When our journey first began...
As I sat there holding my first born, I knew that I was changed forever. I looked to my husband and knew that he felt the same way. She was still screaming and her eyes were struggling to adjust to her new surroundings. To try to calm her, I spoke the first words out of the millions of words that I would ever utter to my daughter, "Don't worry. I am scared too." It was a truth that I did not even realize myself until it came out of my mouth. I could not have imagined a more perfect thing to say. It was her first time being a baby and it was our first time being parents. We were in this together- the three of us!
As the years flew by, we watched M grow into a beautiful, funny and intelligent little girl. She had her challenges, but for the most part, she was a fairly "easy" child. Around the age of 3, I started noticing that those beautiful eyes, that looked so terrified the day I met her, hardly ever met mine. She was listening, but struggled to make eye contact. A year later, after noticing many other signs that also suggested that she was just a bit different than other kids, she was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism also known as Aspergers. She was still our daughter and we refused to mourn just because of some diagnosis.
We used the label of "Aspergers" to research ways to assist M. One of the things that came up was a gluten free diet. I brought it to the table once and we pushed it aside. A few months later, one of my husband's co-workers mentioned that their son had made tremendous strides with a GF diet. We finally decided that it would be worth a shot and worst case scenario, we would go back to eating wheat. During our research, we came across the fact that a gluten free diet is not an instant fix. Some doctors say that it can take up to a year to see the full effects of eliminating gluten. As you can imagine, we were thrilled to notice improvements within a month! People can claim that a gluten free diet is all placebo- but you try telling that to my 5 year old who has no idea that was ever any issue in the first place. Her meltdowns almost disappeared, her toe walking decreased and she was more social.
One night after dinner, I was doing the dishes and M came to ask me a question. I will admit that after a year of not getting eye contact from someone, you assume that it is just normal to not attempt it. I was ready to listen, but kept my eyes on the dishes. M started talking and then stopped abruptly. After a brief moment of silence, she said "Mommy, will you please look at me?" That is when I literally dropped what I was doing- I almost broke the plate I was washing. With tears in my eyes, I responded with, "Yes! I will!" As I looked down to my side, I was stunned to see the most beautiful eyes that I have ever seen in my life. She was looking into my eyes and I felt the same feeling of joy that I had the day she was born. I got down to her level and got lost in her beautiful brown eyes. I could not tell you what she was talking about- I was too busy falling in love again.
I am thrilled that we are getting to know M all over again- I only wish that we had made the change sooner. She is still autistic. She still learns, plays, reacts and communicates a bit differently than other kids her age. If nothing else, we removed part of the fog that she was trapped in making it easier to help her with the next challenge.
So, is it worth it to go gluten free? Yes, a million times yes! For any parents out there on the fence about trying something to help your kid in any way, get off the fence. Going gluten free is not an instant miracle fix and it won't work the same for everyone. Be sure to do your own research before you make any changes to your child's diet or routine.
5 1/2 years later... our journey starts again!