Autism Watch: 2007

Autism Changes? Beyond the Obvious

Posted on: October 13, 2008

When your child’s given an autism diagnosis, there is most definitely a change in your life. There has to be, or, well, nothing changes. But what about changes beyond the ones that you think about firsthand? Beyond the way you discipline your child, what you may expect of him, and what you make him do, what else has changed?

I came across an article early about having a more natural, healthy home. It made me think about the things we’ve done to go ‘green.’ That led to thinking of the bigger picture, changing our lifestyle overall…but again, beyond the obvious.

In the last year, we’ve dropped some serious big bucks on these changes, mainly in the kitchen. We dumped every plastic storage item that had ever been nuked and gave the kids a lesson on how the only time food touches plastic is when we bring it home from the store or refrigerate it as a leftover. (Dh loves leftovers, and he didn’t want to go glass…but I did impress upon him, or I hope I did, that he should dump it on the glass plate before he nukes it.) On top of the plastic went all our teflon-coated cooking pots and pans, covering them with all our plastic utensils. Then with all that newly created room, we were able to organize, recycle a boatload of odd kitchen gadgets we’ll never use, and then we filled the space with stainless steel cookware with no coating or anything else unsafe. (And I’ll never cook on anything other than cast iron or stainless steel ever again.) We also bought all new stainless steel utensils, and glass bakeware. And because I don’t want to do good five days a week and blow it the other two, I even did the same with the RV.

Dh and I drink out of stainless steel refillable water bottles, aka canteens. Not only are they safer, but they keep our water colder much longer. And the money we save since we use filtered water. I pitched the Splenda packets and fake-sugar beverages and got really good at making really good tea. (Who knew there were so many flavors? I have yet to try the chocolate-infused tea that I bought at the new Fresh & Easy last week.) The kids don’t re-use their water bottles, and they don’t sit in a heated car or lunchbox. I’d get rid of water bottles altogether if I didn’t think the kids would lose them by day 3. And at $11 a pop, it’s not in keeping with the current economic climate.

We stopped using ‘regular’ store-bought cleaning supplies. I make homemade kitchen cleaner, window cleaner, and Lysol-type organic germ-killing cleaner. (The cost of the supplies to make a year’s worth of these cleaners cost about the same as two months worth of store-bought stuff…I even re-used a squirt bottle I already had and only had to buy one.) We watch the types of candles we burn, I bought cloth cleaning supplies to re-wash rather than throw away, and I use cheap washcloths on my Swiffer sweeper. We use only organic pesticides on our vegetable and fruit garden (and our flowers) and I’ve increased my veggie garden in the hopes that I’ll keep learning and eventually will have enough to seriously impact our grocery bill. Right now, it’s only saving us the cost of a few tomatoes and a heck of a lot of basil. (And basil isn’t like apples, it can’t be a meal no matter what you do to it, so I have a long way to go.)

One thing literally led to another. A quest to keep my son and other kids healthier led to a house that’s much better for our environment. Less toxins for the family, less waste and poison for the planet. I may not find a cure for autism, but I can at least keep the world safer for kids with autism now, or lessen the possibility that future babies will be exposed to toxins. There’s so much more we could do — if we were able to build a new house, we’d go with much greener supplies all around, and solar power would be a consideration, as it pays for itself in the long run.

Autism may have tossed our world upside down, but we’re much better people for it…inside and out.


3 Responses to "Autism Changes? Beyond the Obvious"

Way to go! I am inspired to follow your lead…especially with my garage sale approaching…and rid the home of the pots and plastics.

I, too, dabble in the homemade cleaners and have seen a definate improvement in my son ever since I did.

Let me know when you’re ready for the next step. I’ll help you learn to can your garden’s bounty. Good for your physical and financial health! I’ve been canning competitively for almost 20 years.

There’s nothing like the fresh smell of cracking open a jar of something you grew or harvested yourself last summer. Like fresh peaches in the dead of winter, made into a cobbler…

Oh yum, cobbler sounds good right now, it’s chilly here and we had dinner early. I would love to learn how to can! I just need to get more availability of affordable produce, but that may come sooner than I think if we can make a move that I’m really hoping we can make. I will take you up on that!

Wowzers! I didn’t even KNOW you could make your own cleaners. This is news to me. I’m so impressed with your dedication to these changes. I’m in the stage where I want to make changes but I haven’t done much about it yet. Other than switching Little Man over to steel water bottles, that is…

I need to buy new cookware. I want stainless and no aluminum, so should I buy copper bottomed stainless? Or do they make stainless with neither? Or should I use a cast iron most of the time???? So confused and want to do right?

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