Posts Tagged ‘Jeshuah’

Jeshuah, You are Two-Years Old! (A Little Late:-)

(Forgive the spacing…I am having internet issues)

Dear Jeshuah,
It is April 3, and I am finally sitting down to write you your birthday letter. Not only does you birthday fall at a busy time of year, being December 22, but December 22, 2011 was particularly eventful! I was 34 weeks pregnant with your little sister, Eliana, and had been put on bedrest because she kept wanting to be born too early. Nana drove over to pick you up for a whole entire week so that I could rest better, because, let’s face it–no one gets much rest with you running around! A week was a long time to be apart from you, but you had a blast at Poppa and Nana’s farm.

On your second birthday, they brought you home. I had planned a low-key birthday party with all the grandparents, but you were so exhausted by the time you got home that you went to bed without any cake!

Of course, you had time for presents!

Two weeks later, you became a big brother, and you love every minute of it! When Eliana first came home and cried, you would burst into tears with her, your sensitive little heart breaking for her. But as the days passed and you became more accustomed to her crying (what little she did), you would say “uh oh!” and go try to shove her paci in her mouth or give her kisses and hugs to console her. One of the first things you ask for every morning is “bebe!” and there have been many times when I have lost track of you and found you leaning over her in her bed as she sleeps.

Two years and three months with you have flown past in a flurry of more fun than I could ever have imagined! You are truly the joy of our hearts, filling our home with laughter and much silliness! One of your favorite things to do is run around the house dancing a little jig (either to real music or the music that seems to be constantly playing in your head). When Daddy is home, you love to be chased in circles around the main living area shouting “peh-peh” (pizza) and repeating any other words Daddy yells as he chases you.
You are growing very opinionated in your taste for music and stories. Your favorite music is anything by Owl City, and if you want to listen to music, you say “Owl!” When we drive in the car, we love to listen to Steve Green’s “Hide ’em in Your Heart,” and Sovereign Grace’s “Awesome God” and “To Be Like Jesus.” You know your favorite songs and shake your head, saying “no” until I land upon one of your favorites, at which point you smile hugely, and begin bobbing your head and slapping your leg in time to the music.
I love watching your imagination work. You are so playful and creative. You love to build things, like train tracks or Duplo towers. You love driving your cars up and down hills. You love playing in water, dumping it from one cup to the next. You love to draw, and every time you see a pen or pencil, you shout “ga-ga?” looking for any paper to draw circles on. Unfortunately, if there is no paper available, you may draw your ga-gas on whatever surface is nearest, including the couch cover, and your arms and legs.
Your favorite thing in the whole world is to be outside. I love walking down into the woods behind our house with you. You find the biggest logs to climb over or sit on, and you love finding acorns to toss into the ravine, excitedly clapping after each splash and shouting, “oh, mah!!” for more. You pick up leaves and examine them contemplatively, and you gasp in delight when you see ants or other bugs crawling around the forest floor.

Searching for ants

You are definitely the most agreeable two-year-old I have ever encountered, as your favorite answer to almost any question is a profound “yeah!” We laugh as we recount the evolution of your affirmative. It has changed from “haaa?” to “yah” to “ya’am” and back again to “yeah.”
Shortly after your second birthday, you began wearing big boy underwear full-time during the day, and now you are staying dry most nights. You love going to the bathroom on the big potty while reading your favorite “put-put” (tractor),”poe pow” (snow plow) and “Kck” (truck) books.

Your vocabulary is daily increasing, though it is still mostly unintelligible to anyone but Daddy and me. Besides the common “mama” and “dada,” you like to say “bee-bee” for Ellie, and cousin Coralynne is “Coco.” “Peh-peh” can mean pizza, popcorn, or–most recently–puppets, due to the Hands Toward Heaven Puppet show we went to at church last week. You LOVED it. You kept yelling, “mah peh-peh!!” for more when they were all done. Somehow chocolate is “ka-cheese” and raisins are “oy,”  but you say “cheese” very decidedly. When it becomes “gar” (dark), you love to look for the “moo,” though sometimes it disappoints us by hiding behind the “cows.” Speaking of cows, you still ask almost daily to go see “Poppa cow” and feed them hay. When asked what a cow says, you respond with “Mmmmmm,” followed by a triumphant smile.
And you are learning your colors now! At first everything was “boo,” but you can now identify “yeyow,” “gwee,” “puhpuh” and “reh.” You are eager to learn new things all the time, and it usually only takes us telling you a new thing once before you have a handle on it. Last week we played with play-doh and (between me pulling it out of your mouth), I showed you how to make big and little circles. You now love to identify big and little, but most of all, “ga-gas.”

I’m writing this as you drive all your toy cars around the driveway, finding any slope big or small to race them down, giggling gleefully at their speed and flapping your arms in excitement. We love watching you grow, and each new day is a brand new adventure with you. We are continually thankful to the Lord for giving us our sweet boy.

We love you forever,

Daddy and Mama


Infant Potty Training: 20 month update

Reading "Pooh" while going poo:-)

I figure it’s about time for another update on how the infant potty training (aka Elimination Communication, aka EC) is going. Jeshuah is now twenty months old, and at 18 months, I was despairing that he would be out of diapers any sooner than your average kid.  However, I reminded myself that no matter how soon I could call him wholly and completely Officially Potty Trained, choosing to EC has been one of the most rewarding practices we have chosen as parents.  Even if it isn’t every single time, I am thankful to wash less diapers–and definitely thankful to rarely ever have to deal with a poopy diaper!

However, last month, we had a breakthrough.  When Jeshuah was 18 months, I realized I was being lazy with his training and ought to just put him in his undies on a regular basis, since I knew he was capable of staying dry and telling me when he needed to go.  But because I didn’t want to have to deal with accidents and being concientious all day long of whether or not he may need to go to the bathroom, I just kept him in diapers.  And I noticed a significant regression in his training from 12 months (when he was nearly completely potty trained) to 18 months (when I found his diapers nearly always wet, even if he did also use the toilet).  I knew this was due to my lack of consistency, and determined to do better.

For the first couple of weeks, Jeshuah had multiple accidents a day and rarely made it to the toilet. I definitely felt like a failure at EC! Thankfully, my SIL has been doing EC with her two year old and we encourage each other in the rough times.  We both switched our babies to underwear at the same time, and within days, her son was consistently dry–even at naps and nights! This gave me hope that we would reach that point soon, too, so I kept persevering.  Three or four weeks ago, I started putting Jeshuah in undies nearly all day every day, even on outings of 3 or 4 hours.  He not only stays dry, but he often lets me know when he needs to use the toilet while we are out.  While he is almost always dry when he wakes up from naps, I still have not made the jump to undies for naps.  That is my next goal.

I honestly was nervous about putting him in undies all the time, and even more nervous about going out in undies.  But after the first couple of days, I realized an occasional wet outfit is really not that big of a deal, and seeing the fruit of my labor is very rewarding.  I love seeing him without the bulk of his diaper. I love knowing he is cool and dry in this heat. And I still love our toilet time–when his favorite activities are either reading stories or driving his toy cars around on my legs as I sit across from him on the tub.

Of the things on my list that I look forward to most with this new baby, potty training is right up there with snuggling, holding, and smothering with kisses.  I am so excited to learn to communicate with a new baby, to watch for cues and clues, to pick up on him/her letting me know when they need to go.  EC has never been about pressure or guilt for me, it has just been fun and extremely rewarding.  If I get in an emotional place where it is too stressful, we let it slide for a bit until I get my feet on the ground again. And I am okay with that. Would my kids be potty trained faster if I were anal about it? Yes.  But my goal with Infant Potty Training is not to get them out of diapers as soon as humanly possible, or to beat the average kid out of diapers.  My desire with infant potty training is to establish a bond of communication with my babies, to clean less diapers :-), and to give them the relief of not sitting in soggy or messy diapers.  But mostly, I do it because I enjoy it, and I know Jeshuah enjoys it.  If I didn’t like doing EC, I wouldn’t do it. But I find it intriguing and rewarding and am eager to do it all over again!

Hope for Healing Autism: Our Story

Any of our friends who have known and interacted with Jeshuah over the past few months will notice a drastic difference in his personality and behavior from that which we had been so concerned about for the better part of a year. That is, the very real possibility of him developing an autistic spectrum disorder. Indeed, every day I continue to marvel at the changes in him, hardly able to believe it myself. And yet it has all happened so fast, I realize I have not had the chance to tell many of you yet.  I find many friends whom we do not see regularly are completely unaware of how our household has changed in these last few months.  Allow me to fill you in on what has happened.

While Jeshuah, currently eighteen months old, has never been officially diagnosed with the label of autism, by twelve months of age, there were many symptoms which caused our pediatrician and therapists to be concerned.  He had some precursors, some “red flags” or warning that he may be developing it.  You see Autism as we define it nowadays is a kind of regressive autism, in that these 1 in 110 kids who have it now are not born with it. They develop it by the age of three. For more detailed information, see my post on Autism here or check out the resources at the bottom of this post.

Since this form of autism doesn’t typically show up fully until between two and three years of age, when he was evaluated by his doctor and therapists, they all said he has some concerning symptoms, but we would just have to wait and see.

When it comes to the health and wellbeing of our son, Stephen and I are not “wait and see” type of people. I remembered remarking to Stephen after watching Temple Grandin last year, “If someone was going to have a kid with autism, it would be me.  I would be Temple’s mom. I would be beating down doctor’s doors to find the answers to help my child and not just label and give up.”

A couple of months later I began noticing things about Jeshuah that were developmentally and socially disconcerting.  It began with his obsessive spinning of round objects around 9 months of age. At first it was amusing, adorable, amazing, and entertaining.  But after a few months, when I realized that was all he ever, ever, ever did and he was growing further and further behind all his friends developmentally, I began to grow concerned.

And then he got his 12 month immunizations (at 14 months since we were behind).  I had been hesitant to get him immunized in the first place, as my research on the issue was inconclusive and left me just plain uncomfortable.  However, well-meaning people and doctors pressured me that it was vital to his health and well-being and the health and well-being of all children, and I felt compelled to do it.  Although I noticed a distinct disturbance in his habits and sleep every set of shots he got, I tried to brush it off as inconsequential as everyone sites these concerns and thinks nothing of them. (Now that I have had a chance to research this issue further, I have blogged some of my findings here.)

Because I had delayed and denied some, the doctors were catching him up to date, and I was distracted by that visit by our doctor’s concern over Jeshuah’s obsessive spinning. I didn’t notice how many immunizations they were giving him, nor that they were giving him immunizations that I had previously been denying. When I left the office and gathered the papers of info for the shots he had just received, my heart was sickened at the amount of vaccines he had been given in a single day and that he had received vaccines that I didn’t want him having in the first place. But it was too late now. I would watch much more carefully next time I was in the office.

But that night Jeshuah woke up screaming.  A couple of hours later, he was awake again.  And then again.  While he had been sleeping through the night beautifully long before that, for the next month, Jeshuah awoke in the night multiple times, screaming and distraught. When he awoke in the morning, I wept as I watched him crawl around the house, sobbing inconsolably, banging his head on the hard wood floors, writhing, flailing and screaming. Nothing I could do calmed him.  At first I chalked it up to teething.  But now that he has grown multiple more teeth without so much as a fuss, I realize that correlation was most likely inaccurate.

It was around that time that we noticed spinning things both consoled and distressed him.  He would spin by the hour, his body stiffening, his face contorting, eyes squinting, making choking/gasping noises, and then he would look at us and begin to cry. And spin again. The whole cycle would repeat itself continuously. (This video shows only a very mild stiffening/seizing compared to what it later became.)

That was when we took away everything he could spin.  That proved difficult as he tried to spin everything so we were pared down to a few simple toys that didn’t have pieces or any rounded edges.  But now we had a difficult time any time we left the house. He would see wheels on cars or rounded light bulb posts and go into fits and frenzies, signing that he wanted to spin them. He began withdrawing socially, cowering into me as soon as we walked into church or anywhere there was a crowd of people. Clinging to me, he would burrow his head, cry, and refuse to be put down. (I am aware of separation anxiety. This was very different. In general, he has never minded new people or been clingy to either Stephen or me only.  This terror in large crowds was a reaction to sensory overload, and if I took him in a dark room by himself, he would calm right down).

As I researched further, speaking with friends whose children had begun to develop similar issues, many seemingly unconnected symptoms began to connect like pieces in a puzzle.  Jeshuah has always had allergic reactions to things, breaking out in hives, turning red with hot skin, watery eyes, etc.  Since he was eight months old, he has been sick nearly constantly. Almost every time we end up at the urgent care with an antibiotic prescription. He catches every germ that passes and his body simply cannot fight off any infection by itself.

Doctors are beginning to find that this regressive autism is actually caused by an autoimmune disorder.  Short version: their little bodies’ immune system has backfired and turned on itself.  Because it is constantly attacking itself, it cannot ward off any infection it is exposed to.  This would explain why such a large number of families report drastic behavioral changes directly after their child is immunized.  While vaccines may be considered “safe” for the general population, they are not recommended for anyone whose immune system is already compromised. Why? Because a vaccine is actually a tiny bit of that virus (or, in our day and age multiple viruses in the same vaccine) that, when injected, is designed to build an immunity within your body to the real virus.  However, if your system is already overwhelmed by attacking itself, it cannot adequately defend itself against this new virus. Instead, it buries itself away in the body and wreaks havoc. Many children develop immediate and severe behavioral changes following vaccination, but this goes largely unreported, and when it is reported, doctors brush it off as a coincidence. Which is exactly what our pediatrician did, with a disgusted shake of his head at my concern. When I cited concern that his behavior had dramatically regressed immediately following each vaccine, he denied the possibility that they were connected and informed me that I would need to find a new pediatrician if I intended to discontinue vaccinations.

Around this time, I had been conducting extensive research into the area of upper cervical chiropractic and its treatment of autistic kids.  Through a family friend, we heard about a practitioner in the area who was working with autistic spectrum disordered children and seeing dramatic improvement.  Stephen and I are both very skeptical and wary of chiropractors in general, but we know there are both legitimate and illegitimate ones out there.  I have to admit, it took many weeks of thinking, praying, and researching for us to even begin to think a chiropractor could in any way help our son.

However, when we finally took the time to watch the documentary on upper cervical chiropractic, the lightbulb went on in both our heads. This particular school of chiropractic focuses on the atlas, the first bone in your neck.  It is through this bone which all your nerves run, sending messages to the rest of your body.  The following quotes were taken from

“The brain, like a powerful computer system controls and monitors all bodily functions. Brain messages; signals from the brain to the body are the medium used to communicate instructions from the brain to the different body parts. These brain messages move in a vast network of connections, our nervous system, which allows the brain to communicate with even the most remote part of the body.”

When the atlas becomes misaligned (which can happen for any number of reasons, from birth trauma to a bad fall, car accident, etc), the nerves running through the neck become pinched, inflamed, or irritated and can begin to send the wrong signals.  These incorrect signals include anything from mimicking multiple sclerosis, to blindness, to autism.  But when this bone is set back in place, the symptoms disappear within hours, days, or weeks (depending on severity and length of misalignment).

“As soon as the correction is made, muscles begin to relax, blood and oxygen circulation increases, the immune system gains strength and vitality and the body’s natural, self-healing process begins.”

Does this mean that everyone who has cancer, is deaf, and has allergies should go to an upper cervical doctor and will be healed? Unfortunately, no.  These, and many other issues, are very real problems which may be completely unrelated to the atlas, and therefore, this procedure would not help.  However, the fact of the matter is that many, many issues are merely masquerading as other problems, when in reality, the brain simply has its wires crossed. Rather literally.

Now that I am done with that rather technical explanation (sorry! I probably find this way more fascinating than most people), I want to tell you about our own experience with this chiropractic care.  Once we understood the premise, we figured it was worth a try.  After all, the doctors don’t have any answers for us, and other people are finding help this way–we might as well try!

We scheduled the appointment with Newhouse Health Solutions and took him in the next day.  Sure enough, his little atlas was off, and with a couple of gentle nudges (most of which made Jeshuah giggle because he thought he was being tickled), Dr. Newhouse set him to rights and informed us that we should expect a very large poo and a very lengthy sleep that night.

As Stephen and I drove away, we both had a sick feeling in the pit of our stomach that we had just wasted our money on quackery.  We spoke about how neither one of us could even imagine our son seeing a round object and not spinning it.  We could not fathom taking him to a parking lot and not seeing him seize up at the sight of wheels.  It was all too good to be true. A fairy tale dream that didn’t exist.  I began settling in my heart what my next steps would be when this treatment proved to fail.

That night Jeshuah slept like a log and, true to prediction, had one very. large. poo.  I still held out little hope that I would actually see any improvement in my son’s obsessive, abnormal behavior.  However, the next day I brought Jeshuah home from a round of errands, set him down on the floor, and relayed to Stephen, “I just took Jeshuah to multiple stores, and I just realized…he never even seized up at the sight of all the cars.”  Later that day, I took him for a walk, and he merely walked past the cars parked on the street, hardly noticing their rounded wheels.  Two days prior, we would be permanently waylaid at the sight of any wheel, and then there would be tantrums and fits when he wasn’t able to spin them. I locked these observences away in my mind, still too afraid to hope.

Earlier that week Jeshuah had taken some of his first real steps, and by the end of the week, he was practically unstopable.

And then came Sunday.

Because Jeshuah had had strep throat earlier in the week, I didn’t want to put him in the nursery. So I stayed with him in the library, where there were speakers to listen and a window in the door to see the pastor.  I had brought a can of Puffs in case he got hungry and pulled them out towards the end of the sermon.  As soon as I whipped them out of the bag, my heart sank as I realized I had not only let him see the lid, but I had placed it on the floor as a plate for the Puffs.  If I ever let him see the round lid, he wanted nothing to do with eating the Puffs, but only wanted to obsessively spin the lid. I reached to retract it quickly, but he was faster.  He had eaten the Puffs off it, lifted up the lid, and the beckoned for me to hand him the can. I blinked in confusion, but handed it down to him.  He took the lid in both hands and placed it on top of the can. He then removed it, looked at it, then put it back on.

Even as I write this, I know it is impossible to convey to you how significant that event was.  Never, ever, ever, had Jeshuah even attempted to place a lid on its container. When the therapist worked and worked with him, all he would do was spin it.  I could not let him see any of the tupperware when I would pull his leftovers out of the fridge. There would be a frenzied panic to spin them–even the square ones.  But the first time, I watched as Jeshuah not only didn’t react to seeing the round lid, but he used it as it was intended to be used, to seal a container.

As soon as church was over, I rushed into the auditorium to relay the news to Stephen.  Jeshuah was on my hip, and I realized, as we headed into the crowd of people eager to go eat lunch, he was not cowering into me.  In fact, he was reaching for me to put him down! In shock, I let him down, and he took off down the aisles, chasing the older kids back and forth, laughing at his accomplishment.  I turned to Stephen, eyes wide.  How many times had we tried to put him down on this same floor to show off his tricks to the people there? Every time, he clung and cowered and whimpered. But not today.  Today it was like we were watching someone else’s child laugh and play with other kids, unfazed by the lights or crowds of people.

When we took him to lunch that day, we sat near the windows, where I only later realized he could see straight to the cars on the street. Halfway through the meal I marveled to Stephen, Daniel and DeAnna to look at Jeshuah and take note of the fact that he didn’t even care about the cars driving past, even though he had seen them.  Not two weeks before, while out to lunch with a friend, I couldn’t even get him to eat because he was transfixed by the window, stiff, shaking and seizing the entire meal as he watched the parking lot.

After that, we began to notice more and more little things.  Suddenly Jeshuah was “into everything!” like so many moms complain about. He was pulling things off shelves, dumping out baskets of toys, and driving objects around the house, making motor noises as he followed behind.  He was curious about everything, finding new ways to use toys, opening and closing cupboards and drawers, hiding little toys to find later. His constant runny nose cleared up, his cheeks and ears stopped flushing red-hot.  He settled into a restful pattern of waking and sleeping. He began jabbering constantly, making dozens of new sounds and responding to questions like “what does the monkey say?”

Last month, I called his therapists and withdrew him from the early intervention program.  He has no need of it anymore. He is as normal as normal can be.  I thought I would never know what that felt like. I don’t think we will ever take “normal” for granted again, though. As difficult as this road has been, I am so thankful we have walked it. I am thankful to have stood in the shoes of parents who wrestle through the possibility or reality of their children having disorders, syndromes, and other “abnormalities.” I am thankful for all the research I did and all the knowledge and resources I have tucked away to hopefully be able to encourage others now.

I want others to know our story.  I want other people to find the same help.  It is not for everyone–a misaligned atlas is not everyone’s problem.  But I guarantee you it is some people’s problem. It was our problem, and now it is gone! We continue to see progress as Jeshuah’s immune system regains its full function.  Two weeks ago he had strep again, and he has had some seizing recently.  Dr. Newhouse explained that it is like a sprained ankle.  You can regain the use, but there may still be some scar tissue there that flares up occasionally.  Perhaps the seizing is residual from the infection and a weakened immune system.  Perhaps it is because I have been extremely lenient with what he has been eating over the last month.  Perhaps it is because I reintroduced dairy.  His diet may play a part in all of this, too.  Over the next few weeks I will experiment with his diet and see if that helps.  But even the mild seizing that we have seen is so mild, and so different from what it used to be. It is more of an excitement than anything, and it doesn’t cause my heart to plummet the way it used to.

So that’s where we are right now. As far as we are concerned, Jeshuah is “healed.”  We do not consider him on the autistic spectrum or in danger of ever being on it. We have wrestled with a lot of difficult things and asked a lot of questions over the last many months.  But we seem to be on the other side of that now. Could we see ourselves back there again? Of course–anything is possible! And yet at the moment, we do not suspect that will happen.

One thing we do know for sure and certain. That is, no matter what the outcome in all of this, our God is faithful to keep us, and we give him glory for all of this!

I shot this video this afternoon.  This was the first time he had even seen his donuts since we put them away six months ago.  Even after everything I have detailed, I was virtually shaking as I showed them to him, anxious that he would do what he had always done and spin, spin, spin. But I had to try and see what would happen!

While I understand this post is far from exhaustive in its scope, I have tried to be as accurate in my information as possible.  Information in this post has been gleaned from many sources, many of which have been friends, relatives, and physicians.  Some websites and books I have read and recommend include the following:

Gut and Psychology Syndrome

Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies

Newhouse Health Solutions

ACN Forums

What is the deal with Autism, anyway??

April is Autism Awareness month.

1 in 110 children are diagnosed with autism today.  

It is an epidemic, and the search continues to find its causes and cures.

And yet the general populous remains largely unaware and sadly misinformed about what autism is exactly, and the unique and painful journey which faces the families who deal with it.  A complicating factor in this whole issue is the “gifted” nature of many autistic kids.  Many times you will find that, while socially awkward and emotionally unavailable, these children are brilliant in one or two areas if someone can figure out how to teach them the way they learn. Take Temple Grandin for example. She is a high functioning autistic who revolutionized cattle ranching and processing in this country with her genius for knowing how animals think and how to be more efficient and humane at the same time. So it can be easy to think, “Hey! Autism is a gift! Just tap into their genius and leave them alone.”

But if you have ever known an autistic child or seen Temple Grandin’s movie, I hope you have an understanding that these gifts come with a high price tag.  When we began to learn how to teach and get into the minds of these amazing kids, we began to learn just how terrifying and painful their world is.  What is a normal noise to us is deafening and horrifying for them. What is an average conversation for us sends them into a panic attack.  What seems a routine change of plans for us spins their entire world out of control and they do not have the resources to deal with it and function and think clearly in the ways that we do. We take that for granted.  These wonderful, misunderstood people are living in a world of physical and emotional pain, and most of them are still completely unreached.

For the last few months, we have been engaged in much research, consulting, questioning and, yes, at times, debating, which direction to take with caring for Jeshuah in light of the possible autistic spectrum disorder.  The heartbreaking thing about ASD is that the medical field is baffled by the outbreak.  They don’t know what to do with it, and they don’t know how to help the families and children dealing with it.  The most they can do is treat the symptoms, but they have no hope regarding the disease.

In my research, though, I have found a different perspective: there is much hope for ASD! New studies are shedding light on its possible causes and, yes, even cures! A major complication in getting to the bottom of ASD is the wide ranging symptoms.  It is literally different for every single case. How do you even begin to deal with the from a medical perspective? That is why there is the broad spectrum of autistic disorders, ranging from mild to severe.

But I take heart when I hear of people like Dr. Kenneth Bock, Dr. Kerry, and Dr. Newhouse making major strides toward getting to the bottom of this myserious and debilitiating epidemic.  Dr. Bock’s research is showing that the root cause of ASD (and you can also lump into that asthma, allergies, and ADHD! Same cause, different manifestations) is an autoimmune disorder. To make it really simple, the immune system, which is supposed to keep the body functioning and healthy, has gone into attack mode–on itself.  The body is so overwhelmed it cannot function properly, and the brain responds by sending out any number of hundreds of distress signals.

Because each of our bodies are unique, just as our fingerprints are, no two bodies react and respond in the same manner.  The result is such a varying degree of seemingly unrelated symptoms that it is baffling to parents and doctors alike.

Praise the Lord for Dr. Bock and others like him, who are determined to look past the symptoms and discover the cause of it all.  Now that he has pinpointed the auto-immune connection, as well as causal factors of toxins in the body and brain, he is isolating effective treatment for people suffering from ASD.

Unfortunately, this is all still so new, it is largely unknown. The general population and, sadly, much of the medical community is still greatly unaware of the strides being made toward healing in this area.  Most parents and children dealing with ASD are met with a sad head shake by their physician and a referral for therapy.  No hope for healing, only resources to cope with it.

While I am grateful for those resources, and we love our occupational and developmental therapists, I am more concerned with seeing my little buddy be set free from his struggles altogether. I do not to learn merely how to function with autism, I want to know if and how we can get rid of it altogether.

This isn’t fun. Watching my little boy turn bright red, face and ears flaming hot for no apparent reason.  Uncovering hives, rashes, and bruises on his little body from mere touches. Burying his head in my shoulder and crying uncontrollably in a room full of people that is overwhelming to him, but not the other kids. Crawling around the house, banging his head repeatedly on the floor and moaning pitifully. Playing with toys compulsively, putting it in and out, in and out, then bursting into frustrated tears because he can’t seem to stop. Stiffening, shaking, ceasing to breathe, then gasping for breath when he sees wheels or circles. Preferring being alone in a dark room to being in the light with people because it is sensory overload for his poor, weary body and mind. Yes, my sweet baby is such a joy in so many ways and seems so very normal in others, but in this list and many others, my heart clenches in fear and sadness for his silent struggles.  Something is not right in my little boy and it causes such suffering that we remain largely unaware of, but he faces every day.

This is why I want to help him. I don’t want to just learn how to cope with it, I want to help his body to heal from whatever is causing such mental and physical distress.  And if there are doctors out there pioneering how we can do that, I praise God for them and will seek them out.

But once again, we walk forward in this reminding ourselves that our hope is not in doctors, treatments, therapy, or ultimate health for Jeshuah.  It is in Christ and him alone. It is in his sovereignty and his goodness. Whether the Lord gives us the resources to see Jeshuah set free of this disorder or not, he is good. Our hope is in the gospel, and that never changes. Praise God for the salvation of our souls, and we pray every day for the salvation of Jeshuah’s. God is good.

Wearied in Searching, Refreshed in the Gospel

I am reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, and am thoroughly enjoying it(I will post more thoughts on the book later). In my pursuit of healthier living/eating, I find a vast array of various opinions on the matter. But mostly, I find people who have strong opinions about having no opinion at all. That is, most people seem to be so overwhelmed by all the conflicting advice, they don’t even know who to believe anymore. Which is exactly where I used to be, and for the most part still am. The difference is, in recent months, I have made the choice to begin wading through the cesspool of information to begin to form my own opinions on the matter.

Healthy living and eating is one of those area where I feel Christians are sadly lacking a biblical perspective. Most conversations I have (or attempt to have) with believers quickly turn defensive, with scowls, tongues clicking, and a dismissive brush off to just relax and stop being so concerned and conspiracy theorist. I am troubled by the response I receive if I even question the wisdom behind processed foods, the effects of chemical additives, and vaccines, just to name a few highly controversial subjects. But what is even more troubling is the fact that most of these people have honestly never even given this stuff a second thought. They just go with it.  It’s too much trouble to wade through the  mess of information out there, so just don’t worry about it, they say.

I know, because that was me six months ago.

Somehow, everything changes when it happens to you, though.  “It” being a disorder greatly affecting your son and your family that remains largely unexplained, undiagnosed, and unsolved.  My inner Detective and Mama Bear prowls out of hibernation, puts her nose to the ground and begins foraging for answers. You would do it too if it was your son.  (And for those of you who it is your son, we are foraging together!).

This foraging can be exhausting, though.  I am sometimes wearied by the questions and comments from others, trying to smooth it all over or make me feel better by brushing me off.  I am wearied by my research that concludes only in more questions. I am wearied by our medical doctors concerns but lack of answers. I am wearied by the other doctors’ claims to have answers, but how do I know who to trust? Sometimes I am weary of questioning, questioning, questioning with no answers.

Oh, praise God for the gospel! The gospel of Jesus Christ never changes. The God of the gospel never changes, for that matter! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  As I trudge through a pile of ever-changing facts and information, unsure where to turn or who to trust in this medical world, I know at the end of the day, our God is in control.  He is aware of everything that I am struggling with and wondering about, and he is the God of it all.  My struggle revolves, not around flesh and blood and the things of this earth, but in balancing my heart and mindset to remind myself that this world has nothing for me, yet this world has everything. All that I could want and nothing that I need (Thank you, Caedmon’s Call:-). Living in that balance is one of life’s greatest challenges, but I won’t give up.  I am called to be in this world but not of it.  So with every book that I open, every article I read, every documentary I watch, I have to avoid the temptation to let that be my new gospel.  Whatever truth I find in this world, it is all under the authority of God’s truth.

So as I pursue answers to Jeshuah’s difficulties, desiring to eat and live healthier and simpler, none of that must control and fuel me.  It is the gospel, and only the gospel that should consume me.  And making my heart glad in the gospel will enable me to study these things in peace and keep them from overwhelming me.

Infant Potty Training: 16 Month Report

If you are unfamiliar with the theory of Infant Potty Training or Elimination Communication, read my post here.  In short, it is the philosophy that babies are born with awareness of and quickly develop the ability to hold their need to use the bathroom.  It stands in stark contrast to the modern western philosophy that these muscles do not develop until well after two years of age.  It also challenges the idea that babies cannot communicate their needs effectively or respond to cues.  This theory holds that babies do not like to soil themselves, but would much prefer to stay clean and dry by using a toilet (like we would!) and would love the opportunity to do so if we just gave them that opportunity.

We have been using EC since the day of Jeshuah’s birth and found this theory quickly proved accurate.  By eight months, Jeshuah always pooed only on the toilet, and by 12 months, his diapers were consistently dry.  I could now consider my one year old potty trained!

However, we have faced some minor and major obstacles along the way that have been a setback to our progress.  EC is a whole different ballgame in the western world than much of the eastern world that practices it.  With our carpeted, beautifully furnished homes, it’s rather a big deal if your little one is running around diaper-free and has an accident.  It is also, honestly, inconvenient to run him to the bathroom every 45-90 minutes, pull off all his clothes and get him on the potty–especially if he didn’t even have to go!  And many times we are running around or visiting friends, and there is either not a good place to take him to the restroom or he is not happy about pausing his play to go use it.

At the moment, we are on a major “potty pause”–or probably rather a “potty strike” in this case, and it’s all due to my own laziness.  When Jeshuah started signing to me that he needed to use the potty (at twelve months), he got so excited about it, he started signing it all the time, so then I never knew what was a real sign and what was just having fun.  I grew lenient, weary of the multiple trips to the bathroom for no reason.  But I noticed almost immediately he stopped signing that he needed to go anymore. I had to rely on facial expressions and timing instead.  Around that same time, I also grew lax with putting him in underwear and found it easier to simply put a diaper on him.

But when I do that, he loses his awareness of his bodily functions to where, I have let that go on so long, he has regressed in most of his training.  I am tempted to be frustrated with this and say, “I thought we were done with this! I thought we were potty trained here! If we keep this up, you’ll be the same age as all your other friends by the time you are completely potty trained, and who will be impressed with that?!”

Oops, what was that? Who will be impressed by that? Is that why I am doing this? To impress people with my son’s ability to use a toilet at eight months? I thought it was because I believed in the philosophy. I thought it was because it was short-term sacrifice for long-term gain. I thought, ultimately, it was about responding to my son’s needs and helping him to be comfortable and training him in the way he should go. It is so easy to lose sight of all that and be lost to my own parental pride.

So, while I have been convicted that my motives have not always been pure in this area, I remind myself of the ultimate goals. Yes, it is more trips to the bathroom now, but it is still less diapers in the long run.  It is less diaper rashes for a very, very sensitive bottom and hardly any disgusting, smelly, poopy diapers.  And it is an all-around happier baby who can communicate with mommy and daddy and feel secure in the knowledge that we hear him and want to help him.

Love this little face!