Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gluten's Back, and So Is Mama's Sanity

There's a very good reason I haven't described the visit to the DAN! doctor. We didn't go. The follow-up visit, which is just a talk with the doctor WITHOUT the child present, would have been $750. So that's $1,750 plus the cost of additional allergy testing, prescriptions, etc. We called off the visit so that I could look into getting some help from my job next year, if this kind of medical visit qualifies for the Flexible Spending Account. Autism treatments nearly never get financial support from companies because it's all considered experimental.

We decided the day before Thanksgiving that we were going to take Theo off the gluten-free/ casein-free/ soy-free/corn-free/limited-sugar/no-preservatives/no-artificial-colors diet. That was fun to type!

What followed was--and I suppose this is a dramatization, but not by much--getting our lives back. We spent two nights in New Jersey with Joe's family. Not only would I have had to prepare Theo a special meal, but all the foods his cousins, 3 boys, ate would have been off limits. When Theo is there it is common for the boys to all munch on a bag of cereal, pretzels, and other snacks. Trying to keep Theo from those food would have majorly stressed me out and made him feel left out. I know, because that's what our previous visit was like.

How wonderful it was for Theo to sit and eat the same turkey, the same creamy mashed potatoes, the same apple pie as everyone else!

And guess what--on Monday, Ms. Fredericks said Theo was particularly well-behaved that day. This was before she knew we took him off the diet. The rest of the week he continued to behave nicely. Today, he came home very excited that he won a prize for good behavior! This could all be a coincidence, but at the very least, the opposite was supposed to happen when we put gluten and dairy back into his body, so...

Recently, I had a mini revelation when telling Aunt Pia about all this. One of the major characteristics of autism is the lack of social skills. And what was I doing by making him eat different food at a birthday party? At school, on pizza Fridays? I was exacerbating his already-poor social abilities. Seems counter-productive to me.

Please don't think I'm bashing the diet. I think it's wonderful--a miracle, in fact--that so many children have recovered from autism because of it. It didn't happen for my kid, but now I can feel good knowing we tried it for five months. And unless it had been a miracle cure, it would not have been worth it to further hinder Theo's chances at normalcy in social settings. And let's face it, his mama's a foodie. My favorite sous-chef can now learn the art and importance of butter and flour to real cooking. :)

The best part is, my guilt is mostly gone and I'm at peace with this decision. That's something I didn't think would happen. There are still natural vitamins and supplements to explore. We'll see what the new year brings us. For now, time to take a break from all this Mama Warrior stuff and relax and enjoy my sweet boy. Right now he's inside eating the empanadas he helped make--think I'll go join him.

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