OK, I have to admit I was very impressed with Jenny McCarthy on Oprah today. I didn’t expect to be.
When I first heard about her book Louder Than Words, I read some articles online about her thoughts on indigo moms and crystal children. My concern was that she would take something that has so clearly benefitted my child and make it seem like the lunatic fringe that I sometimes feel doctors and researchers consider parents who go down the gluten-free, casein-free road.
McCarthy drew in my total attention when she said a week after starting the diet, her son’s language doubled. That sounds just like Thane! We came at things a bit differently because we removed wheat and gluten based on a standard IgE allergy to wheat and concerns about celiac disease because of Thane’s bowel issues, malabsorption and “failure to thrive.” He’s also mildly allergic to milk and eggs, though his allergy to milk seems less significant than his issues with wheat/gluten and eggs.
She also said something along the lines of “my science is my son” because he is her proof that you can do things to help children recover from autism. She also was honest about it not working for all children with autism, and that she considers it an ongoing process. I’ve had some on the fence moments myself about the idea of fully recovering from autism. I’ve wondered what happens when Thane is older if he chooses not to respect the fact that his body doesn’t like gluten in particular. I’d like to think that the stomach upset it causes would be enough to stop him, but I am diabetic and it doesn’t always stop me from eating things I shouldn’t have. I’ve always felt that the key to his health and mental well-being will be life-long issues. So she won me over again.
I think she also helped give people some insight into different behaviors. I honestly never noticed Thane’s hand-flapping as anything negative. He does it most when he is really excited about a new place, such as going to the bowling alley for the first time. It’s actually rather cute because his excitement is so visible . . . until I realize that he is doing it to center himself – to help organize himself – and then I just wish it was easier for him to process information.
Holly Robinson-Peete mentioned that children with autism are often considered mentally retarded when in fact that may be quite bright. I am so thankful that our therapists see that in Thane because I think he could be easy to dismiss in certain situations. I do wish I had more information on how to teach him, though. His occupational therapist and I were talking about hyperlexia today and how to work with him on his reading skills. McCarthy said doctors need to listen to what the moms are saying . . . I’m glad that ours mostly seem to, as do our therapists. Using Thane’s fascination for letters and numbers really opened the door to getting him to even try to draw anything – you just need the write things to interest him the door swings open. When he’s accessible and interested, he learns incredibly well and very quickly.
Thane actually wanted to help me bake cookies today. I was fascinated that he wanted to help and was stirring up the batter for me. But here is where I need to change and learn to go with the flow. He wanted to smear the batter on the cookie sheet. I wanted to roll it in little balls and bake the cookies and get out of the kitchen. Obviously we had conflicting goals. Not only that, but my balls of dough really annoyed Thane – probably as much as his smears were bugging me. I should have switched to a pan cookie or let him smear and then thank him for his help and scrape it all up and make balls of dough after he went into another room. As it is, I forgot the vanilla so my cookies don’t exactly taste the way they should . . . but it is a big step. He wanted to cook. He wanted to help. He chose to come out and be with me in the kitchen instead of playing by himself.
There are lots of small victories are this road, and each one is a celebration!
There looks to be some discussion about Jenny McCarthy on Discussing Autism. The site is also having another Therapy Shoppe giveaway that looks pretty cool, it's for a spinning board.