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My son has autism – Now What??

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My youngest child has autism.  He was officially diagnosed 6 1/2 years ago.  Like many parents, I KNEW something was not right with our youngest child.  He was not progressing and developing like my older 2 children.  He was exhibiting  the signs of autism I had read about in Parenting magazines and books.  While I was slowly coming to the realization of the challenges that were ahead, my toughest challenge was getting a confirmed diagnosis.

What happens when you get the “Official” diagnosis??  Well, if you are normal, you start to google everything you can about autism and how to fix it.  You probably buy the Jenny McCarthy book(s) that talk about her son.  You might join a few Yahoo groups to find comfort in numbers.  You can cry, yell, feel sorry for yourself, drink too much one night, and just basically try to do anything to wake yourself up from this nightmare.

I did all those things.  None of them worked and a few of them left me feeling like a truck ran over me.  When I realized that the answers did not lie with Yahoo groups or Google (Jenny McCarthy too), the real work began.  I have been working with different doctors, teachers, and mentors for 6 years to try and find the best treatment plan for our son.  It has not been easy and the work will never end.

If you have a child diagnosed with autism, the best thing to do is find someone who is on the same journey as you.  The news reports 1 in 88 children is diagnosed on the spectrum.  If that number is true it will not be difficult to find another family in the same situation.  Find a family that is using different ideas for treating autism.  I recommend staying away from those who advocate no vaccinations and ADD or ADHD medications.  Our son is on a Gluten, Dairy (I know the irony :-)), Soy, Nuts, Egg, and Legume free diet.  He also takes supplements each day to make up for those important vitamins and minerals he lacks.  Is everyday great??  NO.  But it is better than him screaming ALL day.  As I said, it is a journey and it is paved with lots of ups and downs.  You just need to ride out the lows to get to the highs.

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Joey and his siblings. Most people who meet him would never guess he is autistic.

 

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We Survived Sedation and the Dentist

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A few days ago I wrote about our impeding visit to the dentist with my autistic son.  I am happy to report he tolerated the sedation and dental work very well.  No parent is ok with having their child sedated or under anesthesia.  Unfortunately this was our only option to do some necessary dental work on our son.  I was worried about all the normal things you worry about but then it was amplified to whole new level because I had no idea how he would react.  The doctors prepared me for the “devil” child to emerge when he started to wake up.  “Oh great…….”  I am pleased to say all he did was act like he was waking up from a super duper nap.  No bad behavior, aggressive acts, screaming (the girl before him did plenty of that), or crying.  He simply took his own “sweet” time waking up.  I actually was able to breathe some relief when the doctor said he is good, you are welcome to go home anytime.  Later in the afternoon at home, he asked if he was ever going to have to wear that awful “gas” mask again.  I smiled and nicely stated “As long as you do a wonderful outstanding job brushing your teeth twice a day, you will probably never wear the gas mask again”.  It seems this is the motivation he needed to do a better job of brushing.  Another hurdle was cleared today………. what will the next one be??

 

Our son Joey who was diagnosed with autism at age 3

Our son Joey who was diagnosed with autism at age 3

Autism and a visit to the Dentist

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My youngest son is Autistic and last week I posted a blog about the challenge of “Secret Santa”.  Well, we are working our way through “Secret Santa” week – just a few minor issues.  But now it is the Dentist.  No human on this planet likes going to the dentist – PERIOD!!  No one likes to have their teeth poked, scraped, drilled, filled……  I think there is nothing like a dental visit that generates a consensus among people about the “wonderful” world of dentistry.  But what if you have an autistic child?  It is a challenge on a whole new level!!  I am blessed that we have found a wonderful dentist in our home town.  She and her staff are so wonderful and understanding with our son.  But, when it comes to the cavities and such she prefers to have someone who specializes in pediatric dentistry.  Luckily, we have someone close (45 minutes away) who can treat him.  I would love to say that it has been all rainbows and lollipops.  It has been successful so far but now we have a very large cavity that needs attention.  I have 2 options, the traditional method that we all hate (the most painful shot in the world) or sedation.  Sedation scares me but after praying and trying to decide what would be best and most tolerable for my Joey it seems this will be best.  My biggest fear is that if we tried the conventional method (the most painful shot in the world), I would forever create a negative unpleasant experience that would forever make Joey want to avoid the dentist at all costs.  I fear that would be more dangerous and unhealthy for Joey.  So for now we will try the sedation route.  My hope is he will be so preoccupied about how hungry he is and maybe it will be easier for him to get through the procedure.  He will know that when he finishes this procedure, an amazing lunch of his choice will be his reward.  Wish us luck!!

Our son Joey who was diagnosed with autism at age 3

Our son Joey who was diagnosed with autism at age 3

To eat Butter or not…..

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My 9 year old son is diagnosed with autism.  When he was 3 1/2 years old I made the choice to put him on a Gluten free, Soy free, and Dairy free diet.  As an organic dairy farmer, it was a difficult choice to remove butter from my son’s diet. But if it was going to help treat his autism I was willing to try anything.  I was shocked at the improvement in his autism.  We saw immediate results and we were convinced this was the right choice for our family. 

The one problem I had was the no butter part of his diet.  I stood in the imitation butter part of the dairy section and was not impressed with the selections.  I chose one of the brands I had heard advertised quite a bit and figured it would well received by my 4 year old.  Needless to say he was not at all tricked by this “fake” butter.  It was not until I attended a seminar about Butter and its hidden benefits that I was able to reintroduce butter to my son’s diet.  At this seminar I learned the CLA component of butter has amazing benefits for the brain.  Someone with autism definitely needs this.  When I asked if a “Casein” free diet could consume butter I was so happy to hear yes.  Apparently there almost no traceable amounts of casein in butter.  We immediately switched him back to butter.

Now I am not going to say I have noticed any benefit from switching him to butter.  But, the days of imitation butter products are over for this dairy farmer’s wife.  As for me and my family (including my autistic son) we will always enjoy 100% real butter.

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Perspective

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Our 3rd child was diagnosed with autism when he was around 3 years old.  From the beginning, I knew something was not right. But, that is not the story is our son has been under the care of a wonderful doctor Dr. Greene.  Dr. Greene is located in Oregon City, Oregon.  He is an amazing person who gave us hope that we could unlock Joey from his autism.  I never looked to Dr. Greene to “cure” the autism.  I looked to Dr. Greene to help us develop the tools to manage his autism and hopefully allow Joey to function as normally as possible.  Over the past 5 years we have made an incredible transformation.  Joey is able to attend a regular school and most people who meet him for the first time would never guess he is on the Autism Spectrum.  He has done so well that we did not need to see Dr. Greene for a long time.

We made the trip to Oregon City yesterday for a much needed visit.  Our visit with Dr. Greene went very well.  He has recommended some additional supplements to help address self regulation and impulsiveness.  Dr. Greene also wanted to check different levels in Joey’s system so this required quite a bit of blood work.  Most adults do not appreciate needles and for sure my 8 year old did not like it either.  Because he did such an amazing job allowing the nurses to draw 10 vials of blood I promised a trip to The Disney Store.  We headed to the Clackamas Mall and enjoyed a Jamba Juice and Joey picked out a “Bucket of Army Men” from The Disney Store.  We enjoyed the festive atmosphere of the mall for just a bit, I had to get Joey back for choir practice.  We left the Clackamas Mall at 2:00 p.m.  Not until we returned home did we find out the nightmare that fell upon the mall.

I titled this post as “Perspective”.  Here is why.  My heart truly breaks for this unspeakable tragedy and what is has done to the amazing people in this great community.  While I consider my son and I very lucky it was hard for me not be angry.  I was angry because we would never had been near this tragedy if we were not dealing with the whole issue of autism.  It is hard to understand why things happen, everyone says things happen for a reason.  I do not think I will ever understand why some crazy individual unleashed so much heartache on so many innocent people.  Just like I will never understand why we were blessed with a beautiful boy who just so happens to suffer from autism.  Some day I hope I can find perspective and maybe it will finally make sense.

Our son Joey who was diagnosed with autism at age 3

Our son Joey who was diagnosed with autism at age 3

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