Shortly after we suspected our son might have autism, I started keeping a daily record of his symptoms to see if I could find clues into what might be causing them. One thing I noticed right off the bat was how connected many of his repetitive behaviors were to his diet. When Bean’s stomach was in distress, so was the rest of him. Stimming generally occurred or got worse right before a painful bowel movement, and would stop whenever he was able to eliminate his bowels (which was no easy feat in the beginning because he was constantly constipated). By stimming I mean (at least for our son) obsessive tracking of the wheels on his toy cars, back and forth and back and forth over and over again. Repetitive bouncing on the couch while knocking his head back on the couch cushions, over and over again. Repeating certain vowels or squealing for no reason. I mentioned the connection to my husband, but we weren’t completely sure until we observed the pattern for a few weeks in a row. Getting my son off gluten and dairy was the first thing that helped reduce the stimming. And it made sense. Less stomach agitation meant less of a need for my son to soothe himself with repetitive behaviors. I also noticed how much it helped him concentrate during his therapy sessions. Which also made sense. How can anyone learn if they are in physical distress?
I now truly believe diet is an essential component to look at in many of our children’s behavior. Is your child often hyper and acting out? Do they sometimes go into a fog or start waking in the middle of the night for no reason? Take a look at what they’re eating and especially what they are craving most. That might be the one thing that is actually irritating them. Now that my son is verbal, he can tell me when his stomach hurts and how certain foods make him feel. It helps me to keep on top of his own personal irritants and it also helps validate what I felt from the beginning – that what goes into his body is so important in helping him to feel good. One hope for my son is that in the future he will be able to “cheat” here and there as his stomach heals, and will be able to handle some of the foods that have irritated him in the past. I intend to keep us eating well at home, because now that we are on this path we all feel so much better. I can’t imagine going back to our old ways and honestly wouldn’t want to. But it would be nice for him to attend a birthday party and partake in what the other kids are eating if he should so choose. I am already noticing his tolerance improve (he has recently had a little bit of dairy and starch here and there), and I think it’s from having a good two years of really healthy eating under our belt. In the meantime, it’s still clean eating for us, and that’s ok. Great even :)
So, that being said, smoothies anyone?