Changing diet, changing outcomes

Here are some of the observations I made after about a month of starting to remove gluten and casein from Nate’s diet (and continuing the enzymes):

– He started saying bye bye (not just waving) and just in the past couple of days has started saying hi. (Both at appropriate times.) He pronounces “hi” very well, and then sometimes he is overzealous and it sounds like a karate chop “hi-ya!”
– A couple of weeks ago, Jon and I realized that Nate has stopped making his “signature” grunting noise–a loud, annoying noise he made when he was frustrated or not getting his way and that would get worse if we told him to stop. As he acquires more ways to communicate, he doesn’t need that frustration noise anymore.
– In the past several days, he has started to put two words together (sporadically): bye bye Mama, bye bye snack (this afternoon), hi Dada, and all done (though I’m sure he thinks of “all done” as one word).
– He is sleeping so well–not waking at night and not crying in the morning. Months ago, he slept fine most nights, but at least one or two nights a week would involve waking and crying in the middle of the night. Also, he usually makes noise when he first wakes up in the morning now. He used to just sit/lie there in his crib for up to an hour just sort of waiting.

Did you see that?–putting two words together? Just a few months before this, I wondered if he would ever say “Mama!” This was all the evidence we needed that changing Nate’s diet was working for Nate.

Take note: we hadn’t done any other biomedical interventions yet; I changed Nate’s diet in anticipation of our first appointment at the treatment center. We saw changes before we ever went there!

Removing casein and gluten started (started) to heal what was going on in Nate’s gut, allowing his body to calm down and start to learn! He began improving in all of his traditional therapies. I believe changing Nate’s diet also changed the trajectory of his therapies–and his life. Because his body was not so overloaded and was headed more toward healing, he was able to learn and internalize all of his therapies much better.

In fact, in March 2009 (a year and a half after going gluten-casein-soy-free), Nate’s neurologist–who says she can just “hear” autism when a child with autism speaks (something in the inflection, the stilted meter, the way the child speaks)–said she can’t hear it in Nate. She used the words “best I’ve ever heard” about Nate’s language and, when we asked if she would do the CARS test again (placing Nate on the spectrum), told us, “If I did the test again on him now, there is a high likelihood he would not place on the autism spectrum at all. Perhaps I could find some tiny thing here or there to put him on the spectrum, but I really don’t think so.”

Though the neurologist wouldn’t listen to our thoughts about diet change having a huge (HUGE) impact, we knew. We saw with our own eyes the difference removing those foods made (and the negative impact when he accidentally ate them). We knew we were turning in the right direction.

Nate in November 2007, the month we changed his diet
Nate in November 2007, the month we changed his diet

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

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