Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘toxins

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.

I read a lot about vaccines and autism. It’s unavoidable anymore. Because it’s my job as a mom of a child with autism to stay on top of research, trends in autism, autism politics and the autism community. (It’s not a choice in my eyes; everyone can do what I do, it’s a matter of priority.) I have my feelings on vaccines, and that is plainly that there are too many parents out there who have seen their child literally change within hours of receiving a vaccine. People can say that correlation isn’t causation or that there’s no ‘proof,’ (though reading about Simpsonwood or RFK Jr’s Rolling Stone article might really be an eye opening experience….though I’m sure there’s some ‘proof’ or excuse as to why that won’t count) but the thousands upon thousands of parents who see change has to count for something. (And why go to the expense/time/effort to make pharmaceutical companies immune from lawsuits due to vaccine injuries? Any other industry protected from lawsuits for a product they manufacture, much less a ‘mandatory’ product?)

But, to get to my point. There is a contingency out there who is anti-vaccine, and probably won’t get them no matter how safe they’re made or what changes occur in their ingredients/schedule. And many of them will do so for reasons entirely unrelated to autism. The rest of us are pretty much pro-vaccine — we just want safe vaccines. That means safer ingredients — and we’re not talking necessarily about the ingredients that prevent whooping cough, polio, etc., but the other ingredients, the things that can easily be changed. It makes no sense that there’s opposition to removing aluminum, formaldehyde, and other nasties from vaccines if it won’t decrease the efficacy. (Oh, that’s right, money!) Instead, people would rather focus on calling us names and trying to argue our point than actually looking at the ingredients and looking at ways to appease both sides of the vaccine controversy. We also want to break up the schedule a bit so our children’s bodies and immune systems aren’t expected to handle so much at once. There are ways to do this, and the fact it’s being so hotly argued should make people wonder. It’s an easy request, why not consider it?

In my reading, I see where a lot of people write about us as though we’re some small fringe group of people providing misinformation. Fact is, there are such vast amounts of people who are behind this, it’s not going to just go away. And if misleading information is a concern, there should be equal concern about why the real facts about vaccine side effects aren’t more readily available — bigger print, not buried in medical jargon, or not omitted from commercials. The Gardasil vaccine in particular comes to mind. Oh, and that ‘necessary’ flu shot that still contains thimerasol.

And now Amanda Peet has jumped into the fray. Why? She’s just like any other parent who chooses to vaccinate, except she’s got some celebrity status and is using it to tell us to ignore celebrities. So what do people do? Listen to her? What a paradox, so hypocritical yet really clever! It’s amazing that, like other celebrities who speak up with absolutely no experience about what they speak, suddenly they are experts who attempt tell us what to do…when their real career is in pretending to be someone. Hmmmmmm. Too bad when she says to listen to doctors that those shows that air her ridiculous commentary don’t name some other reknown doctors who believe that vaccines need to be changed, that toxins in our environment contribute to autism, and that the “1 in 10,000” children at risk for side-effects or whatever is simply too much. 

One thing to consider is that those who speak out so adamantly in favor of vaccines, many of them are heavily involved with the vaccine industry, so if conflict of interest is a concern, look in that direction. If I’m selling a product, of course I’m going to try and make it sound good or it’ll affect my bank balance. (And those of us who want safer vaccines get nothing from it other than safer vaccines, so it’s important to keep in mind the motivation.) Some people who hang out with the celebrities or doctors who encourage vaccines as they stand today have close relationships with the pharmaceutical people. Check it out, it’s rather surprising.

In the end, safer vaccines aren’t going to help our kids that already have autism. For some reason, that fact is frequently overlooked. We want our grandchildren’s generation to experience only decreasing cases of autism. We want babies soon to come to be protected against deadly diseases but not to also have to deal with learning disabilities, autism, seizures, or whatever else can happen from too much garbage injected into small undeveloped bodies.

If vaccines work, unvaccinated people aren’t going to hurt the vaccinated at all. Another important thing to remember. This “herd immunity” thing is thrown around like some big league word when in reality, following along with the herd means doing what everyone else does. No, thanks.

As I type this, my little guy is laying next to me, sound asleep. Almost snoring. All things considered, he’s done really, really well this week…despite the dietary infractions (blue and red dye, yeast-y foods, way too much sugar, forgotten supplements) and serious change in schedule and social events. But the stims? Out of control, with pulling his eyelashes being the most common. The only time he’s not doing it is when he’s playing Wii boxing! (My personal recommendation: buy a Wii. Sure, it can be isolating but with multi-player games, many that require working together, you get practice in cooperation, frustration, and motor skills. And low-muscle tone? Lots of good exercise!)

In a couple of weeks, we’re ramping up the biomedical therapies — casein-free, adding in some more supplements (starting with biotin) and more dietary changes. I’m spending hours reading about removing more and more toxins (cleaning products, toothpaste with unnecessary additives, etc.) from the house. New Year’s resolutions? Heck no, who has time?

In the past week, we’ve gone to more parties than I can count on my hands. We’ve gone to our Christmas Eve church service, where we lit the Christ candle, which required quiet standing at the podium for a few minutes. Score. He handled it fine, with only some minor squirmage going on. We took ds shopping. We took him to the infamous karate class. We also expected him to handle all this on less sleep, as we were up later at night yet not necessarily sleeping late in the morning. Through it all, we’ve had sporadic serious wind gusts. Busy-ness + less sleep + more transitions + shopping + lack of routine + WIND = recipe for disaster. And what do I hear outside my window right now? More wind. (We have yet to clean up the wreck that is our backyard. At least we won’t hear the crash as the 300 lb barbecue blows over again. And the Christmas decorations it ruined or came close to ruining? Still in the garage. All I can say about them is poor Snoopy.) Winds mean more irritability and less sleep. Then he gets to look forward to the root canal and crown on Friday morning.

Holidays and children with autism are never boring at least.

And, while I’ve got you — if you’ve got some excellent GFCF or just healthy cooking or green home websites that you love, please comment and share them! I will keep adding them to my blogroll, too. Merry Christmas!

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