How I Know My Son will Recover from Autism — Fully

Yesterday, I saw a glimpse of FULL recovery!  As I write this blog, tears of joy are flowing!

A little background before I describe what happened:

Five and a half years ago my son, Eli, emerged from autism when we started the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).  His life and our family’s life was transformed forever.  Within a year, I considered him “mostly recovered.”  At that time, I was certain he would reach “full recovery” soon.

It’s been 4 ½ years, and the “full recovery” I thought was just around the corner has not happened.  I have never lost faith.  However, I must admit that I have been weary of working so hard with only a few new improvements in recent years.  It’s like losing a lot of weight but struggling to lose that last 10 pounds.

Since we started the The Son-Rise Program® with Eli 15 months ago, we have started to see those “last 10 pounds” melt away slowly but surely.  But in the past few weeks things have moved more rapidly.  Yesterday blew my mind and brought tears of joy to my eyes.

Here’s What Happened

Yesterday, I had a meeting scheduled to meet with an NC senator with my friend, Laura, and her son, Colson.  Laura, Colson and I make frequent trips to the NC legislature.  Eli has never chosen to join us.  Though Eli loves Colson, an extremely accomplished neurotypical 14 year old, he never chooses to join us for meetings with lawmakers.  In fact, until recently, Eli has refused to do much outside of his comfort zone which consists of our house and our neighborhood.

Yesterday morning, I was giving him the scoop on my plans to be gone to the legislature for a couple of hours – not even dreaming he would ever consider coming.  Then, he asked if Colson was going to be there.  I said yes, then he asked, “If I come would you give me a square of chocolate?”  (It was unsweetened baking chocolate btw.)

I explained that I’d love for him to come, but Colson and his mom have an appointment afterward, so we won’t be able to hang out with them afterward AND he would have to dress up AND he would have to let me talk about his vaccine injury and his autism with the senator AND he would have to make eye contact and shake the senator’s hand.  Normally these terms would have shut him down completely.

Instead, he said he’d agree to my terms IF I would also take him out to lunch afterward at our favorite restaurant.  We had a deal! (He has only willingly eaten out at a restaurant a hand-full of times in the past year and a half.)

I was wondering if this is all too good to be true when he returned to the room in dressy clothes he usually refuses to wear.  OMG!  He was doing it!  He even let me help him comb his hair, and he washed the chocolate (he’d already started eating) off of his face.

It was really happening!

When we arrived at the legislature, I was still pinching myself.  The cavernous halls were extra full with the noise and commotion of a group of elementary school kids and a group of high schoolers.

When we met up with our friends to await our turn with the senator, Eli was relaxed and chatted freely with perfect eye contact.  Laura said that she’d never seen him use such eye contact – even in the comfort of our home.

Then the senator came to get us.  Eli was prepared for a hand shake which he let me coach him on before we left the house, but the senator gave the boys a fist bump instead.  Eli went with the flow and fist bumped him.

After the meeting, Eli shook the senator’s hand and we retreated to a conference table in the hall.   This picture of Eli (right) and Colson was taken right after the meeting with a not-very-friendly senator.  As you can see, Eli was relaxed and not stressed by the meeting or all of the commotion going on in the hall.

We headed over to our restaurant and had a wonderful, relaxed lunch.  Eli told me, “I could tell you were a little nervous in the meeting, but don’t worry.  I could tell only because I’m your son, and I know you well.  You did a great job.”  My heart swelled with pride – not because of the compliment itself, but because he freely gave me such heart-felt, encouraging feedback totally unprompted.

Just a few months ago, the simple act of eating out in a restaurant with me was considered great progress!  Yesterday was so much more than that!

When I got home and received this picture of the boys and saw just how relaxed Eli was in the picture, tears poured down my face.  I had spent the day with a high functioning, neurotypical child.  And to add icing to the cake, last night at bedtime, Eli said to me, “Mom, we had a great day today!”

I know there are still ups and downs on the road ahead, but now I know for a fact that he is capable of a completely neurotypical life.

 

Want to know more about what’s been helping us move from “mostly recovered” toward “fully recovered”? 

We have continued with the SCD diet for 5 ½ years.  We have allowed in unsweetened chocolate and stevia, but otherwise, Eli and I continue to eat only those SCD foods that make us feel good.  The diet is our cornerstone for every other intervention we use.

We started The Son-Rise Program® from the Autism Treatment Center of America in January of 2016 and brought a Son-Rise teacher, Susan Humphries, to our home for 2 days in November of 2016.  Son-Rise was helping, but having Susan spend 2 days really getting to know Eli and helping us set goals and develop strategies was a turning point for us.

We have 4 wonderful volunteers who I have trained in the Son-Rise method.  They spend cumulatively 16 hours a week playing with Eli using the Son-Rise method.  They go with Eli into his autistic world and with their love, enthusiasm and joy, show him how awesome life can be in the neurotypical world too.

I am forever grateful to Raun K. Kaufman, the original recovered Son-Rise child who is now a recovered adult, for encouraging me to give Son-Rise a try.   Son-Rise and SCD are two of the most effective interventions we’ve tried.

XOXO,

Beth

P.S. The Son-Rise Program® has a friend’s referral program, so if you call them to inquire, give them my name, and you’ll get $350 off of their program.

 

Convenience Foods for Autism Diets

On September 10, 2016, we celebrated our 5 year anniversary of being on SCD!  The quality of my son’s life and the rest of the family’s life has transformed because of SCD.

Today, I’m preparing to send Eli camping with his Y-Guides troup.  I remember 4 years ago when I sent him on his first camping trip.  It was a lot of work to get his foods ready.  We were still eating everything homemade, and it was worth it.

Now, here we are 5 years later, and thanks to years of healing and new foods on the market, there are so many SCD “junk” foods I can send on his trip that he will love.  Other kids will love them too.

Packing foods this year was a breeze!  All of these foods are GFCF, SCD, and GAPS friendly (except for the cheese crisps — we added cheese recently with the help of our NAET practitioner.)

Except for the plain nuts, these foods are all special treats in our house because they are high in carbs, so Eli is totally pumped about having so many treats for his trip.  I’m happy that packing foods for camp has become so much easier over time.

I hope seeing how easy SCD, GAPS and GFCF can be will encourage you to persevere on your journey!

xoxo,


P.S.  A quick disclaimer. the pecans are roasted in soybean oil and the broccoli bites are made with rice bran oil.  I make an exception with these kinds of oil when eating out because they are fats, and fats don’t have the carbohydrates that are dis-allowed on SCD/GAPS.

Autism One — Bringing the Pieces Together

Beth Secosky is so excited to be speaking at the Autism One conference later this month in Chicago.  She’ll be giving away helpful tools for getting started on SCD or GAPS to every person who attends her session.

AutismOne is the world’s largest and most comprehensive annual autism conference and will be held May 25 through 29th in Chicago. The focus of AutismOne is to provide information to preserve and restore health and function to children and families, especially those affected by autism.  Teri Arranga, AutismOne’s executive director, said:  “This is an excellent opportunity for parents to choose from among renowned speakers including many medical doctors and credentialed researchers, in order to increase their knowledge toward helping their family.  The onsite networking and positive energy are empowering and energizing.”

In Chicago, Beth will talk about diets that heal and how to choose and start one that is right for your child.  Following is an overview of her presentation which will be held on Saturday, May 28th at 3:00 pm.  Hope you can come!

Diets that Heal: The Most Effective Intervention You Aren’t Using and How to Get Started  

Success Tools for Getting Started on SCD and GAPS Diets

Diet is one of the most important tools you have to heal the body, but with so many diets how do you choose the right one? Many top practitioners recommend the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) or GAPS diets. Dr. Sidney Baker has said, “SCD is the best treatment that I have found so far for many children on the Autism Spectrum.”

How do you get started on one of these healing diets? In this interactive session, health coach, Beth Secosky, will give you tools and insights to get you started on the diets to improve your child’s health and quality of life – and your family’s too!

This session is all about helping make it easy for you to take action. Learn about:

* The difference between the SCD and GAPS diets

* How to choose the diet best for your child’s healing and health goals

* Overview of the “introductory” stages of diets, including detailed foods lists by stage

* Quick start tools for success including grocery shopping lists, essential kitchen supplies, and more

* Delicious, child-friendly recipes for the introductory stage of the diets (SDC and GAPS)

Health coach, Beth Secosky, will give you the tools to take action so you can more quickly improve your child’s quality of life – and your family’s too!

The 3 Best Autism-Friendly Treats You Can Give Your Child on Halloween

​Is your child on a special autism diet, e.g. GF/CF, SCD, GAPS, Paleo?  If so, you’re probably starting to think about what kind of treats you’ll have for Halloween.  Perhaps, you’re also concerned that the season of candy might bring on a regression.  I will share some of the lessons I’ve learned from Halloween and some specific treats you might want to consider to prevent a gluten/sugar-induced setback.

Several years ago my friend, Laura, and her family who were already on SCD  (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) went trick-or-treating with us.   At the time we were in denial about our 4 year-old being on the autism spectrum, and we had no idea that the “crazy” diet that our friends were on could transform our son’s quality of life and the rest of the family’s too.

I knew our friends were off of sugar, but I assumed that they would make an exception for their 6 year-old neuro-typical son on Halloween.  (Imagine having the moxie to put your family on an uber-healthy diet like SCD when there is no autism, no Crohn’s, and no other serious health issues.  I am blessed to have had them as role models.  But, I digress from my Halloween tale.)

The kids had a blast trick-or-treating.  Then, we came back to the house, and they dumped their stash on the floor.  What came next blew my mind.  Our friend’s son took 1 piece of candy and packed up the rest and gave it to his dad!  They explained that their son was getting a new toy when they got home.

I couldn’t believe it!

  • How could they deprive their son of his childhood right to gorge himself with candy?  (OK, I knew candy isn’t healthy, but I thought an occasional gorge was no problem.)
  • How could they put their son in a situation where other children are experiencing such joy that he couldn’t partake in?
  • How did they get him to be content with 1 piece of candy as he sat in front of a huge stash?

Fast forward almost 2 years to September.  My son’s behavior has become so severe (including 3-hour violent tantrums) that we can no longer deny his autism.  That September, we adopted SCD, the same diet my friends were on.

By the time Halloween came around 2 months later, my son had dropped 22 ATEC points and the violent tantrums were gone.  My daughter’s severe anxiety was completely gone.  Our quality of life was immeasurably better.  All of a sudden, I totally understood Laura’s approach to Halloween.

My son felt so much better, and the entire family was so much happier that I was not willing to give my kids even 1 bite of sugar.  I wouldn’t risk our newfound happiness just so my kids could have a “party in their mouth” and “fit in” with the other kids.  It simply wasn’t worth it.

So, I had to get the kids on board.  It wasn’t as hard as I expected because I had already taught them about the impact of sweet and starchy foods on our gut flora.  I had also made sure that they were clear that the disappearance of my son’s severe stomach aches and my daughter’s anxiety were directly related to our new way of eating.  They understood that sweet and starchy foods feed the bad bacteria and make them feel bad.

Their knowledge helped, but they were still kids.  They wanted to have what everyone else was having.  I had to sweeten the deal without using sweets!  So, I took a play from my friend Laura’s playbook and let them pick out a really exciting toy.  The deal had 3 parts.  First, I found some recipes for SCD-legal candy.  Second, I let them each pick out a really exciting toy. Third, they would give their candy to daddy so he could put it out in the break room at work.

On Halloween, I held my breath.  Was the plan going to work?

The kids snacked on their SCD legal treats while trick-or-treating.  Check.  Then came the moment of truth.  Would they turn over their stash for their new toy? … YES!  They did it.  They were so excited about the new toy that sat waiting for them when they returned, they ran to their toy and left the candy behind.

I share this story with you to encourage you that you can prevent gluten/sugar-induced regressions by staying true to whatever autism diet you are using – even during Halloween and other holidays.  And, in fact, you can turn Halloween and other sugar-filled holidays into a time for learning profound life lessons.

How to turn Halloween into a teachable moment AND Specific sugar-free treats to offer

Whatever dietary restrictions you stick to this Halloween, you are also teaching your children 3 profound lessons (treats) that will last them a lifetime:

  • The knowledge of true nutrition that will keep them healthier and happier for the rest of their life
  • The idea that they can set and achieve audacious goals (In this case recovery from autism and anxiety) but it will take sacrifices
  • The confidence that they can do what’s best for them even when everyone else is making different choices

I didn’t see the brilliant lessons my friend Laura was teaching her son.  Your neighbors, friends, and family may not “get” what a brilliant thing you are doing either.  That’s ok.  What’s important is that you “get” it.  You see that the profound lifelong lessons of Halloween are true wisdom that we autism parents have the privilege to pass on to our children.  Without autism, most of us wouldn’t know what we know and be able to pass this wisdom on to our children and ultimately future generations.

OK – Enough of the mushy stuff.  I promised you I would share the 3 best treats for Halloween this year.  Here’s what I recommend:

  • #1:  A toy in lieu of candy.

  • #2:  Fruit bars or fruit candy made without sugar

  • #3:  Honey-sweetened candy that is in compliance with your child’s diet.
    • Trader Joe’s Honey Chocolate Mints (if you’re comfortable with giving your child chocolate)

I would never wish that autism had impacted my son and our family.  However, the lessons we are learning and the fortitude and strength we are building are truly a blessing.  May your family receive the same blessings.

Epsom Salt and Other Detox Baths Can Reduce Irritability and Even Prevent Meltdowns

Sometimes I find the best remedies for my son by observing what works for me.  I hate to admit it to you but I must be honest.  I can get really irritable.  Ever since I’ve started employing this simple habit, my irritability has gone down a LOT.  I’ve started using it with my son, and he is much calmer too.

Detox Baths Are Amazing!

I’ve started taking 3-4 detox baths a week, and I can’t believe how much calmer and easy going I feel!  I’ve taken detox baths for years, but I had never done them consistently enough to notice how much calmer they make me feel all week long!  I’ve found that my son is much calmer when he has regular detox baths too.

What’s a detox bath?

There are many things you can use for a detox bath.  Probably the most common is Epsom salt baths.  Some parents who are concerned about parasites are giving their children swimming pool salt baths.  I’ll say more about that later.

For now, let’s focus on perhaps the most common type of detox bath, Epsom salts.

Why Epsom Salts Help:

Epsom​ salt, magnesium sulfate, contains magnesium and sulfur, and just as with a medication patch, the magnesium and sulfur in a bath penetrates the skin and provides nourishment that helps us feel more calm and relaxed.

Magnesium:  Many of our kids are low in magnesium (and sulfur).   Magnesium helps with stress, anxiety, and concentration.  It even helps our body regulate blood sugar.  So, you can imagine how magnesium can reduce irritability.

Sulfur:  Sulfur is one of the most common elements in the human body and is associated with many important functions.  For our purposes, sulfur is especially helpful with Phase 2 detoxification of the liver.

How to take an Epsom Salt bath?

Fill your bathtub with the warmest water that is comfortable for your child.  Use ½ cup of Epson salt in your child’s first Epsom salt bath.  Let the salt dissolve and then let your child enjoy playing in the tub.  Ideally, keep your child in the tub for 20+ minutes.

Add Epsom salts to your child’s (and your) bath 1-4 times a week.

Gradually increase the amount of Epsom Salt to 1 or 2 cups per bath.

Where to Buy Epsom Salt

​Epsom salts are easy to find at your drug store, Costco and other warehouse stores.  Buy a large bag.  ​

Why Some Parents are Using Pool Salt Baths Instead?

If your practitioner is concerned that your child has parasites, he/she may suggest that you use pool salt baths instead.  This is because parasites feed on magnesium.  Pool salt, unlike Epsom salt, does not have magnesium and is a better option for children with parasites.

To make a pool salt bath, purchase a 40 pound bag of pool salt from a swimming pool supply store or your hardware store.  Put 9 pounds of pool salt in the bath.  (No, that’s not a typo.  I said 9 pounds!)  At first, I found it difficult to dissolve 9 pounds of salt in the bath.  Then, I discovered that the trick is to swish the pool salt throughout the entire bathtub.  I was just trying to dissolve it at the end of the tub under the faucet of running water.  Didn’t work well!

Your child won’t take a bath? 

If your child refuses baths, try giving him/her a foot bath using a smaller quantity of either type of salt.

Detox Baths are a Quick and Easy Way to Help Your Child Feel Better and Behave More Calmly

Whether you use Epsom salts, pool salts or other types of detox baths, you are going to be pleased to see how much better your child feels and thus, how much calmer he or she is.

Be sure to treat yourself to regular detox baths too.  You’ll feel the difference!

6 Steps for Overcoming Picky Eating

Do you worry that your child’s picky eating habits will halt his or her recovery?

You may feel like you’re in a vicious cycle in which picky eating prevents your child from eating a healing diet, and the limitations of a healing diet might keep your child from eating.  Picky eating is one of the biggest obstacles autism recovery parents face.  The good news is that picky eating can be overcome.  Thousands of autism parents have done it, and you can too.

Following are 6-steps and 5 principles for overcoming picky eating adapted from Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome.

Step 1:  Select a food or activity your child is crazy about.

Use an activity if you can.  However, a food will work fine too.  Activities might include a favorite DVD, toy or TV show.

If you’ll be using a food, the food you choose will be determined by where you are with diet now.  If you’re already gluten-free, you might choose that gluten-free treat that your child adores, e.g. GF cereal or GF cookies.  If your child is still eating non-gluten-free foods, pick his/her absolute favorite food.  (Non-verbal children tend to respond better to food rewards than toys.)

When you start, you will put away that food/toy and only offer it as a reward for trying a new food.  Do not offer that favorite food/toy in any other context.

 Step 2:  Select a new food you’d like your child to try

Choose a healing food you’d like for your child to try.  For example, you might try cooked carrots or grilled chicken with no breading.

 Step 3:  Set the stage

Set out a small amount of the desired food (a piece of biscuit, part of a cookie, a small handful of cereal) along with a few bites of carrots or other healing food.

 Step 3:  Offer the desired food only

Offer your child one mouthful of carrots (or whatever) with the favorite food in clear view but out of reach.  If you’re using non-food rewards such as a favorite toy, set it just out of reach on the table like you would with a food treat.  If it’s a DVD, you might boot it up on the TV in sight of the table or have the DVD case in sight.

Prepare yourself to ignore tantrums, screaming, crying.  Don’t let him/her have the treat until one bite of carrots has been eaten – or at least tasted.  Don’t let your child leave the table until the bite of carrot is eaten/tasted.

 Step 4:  Give the desired food and heap on praise

When the carrot or other healing food is eaten (or at least tasted), give your child the treat and lavish praise.  (Keep the reward food to 1 or 2 bites or the non-food reward short, e.g. 5 minutes of favorite movie.)  If your child asks for more of the treat, explain that he/she will need to eat another bite of the healing food and you will happily provide another bite of the treat/5 minutes of the movie or toy.

 Step 5:  Repeat the process

Let your child run and play for a while.  Then come back to the table.  Offer another bite of new food in exchange for the treat.  If your child begs for the treat, give him/her another bite of carrot or other new food before giving more of the treat.

Step 6:  Increase healthy foods required for the treat

In time (an hour, a day, a week, or even more) your child will become willing to eat a bite of the new food for the treat.  Then, increase the carrots to two bites for the same size of treat.  Gradually, increase the mouthfuls until your child is eating a full serving of carrots for the same small bite of treat.

Stick to only 1 new food in this process.  Stick to that food until it’s accepted, then move to the next food.  Before you know it, you’ll be introducing more and more foods, and your child’s diet will be much improved.

Don’t be disheartened by tantrums.  Remember that probably every parent who ever conquered picky eating had to go through tantrums and meltdowns too.

 

5 Key Principles for Overcoming Picky Eating:

 Stay positive – Keep a positive attitude and tone throughout the process.  Set your expectations low to keep your frustration down.

 Lavish praise – Not only will you be giving a treat when your child eats or even tastes the goal food, lavish him/her with praise too.

 Ignore tantrums — Prepare yourself for tantrums, so you can remain calm and ready to ignore any tantrums that come your way.

 Put treats away – Be sure to never give the treat (whether it’s food or a favorite activity such as a video) outside of the context of eating the healthy food.  Otherwise, your child will just wait for the next opportunity to get that treat and skip the opportunity when it’s attached to food.

One food at a time — Stick to only 1 new food in this process.  Stick to that food until it’s accepted, then move to the next food.  Before you know it, you’ll be introducing more and more foods, and your child’s diet will be much improved.

Diets like SCD and GAPS rebalance the gut flora that is contributing to picky eating.  Give a diet like SCD or GAPS a try and you’ll be amazed at the healthy foods your child will be enjoying before you know it because these diets starve the pathogenic bacteria that contribute to picky eating.

The great news is that by using this process, you’ll start reducing picky eating, and opening your child up to the kind of diet that will lead to dramatic breakthroughs in autism symptoms.