Life of a Parent is so easy!
(I have 3 kids and obviously didn't get the memo...)
Those parents reading this now will know that raising kids is not an easy job, especially when the world is so full of distractions and diversions. To make it even more difficult, specialists have come up with new disorders that affect how we raise them; like ADD, ADHD and autism! Every day our lives are spent cleaning up, getting dressed, getting teeth brushed and getting them in the car and off to school. And that's just the start of the day, I won't describe the rest of the day because I am already exhausted!
My wife and I have a fascinating, tiring and rewarding opportunity of raising a son who was diagnosed with Aspergers Autism, although his "symptoms" seem to be on the other end of the spectrum, if that is even possible. He most definitely is not a typical child!
Don't worry, I am not going to give a whole bio on my son, as I want to share some info with parents who may be raising a child that requires a little extra attention and love.
During our journey of discovery with our son, we visited a number of specialists, doctors, pediatricians and teachers, all of whom were very quick to prescribe Ritalin. Now I understand that some children need it and benefit from the use of this drug, but I was shocked by so many unqualified diagnoses! Most came only after spending 10 to 15 minutes with him. Regardless, a doctor has yet to prescribe this drug to alter the behavior and mental function of this highly intelligent, creative and loving child.
As you can imagine, my wife and I have been on a constant search for alternatives. We have found a few solutions that have proven very effective so far. Among them are:
- No television during the week and limited viewing on the weekends
- Occupational and speech therapy (he was partly deaf at the age of 2 because of swollen tonsils and adenoids)
- Fish oil supplements
Restricting his television viewing resulted in a dramatic change in his behavior. Instead of only talking about fantasy stories that he had viewed during the week, he now started interacting more socially with us and with friends at school. What I mean is that he started making more sense and could hold a more understandable conversation.
It was difficult to stop him from nt watching cartoons during the week at first, as it was like trying to wean a drug addict off their fix, but we persisted and the benefit has far out-weighed the pain we initially experienced. We have been following this rule quite strictly for over a year and have not looked back.
Usually children that fall with the Autism spectrum suffer from low muscle tone, and this has been shown to affect learning. We noticed that our son showed signs of low muscle tone, so we enlisted the help of an occupational therapist. The results for this kind of therapy are not immediately apparent and you need to wait a few months before you see any kind of major improvement; but again, the wait will be worth it and the effects long-term.
Supplementing has been a particular rough ride for us, because it has literally been a process of trial and error. We tried al sorts of multi vitamins and even a few kinds of tissue salts. Eventually we discovered fish oils. That doesn't seem very appealing , especially for a child, but we found some that he actually loved because they tasted good; the one in particular is called Brain Child.
After about a month of using the fish oil supplement, a sweet fish-shaped capsule filled with an orange flavoured fish oil, we noticed that our little boy started to talk about a whole new set of subjects and concepts that 5 year olds (his age then) had been talking about since they were 3!
This was a break through! He also understands the abstract concept of "why", where before, we would respond "why" to some of his questions and he would stare at us a little confused. I want to give credit to the high EPA content in the fish oils, as I have nothing else to attribute his neurological advancement to, other than the occupational and speech therapies.
Our brains are made up of the funny named fatty-acids and our body doesn't produce enough of it naturally, that is why it is recommended that we supplement with fish oils rich in Omega 3's, full of EPA and DHA. The higher the DHA content the better. I read too that thes types of fish oils, in some cases, can be more effective than Ritalin or similar drugs. ( please note, that I said "in some cases").
Now, you may ask why I mention chocolate cake in my title? Well, because chocolate cake is probably one thing that might make this journey with our children a more worthwhile. Not only that, my son has an amazing memory, and he remembers every birthday cake that we have made for him, even his first, which was chocolate cake with a Tigger picture and orange icing.
So, when parenting seems to get you down... sit down and have some cake!