Saturday, January 05, 2008

Moose Droppings

Happy New Year!

If you are uncomfortable discussing human fecal matter, then you won't want to read this post. Another point of view: You probably take a dump excrete solid waste at least once per day, so just get over yourself and read onward!

Many of you know that Wife and I have had Moose on a couple of experimental dietary interventions designed to help persons with Autism Disorder. First was a gluten-free/casein-free diet (GFCF) that eliminated all wheat and dairy products. Next was a more restrictive diet called SCD, or specific carbohydrate diet; this one eliminated EVERYTHING (I'm not kidding) except meats, some nuts, fruits and vegetables. Wife has written much more about these things in her blog. Also, she did a FANTASTIC job making much of Moose's food from scratch for the past year. God bless her.

Many children with autism also suffer from physical issues affecting the gut, so these kids tend to be irritable, gassy, just a mess. Moose never had those symptoms prior to starting the diets. Instead, he was just sort of spacey. But in December of 2006, we were finally making progress with potty training, and physically he was really doing quite well.

And then we started these diets on January 1, 2007.

Where most of the success stories heard discuss how kids with lots of diarrhea and gas see vast improvements very quickly, our Moose ended up getting diarrhea for the first time. It got to the point where we actually went BACKWARD from having him in training pants to being back in Pull-ups. He couldn't control the defecation, and we couldn't keep up with keeping those pants clean (our water bill literally doubled one month with all the extra laundry we were doing to wash those training pants...again, I am not kidding). It was not fun, especially for Moose. However, we didn't want to leave the dietary stones unturned. We felt it was necessary to stay the course for several months and see if the diet would eventually have an impact on his autism symptoms. Well, ten months later, he still had diarrhea and was still in Pull-ups at age six. He made vast improvements in his speech and general awareness of the world. However, those can be attributed to increases in the Verbal Behavior method of training kids to speak along with periodic injections of Methyl B-12 (yes, we inject our child every three days. No, he no longer cries. In fact, he actually helps us to administer the shot now). According to pre- and post-tests of the yeast and bacteria levels in his blood, the diet has done absolutely NOTHING to help him. In fact, the yeast & bacteria levels were slightly elevated after 9 months on the diet.

Over the past month-and-a-half, we've slowly pulled the plug on the diets and had him eat 'normal people food.' Last week we re-introduced wheat for the first time in about a year. Moose didn't excrete any 'solid' waste (not that diarrhea is solid, but you get my point) all day Thursday AND Friday. Hmm...

Late this morning I was practicing the piano. Wife hardly ever interrupts me when I'm playing piano. But out of the corner of my eye I saw her standing there, holding a full diaper (folded up). And over the rather loud passage I was playing, I heard her yell, "It was NORMAL." I stopped playing, and my jaw hit the keyboard, right on the C# (now I'm kidding). The first time he craps in 48 hours after a week back on wheat products, the kid takes a regular dump.

So, once and for all: the diet is not a silver bullet for all kids. It works for MANY, and I don't deny the good improvements that thousands of autistic persons have gained on this plan. It just doesn't work for our kid.

But saying "the diet doesn't work for Moose" is like saying "hiking a mountain doesn't work for a fish." The fish still swims really well! Well, in the past month, Moose has been interacting with us in ways he's never done before. He cried when his relatives left our house after Christmas. Cried. That means he felt a real emotion! Also, he hugs me now instead of just going limp when I pick him up. I grew accustomed to my child not really giving me much affection in return; I didn't take it all that personally. But now he hugs back. Amazing. That's not something I could teach him. That's something he just does now. And it all started when he started eating food again. People food. We can attribute recent improvements in his behavior to being OFF the diet. Not the reverse. Amazing.

Fine by me! We'll take it.


EA said...

What amazing news. So GLAD!

Joe said...

I'm really glad to hear all that good news!