As I mentioned in my very first post, when I first thought about recovery from autism, I thought of it as something with a definitive end. Like the last chapter in a long, emotional, roller-coaster-of-a-book, I could turn the final page and be done with it.
That’s what I thought. That’s what I hoped. I didn’t realize, however, that autism would forever change me, and that frankly, that would be impossible.
None-the-less, in practical terms, I did believe it would at least be the end to a few things. No more IEPs. No more weekend rounds of ALA. No more carrying a cooler around in the back of the mini-van.
The supplement cabinet would be cleaned out. I would stop planning my Memorial Day weekend around Autism One. I could get off the computer. I could relax. And most important, we could eat…like a normal family.
Out of all the things I hated regarding autism recovery, I have to admit the thing I hated the most was the diet. Not only were there very few choices for us at that time, it was more than that. It was the way not participating in our culture in a social way made me feel even more isolated than I already did. Food is not only a form of love; it is also a form of socialization. It felt like I was depriving our family of both.
Every day, it seemed, I was on patrol as the food police. I had to battle family members who didn’t buy in and thought a slip of an M-&-M here or there was no big deal. I had to plan days, sometimes weeks ahead of time for a simple family birthday party to make sure we would not have an infraction, and would have an alternative to that piece of cake or cupcake everyone else was having.
Is there milk in that? Did you bring the enzymes? Where did she get that cracker?!
It made me crazy. It became easier to just stay home…sort of. Although more practical, that was more painful. Autism had already isolated us so much; now we were going to miss family functions and neighborhood parties? No way.
And so we endured. Doing our best to manage dietary decisions on a case-by-case basis. Hoping the enzymes would do the trick when I just couldn’t say no. Feeling guilty when I could say no and guilty when I couldn’t. Being done with the diet was something I looked forward to eagerly.
Additionally, as my little one got older and not only did she get better, but also more independent, micromanaging her food became harder and harder. I wasn’t with her every second of every day. I was grateful that with her healed gut came the ability to have more “normal” foods. Within a few years, as I had hoped, we were back to eating whatever we wanted.
And that’s how it’s actually been for a while now. We are not on the diet. We haven’t done anything other than a multivitamin and some keifer in years. We do keep enzymes as a part of our routine, just because they help with all of our digestion. For the most part though, we eat what we want, when we want, how we want...although we do eat very consciously, mostly homemade and organic food. It’s nice.
Or is it?
A recent trip down memory lane came in the form of some videos we were uploading to our computer. I hadn’t seen the videos in years and many of them brought tears to my eyes. When you are so focused on what your child can’t do, you forget sometimes what they can.
I watched in astonishment at her early and rapid gains only a year into treatment. Here she is only a year or so after beginning biomed. Considering she couldn’t converse, showed no imagination or personality, and looked like she was liteally on drugs prior, this video clip is pretty amazing.
As both my husband and I played the videos over and over again, one thing became very clear. She was sharper then than she is now. That’s the best word we can use to describe it. Her eye contact was crisper. Her responses were crisper. There is no doubt about it.
We’ve dabbled with the idea of going back to biomed for some time. We worry that over the years she’s accumulated more metals and without being on the diet, could have some gut issues that need to be addressed again as well. Even so, our comfort with our lifestyle right now has made us feel like, ah, well, maybe.
After watching those videos we realize it’s not up for debate. We’re going back on biomed. Which begs the question: Was I wrong to believe I could ever abandon it in the first place?
I’m thinking, yes.
Julie Obradovic is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.