I took Hunter to get his MMR shot at 15 months. Within 48 hours he was rocking back and forth on the floor, screaming and banging his head. “Give him Tylenol,” the doctor said. “He’ll settle down in a day or two.” But my happy toddler was disintegrating before my eyes: guttural sounds, head tilted, scratching his face. I surrounded him with pillows to protect his head. Many frustrating medical checkups later I finally read the vaccine package insert. That’s when I knew: My son has autism. We took him off prescriptions meds, detoxified his body, changed his diet, put him on cannabis oil, and reset his gut bacteria. He opened up to us with smiles and hugs.
Three years ago, using what I learned from my research on diet and my experience with Hunter, I started an online magazine about growing healthy food. If someone were to ask me one of the most beneficial therapies for autistic children, besides cannabis oil, I would have to say gardening. Put your kids’ hands in the dirt teach them how to grow food. Better yet, teach them aquaponics: growing fish and plants together. Dan Burns of Appleseed Ventures sent us his indoor aquaponic waterfall garden. Hunter and his brother installed it. Hunter loves to watch the water bubbling, the fish swimming, the plants turning toward the light. He tests the pH levels and lets me know if there are any ammonia or nitrate problems. It’s a way for him to learn about biology, science and ecology, the components of the system working together. The waterfall calms him. And he loves the fish.
We just celebrated Hunter‘s 17th birthday. Today he can talk all day about the universe and new star systems. He creates online games from scratch, grows food, and draws some of the most amazing things we have ever seen. Our son has recently been asked if he would like to write a children’s book about gardening, and who better to teach other autistic kids how to garden than a young autistic man who has done it himself? It’s been a long and difficult road, but worth the journey. I can now kiss my son on the face without him pulling away. He’s reconnecting with the earth, with himself, and with his family.
Victoria Kelley is ASC Magazine Editor. Aquaponics How To Guide.