Our positive experience with our autistic little niece and organic foodsCrystal Calhoun
We recently took in our two young nieces. One of them is a 6 year old autistic girl by the name of Sylvia. When Sylvia first came to our home her diet primarily consisted of the following: grits, pancakes, ramen noodles, generic sugary juice and McDonalds hamburger buns. There were so many foods that she absolutely refused to eat, and these of which she ate, we did not so it was quite a clash of the Titans when she first came to our home.
A while back we learned about GMO and pesticides and decided to make a life changing decision to go all or at least as all organic as we possibly could. Yes, it is very expensive but we trust that what we are putting into our bodies will actually save us the expense of so many long term issues and doctor bills, so in truth, we simply believe we cannot afford NOT to do organics.
When the girls came to live with us my husband and I wanted to know more about autism and how one addresses it. We’d never had an autistic child before so there was a lot of things we needed and wanted to know.
My mother who works with disabled children professionally recommended I research a wonderful doctor and speaker by the name of Temple Grandin. I was awe struck and encouraged at the same time when I watched videos of her as well as other autistic children. Some of the things that really stood out to me was that the diet of the autistic child should have more proteins in it and a healthy variety of food. Also that bad behavior should not be permitted (being mean on purpose). So to work we went on both her bad behavior (which was quite bad when she first arrived) and her diet… which also was quite bad when she first arrived.
At first she would not eat our food. She made the loudest and longest tantrums she could muster up and several nights she did not eat dinner at all (those were some hard long nights!). We tried different things, but they had to be organic, and they had to be stuff we would eat ourselves.
One day our old gas stove top broke so my husband went to get a temporary electric plugin stove top that we could use in the meantime. Since it was small and portable I put it on the kitchen table while I prepared for lunch. immediately Silvia took an interest in my cooking and wanted to participate. I was very intrigued and decided to see what would happen by getting her involved in the lunch and dinner preparations.
Because we buy organic food we must prepare food from scratch as well. This is how we can afford to buy organics. We’ve also cut nearly all fast food and sodas so this money goes to the expensive organic foods as well. So when someone says they cannot afford to buy organics, I do not completely buy the idea, I believe it is more that they are unwilling to let go of certain things IN ORDER to buy organics. I doubt they put much thought into the cost of convenience itself. How much a person saves by making homemade dishes themselves! I believe in many cases the cost of convenience has become our health and our family unity.
So here I’m learning something new about Silvia. I asked if she wanted to help me make pasta and she gave an excited affirmative response. I had her do the stirring and also helped her get the ingredients into the bowl. She stirred with precision and care. she was so proud of herself and repeatedly said, “I’m a Baker, I’m a Baker”. She wanted a bakers hat to finish the picture she had placed in her mind about herself. It was a joy to see how well she responded, and with so much care even in stirring the ingredients together.
She not only did not have a problem eating our homemade pasta this day, but she ate even more than I did! It was an incredibly eye-opening experience!
From that day I had invited Silvia into as much cooking activities as I could. One of the flowing morning I was set to make some homemade pancakes…. When she first came to our home she rejected our pancakes because they did not look like the ones she was used to eating (processed and white frozen pancakes most likely). But when I invited her to help me make pancakes she excitedly agreed and proclaimed to the household that “Silvia is a Baker, Silvia is a Baker”. And we all praised her for her good work in helping me bake the WHOLE WHEAT flour pancakes. She joyfully ate more than I could this day.
The following days I began to ponder. How can I get Silvia to eat more healthy foods. She needs more protein in her diet and more fresh fruits…. None of which she was willing to eat whenever set before her. So I decided to try something new. I decided to use something she was already very willing to eat – pancakes!
I asked Silvia if she would like to help me make a new pancake called “Silvia’s Power Pancake” and she jumped to the occasion. I pulled out my new special ingredients and prayed that the “trick” would work. I added extra eggs, peanut butter instead of shortening, honey instead of sugar, 2 diced up and pealed apples (cut real tiny) and some cinnamon. I put the new ingredients into the bowl and had to stir as always. I was ready for her to have another tantrum as I introduced the new objects, but she didn’t! I even explained (on purpose) what each new thing was… and still, she happily stirred.
With the stove top on the kitchen table I helped her pour small cups of the batter into the pan and helped her flip the pancakes one by one. She was delighted to help!
When it was time to eat she proudly let everyone know that she was the Baker and then ate more than everyone at the table including my husband and I. The pancakes were a HIT!
The girls were with us approximately 2 months. Silvia is now placed in a research center as her parents had scheduled many months previously for her to be evaluated and before they came to live with us. I was notified by the DHS who is in charge of the 2 girls that Silvia’s father was present at the time they took Silvia to the research center. Her father spoke highly of how much Silvia had changed since the time she came into our care.
Before Silvia came to live with us she was basically a loose cannon. She would have regular tantrums whenever she did not get what she wanted. Her communication was limited to a couple words at a time and hard to understand. Her tantrums included hitting others around her and banging her head against anything she possibly could. We could not allow her to hurt herself or others around her so we would put her nose in the wall. This was absolutely un-enjoyable by her as well as the whole household, especially to the one who had to physically restrain her therein because there was no way she would stand there without a struggle.
Silvia still has tantrums when she does not understand or get her way. This has not completely left her lifestyle, but the number of tantrums has gone down DRAMATICALLY from what seemed like 6 or more nose in the wall intervals a day (it took aprox 45 minutes for her to calm down and stand there obediently) to 2 tantrums a day (typically one in the morning and one at night).
Another extreme show of progress for Silvia in the short span of time that we had her was her understanding and communication. Not only was she able to speak in whole short sentences UNDERSTANDABLY but she was even asking to say prayers at mealtime and bedtime as we had always done before ourselves. In the beginning when they first started living with us she did NOT want to join us in prayer or reading the Bible before bed time at all, and a week or two before she left us she was asking to LEAD us in prayer for mean and bed-time.
It was an incredible lesson we have all learned having Silvia here with us. Silvia still has a long road ahead of her, and we pray that we have made a lifelong positive effect on her as well as her sister. We believe in our hearts that we have.
We were told much to our delight that the center that is caring for Silvia vows to keep Silvia on organics especially after having learned of her great progress in our home having switched from all the junky processed foods to organics. I was surprised to hear this as I had truly believed she would be put back on processed foods as soon as she was taken out of our care. My husband was equally relieved to hear the good news. We truly believe eating organic is the way God intended us to eat. His foods are always best and His ways, so much better than ours (man-made and man-altered GMO’s).
For those who have an autistic child of their own I would greatly encourage you to research GMO’s and pesticides. We believe they are a leading factor into why American Autism has sky-rocked with each new passing year. We believe GMO & pesticides are not only poisoning bugs on the plants we eat… but poisoning our kids as well (not to mention the adults who eat those poisoned plants). Do some research on organics and how they can altar/change the effects of GMO poisoning. It has been life changing to see the progress in Silvia in only 2 months time, how much the better as time continues and she stays on this healthy and balanced diet.
I will post Silvia’s Power Pancake recipe in my next post. 🙂