Monday, October 7, 2013

Running away from Autism

I don't talk about my son and his autism in this blog very often. In fact, aside from a few close friends I don't talk about it with others either. We don't think of Ben as our 'autistic' son, just our son who happens to be a handful. ;)

Ben pretending to fly with Daddy

For years we didn't really even say 'autism' around here. We preferred 'needs' it just seemed much less label-y. We've tried to downplay the issues to the outside world. It's not because we are embarrassed or anything but we try to keep things moving forward rather than get bogged down in diagnosis. 

And we work within our family to get Ben the best care and the best shot for a happy, healthy life. 

But it's been tough. I've had days where we just can't get through to him. Like any kid, he has good days and bad days. Ben is a non-stop kid. Even on his best days you can't take your eyes off of him because he likes to get into everything. 

We recently began seeing a top-notch specialist in the field and Ben has been put on a strict gluten-free and dairy free diet. He's also taking an anti-fungal to get rid of yeast build up and getting supplements to help heal. These approaches are pretty tried and true and I believe they will help him but the process has been HELL. Ben is going through withdrawal and die-off (Die-off happens when yeast dies and it's not pretty - but you go thru it to get to a better other side. Here's an article about it.) 

He's been aggressive in just the last two weeks he has hit me in a face with a paper weight (and it still throbs) has dumped glasses of water on the floor, peed on the carpet and has chucked every toy in his toy box at us (several times). He dropped my computer on my foot (my toe is still black and blue), and that's just for starters. Poor Ben is having a very hard time all around. Everyday we have been dealing with more than it seems we can take. But we figure it out.  They compare the food withdrawal in these kids to drug addicts. In fact the reason why they have to go GF and DF is because the food doesn't digest right and it turns into a toxin that becomes like an opiate in these kids. It's partially why they have such slurred reactions and seemingly don't feel pain - they have produced pain-killing opiates within!

But I have hope. There are moments of clarity now - I can see glimpses of him getting better. After a violent episode he is sweaty and flush and seems legitimately confused. He'll begin sobbing and then curl in my lap and say, "I'm very, very sorry. I don't know why I did that." And I believe him. In those moments I know that my son is in there and trying to escape a body and brain that is keeping him trapped. It is my and my husband's job to help him get out or at least reach whatever his "best" is. 

One of my fav. pics. Ben having the best time ever with Angela (who
braved lots of spinning rides and endured dizzy nausea for his joy)
And I thank God every single day that I get to run. That I have time when he is in school or some time on the weekend when my husband is home to lace up my sneakers and run. If I didn't have running, I'm sure I would be smoking, drinking or eating away those moments where I just don't know how to help him. Those moments where I feel like a shitty mommy because I just don't feel equipped to deal.

It makes me feel proud that my son knows me as a runner. He knows when my sneakers go on that  "Mommy is going to exercise." He likes to ask me about my medals. He says he wants to run someday. I can't wait for his first fun run race. 

Saturday was hard. He was in a destructive place and he was explosive. My husband said, "run." I cried in my car as I pulled out of the driveway. I know my boy is hurting and I want him to get better.  I ran a fast 3 miles. I sweated, my mind was cleaned. I came back with sweat instead of tears and we made it through the day. Sunday was better. Somedays it's overwhelming - but if I can find even ten minutes to run, it helps me keep it together and keep moving on this road of recovery for my son. 

Thanks for listening.


PS: If someone you know is dealing with Autism, ADHD or other childhood behavior issues, this book was easy to read and eye-opening: Healing The New Childhood Academics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies. By Dr. Kenneth Bock - the expert we are seeing is his colleague. 

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