Last Friday, I took Emma to see a doctor who has seen over a thousand children with autism and is also a Natureopath.
“What the hell is a natureopath?” My husband, Richard, asked when I told him.
“I’m hoping he can help me with getting Emma to eat different things. It’s more of a holistic approach, he uses homeopathy and things like that.”
“Circle gets the square,” Richard muttered.
“You have no idea what you’re talking about, do you?”
“Yeah, okay. I don’t know exactly what a natureopath is, but he’s worked with a number of children on the spectrum and I need help getting her to eat more than just a miniscule amount of something. Also, I don’t know that what I’m giving her is any better than what she was eating before.”
Later, I looked up Natureopath and this doctor in particular and came across this quote from his web site: “…practice focuses on autistic spectral disorders with special emphasis on chronic immune dysfunction, including allergies, asthma, recurrent or persistent infections and other genetic or acquired immune problems. He uses diet, nutrients, herbs, homeopathy and immunotherapy to help his children achieve better health.”
On Friday afternoon we went to see the doctor. Upon our arrival I went over Emma’s history and discussed all the other doctors and various therapies we’ve tried. We were there for a very long time.
As I spoke, Emma leapt about the room, racing from one chair to the next. At one point she ran over to the doctor and ran her fingers through his hair.
“Hair!” Emma intoned as though discovering the contents of King Tut’s tomb.
I glanced at the doctor with an apologetic smile. He seemed at ease and continued making notes.
“You like my hair?” He asked, while I said a silent prayer that she would say yes and not any number of inappropriate remarks she was just as likely to utter.
“Yeah!” She said before jumping into yet another chair.
Eventually he had Emma sit opposite him and handed her a copper bar which she grasped in her right hand while he ran another device along the inside of a finger on her left hand. In this way he tested Emma for over 200 different foods. Every single food she currently eats was a food that showed up on the “Avoid” list. But since she only eats about six things, the list was actually not that long. Each time the machine made a weird beep, signifying a food she couldn’t eat, I groaned.
“Corn,” he said.
“Not a problem. She doesn’t eat corn.”
To which he replied, “That means anything that has any form of corn – corn syrup, corn starch, corn’s in almost every processed food.”
By the time the testing was finished I was left with a list of “Must avoid” foods ranging from egg whites (from a chicken), corn (and any food with anything derived from corn), potatoes (and all foods containing anything derived from potatoes), all night shade vegetables, any dairy coming from a cow, all soy products, all red skinned fruits and vegetables and of course, wheat. The only thing NOT on the list that Emma enjoys is maple syrup, raw cane sugar and honey. I was told we could expect to see some “significant change” within a month.
I’m up for pretty much any challenge given to me, but I must admit to feeling a certain degree of anxiety as I left his office and began thinking about how I was going to implement this list.
“Cold turkey,” he advised. “Otherwise it’s like ripping off a bandaid very, very slowly.
When he said that, I thought immediately of Nic who much prefers the slow peeling off of a bandaid than the – here-let-me-rip-it-off-for-you approach.
I spent most of Saturday scouring New York City for foods she can eat. Specifically flours to make a non gluten bread and duck eggs, since Emma can’t eat the whites of chicken eggs. Duck eggs are a great deal harder to find than one might think. I finally gave up and have ordered a dozen from a woman in Michigan, who told me all about her ducks, how the older ones aren’t laying much any longer, the eggs she’s sending me are from one year olds and so the eggs might be missing yolks, etc. She also told me she will send them to me with the dirt “brushed” off, but not clean the way one expects to see eggs in the grocery store. Having grown up with a brother who had (for a number of years) about 24 hens and a single fierce rooster, he named Digby, I’m not particular about the dirt on my eggs.
“It’s okay, she won’t be eating the shells,” I reassured her.
The woman laughed. “I’m just warning you. Duck eggs are much dirtier than other eggs.”
Who knew? I’m glad for the warning.
Yesterday, Sunday was Day 1. It was tough. Emma was not pleased and though I tried to explain to her that she was going to feel much better when she began eating foods that were better for her, she remained unconvinced. However, she did end up eating a slice of ham, a tiny, imperceptible “taste” of lamb burger as well as a tiny bite of carrot, which she promptly spit out accompanied by “yeach!” The granola I made, remained untouched, though everyone else in the family thought it amazing. Nic had a friend over Friday afternoon who brought his 5 year old sister. All of them sat at the dining room table happily munching on the granola and even asked for seconds, while Emma stared morosely at her serving and refused to eat more than a tiny piece of a dried apricot.
Preheat Oven to 325°
1 Cup Organic Oats, ½ C. unsweetened shredded coconut, ½ C. unsweetened coconut flakes or chips, ½ C. pumpkin seeds, ½ C. sunflower seeds, ½ C. chopped walnuts, ½ C. pecans (or sliced almonds)
Heat together and then pour ½ C. maple syrup, ¼ C. honey & 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract onto dry mixture. Mix with wooden spoon until everything is coated. May need to add a little more honey or maple syrup.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, spread granola in a layer. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to make sure it is uniformly brown.
Add 1 Cup chopped dried fruit. I used dried apricots and yellow raisins, but any dried fruit would work. Mix into granola after it’s cooled for 10 minutes or so.
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to: www.Emma’s Hope Book.com