There are no absolutes. These aren't just the words of a liberal blogger- they are truth to anyone living life outside of a bubble. These words are especially true of those living on the autism spectrum. Our experience with pdd-nos and our son will not be a carbon copy of yours. I can and will only speak from our own experience. I guess that's the preface I want to put down while participating in S-O-S Best of the Best, Edition 12: Medications and Their Use with Special Needs Kids. I am honored to have been asked to contribute to such a helpful site.
To begin, I might as well come right out and say it; we don't use medications to treat any of Isaac's issues in relation to being on the spectrum. So far, thanks to his diet, we haven't had to, and I have to say I'm glad. While I'm not so "crunchy" that I won't eat at McDonald's, I am someone who opted for a tubal ligation over being on birth control. I'm just not a fan of side effects- known or unknown. Trust me, I went the biomedical route for Isaac with skepticism, and continue on it occasionally grieving the easy days of just sending him on his way with a cup of Goldfish Crackers like any other warm blooded American kid. However, The Diet is our anti-drug. And as my husband so delicately puts it, "the only side effect of a gluten free/dairy free/ Feingold diet is that it's a pain in the ass." I know his angst is rooted in the cost, preparation, and availability of food for Isaac's very tailored diet. He's almost over wanting to crawl under the table while I grill unsuspecting servers about ingredients and how food is prepared when we are out to dinner. Almost. But the reality is that changing Isaac's diet has kept us from an almost certain need for medication to treat hyperactivity, extreme mood swings, night terrors/seizure-like episodes, and sleeplessness. Not to mention all the skin and digestive issues he used to have.
Not everyone has this experience, and I can definitely see where medication would be necessary and helpful for many kids with special needs. For our son, removing dairy, then gluten, then certain fruits, vegetables, and dyes from his diet almost immediately remedied the problems listed above. Adding a probiotic powder to the regiment is the closest thing to daily medication that Isaac receives. The best part of a diet versus medication for us is that we get to tweak and adjust it immediately and according to his needs. There is no waiting for a doctor, psychiatrist, or any one else. When I notice that Isaac is "off" for days in a row I know it is time to adjust his diet to get him back on track. Somehow, someway, we were paired with an occupational therapist who was also a trained nutritionist when Isaac was receiving services from Early On, and she stocked us with the information we needed to go granola. Today we're not only managing his pdd-nos, sensory processing disorder, etc. without medication- we're thriving. And for that, I'm grateful.
If you would like to know more about our journey without medication, please visit the posts below:
For a basic overview of our dos and do nots with food:
Our experience and approach with removing dairy:
Our experience and approach with removing gluten:
About yeast issues:
An article I wrote about the pros and cons of a gfcf diet:
An article I wrote introducing the Feingold diet: