Ask my mom or my husband: Patience has never been my strong suit. And yet here I am, struggling to wait patiently for results we have a slim hope of achieving. Logan’s weeks have roughly evened out–he has good days, he has a bad day or two. He has a day without meltdowns, he screams and cries for 20 minutes because 8.4 inches of snow in the Twin Cities forced us to cancel an occupational therapy session. “But Fridays I go to OT,” he wailed as I tried to explain why we were going right to daycare. “It’s Friday! Mommy, you made a mistake!”
Mornings, at least, have definitely been a hundred times better. In fact, mornings go so smoothly now that we even have time to actually do the exercises his occupational therapist has been recommending we do daily. Logan even reminds me we need to do his “massages,” which are really designed to eliminate lingering newborn reflexes he still has, the asymmetrical tonic neck reflex (ATNR) and the Moro reflex. Both of these reflexes, present in newborns, usually disappear at about six months of age. Having them still present, as they are in Logan and about 90% of the clients his therapist says she works with, makes several things difficult. Having the ATNR reflex affects visual tracking difficult and hand-eye coordination and makes it hard to establish a dominant hand–contributing to why handwriting and fine motor skills are such a challenge for Logan. The Moro reflex is also called the startle reflex because it causes babies to instinctively throw out their arms when they perceive danger. When this reflex is still present, it causes people to startle more easily, leading to less emotional control.
It all seems to make sense, at least. Like the diet, it will be interesting to see if this has any effect.
We’ve also joined a social skills group, which is a small play group that meets once a week with other autistic kids Logan’s age. That is, kids whose parents suspect autism–none of the others have been tested and diagnosed like Logan.
This always puzzles me. I’m trying not to be judgmental of the other parents, but I can’t figure out why they haven’t pushed for more of a solution with their children. I’m not arguing for constant therapy–there is definitely overdoing it– but the kids in this social skills class aren’t even in any preschool program yet. I asked one of the moms why she keeps her daughter at home, and she said she just didn’t know. Her daughter might have had a hard time with it.
How is she going to handle kindergarten? I wanted to ask.
It was the same with diet. I asked the other parents if they’d tried the gluten-free diet or casein-free or anything else. They hadn’t. “It seems like a lot of work,” one dad said.
That’s the understatement of the year, I thought.
They were all curious about Logan’s diet. What on earth does he eat if he can’t have wheat, dairy, fruit, rice, beans, sugar?
I get this question a lot.
The truth is while his diet is still hard, it gets easier every week. For example, on a typical day I might pack him scrambled eggs with kale for breakfast; for lunch, leftover grilled chicken slices, steamed broccoli, sauteed cabbage, raw carrots, and almonds; for snack, a pumpkin muffin made from almond flour, coconut flour, and lakanto instead of normal flour and sugar. For dinner, we’ll have fish, asparagus, broccoli, and a salad of baby kale and fermented cabbage and ginger.
Whether it’s working or not is too hard to tell yet, I told the parents at social skills group. But at the very least, he hasn’t had a cold all winter (nor did he have any cavities when he went tot he dentist). It’s completely draining our budget, but I’m still choosing to believe it’s worth it.