Last week, I had the honor of speaking to a group of parents at Generation Rescue, an autism treatment and recovery group based in the L.A. area. Turns out the allergies my kids and I have correlate to one of the often prescribed “autism diets.” Because I am so acutely aware of the autism-gluten/casein/soy connection based on how those ingredients affect my kids and me, I was delighted to talk to parents about how to integrate this challenging diet into their day to day lives.
My husband had the day off and accompanied me, which was a great relief as my days of weaving in and out of L.A. traffic were a thing of the distant past. After three and a half hours on the road, we found ourselves amongst a small group of parents sitting in a beautiful living room of a house converted into the teaming hub and support network of this dynamic organization.
As we went around the table, my husband and I heard stories of children, ‘special children’, their mothers called them. Some parents were new to the diet and the program, others had converted their entire family over to a gluten-free, casein-free diet, and a few were visibly overwhelmed at the notion of adding one more challenge to their day. Removing a child’s favorite food from their diet is no small thing. Then there was Arlene, a calm, centered woman, who told us she was there as a refresher, to help a family member with two small boys, both on the spectrum. She went on to say that fourteen years ago, her two year old son was diagnosed with autism. “But he was cured by the time he was six,” she stated, matter-of-factly. The hair stood up on my arms.
There’s a lot of debate back and forth about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There are reports and studies that tell us a change in diet has no impact whatsoever. There are studies that show correlations between a rise in autism during the timing of the near-tripling of vaccines given to our children. Both sides have their reasons, reports and science, so it makes for a lot of confusion and misinformation. But what I experienced that morning was the connection between several women who told me that their kids started to talk after a change in treatment and diet; that new therapies had helped cure their son; that digestive system and chronic bowel issues had abated.
I know what I believe and I’m happy to discuss it with anyone. But above all the chatter and vitriol aimed at alternative therapies, I will always hear the voices of these moms. And I will always be moved by their commitment to their children’s safety and well-being, sometimes working outside convention, to be willing to be thought of as hysterical or strange. And I will never forget seeing my toddler son sit in a corner, unspeaking, unable to make eye contact, unhappy and lost until the gluten worked its way out of his system.
So I pray that these special kids, these innocent, darling kids get all the care they need and deserve. And I pray for their amazing, nurturing moms. They and their kids are, in large part, why I do what I do.
Before we went our separate ways, we snacked on Banana Pumpkin Muffins, sipped Chicken and Rice Soup and finished with Bonbons. For me, the food was fine, but the company was unparalleled. Thank you ladies. And my thanks to Stephanie, Monique and Emily of Generation Rescue for hosting this wonderful morning.