Autism is no fun you guys. It isn’t. Don’t get me wrong- I absolutely love this journey with my sweet girl, and all it has taught me about myself, about strength, and about unconditional love. But friends, I am not ashamed to admit I am pushed to my limits plenty of times- and not always by my child. The world is a hard place for these precious babies, and it’s really hard to feel the love when people don’t want you or your kid around.
In the last year, we have made HUGE progress with our sweet girl, and all by taking the radical approach of eradicating the things we identified as exacerbating her condition. For us, that meant:
Leaving the public school system in favor of a therapeutic integration-based private school. And next year, we’ll be using the techniques we learned to bring Celia into our homeschool. For her, the loud environment and chaos of lunchrooms, bus lines, recess, and sitting in a classroom of 20+ students was a recipe for disaster. We had to decide, “do we want her to learn, or do we want her to be compliant to a state standard?” Ultimately we decided learning was the most important to us, and we were fortunate enough to have options to take a different approach.
Sensory-integration therapy. This was a game-changer for us. Rather than a variety of therapists working on separate, short-term objectives for our girl, we found a site that leverages a team of therapists, who listened to our goals as a family and worked together on a plan for Celia. They even group some of her sessions together so she won’t be exhausted and can still reap the benefits of two strong therapists. These guys taught us how to modify our own parenting and how to teach our other children, so that we can be a team in helping our girl be her best self. Check out this book, written by my friend Shelley whose therapy center and school have literally changed our lives for the better. You can buy it here. Amazing.
Diet. What goes in must come out. And in a kid with autism, that means it may come out in anger, aggression, hyperactivity, self-harm, anxiety, and more. A huge challenge that we remedied by removing Celia from the school system was control of her diet. The same red-dye and high-fructose corn-syrup-laced goodness that causes the average kid to bounce off the walls causes my child with autism to have a full-on meltdown. One snack-sized bag of Doritos turns her into the Incredible Hulk. What goes into these foods is just too much for a kid with autism to break down. There are tons of studies on the gut-health of kids with autism, but the main conclusion in all of them is that these kids have a faulty gut-health to begin with, and the endocrine disruptors in GMO food and foods sprayed with pesticides are especially toxic to kids with autism. By removing all processed foods (or at least, most of them with rare exception) and sticking to an all-organic diet we’ve seen a tremendous decrease in Celia’s anxiety and aggression. HUGE autism win.
Some other goodies for Special Needs parents:
Funding: In the state of Georgia- Medicaid coverage for children with autism is NEED based. Not financial need based, but disability-need based. If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, the Katie Beckett waiver can help. Raise Them High is an amazing organization aimed at helping families qualify for this exact service. Check them out here. 🙂
Essential oils. Like every crunchy mom out there, I love my oils, and my go-to brand is doTerra (and no, I don’t sell it). My favorite blends are InTune for focus, Serenity for obvious reasons, and Deep Blue and OnGuard for when they’re not feeling their best. I use them for all my munchkins, but especially for Miss Celia. Just be sure you’re looking for 100% certified organic oils- kids on the spectrum are much more sensitive to chemicals and hormone inhibitors than we are.
With these changes, and the help of our village of therapists, teachers, friends, and family, we have literally taken back control of a tough and scary situation in our girl’s life. She has grown in confidence and improved her behavior and her attitude drastically- all because of sensory integration and therapists who spoke her language. If you are feeling isolated or like your therapy is taking you nowhere- CHANGE IT UP! Don’t be afraid to look for a better option- and find a support network of parents who can share their resources with you. We’re all in this together.
Stay strong friends. The answer is out there somewhere.