My quest for finding the source(s) of my children's allergies has been a long one. We have started and stopped two other times in trying to find out what works for them. Twice we switched to all organic/natural foods and cleaners and they did get better. However both times, shortly after starting, my husband lost his job and we had to refocus our plans.
Eating healthy and organic is very expensive. When you are surviving on help from parents to get you through for a few weeks or months till you find another job, any food will work. In our brief trials, though, we found the boys really did seem to improve. Their allergies symptoms got better.
Fast forward another year...the boys are 4 and 3. Driving to our inlaws one day, we find a foreclosure home that is the ugliest thing we have ever seen; however, we are ambitious (or stupid) enough to think we can fix it up. It is very cheap, and both my husband and myself have fixed up houses before, so we make a plan of it. We decide to use allergy-friendly insulation in the house, so we completely tear down the existing walls...all of them. We rebuild the rooms and walls how we want them, replacing the old drywall and flooring in every square inch of the house. What we end up with is a home for our boys that is free of mold and pet dander and anything else that may exacerbate their allergies.
And guess what? For the first time, they are able to breathe when they sleep. They can even play outside and be fairly snuffley free. With the "new" home, my boys are finally off of medications and the breathing machine that I have come to loathe. I officially start doing to happy-mom-dance.
The following year, Oliver starts kindergarten and I am so excited for him. Although he had already completed preschool and prek, he was very excited about beginning a "big boy" school like his cousin who is a few years older than him. I pack his lunch, dress him in his best, and send him off to school with a big kiss and confidence that he will do wonderful.
I was so sure he was going to shine in his class. Oliver could already read fairly well and he knew all single number addition and subtraction. He could tell time, understand the hours and minutes; he had such a wonderful ability to pick up on concepts very quickly.
It only took one week for me to be crushed...our first phone call from his teacher. Oliver's teacher phoned me to inform me that he was not behaving in school, he was not listening, and he was not going to thrive unless something changed. I was floored and upset and at a loss for words. This continued for the first few months of school. I would either get a letter or a phone call about every week, and when I spoke to Oliver, he would continually say that he was trying, but his mind wouldn't slow down. Having two brothers with ADHD-hyperactivity/impulsetivity, I know the symptoms. I knew what this meant; but I would not condemn my child to taking medicines again, not if I could help it.
Oliver is very very very energetic. He never is still, not even when he sleeps. He sometimes gets so hyper that he shakes, sweats, and his eyes start twitching. Oliver has always been special to us though; when he listens to certain songs he can see colors and he can spin in circles for minutes and he never gets dizzy, ever. His mind doesn't work like his friends. He views the world in a special way, and as his mother, I fully encourage him to continue to see things differently. I cannot though, continue to let him be discouraged and saddened because of his performance in school. Many times when he gets of the bus, he is so sad because he wasn't a "good boy". When tested however, he tests well ahead of the other students, but he won't continue to grow in a school environment if he keeps getting in trouble for not sitting still.
And so begins another round of research. I work at an area preschool, and there enrolled is a very wonderful young boy. This young boy is autistic, and his mother is one of the most wonderful, caring, patient mothers I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She has invested countless hours of research into her son and really tries to give him the best possible life that she is able. This boy has never been in my class, but I have had the opportunity to observe him quite a few times. A few years ago, I would not have given him a chance at all to live a fairly normal life. He could not listen to basic instructions, he was almost impossible to understand, he was always angry it seemed, he would not even let me near him when I subbed.
Then his mother began changing their whole lives; she began a strict gluten free diet and invested in a new specialist who works with him. The changes in this young boy are amazing! To watch him sit at a table with his classmates and do his work (even though he still needs some help staying focused) is completely awe-inspiring. His whole life has been transformed: his verbal and social skills are improving daily and his overall quality of life seems to have improved exponentially. He lets me interact with him anytime I see him and when he is happy, his laughter will make your whole heart swell. I have spoken with his mother on numerous occasions, and she contributes a huge part of his success to his diet changes. She says that although it is hard to be so strict when she goes out or leaves him with a sitter, it is so well worth it that she cannot imagine any other way.
Back to Oliver....knowing that his pediatrician has already suggested putting him on ADHD medication numerous times before, my husband and I decide to begin a newer, stricter diet for him. And so begins this Evansville mom's quest for a gluten free lifestyle for my family.