September 12, 2008

Lately, I have really been trying to have Gavin do more things for himself.  It’s so much easier and faster to do everything for him, but he’s almost 4 and there are a lot of things he should probably be doing for himself that he’s not (my fault).  Yes, he’s not a typical child so all those developmental lists are thrown out the window, but I also don’t want to be holding him back. 

This week, we’ve been passing colds around at Grandpa and Grandma’s house.  Gav hates when his nose is runny and at the first sign of a drip, he is begging for someone to wipe his nose.   One day this week, we were all sitting around the living room and Gav kept running into the bathroom.  He’d be gone for a bit then come running back and plop down to continue playing.  After doing this several times, Grandma went to see what he was up to.  He had been wiping his nose with a tissue from the bathroom and then would stick it back in the box.  There were about 10 wadded up in the box-no wonder we’re all sick!  Seriously though!  This is another big step for him.  He never said a word about having someone wipe his nose, instead, he just did it himself.   We still have a little work to do on where the kleenex goes after he uses it, but it was too cute to see all those kleenexes wadded up.   We’re making progress!

Here’s a great article on the TACA website that discusses steps to ensure that parents don’t baby their special needs child.  I’m guilty of a few of those things.  Guess I’ve got some things to work on!

Test Results

July 15, 2008

Whew! My head is spinning. We just got back from a 2 hour meeting with Gavin’s doctor. After MONTHS of waiting to hear his test results (food sensitivity and ION Panel) we were finally able to get the news. The GOOD news. Gavin definitely has a dairy sensitivity, but not necessarily a gluten/wheat sensitivity!!!! If asked, I would have said I would rather have to eliminate dairy than gluten. Seems like much less of a daunting task. And so today, we were told we could begin to introduce gluten back into Gavin’s diet!!!!!! He did indicate slight sensitivities so we need to be careful. If we notice a change in Gavin, we may need to switch back to all GF/CF. But for now, he can have normal bread and cereal again! Well……..kind of…….

Another clear marker on his test was that he has a definite yeast overgrowth. This is very common in autistic children. Their bodies have trouble properly breaking down food, so they tend to hang on to yeast and it continues to grow. Sounds really gross. So, if Gavin eats a lot of starchy foods (ie:sweet potatoes-one of his favorites), the starch turns to sugar which then feeds the yeast. So basically we need to try to eliminate all or as much sugar from his diet as we can.

We came home armed with 4 different supplements and have two more that are being ordered. So, now we have the fun job of getting all of these things in Gav’s body every day. Fortunately, they can all be taken together, so he’ll just have to have a daily supplement cocktail.

As far as heavy metals go, the ION Panel showed low metal levels, which is a good thing, but a blood test is not the best way to test for this. Our next step, should we so choose, is to have a pre-test done (using a stool sample) and then spray a detox spray in his mouth for 5 days. At the end of 5 days, another stool sample would be taken. This test is a lot more conclusive and would then tell us whether we would need to begin chelation therapy (removing the metals).

This is just a snippet of what we discovered today. The ION Panel is an amazing tool and if it wasn’t so expensive, I would have our entire family tested.

I’m hoping we’ll see even more improvements in Gavin once we begin his daily supplement regimen. I’ll keep you posted!

This and That…

July 10, 2008

Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. This summer has become really crazy. And to think….I was worried we’d be bored all summer. Here it is almost the middle of July. Seriously. The older I get the faster time seems to go.

Just some little tidbits and updates. People have been asking how potty training has been going. In two words, “it’s not”. The first two days were really good. Gav was excited about his Elmo underwear (who wouldn’t be!) and would gladly run to sit on the potty every time I told him it was time (every 15 minutes). After two solid days of that, he got a little sick of sitting on the potty for a good chunk of his day. Liam didn’t help much as he was crawling all over Gav trying to sit on the potty just like brother. Our bathroom is tiny, so the three of us squeezed in there for hours at a time made us all a little crazy. On the morning of the third day, Gavin melted down. He’d had enough and was sure to let me know it. He refused to sit, would burst into tears if I mentioned it, so we have officially suspended potty training…..for now.

In other news, Gav’s test results are back (I think I mentioned that a while back) and we will be getting the results on Tuesday! This was the food sensitivity test and the ION Panel so we are going to find out A LOT about his little system and what is malfunctioning. I’m really excited to finally be moving forward again. We were unable to schedule a meeting with the nutritionist at the same time, so we will meet with her when we get back from vacation.

Gavin also has a week of “summer school” starting next Monday. His autism strategist and her team lead training sessions for teachers during the summer. So, Gavin and several other children will be “assisting” them in teacher training. He loves the autism team (they were the ones who originally diagnosed him last year) and I think he’ll have a blast being back in a school setting. I know he misses it.

Happy summering!

Cleaning Products

July 8, 2008

In re-reading some of my old posts the other day, I realized that I said I would write about some topics and have yet to follow through. So, today I’m finally filling you all in on my recipes for safer cleaning products. The awesome thing is that most of these recipes call for the same (cheap) ingredients and they will last a LONG time. So, if you’re just into being thrifty or if you want safer cleaning products, here’s what works for me.

All-Purpose Cleaner: 1 tsp. dishsoap (use something safe or natural-I use Method brand-love the smell!); 2 TBLS. baking soda; 4 cups warm water; 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

Mix everything together and put in a spray bottle. It does have a slight vinegar smell, but that goes away once it dries.

Glass Cleaner: 1 cup water and 1 cup vinegar. Mix together in a spray bottle. This works AMAZINGLY well. Use a cloth (paper towels don’t quite do the trick). When you first try to wipe off glass/mirrors, it will appear VERY streaky. Just keep wiping. It will get your glass very clean. It may take 2 times to cut through the residue left behind by your regular glass cleaner. Once again, the smell is kind of vinegary, but it will dissipate once dried. (I actually kind of like the vinegar scent).

Dishwasher Detergent: Not much can compete with my Cascade Complete, but it had tons of toxins in it as well as being expensive every month or so. Here’s what I’ve found to work ALMOST as well as my Cascade. (Please know, dishes must be rinsed well before adding them to the dishwasher. If you are one of these ‘pile em in dirty and crusty’ type of people, then you may need to stick with store-bought stuff).

Use vinegar as your rinse agent. It gets things clean and sparkly! I also add vinegar in my pre-wash. Then, I add 1 TBLS. of baking soda and 1 TBLS. of borax in where the detergent goes. Set to whatever cycle you’re used to. If dishes are spotty, add more vinegar.

Laundry Booster-so I haven’t been able to bring myself to make my own detergent yet. I love the way my clothes smell after being freshly laundered. I did stumble across Baking Soda’s Washing Soda to use as a laundry booster. I now use this in place of fabric softener and it’s been doing the trick. So, use a safe detergent, I’m partial to Seventh Generation, and then add a half cup of Washing Soda to the water before adding clothes. Washing soda was hard to track down, but I finally found some at Dahls on Beaver. (I don’t know if all Dahls carries it or not). It’s about $2.50 a box and looks just like a baking soda box. Can’t go wrong! Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to make my own detergent.

Happy cleaning!

Now that most Hy-Vees in the metro area no longer carry A2 milk (read about it in my April archives), we’ve switched back to almond milk. I have to say, I am noticing a difference in Gavin again. When we first started the GF/CF diet, I started giving him rice milk, then almond milk because of the texture. We did that for a few weeks until I tried A2 milk under the guidance of the Hy-Vee dietitian. We saw significant (positive) changes in Gavin right at first (while on rice/almond milk) and then his progress seemed to plateau once on A2. I’ve become increasingly frustrated lately at his lack of progress and wondered if A2 was really ok for him. For about the last week, Gav has been back on almond milk and I’ve been surprised once again at his progress. Each day he is more conversational and he’s been more willing to play WITH others, not just alongside. I don’t know if A2 was really the way to go, but we tried it and I guess it’s a good thing that I had to switch back. Almond milk is much cheaper and can be nicely stored up to a year in the cupboard. Hmmmm……….

On another note….I have been informed that Be the Butterfly in Ankeny now has Klean Kanteens in colors!! Yay! We’ll be making the trek sometime next week to stock up on colored ones. How fun! (I never thought I’d get this excited about cups).

AND, we will be starting potty training on Friday. I was supposed to start this past Monday but our week got crazy busy with cousins and other fun things, so it has now been officially decided by the committee that we will begin Friday. I probably won’t answer the phone or get out of my jammies for that matter. Looks like it’s going to be a long weekend/week/month. I have officially stocked the Skittles jar (GF although full of other crap) and have bought the CUTEST Elmo underwear. If anybody has any suggestions I’d love some help! There’s a great article about potty training spectrum kids here, but any tips or ideas are welcome!

This past weekend my sister and brother-in-law were in Chicago and came home with a HUGE bag full of Trader Joe’s yummies for us and the cutest bag for the beach! Thanks guys! We love you!

AND……check out these cute little guys!

I’m so excited to have found Klean Kanteens for my kids! ( I bought out Active Endeavors, but have no fear, they will be getting more at the end of this month). I have recently been on a mission to rid our house of plastic dishes and cups but it’s hard to find kid-friendly cups. Corelle dishes are great, but all they have are coffee mugs and Liam’s not quite ready for those yet. 🙂

Apparently these babies are hard to come by. I can now officially throw out the last of the plastic cups and sippys! (Siggs are good too-they come in really cute styles-but they just don’t make sippy lids like Liam needs. Siggs can still be found at Campbell’s and Scheels).

Happy (safe) drinking!

I just finished reading (devouring) Healthy Child Healthy World by Christopher Gavigan. I can’t even remember where I first heard about this book, but I picked it up and read it in three days. It is FULL of information on raising children in a healthier, greener, safer environment at home. It’s one of those books that I totally recommend but I can’t even begin to explain it. There was almost too much information and I know I shouldn’t have read it so fast, but I couldn’t put it down.

I found myself shaking my head and was astounded at the the chemicals the FDA allows into almost everything in our homes. Here’s one brief example. In Europe, there are 1,100 chemicals banned from cosmetics. In the US, 9. Yes, you read that right. 9. That was just one statistic and there are tons more scattered throughout the book. Sickening, right?

At times it can be very overwhelming because it seems like we just can’t win. There is crap in EVERYTHING. We shouldn’t drink tap water because the of the chemicals and lead; we shouldn’t drink bottled water because of the high levels of BPA. So, what DO we do?

This book not only pointed out the startling truth about our environment (within the home), but it gave great tips and alternatives. Each chapter is dedicated to a different area of your life or home (preparing for baby, cleaning products, food, beauty products, toys/clothing, lawn/garden care, water/air, and home improvements). Another awesome thing about this book is that there is a 28 page resource section at the back that lists hundreds of products and web sites.

I went from being completely overwhelmed to feeling empowered because there is a lot more we CAN do personally within our home. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know I’m not really into being “greener” but being SAFER for our family. I firmly believe Gavin’s autism was triggered by environmental factors and I am on a mission to rid my home of as much of those toxins as I possibly can. You have to start small and not try to tackle everything at once. I’ve slowly been phasing out the plastic in our home. My kids now eat their meals on my Corelle dishes (hardly breakable), we only use glass Pyrex leftover containers, we are drinking up the last of our bottled water to be replaced with a water filter, my Dyson ROCKS (with life-time HEPA filter), and I’ve cut down on the chemicals around the house by making my own (safe) dishwasher detergent, all-purpose cleaner, and laundry soap. (I’ll post my recipes soon after I’m done tweaking them!)

I HIGHLY recommend this book and if you have time, check out the Healthy Child, Healthy World web site. There are a lot more great articles and links found on their page.

We Can Make a Difference

April 30, 2008

Make sure to grab a kleenex (or maybe a box) before watching this video. (A big thanks to Jody for passing this on).

Also, we had Gavin’s first appointment at Prevention and Healing of Iowa today. It was fantastic! I will post more after we process everything. We learned a lot and are so excited to begin some different tests. We also found out that we are already on the right road with the GF/CF diet and probiotics. One of these tests will tell us if Gavin really and truly even needs to be on this particular diet. Wouldn’t it be cool if he didn’t? I’m not getting my hopes up, but it would be nice. And we have officially added enzymes to our daily ritual. These are taken before every meal to aid in digestion. Thank goodness for cherry flavor!

A2 Milk?

April 28, 2008

I actually made it to Hy-Vee Health Market on the RIGHT day this week and was able to meet the dietitian and get a lot of my GF/CF questions answered. She pointed out some items I had missed before and I have to say, Gav now loves Alphatots!! What 3 year old wouldn’t love french fries in the shape of letters? How fun! We had a good time spelling out words and he ate a whole plateful (with other things of course). The Ian’s brand has a TON of other GF/CF foods that look yummy-I’m so glad we have some choices when we need something quick and easy.

But the real reason I’m blogging today is A2 milk. The dietitian and I were talking about the different “milk” options for Gavin since he has to be dairy free and she asked if we had ever tried A2 milk. I can’t say that we have. In fact, I had never heard of it. (Maybe some of you health nuts out there have, but please remember that we’re new to all this stuff!)

A2 is still milk from cows, but some cows have a DNA makeup that produces milk with an a2 protein makeup. (This milk contains a higher proportion of a2 beta-casein than regular milk (otherwise known as a1 beta-casein). A special DNA test is performed on each cow to determine which produces the a2 protein. (One article I read equates this to different blood types in humans). A2 milk is not genetically altered in any way and is thought to be more healthy than regular (a1) milk. “As a result of a structural difference in the amino-acid chain that comprises the a2 beta-casein protein, it can breakdown differently during digestion than the other predominant type of beta-casein protein commonly found in other milks, resulting in the release of different bioactives.” So basically, it’s easier for the body to digest.

The dietitian told me that she’s read research on a2 milk stating that it’s ok for people on elimination diets because of these different beta-casein proteins. Autistic children’s bodies have a hard time processing a1 proteins, but apparently not a2.

The jury’s still out on whether a2 milk is really ok for Gavin to be drinking. That’s something we’ll definitely be asking on Tuesday when we start his treatment.  I did end up buying a bottle and I have to say, it tastes just like what we’re used to! I hope this is something Gavin can have because rice, almond, and soy milk are just not that good. There’s just something about a refreshing glass of milk (and cookies-which we can no longer have). Sigh……

If you’re interested in reading more about A2 milk you can do so here


April 19, 2008

(These are random things I’ve been doing/thinking but they aren’t big enough to warrant their own blog).

  • Last night at dinner, Josh fed Liam first before eating his food. Gav was eating away when suddenly he taps Josh on the arm and says, “Eat your pasta, Daddy.” Progress…….
  • Gavin has asked for “salu” (salad) TWICE this week. This child DOES NOT EAT veggies at all so this is huge for him!
  • I just bought this last night and I think it’s going to be fantastic. For anyone who is thinking of going GF/CF the whole first half of the book is dedicated to discussing the issues, substitutions, and the do’s and don’t’s. The last half is full of what look to be very yummy (AND EASY) recipes. I’ll let you know!
  • We’ve been using Epsom salts in the tub when the boys take a bath. Several different autism sites suggest this . Now I’m wishing I’d paid better attention in science class, but basically the magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) stimulates detoxification. The much-needed sulfate is absorbed in the skin (children with autism have been found to be lacking in sulfate). You can read all about how it works here.
  • My project for the day tomorrow is making my own organic household cleaners. Not so much to be green but to get the toxins out of our home. (A post about TOXINS is in the works). Maybe now I’ll actually clean………………………