Saturday, March 3, 2012

The "Mountain" Trembled

Did you ever think that you could move a mountain or at least make it tremble? Me neither. How about wheat? Ever think about what role it plays in your diet? Me neither. Never really thought much about either, at all. As a matter of fact I have never been a fan of cooking. Eating, yes, cooking, not so much.  As a busy single mom with two elementary aged children and a job where care giving is a big part of it, I am exhausted when I get home. Therefore cooking means Chef Boy Ardee and I have a close relationship followed by an even closer relationship with McDonald's and my best gal pal, Wendy. On any given night, including weekends, my SUV rolls into the same fast food joints where everyone knows our name. How sad is that! My idea of the perfect dinner for myself is a coke, a spoon and a can of Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate icing. MMM MMM Good. Of course my children eat better, well kind of. I do actually look for the more healthy choices on the drive thru menu.

Last week as I was having lunch with some girlfriends (yes a real lunch with a salad!) my friend that works as a speech therapist and ASD diagnostician said casually that she could always pick out the ones right away that had a food allergy. "They almost always have red rimmed eyes", at which I thought to myself, as I shocked my system with another tomato, this does not include my son, "and they usually have a rash, kind of bumpy.." What? Hmmm, Matthew has rash all the time, go on, what else? "And they have things like IBS, constipation, diahrrhea, yeast infections, stomache aches..." Bingo! Matthew has all of that! My salad plate was shoved to the side and I listened intently.

She continued to say that when God gave us wheat it was for our good. It is even referred to in the Bible, "Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your children within you. He makes peace in your borders, and fills you with the finest wheat." (Psm. 147:12-14). Wheat is a high-fiber grain, loaded with B-vitamins and folic acid, which can help prevent heart disease and certain birth defects. Nutritionally, wheat does seem to contain it all. It is an excellent source of protein, fat, and carbohydrates as well as vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Truly, God meant it as a gift but, what have we done to it? She went on to say that over time and refining there seems to be a very high population of children with Autism that have a wheat sensitivity. Not Celiac Disease but just a sensitivity. In children it causes cognitive and behavioural problems, in adults it manifests itself more in physical problems. She really got me thinking....

My son Matthew currently has the official diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. He received this diagnosis by a fabulous developmental pediatrician at the Kluge Center for Children in Charlottesville, Virginia. At the time of our appointment I asked lots of questions. I am sure I left no stone unturned and then I turned them again! This Doctor became my hero when he told me about Melatonin and how it would help Matthew sleep. Rolling into the Kluge center as sleep deprived as we were, this information was like a miracle to me and I considered every word this wonderful man said to be gold. One of the questions I asked during this was about the GFCF (Gluten free/Casein free) diet I had read so much about. Although he did not totally object to it he felt strongly that there really wasn't a connection between gluten/casein and Autism. Not enough "scientific evidence" to neither prove nor disprove the effects of this diet. The Nurse Practioner was totally against it. Never one to leave everything up to science, we decided to try it anyway and went home planning to start with a gluten free diet plan right away.

To begin with I must tell that I had no clue just how expensive gluten free foods were. Already racking up medical bills not covered by insurance, buying gluten free foods would certainly land me in bankruptcy! I did, however, manage to make it through a week and I really believed I saw changes right away. Matthew seemed to be more calm, more focused and more easily redirected. Sometimes at age six it is hard to tell what is Autism driven behaviour and what is typical kid behaviour. I find that this continues indefinately, not just at very young ages. After a week we abandoned the idea thinking that there was no way to continue with this very hard to stick with diet and since we had no one who really endorsed it, we had no one to ask. The internet was overloaded with information but nothing really seemed concrete and Matthew's behaviours were really minimal.

Fast forward to five years later to my conversation with my friend. I once again started reading about gluten sensitivity. Imagine my surprise to find so much more information than five years ago. It seems that there have been more connections to gluten sensitivity and Autism. As I read the symptoms I saw my son in almost every one. I contacted a friend from elementary school days who is a Nurse Practioner (gotta love Facebook!) and I asked her about how to determine a gluten sensitivity. She said "simply take it out of his diet, you will know."

On Monday I had spent some time discussing my concerns with my Father. How am I going to do this for my son? I already know that a gluten free diet is hard and expensive! I am so frustrated. I so want there to be a difference in his life and ours. Autism is so hard. When are you going to fix it!

On Tuesday, I decided to try the gluten free diet again. I explained this to Matthew and we went grocery shopping. He actually embraced it hoping as I was that we would see some changes. He had gained ten more pounds since September and he was miserable. It seemed like everything he ate stuck to him like glue. His poor stomache was so bloated. Anything to lose weight and he was all for it. We read every label, gave away everthing in the pantry with "wheat or wheat flour" on the label and cooked our first gluten free meal.

On Thursday, I spent my morning again with my Father. I had no plan for what to read so I just opened my book and pointed. The scripture of the day was Matthew 17:20  "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

I guess he told me! My faith on this issue has waxed and waned. Autism has been a mountain in all of our lives and I did not believe that it could be moved. I needed to start practicing what I have been teaching for several years now, to trust God no matter what....

On Friday, I saw the mountain tremble. Just a little bit, but tremble none the less. Since removing gluten from his diet, my daughter and I both noticed that once again Matthew has started becoming more focused, less anxious, more energetic and more easily redirected. Even he has noticed that he has more energy and stated it very matter of factly. As we continue on this path I am optomistic that there will be continued improvements. Only time will tell, but as a parent of a child with Aspergers Syndrome, I am willing to give anything reasonable a chance in order to help my son. As a daughter of the King I will continue to trust him no matter what and have faith of more than a mustard seed so this mountain can be moved forever.


  1. I'll have to research the gluten free thing some more. Thor's done better recently on his focus at school but when he comes home he wants only to sit on his computer and skype with friends from PA, play games with them online and eat chips. And recently I've noticed a bit of rash on his face. It sure gives me something to think about and look up. The Lord gives us signs to follow in the most unusual of places sometimes. ;) Thank you Robin for blogging it.

  2. I found this today and thought of you guys