As we’ve been trying to determine the effects of various synthetic food dyes in Skyler’s diet, we took a break from other supplements so that we would not accidentally skew the results with the other supplements. However, I’ve noticed that the past two evenings when we’ve gone out to dinner, Skyler has been doing what I like to call his “Happy Dance.” I call it that because most people would probably think he’s just a hyper little boy, dancing spastically around the room. However, these little “dances” are actually major stimming episodes where Skyler has very little control over his actions. He flaps a LOT, somehow managing to shake his arms, legs, and head all at once. This causes him to move and jump awkwardly across the room, and he always gets a crazed look in his eyes while doing it.
One theory states that some autistic children continue to engage in “stimming” because these behaviors release beta-endorphins (opiate-like substances) in the body and provide some form of internal pleasure. I tend to believe this is true with Skyler, because he often looks “high” with glassy eyes while engaging in these dancing sessions. One autistic teenager posted on her blog that it often feels like bugs are crawling on her skin. I think that maybe this is initially what starts Skyler’s stims, but then the intense pleasure that comes from the endorphins keeps him from stopping. Of course, I’ll just have to guess at this until Skyler is old enough to describe to me what causes him to flap and dance.
Anyway, due to an increase in stimming and putting his fingers in his mouth over the past two days, I wondered if perhaps he had an overgrowth of yeast in his gut. We were previously treating yeast with Grapefruit Seed Extract while chelating, but he had not taken it for a while as we worked on synthetic food dye trials. I also previously posted that spring allergies and high pollen often lead to yeast overload, as immune systems focus on allergens and thus leave yeast alone to thrive and multiply.
So, in an attempt to treat the stimming, I gave Skyler six drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract last night. Unfortunately, that was a little too much for Skyler after being off of it for so long, so he cried out often last night with a sore tummy. There are no words to describe how a mother feels when she inadvertently causes her child pain – I wanted to cry right along with him! However, in the end, it paid off – Skyler has been a completely different child today. There has been no flapping and no happy dance, and Skyler has been much more focused, alert, and CALM. His conversations have been much longer, more complex, and more reciprocal. My mother also pointed out that he was suddenly walking better. Usually he stumbles and skips around with too much energy to maintain a regular gait when walking. But today, he was walking just like a “normal” child. WOW!
No matter how long I work through biomedical treatments with Skyler, I never get over that sense of awe when a simple change or addition of a natural supplement affects him so dramatically. After giving your child supplements for a while, you tend to forget what a difference they make, and you start to feel like maybe they’re not necessary. However, moments like these remind me that Skyler does have more nutritional and supplemental needs than “neuro-typical” children. Maybe as he continues to heal, he will require less changes to diet and supplements, but for now, I am humbled by this powerful reminder that I need to continue helping Skyler any way that I can so that he can function to his highest potential.
So thank you, Grapefruit Seed Extract, for getting my son back on track! And thank you, Skyler, for being such a strong, brave boy. I know the GSE tastes HORRIBLE, but you take it without fuss, and you trust me enough to continue taking it after that bad tummy ache. I will never give up on you, and together we will work towards finding a cure.