Friday, January 28, 2011

Staying Balanced

As anyone on the autism journey can tell you, having the tools to help your child function better is not nearly enough.  Even within the bounds of Isaac's Fort Knox diet, I have to keep diligent in order to maintain a balance with him.  The challenge with this lately has been that Isaac is gaining more tools of his own by the day.  Tools like increased vocabulary and communication skills, imaginative play, and understanding of more abstract concepts.  Sometimes his getting "off balance" sneaks up on me, because he has so many improvements now that can mask the warning signs that things in his diet (food and sensory) need to be tweaked.

I guess I should start with how things get off balance, and then tell you the warning signs.  Things get out of whack with his diet when, well, mommy gets lazy.  It went a little something like this yesterday: "Fine, even though you had cereal for breakfast, pretzels and pears for snack, pretzels and tuna for lunch, you can have mac-n-cheese for dinner. Because mommy doesn't feel like having the fight."  But mommy ALWAYS pays for "not having the fight".  An all carb day equals an almost guaranteed invasion of yeast.  An over-growth of yeast in a spectrum kid means wakefulness at night, increase in repetitive behaviors and speech (or stimming), increase in sensory sensitivity, increase in aggressiveness and inattention. 

What has the increase in yeast looked like in Isaac these past 48 hours?  Repetitive self-regulating behaviors like dumping out all of his toy animals and picking them back up over and over and over.  The return of phrases like "nunga nunga nunga" and "gitta gitta gitta" as filler in his speech.  Wakefulness in the night and bed wetting.  A non-stop schizophrenic menagerie of reenactments of movies, books, tv shows, and characters this morning while trying to get him ready for school.  He was a kitty cat crawling up the stairs to the bathroom, a frog hopping onto the toilet, spotting dragons outside the window while he peed, was hyper-scared of the "gronkles and night furies" outside of the window while I was trying to get him dressed.  I had to convince him that his clothes would protect him from the dragons just so that I could get him dressed.  I am failing to remember all the mini-espisodes from tv shows and books thrown in between these bigger pretend themes...quotes from The Shark in the Dark book, etc. 
"Isaac, stop playing games.  We need to get dressed for school." 
"Mommy, I'm playing games! Ah! Dragons! Come here, little fishies..." 
It was like being caught in a pre-school media storm.  I could barely keep up.  I found myself sympathizing with parents of kids with A.D.D and A.D.H.D.  I have NO idea how we made it to school on time.

And all this from too many carbs?  Maybe yes and maybe no.  Today was the first day this week that Isaac didn't have a substitute teacher at school.  Isaac's parapro offered to give him apple slices when I was late to pick him up on Wednesday.  I said "No, no he CANNOT have apples.  It's on his list."  Phew.  Crisis averted.  Or was it?  That afternoon we were at the grocery store when Isaac started talking about apple sauce.  I asked him if he had apple sauce at school, and he said "yes" immediately.  Huh.  That would explain the dark circles under your eyes and red in your cheeks.  Lesson learned.  It PAYS to be that mom.  The mom who politely makes sure that the sub and parapro know the deal with the diet.  Every time I hesitate for fear of being that crazy mom, I pay for it later with a crazy kid.  I will forever be that mom from now on.  I really don't care if they think I'm obnoxious.  He is my kid, after all.

The good news is that if I catch it early enough, I can swing Isaac back in balance fairly quickly.  Today we are focusing on increasing his protein and fat intake to calm down the yeast.  I sent a hot dog and a pear to school for snack.  He will be having eggs for lunch, and chicken with dinner.  I have been correcting his filler speech with real words so that he can learn to catch himself.  When he says "nunga nunga, hippo" when naming his animals I say "and a hippo...and a tiger..." etc.  We deal with it, and try to be more diligent and less lazy next time.  It's all one big changing experience, and I'm learning a little more every day.

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