, she has been called home to be with our Heavenly Father.  She was blessed with good health and was able to live on her own until 11 months ago when a bout of pneumonia and chronic kidney insufficiency kept her in the hospital and finally caused her to be moved to a nursing home.  I think being a little cantankerous also helped Nan stay healthy and at home for 91 years.  If that's the case then I'm sure I might make it that long, too.  At least I'm honest about it.  Instead of focusing on the past 11 months I would prefer to remember the good times and would like to share some of those with you.
Celebrating Christmas and Nan's birthday
with my sis, nephew, Grey, and Mom

I grew up next door to Nan and I wished my kids could do the same.  Parents love and discipline you but grandparents are there to spoil you rotten, to take your side when nobody else will, and to make you some homemade biscuits whenever you want.  Nan made the lightest, fluffiest biscuits ever.  I loved to sit on her kitchen chair which I do believe was a 1950’s version w/ a pullout step at the bottom.  Her kitchen was also circa 1950s and never changed and I loved that about it.  There’s something comforting about things remaining the same when everything else in the world seems to change with lightening speed.  Anyhow, back to the chair...it always sat at the end of her kitchen counter and I always sat on it.  She had a small wooden bowl that she would sift some flour into, add some sweet milk and some egg, maybe some lard??? and then mix it all up with her knuckles.  I can’t tell you how many times I watched her do this but never really figured out how she made them all so perfect--perfectly round, perfectly smooth, and perfectly dusted with a light layer of flour.  When they were almost done she would take them out of the oven and butter the tops so that they would brown.  Then when they were finally done and ready to eat Nan would slice them open and put a nice pat of butter in the middle and it would be perfectly melted when I bit into it.  When I went off to college and later moved out of state, Nan would always send me back off with a fresh batch of biscuits.  This has to be my sweetest, most fond memory and the one experience I have probably missed the most over the last couple of years.

Other great memories include the time my sister and I got a go cart for Christmas and Nan joined in the fun and took it for a spin.  That was back in the 80’s which was way before seat belts and helmets were used.  I thought it was so cool that she wasn’t afraid to drive it!  I also remember Nan getting on her roof to clean off the leaves.  Now I could be wrong but I do know she was at least in her 60s but I’m thinking it was more like her 70s.  I suppose it was one of those jobs that “had” to be done and by golly she was going to get it done one way or another.  Nan could crochet the most intricate doilies even though she had severe rheumatoid arthritis in her hands.  She also crocheted afghans, sewed anything and everything, made homemade pickles and jelly.  She would cut up apples, cover them with a piece of screen and lay them out to dry.  I’m thinking this was for pies but for some reason I don’t remember ever eating an apple pie she made.  Hmm, I’ll have to check with my mom about that one.  Nan also had one small and one large storage house in her back yard that she let us kids use as a playhouses.  We had many fun times in those playhouses and even though we knew Nan was a bit of a neat freak she seemed to have tolerated us playing in them quite well and needless to say we weren’t the neatest kids.  I remember her always turning on the outside lights at night and standing on her porch to watch me run home next door just to make sure I got there safely.   You know, sometimes it just the small things that mean so much once you get older and look back on it.  There were also the times I would be driving down my parent’s driveway heading back to the dorm and she would run (yes, run!) to catch me to tell me bye, that she loved me,  and to give me some much needed grocery money.

Me and my sis w/ Nan last Christmas

There are so many thoughts and memories running through my mind right now and unfortunately I don’t seem to be able to express them very well.  I have shed many tears over the last few years as I watched her health slowly decline.  Some tears were for the inevitable but others were for all of the times  I knew I was missing out on because I live so far away.  Time that I would never be able to recapture.  That's what most of those tears were for.

For my sweet grandmother, I want you to know that I'm happy you are finally at peace and given time we will all be okay and will all find peace, too.  There are no words to describe how we feel right now.  A big chunk is missing from our lives.  We miss you already and celebrating Christmas will never be the same again.  When I go out and look at the stars tonight I hope I will feel you looking down on me.  I love you Nan.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lucy Goosey

Lucy 4 Balls 0...She's in need of tougher balls to herd

Meet Lucy Goosey.  Yep, she’s our replacement pup for the service dog-in-training that we returned.  This time there is no giving back.  For better or for worse she is ours to keep.  When I was discussing the pros and cons about training a service dog I promised the boys we would get a puppy of our own once we gave Reya back to the dog service.  Of course at the time I was thinking it would be late spring or early summer when all of this would take place but it looks like our time line changed just a smidge.  I must admit that I wanted another puppy just as badly as the boys if not more so.  I really enjoyed the companionship and also the training of the service dog and as I have said before, I’ve missed the horses, dogs, and cats that I grew up with and the time was long over due to get a new one.   We still have our ancient dog but his habits closely resembles those of a cat.  He likes to be petted on his terms alone and he sleeps a good 23 hours a day.  Yes, I am a tish jealous over how much he sleeps but you would be too if you had been sleep deprived for almost eight years.   Grover is our old fella and he is cantankerous as can be.  His eye sight is going which makes him snippier than usual and so I prefer not to leave him alone with the kiddos.  He is a sweet fella to cuddle with as long as you don’t ask him to do any tricks or play ball.  Hmm, I suppose you could say a stuffed dog would be about as much fun :-)

When we started the puppy hunt, the boys were asking for a little puppy they could carry around. The only bad thing about that as we all know, is that those very cute, very tiny puppies grow into little snippy, yappy dogs that would sooner or later resemble Grover in their disposition.  I wasn’t up for that so we went with the boys next criteria which was a dog that would be interactive.  Most of the breeds we looked at were working dogs which would mean they would require lots of exercise and attention.  If you don’t keep these dogs busy then they will be happy to keep themselves busy...chewing up your furniture, digging up (and out of) your yard, etc.  Anyhoo, we dove right in and got a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mixed breed.  Since my parents have raised Australian Shepherds before I was a little familiar with the breed and the destruction they can cause when bored but this was what I wanted and so of course the hubs agreed with it.
Such a patient pup!  The boys LOVE her so much ;-)

We’ve had Lucy for a little over two weeks now and she is an amazingly smart girl. The second day we had her I decided to try to teach her to sit and lay down.  I wasn’t sure how it would go since we were still adapting to one another and also because she was only 9 weeks old at the time but she picked up on the tricks right away.  The next day she would do the tricks by hand signals only which totally floored me. She now knows a good eight tricks, will play fetch forever, and can walk on the leash.  She is so very patient with the boys and will tolerate whatever game they decide to play with her.  Even Grey who prefers reptiles over hairy creatures hugs and loves on Lucy.  It’s awesome to see that bond developing between her and the boys.   As for Grover, well he tolerates the frantic antics of the young pup much better than he ever did Reya and that’s more than I was expecting.

Lucy and Grover

Me and the pups chilling

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Recommended Reading For Parents of Autistic or Twice Exceptional Children

Five years ago when I started researching autism I came across all kinds of articles...some scientific and some from personal experience.  I read them all.  I wanted to know all there was out there,  to see what we should expect, what kind of therapy or treatment options were available, how to do the GFCF diet, and to hear what other parents in the same situation were saying and feeling.  When I have an interest in a topic I will research it to death or at least until I am satisfied with the answers I find which is essentially the same thing.  I have had periods, long periods I might add, where I didn’t want to read or watch another thing on autism.  I felt like I was living it everyday and that it was more than I could handle, so why would I want to read about it when it probably wouldn’t change anything in our lives?  It wasn’t that I had given up hope, was depressed, or anything else.  It was just my way of dealing with the situation at the time.  Of course these periods would end and I would start the research all over again.

Even though Grey was responding to the biomedical treatments we were doing he still had behaviors or issues that I just couldn’t figure out.  I thought if I understood WHY he didn’t like to brush his teeth it might help ME be a little more patient instead of thinking, “This is NOT a big deal!  Just brush your freaking teeth already!!!!”.  Yeah, that attitude never gets you very far but as you well know, being chronically sleep-deprived, struggling with a 3 year old to get his clothes on, to wear a long sleeved shirt during cold weather and let’s not forget the coat that has to go over that shirt, the meltdowns over nothing and everything, the constant attempts and failures at potty training, etc. etc.... well, by bedtime you just want them to brush their teeth so you can start the hour or two hour long ordeal of getting him to sleep for the first time that night because you KNOW he will be waking up several more times during the night and you’ll be repeating this process again and again.   So instead of looking for new treatments/therapies I decided to read books written by or about adults with Asperger’s.  I must admit this was one of the biggest helps at the time when Grey was too young to tell me why things bothered him.  True, the situations may not have been the same as the person in the book but it did still give me insight.  I remember reading about someone who never liked brushing their teeth not because of the way it felt but because of the NOISE.  This person used an electric toothbrush to solve the issue so I went out and bought an electric toothbrush for Grey.  Voila!  A quick and easy fix.  Who’d of thunk it???  I obviously did not but I’m glad somebody did.  Just to set the record straight, I wasn’t looking to overanalyze every behavior and what was causing him to act/react in every given situation.  I think you have to set firm rules, stick with them no matter how difficult it will be, and go from there.  I wasn’t looking for excuses for his actions.  I was looking for ways to SOLVE these issues, to make life easier for him and of course for me.  Brushing your teeth is a must and should be done at least twice a day.  We could do it with him struggling against us or we could find a way that wasn’t as frustrating or uncomfortable but either way it was going to happen no matter what.  We applied to that train of thought to everything in our lives.  Through the help of these books and others we found that life could be a little easier and more enjoyable.

Books Written by Autistic Adults
Two of my favorite books that helped me the most was “Born on a Blue Day” by Daniel Tammet, an autistic savant that tells his story from birth onward.  It was a bit dry but at the same time I found a lot of his way of thinking and doing things fascinating.  This book actually explained why certain things bother him, how he deals with it, etc.  I learned quite a bit and could use that knowledge to deal with my own kiddos.  The “Elephant in the Playroom” by Denise Brodey is a group of short stories from parents raising special needs kids.  Fair Warning:  some of these stories are tear jerkers but are well worth the read.  There are many other books out there but those are the ones that stuck with me.

Twice Exceptional
When you throw in the gifted aspect on top of the Asperger’s then you come up with yet another bag of worms to deal with.  We knew the boys were smart but doesn’t everyone think their kid is the next Einstein?  Well, it took us a while to get on board with this one.  Isn’t it ironic that accepting the Asperger’s diagnosis was much easier than the more positive "giftedness"?  Don’t ask me why but it just was.   Again there are so many good books written about Twice Exceptional kids that I would suggest doing a search on Amazon.  I didn’t find a book that could stand alone and provide all the answers to my questions but these were all good starting places:  “Uniquely Gifted” by Kay Keisa, “Different Minds” by Deidra Lovecky, “Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults” by James Webb.

Here is a great video by James Webb about his book... It’s 56 minutes long and there is a slide presentation at the bottom of this page.  He flies threw some of the slides so I would encourage you to watch the video and then do the slides.

New to Autism
If you are completely new to autism and looking for some good reference material then I suggest, “Children with Starving Brains”.  This one is a MUST read imho.  “The Out of Sync Child” is another great one from what I hear but I have never personally read it.

Well, my newly minted 6 year old was up all night with the croup so this tired mom will apologize for the dry post that probably leaves a lot to be desired on this topic :-/

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reid’s Story

Happy 6th Birthday Reid!  Blowing out the candles this morning since Dad will be working late tonight.

Grey was 22 months old when Reid was born.  We thought that age difference would make them best frenemies in life...which it has.  One minute they are best friends slaving away together on a project and the next minute they are wrestling on the ground.  At least they are playing together as my kind neighbor likes to point out because there was a time when they played side by side but completely ignored one another.  That seems like a decade ago but of course that isn’t the case.  Today we are celebrating Reid’s sixth birthday and all that life has to offer him now.  I generally never use the word “recovery” when talking about autism...not that I don’t think autistic kids can’t improve because they can as Reid’s story will show you.  However I do think these kids learn coping mechanisms that help them through life but those underlying autistic characteristics will always be present (they still input sensory information the same but they can process it and cope with it more efficiently and effectively).  Maybe I’m not putting this in the best way possible but it’s not my intention to debate recovery vs. coping instead I want to share Reid’s story with you.  I know I have mentioned bits and pieces of it before but I want to put it all together so that you may see how far my little fella has come.

When Reid (aka Peanut) was born we never dreamed of the twists and turns life would be taking us during the next few years.   We were just happy to have two happy, healthy boys to complete our family.  Right away I could tell the difference between the two boys.  Reid was laid back and always smiling whereas Grey was always intense...intensely curious, intensely at play, even intense while he slept.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Grey was and is happy but he is constantly analyzing and processing information  instead of taking joy in the moment.   I was thankful I had one laid back child to balance the equation.

When Reid was 6 months old, Grey started speech therapy and he would finally be diagnosed with ASD almost an entire year later at 3 years of age.   While we were dealing with Grey’s speech issues and melt downs, Reid was chronically ill with sinus infections that would not clear up.  From the time he turned one (we were sick and at the doctor’s office on that birthday) until he turned two, he was on antibiotics nonstop except for 9 weeks out of the entire year.  Almost weekly visits to the pediatrician, ENT, and later an allergist, along with X-rays and CT scans would be our lives during that year.  Of course I saw a change in behavior during this year but I always related it to him feeling bad.  Who doesn’t feel bad when they have a sinus infection much less one that goes on for an entire year?  The allergist finally put Reid on a low dose prophylactic antibiotic in hopes of keeping the sinus infections at bay.  Luckily with growth and age and allergy shots things on that end got better.

Anyhoo, Grey was finishing up his first year in the early intervention progam (special ed for 3 & 4 year olds) and had made significant progress.  He was talking nonstop and could now tolerate crowds,  noises, etc. at least in small doses.  The hubs and I were so excited that we could go out and do regular things without too much worry of meltdowns.  Yay!  We had regained our life!!!  But, not so fast my friends.  Reality came and smacked us in the face once again.  Reid was 2 1/2 years old by this time and the sinus infections were fewer and farther between but other issues were starting to pop up.  He no longer turned when his name or nickname was called even when we shouted or clapped our hands.  My heart literally sank when this started to happen. We had learned this was a common test in young babies to see if they might possibly have autism and so we had constantly “tested” him after Grey had been diagnosed.  He also went from being happy and smiling to screaming for hours on end and head banging.  Instead of spontaneous speech he would only parrot what we said.  I would ask, “what’s your name?” and he would respond with “what’s your name?”.   And THAT happened with everything he said.  We would ask him a question and he would echo it back to us instead of giving us an answer.  I was devastated. Plain and simple.

While friends and family denied he was on the spectrum I knew in my heart that he was.  It was like watching my baby fall into a big black hole and wondering just how far he would fall and wondering if I would ever be able to pull him back out of it.  You can only know that sick feeling of desperation, of wanting to save your child from being swallowed up by this horrible condition that many deny even exists, of being helpless and alone...you can only know this feeling if you have lived it.  True, I had lived it once before but not the same way.  I also knew how much energy and patience it takes for a stay at home mom to take care of an autistic child and I wasn’t sure if I had any more energy and patience to spare.  But of course, we do what we have to do when it comes to our children and so I dug deep and started the speech and early intervention evals with a sense of dejavu.

Reid was put on the spectrum but his testing was rather incomplete from him not being the best participant but it was enough to qualify him for early intervention services and he was able to start when he turned 3 on November 1st.  By this point, he had been on the GFCF diet for a couple of months and he was starting to show small signs of improvements... probably not enough for an outsider to notice but for us who were around him on a daily basis we could see the difference.  After being in school for about four to six weeks (& still on the diet) he started answering “what’s your name?”.  I think I will always remember that morning when he was laying on the floor while I changed his diaper (yep, he wasn’t potty trained for quite some time) and I asked him, “what’s your name?”.  This was a game we played numerous times each day.  Like I said, he always answered with “what’s your name?” but he had added a giggle to it recently.  I would ask him his name and then would giggle.  Small steps but ones that made my heart sing.  That morning he actually replied, “REID!!!!” with enthusiasm!  I know that will always be one of the most cherished moments in my life.  We both had worked so hard on this task which he had been able to perform with ease before falling in the dark hole and all of that work had paid off.  That was one of the first stepping stones to be laid in Reid’s journey through autism but it gave us hope and determination to lay the next stepping stone and the one after that and the one after that.

Trick or Treating last night
I couldn’t possibly tell you each and every little thing that has brought Reid to the point he is now but I know the GFCF diet and the wonderful early intervention teachers and their assistants (Ms. Becky who taught Grey while at the same time teaching us how to do ABA.  Ms. Agatha, Ms. Boolie, Ms. Janene, and Ms. Lisa who not only taught Reid but loved on him as well) played a huge role in his progress.  If you have read my blog then you know he is extremely bright, loquacious (to the point of pulling a stick almost every day... “but Mommy, I have so much information I want to share.”), friendly, and outgoing. Yes, he still has things he needs to work on and in time I know he’ll conquer the handwriting and any other obstacle that gets in his way but if you saw him on a playground or in a classroom surrounded by kids it would be extremely difficult to pick him out as the “different” kid .

My cute lil Peanut
This weekend we had a big party at the bounce house to celebrate Reid's birthday.  Both boys had an awesome time running and playing with friends while the hubs and I watched on privately beaming with pride.  With each birthday, we celebrate so much more than just another year passing by in our kids’ lives.  We celebrate the chance at life, living a life that others take for granted because it’s the norm to them.  So on this special day I want to say, “Happy Birthday Peanut!  The world is now yours for the taking.  I am more proud of you and your brother than you can possibly understand at this age but you guys are my heroes.  Dream big and never let anything get in the way.  Always be kind to others and stay true to who you are.”  Okay,  they will have to grow into some of that motherly advice but I wanted to include it anyway :-)