Monday, October 13, 2014

Sunday School Update

A quick update to followup on our progress--second week of Sunday school was a big success!

Not perfect of course--there were a few tricky moments and a lack of focus on the teacher overall, but Merry participated in the art project, stayed with the class and loved the sing-along at the end.

It's looking like key will be to break up mass and Sunday school, provide some incentives, and talk Merry through the process so he knows what to expect.

I ended up taking Merry to mass on Saturday evening, which went really well. Two solid hours of sit still be quiet is a lot to ask of any 3 year old, and this breaks it up into more manageable chunks. I'm not crazy about making two trips every weekend, but its a small price to pay for avoiding meltdowns. Not only is the drive to and from church fairly relaxing and beautiful all by itself, our weekends aren't usually super-productive anyway. An extra dose of Jesus is a good use of time and some added structure (yay structure!).

Merry and I talked about Sunday school a bit during the week, especially on Saturday when I talked him through the schedule for Sunday: "tonight we'll go to mass, then go home for dinner and bed. In the morning we'll go to the park, then back to church for sunday school, then you can play outside and we'll go home for lunch". He really likes going through a schedule and knowing what's coming next in the day.

We did stop by the park for a few minutes before class; I was thinking that it'd be a good way for him to burn off energy. But the playground was wet and Merry was unimpressed. Probably not worth it going forward, especially since the weather is unlikely to cooperate 80% of the time.

The big kicker was the W mat. The church has a set of alphabet mats for the kids to sit on, and my alphabet-loving boy wanted his favorite letter something fierce. I had a hard time our first weekend explaining that the W mat wasn't his just because he liked it, but that it belonged to his teacher and he would have to behave if he wanted to have it. This apparently sunk in, because when we talked about it during the week, Merry's main input and biggest concern was: "Maybe I can sit on Ms. J's W mat?"

So I emailed Ms. J to check that it would be ok if I made sure the mat was reserved, and also checked to see if the structure of the class would be the same most weeks: art project followed by circle time for the lesson and maybe a song if there was time. I promised Merry that if he could behave during art project, then he could sit on the W mat during circle time.

Oh man, that did it. He even weathered an unexpected 'field trip' into the sanctuary, as long as he knew the W mat was waiting for him when we finished. I am so proud of my boy!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sunday Blues Pt. 2

I'm not done whining about Sunday school--my last post ate two of my writing sessions and I wanted to keep momentum going so I'm breaking it up.

On top of the various strategies to help Merry make it through classes, there's another part of my brain wondering if this is even a battle worth fighting. One mom brought her anxious son to class with the promise that he could leave if and when he wanted, then after a few minutes they took off, no fuss. Should I be doing that? Am I asking too much too soon? I don't think so. I specifically volunteered to be a class aide so that I'd be on hand and Merry wouldn't have to adjust to all this on his own.

Regular church attendance is very important to me, and I don't plan on making it optional for the boys. Pre-K sunday school is not exactly vital curriculum on either a social, academic or spiritual scale, but at the same time the 'take it or leave it' approach feels like the wrong path for us. These early years set the rhythm, the expectation, the family traditions that will carry us through the boys' childhood and adolescence. (Also I'm pretty sure that if given the choice Merry would always opt out, never staying long enough to see whether or not it's fun.)

So yes, I'm willing to give this a good strong try. If it continues to go badly then we can look at other options or waiting another year, but it's not time to give up just yet.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sunday Blues

This weekend we had Merry's very first day of Sunday school, and it was a spectacular failure.

That statement has been heavily edited, because apparently I'm the kind of person who can't curse freely, even anonymously on the internet. But if you reread that line with a few choice words added back in, you get a more accurate scope of how bad it was. Or at least how bad it felt.

Church is always a challenging proposition for young kids, but when you add in verbal stimming and sound sensitivity things get really interesting. Luckily our parish is full of young families and is the kind of church that has no nursery on purpose, so some level of noise and wiggling is an accepted part of every service. 

I usually take Merry to the Sunday evening service, which has a praise and worship style band that heavily features piano, guitar, drums and choir. Merry's not only used to it, but seems to do better when we sit next to the band so he can watch all the action. On the other hand, the two morning services have more organ-heavy traditional music (my personal preference) and feature vocalists that pour on the volume and vibrato. This must be pretty hard for Merry, who acts up more whenever circumstances lead us to the morning services. The Gaffer is totally on board with Merry for this one, he says the featured singers are pretty hard on his ears too. (I hate to admit this because it feels like I'm insulting the musicians who grace our worship services with their talents. I love the music, suspect its a sensory thing.)

Unfortunately, guess when Sunday school is? Right in between the two morning services. I tried taking Merry to the early service, which he'd never been to and doesn't have quite as strong a vocalist, but whether it was the music or the change in routine we didn't manage to spend more than a minute in our seats before the fussing was too much even for our tolerant congregation. I bounced us back out to the narthex where we spent the rest of the service. Being out in the narthex means no books, no toys, no running around, lest little ones learn to prefer it to sitting in church and act out in order to leave the service. So Merry was bored, noisy and on edge for the next hour, after which we headed to the social hall.

The church has limited classroom space, so the younger kids are all in the large social hall--three different age groups. In separate classes. At the same time. And Merry was asking me to turn the lights off, so they must have been bugging him too. (light sensitivity is a new thing, I can't tell how much is actual discomfort and how much is a desire to be in control, but he was super unhappy either way) Anyone familiar with ASD is starting to realize what a perfect storm this built up to, and sure enough we only got halfway through before full meltdown set in and I had to grab our stuff and flee. 

So now I have to write an apology to his teacher and figure out a strategy going forward, ideas include:
  • Visual timer to help Merry keep track of how long he has left
  • Spending the hour before class letting him run around and play to burn off energy
  • Sat evening mass? Sun evening mass? Its a pain to make two separate trips, but might be necessary
  • Reserving the coveted W alphabet mat for Merry's use if he behaves for the first half of class (this was the breaking point, he was super excited to see the alphabet mats but another kid got to 'his' mat first and didn't want to trade)
  • Other reward system for good behavior
  • Ear plugs/muffs

Friday, September 26, 2014

Writing Experiment

I'm trying something new now that we're getting back into the school routine and I can reliably and regularly have a few hours of relative down time. Each day while Merry is at school I'm sitting down with my laptop and a timer on my phone. 30 minutes to write and publish a blog post on whatever comes to mind that day. (not gonna pretend it's 30 minutes uninterrupted with Pippin wandering around on the floor, that's what pause buttons are for)

Like many avid bookworms I have literary ambitions, but while my head is full of ideas and dreams for novels and blog posts, years of 'oh I need to write more' have resulted in very few words on paper or screen. So even though the quality will be pretty shoddy on these half hour pieces, at least I'll be writing something, making habits, getting practice. Actual talent aside, I'll never be any kind of writer if I never write at all!

Hopefully I'll eventually expand to more writing with better quality and more purpose than practice, but baby steps for now.


With winter coming, our summer routine of parks every day will be coming to an end and yesterday we headed to the children's museum. We've been going to various children's museums regularly since moving to the northwest, they're a real sanity saver during the long wet winter when playgrounds are miserable. The more I learn about autism though, the more surprised I am that Merry has very little trouble with what must be a crazy sensory overload situation.

Merry loves to visit the museums and handles the noise and bustle very well, but I suspect he copes by he going into heavy focus mode. He'll pick one activity (trains are a big favorite) and disappear into his own little world. Good luck trying to suggest a new activity or area, or trying to introduce interactive play--this boy is gonna do his own thing.

Yesterday while he was running excited, overjoyed laps around the electric train display Merry picked up a couple of companions:  a little boy in a blue shirt who was probably a bit older than he was and a girl who was probably a bit younger. I don't think Merry ever spoke to them or even looked directly at them but they were all having fun watching the trains, pushing the buttons and running around.

Then Blue Shirt decided he wanted to play in a different room--one that projects the kids' movement onto a colorful psychedelic screen. It had never been a hit with Merry (visual overload, much?) but Blue Shirt wanted his new friends to come along. He asked Merry repeatedly, tugged on his sleeves, very persistent. But it was a no go. Eventually Merry ran off to the airplane exhibit and the other two followed him. It was both heartwarming and worrying to watch them follow Merry's lead through several different exhibits, join him in the cockpit of the airplane to push buttons, run through the farmyard and toss beanbags around. But although I think Merry enjoyed the company, I didn't see him actually interact with the other kids. When they got distracted and stopped following him around, he didn't turn to rejoin whatever new play they'd discovered or attempt to keep up the following game.

There are several areas where I'm confident that Merry's problems are temporary, areas that simply need more work and support, but this social oblivion is a different beast. I've heard it called the root of autism, and I suspect going forward that it's going to be our biggest challenge.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Small Happy Places

Thanks to God's grace disguised as coincidence, we live close enough to Sam's preschool to walk him to school in the mornings. I absolutely love this; the exercise and the chance to get outdoors is so good for all of us.

As the year goes by we can see the season's changes in front gardens, field and roadside that become familiar as beloved faces over time. There's one tree in particular that I notice every day after the droppoff on the way back home. It's a maple that overhangs a border wall, giving me a quick glimpse under its canopy of elegant spreading branches dressed in spots of moss. Glowing green or gold, shining with rain or boldly winter bare, it's a small dose of beauty that warms the heart.

Maybe I associate it with the peaceful glow in the small accomplishment of getting my boy to school, or maybe the familiar but unlooked-for* beauty turns my mind outward to gratitude, but either way it's a happy place.

*and now that I've put this all into words, it'll be harder to keep it this way :-p

"Say your prayers in a garden early, ignoring steadfastly the dew, the birds and the flowers, and you will come away overwhelmed by its freshness and joy; go there in order to be overwhelmed and, after a certain age, nine times out of ten nothing will happen to you."
-- C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vancouver Adventures

Vancouver BC--downtown tourism and outdoor beauty at one go! We had a wonderful trip over Labor Day weekend, at once too short and just long enough. I would have loved to stay longer, but traveling with the kiddos is exhausting and we needed the two days to recover that we included in our vacation planning.

We decided to ride the train instead of driving; none of us had ever traveled by Amtrak before and Merry loves trains. It was a fun experiment: the scenery was beautiful, the train was comfortable and convenient, the Gaffer enjoyed not doing most of the driving, and Merry was on cloud nine because train! and tunnels! There were a few drawbacks though--Pippin is at the age where he wants to crawl around all the time so juggling him for 4 hours each way was wearing for all of us, while in the car he'd be securely strapped in place. Going by train also meant relying on public transit; not a huge problem, especially since Vancouver has a very nice system, but it did impose a few limitations. Next time we'll probably take the minivan, but we'll def keep Amtrak in mind for future travels.

Once we made it to town, it was basically all Stanley Park. This huge city park is right next to downtown, and offers gardens, playgrounds, beaches, a miniature train ride (moar trains!), aquarium, hiking, and probably more that we didn't have time to discover. I loved being able to stay in the elegant downtown area with comfy hotel (even though we didn't get to take advantage of the nicer restaurants *sniff*) and then take a short bus trip across to the beautiful park.

Here's some tips and recommendations:

  • Second Beach. Beautiful, tons to do! There's a playground, the beach, and an outdoor heated "pool" that's more like a small water park.
  • White Spot restaurant. Family friendly, gfcf options, tasty food!
  • Bella Gelateria. Amazing gelato! We Yelped the closest gelato/ice cream spot and I popped out after the boys were asleep, planning to get a quick treat to bring back to the hotel room. But apparently it's a Really Big Deal and I ended up spending half an hour in line before triumphantly bringing home a bowl of Texas pecan with sour cherries and salted chocolate. Totally worth it! Dairy free options were available, but we never made it back while Merry was awake because we're terrible or something.
  • DeDutch. Delicious breakfast, gfcf options, and the location near the convention center looks over Vancouver Harbor.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

GFCF Chocolate Chip Cookies

The first batch of GFCF chocolate chip cookies I made were a bit of a disappointment. Merry and the Gaffer had no complaints, but I thought they were greasy, flat, slightly gritty and had a starchy taste. But with help from America's Test Kitchen I was able to tweak the recipe and the second batch was a huge improvement. Excellent structure and texture, soft and chewy, wonderful chocolatey goodness. If you didn't know ahead of time, you'd never guess they were GFCF. Below the recipe I give a blow-by-blow of my changes.

GFCF Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook.

8 oz (1 3/4 c) GF Flour Blend (I like Pamela's or King Aurthur)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp xantham gum (1/2 tsp if your flour blend has xantham gum in it already)
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbs canola oil
5 tbs coconut oil, melted
3/4 c light brown sugar
1/3 c granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tbs almond or coconut milk
1 tbs vanilla extract (slightly less if using vanilla-flavored milk)
1 c chocolate chips
1/2 c toasted pecans (optional)

Whisk flour blend, baking soda, xantham gum and salt together, set aside. Whisk oils and sugars until smooth, then whisk in egg, milk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in flour mixture with rubber spatula and mix until a soft homogeneous dough forms (dough will be sticky). Fold in chocolate chips and pecans, if using. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and rest for 60 minutes.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper, drop about 1-2 tbs of dough 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are golden brown, with set edges and soft centers, 11-13 minutes. Rotate the sheet halfway through baking.

GFCF cookies do not last as long as regular homemade cookies, I usually freeze most of the batch and leave a few out to eat that day. You can also freeze the dough as individual cookie lumps and bake a few at a time, straight out of the freezer (increase baking time by 2-5 min).

  • My original alterations were to substitute refined coconut oil for butter, almond milk for regular milk, and Namaste Foods GF flour blend instead of the recommended ATK flour blend.
  • To correct the greasiness I thought about cutting back on the amount of fat, but I found that in other recipes ATK calls for a combination of butter and vegetable oil to prevent greasiness, so I tried a combination of coconut oil and canola oil.*
  • The purpose of the milk in the original recipe is simply to provide more moisture, so I kept the almond milk as it was.
  • ATK recommends a 30 minute resting period for the dough before baking in order to let it hydrate and stiffen in order to prevent grittiness and give the cookies better structure. I noticed that the last tray of my first batch turned out the best, and the dough had been sitting considerably longer while the other cookies baked, so for the next batch I increased the rest time to 1 hour.
  • Because the flour blend I was using already included xantham gum, I decreased the amount in the recipe from 3/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon. No idea what happens when you get too much xantham gum, but I assume the minimum amount necessary for structure is best.

*I'm slightly confused as to why this worked. ATK's scientific explanation for the difference in baking with butter vs vegetable oil is that butter gives baked goods a greasier feel because butter's combination of fat and water does not combine evenly with flour proteins but remains in small clumps and pools. This problem is worse with GF flours because of the lower protein content. Oil, on the other hand, has no water and combines with flour particles much more evenly. There shouldn't be a difference between water content for coconut oil and canola oil, so I'm wondering if saturated vs unsaturated fats are important too.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

GFCF Baking

I absolutely love to bake. Cookies, bread, muffins, pancakes, biscuits, popovers, anything and everything. So at the prospect of going GFCF it was only a matter of when, not if, I would figure out how to adjust making my favorites.

I knew from browsing Pinterest that the internet was a great source for ideas and recipes of various and unknown quality, but when the Gaffer found The How Can it Be Gluten Free Cookbook from America's Test Kitchen it was the key to cracking the code. I fell in love with the Best Recipe series from ATK several years ago because of their analytical, scientific approach to kitchen alchemy, and sure enough their GF cookbook is exactly what you need for a strong start in GFCF baking.

The first section provides the basic science of baking with gluten, the challenges presented in removing it from traditional recipes, and their solutions. There's tips for adjusting your existing recipes, analysis and reviews of commercial GF flour blends, and because ATK thought they could do better than any of them, a recipe for blending your own mix. Then there's reviews of various GF sandwich bread, pastas and an overview of the various ingredients you might need on hand for GF cooking and baking.  What's with all the different flours? And what in the world are xantham gum and pysllium husk? Your answers are here.

Then they get into the recipes. I've had excellent results with their peanut butter cookies and banana bread so far, just substituting coconut oil for butter to make them caesin free as well.

It is important to note that it's not a GFCF cookbook, and dairy ingredients are present in most recipes. The authors dedicate one page to suggestions for other dietary restrictions including dairy, but they fail to mention substituting coconut oil for butter, which has worked really well for me. Almond and coconut milk have worked so far, but I haven't even tried to work out a cheese substitute yet. Kind of suspect there isn't a good one, unfortunately.

This weekend I had slightly less success with their chocolate chip cookies and blueberry muffins. Both were tasty, but not quite excellent. I've been using a different flour blend and had to experiment with non-dairy yogurt, so I suspect one or two more tries will give better results.

Overall, I highly recommend The How Can it Be Gluten Free Cookbook. I'll try to post occasionally with which recipes work and which ones require a little more tweaking.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Half a Year!

Pippin is 6 months now, and I'm floored by how quickly the time has flown. Merry's first six months seemed to creep by in a happy baby daze, but although the joy has been no less intense, the time has gone so much faster! Now that this thought is actually verbalized, I can see how obvious a revelation it is, (more kids to care for = time moving faster) but it's a side effect of kid #2 that I hadn't considered before.

Also like every other parent in the history of forever, I spend too much time comparing my second child with my first. But in any family with a kid on the spectrum, the analysis of that new baby has a sharper, more desperate and anxious note. The statistics are scary, and siblings of kids with ASD have a higher chance of being on the spectrum; I've seen as high as 1 in 5. 

From the very beginning, Pippin has been a reassuring baby. He smiled and laughed much earlier than Merry, who hit those milestones a bit later but not quite in the "talk to your doctor" range. Pip makes excellent eye contact, and although he isn't babbling yet, he's plenty talkative in early baby coos, ahhhs, and shrieks. Shrieks are a fun learning phase, aren't they? Baby's all "Ohhh, what a fun sound I've discovered, and look how everyone jumps when I make it!"

So I was feeling much better about the ASD cloud over our heads when this article came out. It's an excellent, moving piece on autism, about a boy and his family who learned how to connect and communicate through Disney movies. But it was also the first time I'd heard of regressive autism, how normally developing children can lose the ability to talk or make eye contact, changing from a bright, talkative toddler to become withdrawn, anxious, and uncommunicative. 

The return of the fear was a punch to the gut. Not out of the woods after all! Three years of watching, comparing, knowing that the sword is hanging over our heads.

Merry never went through a period of regression, his social and communication skills simply stopped following the normal development. And the fear that lurks in the background isn't so much that Pip will follow Merry's development. It's the deeper more ancient fear of the changeling, of autism spiriting away this beautiful happy baby and replacing him with a stranger.

For now I try not to focus on it, not to dwell. There's too much to enjoy, too many happy baby giggles, sweet smiles and chubby legs to kiss. Too many adorable brother hugs, shared laughter and peekaboos to let future troubles cast shadows that may never be. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Even though ASD wasn't on our radar yet, I heard about the combination of Asperger's and autism into a single diagnosis. It made a lot of sense--the spectrum designation is a great way to describe the various forms and severity of autistic symptoms. But now that terms like autism and ASD are on my mind and in my mouth on a daily basis, I see the limitations of combining so many different forms of autism without subdivision.

I haven't found any kind of official scale for autism severity, but the mental one I've developed so far looks like this:

Sensory processing disorder
On the spectrum
High functioning autism
Non-verbal autistic
Severely Autistic

Not a very good scale, inaccurate and overlapping and whatever, but it's what I have at the moment. And I feel like its important to have words that describe the differences on the spectrum, because it's hard enough to talk about autism issues without having to use confusing or obscure terminology. Or insulting someone; I've read at least one article from a parent who considered the term "autistic" to be offensive.

Is there a scale that the professionals use? Has one not been developed because it's just too difficult, or am I an insensitive twat for thinking that it would be more helpful than hurtful?

I've read several articles like this one about coming to terms with autism in your child. The general theme is that autism is not just a disability, a burden or a curse, but different way of experiencing the world that has its advantages as well as its disadvantages. I love this attitude, and for many families this is a beautiful and accurate way of approaching the challenges their children face. But every time I read such an article, the nagging thought in the back of my mind is "easy for me to say."

When you think of the full range of symptoms and severity that the autism spectrum covers, it seems at best naive and at worst a gross misrepresentation of the trials and obstacles that many families and individuals deal with. Love and acceptance is definitely the right path and it's available to everyone. But it seems a bit rich to say "this is the way your child is meant to be, think of it as a gift, why would you want it to be different?" when some parents aren't sure when or if their child will talk, potty train, or be able to live independently. And I'm sure that's not what any of the authors of these articles are trying to say, but that's the problem with writing and sharing about a condition that varies so widely.

We're still waiting on a diagnosis, but we're fairly hopeful that Merry will fall into the "high functioning" range of the spectrum, what would have been called Asperger's before the two were combined. Or do we still use the Asperger's term anyway because it's so darn useful? Either way, our experience is worlds different from many kids on the spectrum, and it seems like just saying "he's autistic" is going under too big of an umbrella.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Meet the Hobbits

I'm Mama Hobbit. Before I had the Most Important Job In The World I was an environmental engineer. My favorite things are books, hiking, and avoiding housework.

The Gaffer is our resident tech genius, in addition to being a wonderful husband and father. He decided that working on top secret anti-missile radar systems was too boring and taught himself how to do amazing things with mobile phone apps. This career change ended up moving the family 2,000 miles north to the magical land of Seattle, where we love the weather and the landscapes but hate being so far from family. Gaffer's favorite things are video games and fun new gadgets.

Merry, Pippin and Bella* are the little hobbits. Merry is starting kindergarten this year (2016), Pip is tackling preschool at full tilt as he approaches 3 years, and Bella is the baby (literally for the moment, but we all know it's always going to be the case in some way). 

This blog originally started out as a way to process Merry's autism diagnosis. But while that's always going to be A Thing, it's only one of many things, and now I'm using Adventures as a way to keep myself writing until I have the mental space and time to attempt something more ambitious. This is a bare bones place; I'm not tech savvy and don't intend to spend much time worrying over format and why that font/spacing/photo looks weird. But welcome to those who wander through this little corner of the internet. Feel free to stay for awhile, put up your feet, and sip your beverage of choice. 

*Belladonna Took was Bilbo's mother, if anyone's wondering where the Tolkien reference is on that one

Saturday, June 14, 2014

GFCF Fears

When we first considered putting Sam on a GFCF diet, I was terrified. Not just anxious or uncertain, but gut-wrenching, weak-kneed, "I can't do this" terrified at the very thought.

There was the initial fear of change--a special diet means extra work, more expensive food, and I was already feeling overwhelmed. But it was more than that. 

Because we hadn't had much luck getting Sam to eat meat, at least 50% of his protein came from dairy. How could I get him enough protein to grow and develop properly if we cut it out? And calcium, and all of the nutrients that he usually got from whole wheat products, would we be able to replace those?

Nutrition aside, I also worried about the long-term effects of removing gluten and dairy from Sam's diet. Would he loose the ability to digest lactose? Would I be inducing lactose intolerance in my son, on the off chance that this scientifically questionable diet might help? And I've heard stories from non-celiac moms who'd gone gluten free and claimed that they became more and more sensitive to the occasional slip-up or splurge the longer they were off gluten. What if just trying the experiment caused long term damage?

Some of it was a social fear. (and social anxieties run far too deep in my awkward psyche anyway) I didn't want to be "that mom", the one that insisted on special treatment, that threw a wrench in the smooth workings of snack time and lunch, making life more complicated for everyone. This is terrible, and I was ashamed to feel this way. For one thing, the bitchy entitled "no gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, meat, processed sugar, or the color red for my little darling" mom is pretty much an internet strawman as far as I know. Every woman I've met who had special dietary needs for herself or her kids has been wonderful about it, very helpful and accommodating, not to mention being unusually kind and helpful ladies overall. And for the kids with life-threatening allergies? Yeah, some things are more important than playing nice all the time. But it would be hard for me, personally. So, more fear.

However, I seemed to be the only one with these kind of deep-seated reservations. Sam's pediatrician gave us the green light, half the moms at school seemed to be doing it, and the Gaffer pointed out that if there was a possibility of improvement, how could we not at least try? What if part of Sam's problem was pain and discomfort that he had no ability to communicate? So I put the various fears into perspective and we jumped in.

So far, GFCF does seem to be helping. Sam's digestion is better, his behavior is better, and the switch turned out to be way less difficult than I expected. I'm not ignoring all my reservations; some are definitely worth considering and I'll write more about them later. But as with many things in life, the fear was far worse than the thing itself. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Starting another blog. Maybe a good idea? I'm having a hard time finding the information I want about GFCF diets for kids on the autism spectrum, (well, hard for the digital age where I'm spoiled by instant information on everything) so maybe blogging about our experiences with Autism Spectrum Disorder will help. Help with the diet, the whole experience, maybe my limited sanity? 

So many difficult things about The Diet. Sam has a pretty limited range of foods as it is, so taking out an entire food group and our main staple from a second complicates things even more. Before the question was "is he getting enough nutrition?" Now it's "is he avoiding this loooong list of forbidden foods and getting enough nutrition? And is this huge, heavy burden of a special diet making enough difference to be worth it?"

On top of that, there's the questionable science of the whole idea. A recent review of the research showed no good evidence of improvement from a GFCF diet (, but simultaneously concluded that there hasn't been much good research on the question yet. So we tried it just in case and (spoiler alert!) we're pretty sure that it is improving things. Placebo effect? On one level I don't care if it's placebo or real, anything for the desperate, but on another level I have to investigate and examine.