Dealing with your own issues:
One of the most important things we have come to realize is that we have to take responsibility for our own personal health issues. The big unspoken problem that parents and extended families of Autistic kids do not want to even entertain is that these kids’ issues did not happen in a vaccuum. I am not talking about assigning blame on one side of the family or the other, I am talking about taking a good inward look and asking yourself if you don’t have some Autism issues of your own that could use some treatment. Those of us who have firmly decided that we are neurotypical should ask ourselves if this is really the case or if we are living by that great river in Egypt. (Denial) Even if you are NT, you could look at other emotional or personal health issues and take responsibility for them.
In the case of our family, blame is a non-issue. We can see family members on both sides of the family that are definitely leaning toward AS. I know that OCD/ panic disorders run in my family, and affects me to a certain extent. My husband probably sits the on the fence of being on the spectrum. We came to realize that between my panic attacks and his concrete thinking, we were not doing as good a job as we could being parents to our children. We decided that we had better get a handle on our own problems. Please note that we did this with very little outside “professional” help. We approached it the same way we try to approach every problem, as a family.
I have a firm belief in the power of food to heal. You are what you eat, garbage in, garbage out. Our grandmothers had the right idea. Only now it is harder because our food is so contaminated, and we also are dealing with having immune system reactions to normally healthy foods. We committed to spending the extra money it would take to go totally organic, as much as possible. My husband made the hard decision to go gfcf with amazing results. He lost 55 pounds, and has taken himself off the spectrum. I actually tried being conservative, and went to the doctor for my problems. Her answer was to go on prozac. I wanted to get to the root of my problems, not mask them. I have plenty of family members who have gone the prozac route. Generally the side effects of massive weight gain, apathy and sexual disfunction made this a very unattractive option for me. I started doing some research and found a diet (the Schwarzbein Principle) which has helped me be healthier. I have only had one small panic attack in two years, and at that time I was not following the diet as well as I should.
It took us a long time to get where we are now. I know divorce is a big problem for families with children on the spectrum. The stress, worry, and medical bills alone are enough to end most marriages. Often one parent is striving for answers to Autism and the parent on the spectrum is not supportive of the effort. We decided that this kind of atmosphere of stress and worry was no way to live, and was bad for the children. We wanted to stop lurching toward divorce. You can make changes to better your family. It takes courage, humility, integrity, and a lot of determination. It takes sacrifice on the part of the adults in the family for the sake of the children. Is following all of these diets and treatment protocols easy? Heck no. I have got more flack from relatives, teachers, pediatricians, neurologists….. but it has been worth every minute to watch my family grow, pulling together instead of tearing apart. I know I sound like a corny motivational speaker, but seize the day! You CAN change your life, and autism IS treatable and reversible. Even in ourselves.