On World Autism Day, one of our National morning breakfast shows ran a segment on a ‘Cure for Autism’
Since that day, the blog has run hot with comments varying from agreement and wonderment, to down right anger and resentment. The story centred around a little boy called Nicholas and his mum Vicky who had found a cure of Nicholas’s ‘autistic like tendencies’ with a restrictive diet involving the removal of gluten, dairy and wheat, together with a regime of vitamins.
When David was diagnosed with ASD in 1997 and for many years we tried all sorts of ‘cures’, before coming to the realisation that for all children, and all parents, the journey is different.
The segment on food ‘cures’ on the Sunrise program raises such emotion for so many reasons not least being because so many parents struggle just to get their Austistic children to eat, let alone eat foods that are so restricted!
In the end I have learned that it really all comes back to us, as parents, being physically, emotionally, spiritually and intuitively strong enough to be able to create with the solutions that work for each individual situation … and not all solutions are the same for all families. What works one day/week/month – may not work for the next day/week/ month. But as parents it is up to us to be open and willing to change whatever needs to be changed or dealt with, often at the drop of the hat.
Over the years we have tried all sorts of natural, expensive therapies for David to find they made a difference for a while, but only for a while.
The ‘cures’ did not take away from the fact that David was different. He viewed life differently, he acted differently, he socialised differently. But you know, that was ok to.
It was only when we accepted David as being a child of difference and worked with him to find his own strengths and his own way in life, that we were able to empower him to accept who he was. It was then that we too found a ‘cure’, it just isn’t wrapped up in a package that others think is ‘normal’.
When ‘cures’ are proclaimed so publicly, as on the Sunrise program, it brings up many emotions for parents who are weighed down by the challenges of Autism. Many parents of Autistic children lay awake at night worrying about whether they are doing enough, constantly questioning their parenting. It is only when you have a child of difference that you truly understand pain!! When a story like this comes up, it only raises these emotions and insecurities yet again.
I am so thrilled that this framework has worked for this family, but it may not work for all. The child in question is only 5, there is a long way to go yet. I would however, like to raise the question whether this child showed ‘Autistic like tendencies due to food intolerance’ or whether is this child is truly Autistic? There is a massive difference, and who really knows the answer?
Using words such as ‘cure’ is very confronting for families living with the challenge of Autism and whose lives are surrounded by constant judgment . To be yet again faced with the prospect that perhaps they are not doing enough; when in fact just getting out of bed each day and breathing is a bonus, is tough!
I wish Nicholas and Vicky all the best. The route they have chosen to take is not easy and obviously they are seeing results, I am so thrilled that this has worked for them.