Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"I love you to Titan and Back."

Welcome to Almond Place!  

I have been blessed to have my Guest in my life for the better part of 10 years now. She is a thoughtful, kind, fun, energetic, talented and beautiful Mama.  She loves deeply and fiercely and the story she is going to be sharing here is something incredibly personal. Out of respect for her son and family, we are choosing to share her story anonymously. 

She and her little family have worked so incredibly hard at saving their son.  It has been a long road, and the daily challenges of going "against the grain" are real and still difficult. I have been a witness to their journey first hand.

If you feel inclined to comment, I would ask that you do so respectfully. I know this is a difficult subject for many and there are so many varying opinions and philosophies on how to handle this diagnosis.  I thank her for her courage, for not taking NO for an answer and for being willing to share her story here. 

Here is her story.

"I love you to Titan and Back"  

We all go through things in life that change us. Some things are tragic and some miraculous. We all take the good with the bad and hope to come out of this in one piece.   

To be honest, I'm a mess

Sometimes I feel broken and on the mend at the same time.  I cannot stop thinking about all the children and all the parents that will go through what we have had to endure. The experience I'm going to share with you has changed me. It's changed my way of thinking.  I'm not the same trusting mom. I question everything and everyone when it comes to my children.

The most tragic experience in my life was watching my first born son regress into Autism.

2011 is the year we watched our son drift away. We watched him lose skills, and become very ill. He had unexplained reoccurring fevers of 105 every three weeks for one year. He became lost in his own world. He stopped responding to his name, and became obsessed with opening and closing doors. There was no shared enjoyment. His eye contact was lost. He stared out the window most of the day. 

He was sick and alone. 

Conventional medicine had no advice for us on how to help our son.  We were at a loss.

At the age of 23 months he was informally diagnosed with Classic Autism.

We were strongly encouraged to avoid dietary changes and biomedical intervention because we were told these presented false hope. After researching testimonials online, we decided there might be some hope in making dietary changes for our son and figured if these changes had helped some children then we had to try them for our son. 

April 28th 2012 was a defining day for us. We removed all wheat, soy, sugar and dairy. 36 hours after removing these foods our son gained eye contact, began pointing and began talking to us again. 

Six weeks later, after making environmental and dietary changes he was formally diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified Autism Spectrum Disorder (PDDNOS ASD). This means he went from very Low Functioning to High Functioning in 6 weeks. We did this entirely with dietary changes.

The most miraculous thing in this life has been watching his recovery! 

We have spent two years of life on some extremely strict dietary and environmental changes. We now have a healthy, happy little boy who is very social, has friends and loves to learn. He is fascinated with math, science and everything to do with outer space.

One of my favorite special moments with my son was about a year into his recovery.  He had just turned three and we were finishing up the book  "I love you to the moon and back". My little boy looked up at me with his big blue eyes and said "Mommy, I love you to Titan and back. That is really far away!" (Titan is one of Saturns moons).

Their story is remarkable, isn't it? I am so proud of them. Their son is adorable and so stinking smart. In fact if you met him today, you would have no idea he was ever on the spectrum.

Their story is proof that it can be done and there is HOPE for your child if you are faced with this diagnosis. I will be featuring more of their story here in the future, so stay tuned!

Again, I would please ask that you be respectful in the comments. If you have any questions for her, please feel free to email me and I will forward them on. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer Fun Friday: Back to School

Hi there! Welcome to Almond Place. On Fridays this summer I hosted a regular series called Summer Fun Fridays where I highlighted some things on our family summer bucket list.

Well, our oldest son Andrew is wrapping up his third week of first grade and Jacob starts pre-k on Monday. This is the last Summer Fun Friday 2014 and it makes me so sad!

We really did have a fantastic summer together as a family. Family is what I want to highlight today. 

The last few weeks in this world have been rough. So rough that in order for me to protect my over sensitive brain I've had to pretty much just tune out. The issues in Iraq, west Africa and now in Missouri are heartbreaking and complicated. 

I am constantly reminded and eternally grateful for winning the birth place lottery. 
I am so thankful for a loving family and group of friends who make up our Phoenix family!

Here is our list as it stands at the end of the summer. We had a phenomenal summer. We crossed off nearly everything on our list and we will be adding the things we missed to our fall activity list. 

This summer, we camped! In tiny cabins and in our tent. It was awesome! 

We rode rides!

We played outside, A LOT.

We drove several thousand miles!

We met new friends along the way and reconnected with old friends!

But most of all, we spent time together. 
And that is the best place we could ever be.

So long Summer...thanks for a fantastic time! Can't wait to see you again next year!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Whatever it takes

I just love this picture.  This picture is a reminder of some of the challenges I've faced both in parenting and in my marriage.

Our second son, Jacob was born with GERD...which basically meant his esophagus wasn't quite fully developed and he suffered from silent reflux. Although we were fortunate to have some luck with his medication and dietary changes, he still had moments of being inconsolable. Having a baby with reflux is no joke and is incredibly stressful on Mama and Daddy.

One night, after burning a path in our hall carpet and several frustrating interactions together, Jim came into our living room at midnight carrying our big ladder, a drill and a long rope. His response to my "Um, what the HELL are you doing?! DO NOT DRILL INTO MY CEILING" was simply "Just trust me".....ha...everyone's famous last words, right?

While I fumed holding the screaming baby, he proceeded to take the vent grill off and drill a hole into the 2x4s surrounding it. He screwed in a giant hook and strung the rope. After a little rigging, we had a giant pendulum swing in our living room.

We strapped that screaming baby into his car seat, hooked it up and let him fly!

It was MAGIC.

It saved two weary and stressed out parents. He gradually recovered as he got older and we needed it less and less.  By the time Jake was 9 months old, the rope was out and the grill was permanently back in place.

We don't live in that house anymore, but the giant hook hiding behind the grill remains. I sometimes wonder what someone would think if they found it! I will never forget our days in our starter home, when all we had was each other and our 2 little boys....just trying to figure things out.

Just like everything in learning how to wasn't in the book, it was unconventional, we did what we had to do to bring comfort to our child and our ceiling swinging days are long behind us :-)

I can hardly believe that little swinging baby is nearly 5 and heading off to Pre-K in a couple of days!