While on “the waiting list” prior to our initial DAN! doctor visit, I decided to come up with some basic strategies that I felt were harmless and might actually help my child in his recovery. Part 2 of my mixology approach deals with some basic ideas for the parents of newly diagnosed children.
First and foremost, don’t retox (adding toxicants through diet, household cleaners, treats, etc.) when you and your child are inevitably about to embark on a long journey of detoxing. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Use natural, biodegradable and perfume-free detergents and cleaning agents. (The chemicals in most cleaners are very toxic and will be absorbed through your child’s skin).
- Avoid chlorine: use water filters on bath and drinking water, limit time in pools and hot tubs, and immediately rinse of with pure water after being exposed to chlorinated water. (More natural chemicals that are less toxic for pools and hot tubs are available as well for your own home. Avoiding public pools and those in hotels is extremely important because these normally use a high amount of chemicals.)
- Wear 100% cotton clothes/avoid flame retardants. (These are incredibly toxic and are absorbed through the skin as well. I bought my son simple sweat pants and shirts that the government doesn’t require flame retardants for.)
- Use fluoride free toothpaste. (This is increasingly becoming easier to do as the science comes out regarding fluoride.)
- Avoid playing on pressure treated wood. (New playgrounds, decks and porches leach these toxic chemicals-including arsenic- for up to six months or more!)
- Use an air purifier; try to open windows for at least 10 minutes a day.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to batteries (light-up shoes, lights in clothing, etc.)
- Use aluminum-free baking powder and deodorant. Do not cook in or drink from aluminum.
- Avoid use of pesticides and herbicides. (Natural pesticides are available almost everywhere now and if you must use them, try the natural solutions).
- Use natural personal care products: shampoo, soap and body wash.
Cleaning up the diet (even if you aren’t sure which diet your doctor might put your child on):
- Trial of Gluten-free/Casein-free for at least six months: (less than this, and you might as well not bother.) Don’t lose hope if changes aren’t immediate. Stick with it!)
- Avoid sugar
- Limit processed and preserved foods-organic is best
- Avoid excitotoxins (caffeine, msg, nutrasweet, red/yellow food dyes, nitrites, sulfites, glutamates)
- Limit phenolics (apples, grapes, strawberries)
- Drink plenty of filtered water
- Begin meals with raw veggies and fruit
Remember whenever you start anything new with your child be sure to complete an ATEC (Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist) from http://autism.com/ind_atec.asp
You will realize how well your child is responding by completing this survey every time you start something new. This is for everything: dietary, therapy, supplements and treatments.
I always start one thing at a time. If you throw everything at your child at once it is hard to tell what is helping or what is causing aggravations.
I follow the “first foods rule”. When you first started giving your child solid food it was recommended to only give one at a time for at least 5 days in a row. This is to watch for allergies-the same principal is in effect here.
Low and slow has always been my practice; this is a marathon not a sprint….
Keep a daily log and write everything down.
I have learned that if I allow my child to be the educator, all of the pieces of the puzzle seem to fall into place. Even when my son was non-verbal, he spoke to me with his actions and reactions. When I gave him the tools he needed, he was able to build his own plan at home and at school.
I shared resources with the school: Books, Autism File Magazine, PECS (picture exchange communication system) http://www.pecsusa.com/ and re -enforcers.
My child was able to teach the educators his learning style; when they followed his lead he showed them his potential. By utilizing his re-enforcers they were able to teach him the skills he needed to succeed educationally. Being flexible and learning new dynamic styles of teaching, they used my son as a template to teach others.
I have also learned to take these all important cues and use them in “tweaking” my treatment mixology as well.
For example, after fifteen tries, my son finally ate celery. It took three weeks of setting it out every day, watching him play with it, smell it and mouth it. Every day for three weeks! It was excruciatingly hard thinking about the money we spent on all of that organic celery. It had to be organic, as celery is #2 on the Environmental Working Groups “dirty dozen” list. On my mission to detox, I did not want to retox.
Once he ate the celery, we started offering other healthy new options to his diet. It would normally take a week of playing with the food until he would finally take a bite, but believe me-it is worth the wait.
This is how I solved the “picky eater” problem with my son. Patience, once again, is not on the top of my list of virtues but in the end it pays off.
Upon researching celery I found it is an excellent source of vitamins C, B1, B2, B6, potassium, folic acid and calcium. Celery contains pytochemical compounds known as coumarins, which have been shown to be useful in cancer prevention, enhancing activity of white blood cells and a great anti inflammatory. This really got me thinking so I kept a log of all of my son’s food choices and researched them. I found in most cases the same vitamins, minerals and beneficial properties he needed were associated with what he was choosing to eat. This led me to realize that his body knew what it needed and once again, taking the cues from my son, helped me choose his treatment path.
Following these simple steps gave me the insight I needed to help my son feel better. Based on his good choices I am more often able to tell what he is deficient in. I started letting him choose what he wanted at the grocery store.
I hope this has given you some insightful tips on implementing at home treatment plans. Please leave me any comments or suggestions you may have to help others in their journey as well.
Until next week, happy trails to you and yours.