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Autism Momisms: Old Yeller

Though I may be feeling yeller, I ain’t afraid to ask… What is causing my daughter to behave this way?

Looking down at my daughter, I waved at the bus driver.  “Bye Bye, Miss Walker!”

“Bye Bye Priss Water!” My daughter waved.

“Bye Bye, Miss Walker,” I repeated, enunciating clearer.

“BYE BYE PRISS WATER!” My daughter bellowed.

Close enough, I thought as we headed indoors.

Opening my daughter’s bookbag, I pulled out her daily folder and reviewed her behavior incidences for the day.  I blinked… then squinted harder… Does that really say 14 behavior incidences??

In our world, incidences are defined as outbursts.  They consist of anything disruptive my daughter does inside a classroom, which generally means screaming, kicking and knocking her head against the floor.  Put another way, it is behavior that is stalling her from attending a general education classroom (along with her communication delay, of course).  Generally, my daughter will score anywhere between 2-8 incidences, so seeing the number 14 was a bit of a shock in one way... in another way, not so much.  

This has been quite frustrating for me.  Three years running now, my daughter’s behavior has been so cyclical in nature.  She will have several weeks in a row where her outbursts will decrease… and decrease… and decrease… and we’ll think, Yes!  We’re finally over this hump!  Then suddenly, we’ll see a huge surge in incidences… which repeats… and repeats for several days in a row.  Her sleep is disrupted, her self-stimming behaviors accelerate.  We’re often awakened in the middle of the night by her strange and giddy behavior.  Then, the next day, she will put her teachers (and us) through hell and back again.  Why?  Why does this keep happening to my daughter?

FACT:  There is a genetic link to Autism

We now know Autism originates genetically, as science has proven it.  But if this were the complete and total answer (which Science finally contends it isn’t) wouldn’t we have been able to scour my children’s ancestral backgrounds and find other incidences of full-blown Autism?  True, our family is well-populated with genius types and introverts – people who could very well have been carrying the autism gene.  However, I have yet to find any recent relative on either side who has struggled during their early childhood to the extent my children have struggled.     

FACT:  Children on the spectrum tend to have weaker immune systems than their neuro-typical (NT) peers, thus more susceptible to having airborne or food allergies.

One of many places in the human body where immunity is regulated is inside the gut (or intestines).  Probiotic (or good) bacteria and immune cells regulate the levels of something called Candida bacteria (also known as yeast).  Ordinarily, Candida is harmless.  However, if it multiplies out of control, it can cause a lot of problems.  A delicate balance no doubt, as antibiotics, allergies and high-sugar diets can easily throw things off.   Is this tied to what is happening to my daughter?  If so, how does it tie to the seasonal changes – a time when we see her behaviors change the most? 

The answer could be laced in yellow dust.

As reported in the news, the highest level of pollen ever recorded in Atlanta history happened yesterday, at 9,369.  Prior to that, the highest number was recorded in 1999 at 6,013.  The immune system of every allergy sufferer has been kicked into overdrive.  The cells and probiotic bacteria assigned to regulate our colons have either been sent on another mission, or have died all together. Like unmonitored teenagers, the Candida will party hard, and soon enough, begin to multiply.

THEORY:  If Candida is inappropriately absorbed through the lining of the gut (which some theorize may be happening in ASD children), these toxins could potentially leak into one’s bloodstream and wreak havoc on brain function.  Symptoms could include inappropriate laughter, stimming and other unpredictable behaviors. 

Of course, all of this is still only a theory, but it could potentially explain my daughter’s cyclical behavior.  Until science proves definitively, we will never really know.  In the meantime, we’ll give this regimen another try…

  1. Culturelle for Children:  I just discovered this product yesterday at CVS Pharmacy.  Prior to this, I’d been giving her the adult version (not always successfully).  I’m now giving her one packet a day mixed with her Almond Milk.  She took it without a problem yesterday evening.  Bear in mind, at $28 a box, it is a hard hit on your wallet.
  2. Claritin for Children:  It comes in a chewable grape flavor.  $20 a box.
  3. No high sugar foods.  Savings… maybe $5.  Ever notice the unhealthy stuff is always so much cheaper? 

As a child, I was pretty much allergic to the entire world – every tree but one, every grass but two… I felt awful all of the time.  It was like living inside of a cloud… an autonomous cloud… autonomous… autism? 

No, I’m not suggesting I may have autism myself, but I can’t help but wonder how different I might be had I been raised in today’s environment.  No need to be scientist to observe we live in a much different world now than we did as kids, but it will take a scientist to determine how these differences have affected our children.   

Suppose for a minute, back in 1967, my pregnant mother as she sat atop her island of unfolded laundry.   All of a sudden, a time machine appeared.  Curious, she waddled inside and traveled forward through time to the year 2005, where nine months later, she gave birth to me.  I’d be six-years-old and in kindergarten by now.  I can’t help but wonder if living in this different world would have changed my biological makeup.  Would I still be the same kindergartner I was in the early 70’s, or would I be sitting in the same self-contained autism classroom as my daughter sits today?   The fact I torture myself thinking about this simply isn’t fair.  The fact I run into so many other ASD parents, who also torture themselves, is simply unfathomable.  Once upon a time, I didn’t know anyone with an ASD child.  Now I bump into them everywhere I go! 

Something is very wrong with this picture.   

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