Adventures With Autism and Adopting a Healthier Lifestyle

Baby Emily

Emily was born with Autism.

Many parents feel their child’s Autism (or other PDD) was a result of factors like heavy metals (such as those in vaccines) and other toxins or traumas. These parents have observed a child developing “typically,” only to see an event (such as getting shots) cause a distinct change or regression in that child (verbally, behaviorally, etc).

My child does not fit into this category. She did not regress. To paraphrase Lady GaGa: Emily was born this way.

Now that I know what the signs, symptoms and red flags are, I can say that with confidence. Retrospect, hindsight, whatever you’d like to call it, is 20/20… and very frustrating.

Whatever triggered a change in Emily’s brain, in addition to a genetic predisposition, it happened in utero. I believe a predisposition/risk must be present, otherwise a lot more people would be on the spectrum. I say this because pretty much everyone is exposed to the same toxins and other triggers blamed for causing spectrum disorders.

One in 50 is definitely a lot, but it would be more like 1 in 5 if genes weren’t involved. Again, that’s my opinion.

So… where did it come from?

Based upon what I’ve observed with Emily, my research, and my own (reliable) intuition, I strongly believe there is a relationship between Emily’s Autism, her gut and immune system. Let’s put it this way: there is definitely a link between her gut, her immune system, and her behaviors now, so it’s not that far of a stretch to think there’s always been a connection.

Actually, I would say my gut played a major role, as well, because whatever toxins, substances, allergens (foods), etc. that had a negative impact on Emily’s fetal development were obviously transferred from me.

I’ve struggled with digestive issues since I was born, but when I was pregnant, it reached a whole new level of bad. I think I probably had, at most, 38 bowel movements during my pregnancy. Since Emily was delivered at 38 weeks, I’m figuring once per week. I wish that was an overstatement, but, sadly, it is not. You know what happens when you don’t expel toxins at a reliable rate? They pretty much re-absorb into your blood.

Also, I am diabetic, and I was placed on a severely restricted diet during my pregnancy. This led me to take in many artificial ingredients, such as sweeteners and colors used to compensate for removed sugars in most products. So, yeah… taking in more toxins, releasing less. Not a good combination!

Early signs

Shortly after Emily was born – and by shortly after, I mean minutes – she hummed. She laid in the little glass bassinet and let out a hum with each exhale. At the time, I was certain it was a sign of musical genius (which could also be true, but we’ll get to that in brag posts, ha ha).

The nurses gathered around, one by one, trying to figure out if there was a problem with her lungs. There wasn’t. Eventually, one said “well, I guess she just likes making that sound.”

It was right after the trauma of the first bath that had upset her quite a bit (the first time she had really cried and pretty much the only time she cried that day). She was humming to calm herself down. I know this now.

“Over-stimulation”

My mother-in-law (“MIL”) lived with us from the time we married until Emily was about two (she’d lived with my husband since shortly after his father died).

Of course, when Emily arrived, she was coo’ed and fussed over in typical grandmother fashion. Emily showed signs early on of having a low tolerance for this attention. Taking her to a dim, quiet room and letting her lay in her bassinet and be “alone” (with me sitting quietly nearby) seemed to help.

Again, she hummed or made other repetitive sounds. I thought she was super smart and trying to talk early. I still think she’s super smart.

Now, over-stimulation is pretty common in infants, so that didn’t set off a red flag of anything being “wrong.” It does now, of course.

So much of what is “typical” behavior in babies and toddlers only becomes “problem” behavior when it’s no longer age appropriate. Therefore, “wait and see” is a common approach.

Ignoring others

Strangers would fuss over Emily in stores, doctor’s offices… well, anywhere we went, really, the kid is gorgeous. Emily usually wouldn’t look at anyone (other than Daddy and me). As she aged, she would sometimes wave or say “hi” when someone greeted her, but she wouldn’t be looking at them.

At the time, I thought she was just shy.

Don’t fence me in!

As soon as Emily outgrew her bassinet, she did not want to be closed in! She would be put in a “playpen” for a nap, then wake up and immediately want out. There was no sitting in there and playing like many babies do.

We’ve been co-sleeping ever since. If you have issues with co-sleeping, kindly keep them to yourself.

We bought a sort of, fence, used to keep kids away from certain areas. Like a baby gate, but long and in sections. We set it up around the living room of our apartment with her inside. Now, we’re talking about quite a large area here, not a cage.

Do you remember the old Rugrats episodes, where the babies were hanging out together in like a… corral? It was like that. But bigger.

Emily flipped. She was about nine months old or so, I believe. This was what you could call her first “meltdown,” as she kept crying and wailing long after it was taken down and put out of sight. She was inconsolable; in fact, the more you tried to comfort her, the more upset she got. And this from a baby who rarely cried.

Emily does not like change!

Now, I will preface this by saying that most babies are more comfortable with sameness, but Emily took not liking change to another level.

Here’s the story of the day Emily got a new car seat:

Emily was a little over a year old and had outgrown the little infant carrier/car seat that came in a set with her stroller.

We got her a new one, the type that transitions with them from infant seat all the way to booster. While visiting San Francisco one weekend, we went ahead and installed it. And by “we,” I mean my husband (DH).

I walked around carrying Emily, showing her seagulls, the water and whatever else was around while Daddy worked on the seat.

The minute we went to put her in it, she started crying. No, not crying. Wailing. Again, this was a baby who was not a big crier.

She continued to cry (loudly) and fidget for the next… hour, maybe, expressing her dislike for the new car seat. It wasn’t the seat (which she still has and loves), it was the change.

This became more obvious as she aged. The child does not like the unexpected!

…to be continued

A page about older Emily, her evaluations and diagnoses is on its way.

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