The Suggestions Autism Inspires

I have been trying to find a probiotic that Emma might be willing to take with little success.  Yesterday I asked the man in a health food store for help and when I mentioned it was for my autistic daughter he asked the usual questions regarding her diet (limited), her activity level (high), etc.  I am usually reluctant to get involved in such a conversation as I am almost always inundated with well meaning advice.  Advice that has little, if anything, to do with my original question and advice I have received by literally hundreds of people in the last seven years.  Yesterday proved no different.

“You need to train her to eat healthy foods,” he began.

I smiled in response while remembering the last time we attempted to get Emma to take something she didn’t want to take.  It took three adults holding her down, while I tried to force a spoonful of antibiotics in her mouth.  She writhed around and blew the contents of the spoon out of her mouth with such force it hit me in the face.  Richard stood up at that point and said, “We can’t do this.  There has to be another way.”

My face dripping with Emma’s saliva mixed with the pink sticky antibiotics we had forced into her mouth, I was inclined to agree.

“She should eat only raw fruits and vegetables,” the man in the health food store continued, warming to his subject.

I stared at him and said, “I really am just interested in finding a chewable probiotic that she might actually try.”

Undeterred, the man continued and then said, “You should call this man, he can help your daughter.”

“Is he a doctor?” I asked.

“Oh no!” the man said, looking horrified.

“Is he a specialist in autism?”

“No, no, nothing like that,” the man said, scribbling down a name and phone number.

“So who is this person?” I asked.

“He has vitamins, special vitamins,” he answered.

I looked around the store.  A store well stocked with vitamins of every kind and said, “Look, I am sure this person is a lovely human being, but I don’t need vitamins at the moment.  Thank you anyway.”

“No, no, this man is different,” he said as I turned to leave.

“They always are,” I answered.

Over the years I have had conversations with so many people I can no longer count, exactly like this one.  During those first few years I even took Emma to a number of people I had heard about from others, who claimed to have some inexplicable cure, vitamins, tinctures of homeopathic remedies, healers, people who I am sure believed that what they were doing could and would make a difference, and perhaps they did for someone else’s child.  But whatever it was never made a difference for Emma.

I have had people contact me insisting their child, nephew, grandchild was miraculously healed, began speaking in full sentences etc. as the direct result of whatever magical potion they were telling me about.  It’s not that I think all these people are making up success stories, they are far too passionate for that, it’s that I have heard so many of these stories, literally hundreds of them and they are always of something different.  Each remedy is an anecdotal story of a child the person knows, and yet I have never been told about the same remedy working for anyone else.

One of the things I have learned over the years is that one can spend every last dime one has on these potions, healers, etc. and there will never be an end to it.  One can spend every moment running from one referral to the next, one remedy to the next and there will always be a new one around the next corner.  At a certain point, one cannot continue to investigate every single suggestion given, it simply is not possible from a financial standpoint or time-wise, but most importantly – one must ask the question – what is this doing to my child?

I have no doubt the man in the health food store genuinely thought he was doing me a tremendous favor by telling me about his friend.  What he couldn’t know was that I have hundreds and hundreds of scraps of paper with names and phone numbers scribbled down of people just like his “vitamin man”.

After I left the health food store I was able to locate a chewable probiotic at Whole Foods that miraculously, Emma was willing to chew.  I will see if it makes a difference, though I am not holding my breath.

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism go to:

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