Bridging the communication gap between high functioning autistics and neurotypicals.

Posts tagged ‘curing autism’

Curing Autism? … We’ll See!

Getting It!

Okay, well, kind of… Let me explain. I’ve known I’ve been different since I was very small. I just didn’t know why. I started kindergarten in Michigan in 1974. I don’t remember anyone’s face or any of the kids. I didn’t play with anyone. I usually just sat and read books. It didn’t occur to me then that I was different. I thought life was going to be fun! You know, with all the reading and learning and being alone. To quote a Bible verse, I “was cut off out of the land of the living” and didn’t know it and didn’t care!

So, by my late thirties, I started noticing that I was feeling only two emotions, fear and anger, and only then when they were extreme. I heard other people talk about all of these other emotions that they were feeling but I had no clue where these emotions lived, died or had their being. All these humans I worked around positively gassed on about feeling this way and that way but I never really wondered about it. To me, this was some fictive reality that they conjured up for their sanity. Speaking of fictive, not being able to feel emotions is why I don’t like fiction. There’s just no draw for me in fiction. Even science fiction is drama-less unless it’s a movie. Enough about that now.

Okay, so, being in love and being married. I meet this woman who seems to have an instant attraction to me. The only reason I know there is an attraction is because she tells me, “Hey, I like you! You’re interesting!” I never had that happen to me before. Notice I didn’t say I felt anything. I said that I heard someone say, “I like you!” That’s all I had to go on. To keep this story from being longer, I’ll let you know the punchline now. We got married!

The cruel joke, however, was that Michelle spent the next few years realizing that she was married to a strange, eccentric brick wall of a human being. I had trouble figuring out why Michelle liked me so much. I would constantly ask her, “Why do you like me so much?” Her answer was usually something platitudinous like, “Because you’re interesting to me!” or “Because you’re you!” What I wasn’t realizing was that she was communicating through words her feelings about me to explain why she was attracted to me. I DID NOT understand that emotional attraction alone could be enough to hold someone’s attention. I would continually bug her with the query, “Are you going to leave me?” because I couldn’t and didn’t ‘feel’ her attraction.

In July of 2011, I started suspecting that something was wrong enough to explain my lack of success in life. After taking the Adult Autism Quotient test, I scored 37 out of 50 (74%). In July of 2012, I got diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Personality disorder. After getting a proper explanation from the psychologist of both of those things, life started to make a little more sense, past and present.

So, I think I’ve made my point clear here. I didn’t get any emotional cues, signals or messages across the course of my 45 years. I could see people acting emotionally but I never could ‘feel’ the necessary emotions that conveyed the rest of the message they were trying to get across to me!

ENTER (from stage left): JULY 2013….

In July of 2013 (too much happens in July, dang it!), Michelle reads about the GAPS diet. While I was initially skeptical, I read the pages she had been reading. I knew from all of the biology coursework I had taken that the intestinal lining was where 99% of all our nutrition was absorbed. So, I knew that fact was right. From Molecular and Cellular biology, I also knew that most any important chemical compound in cell-to-cell communication in our brains was made out of proteins. Finding out that if our intestines were damaged by what we had been eating or taking as medicine, then we weren’t getting the proper nutrition for our brain cells was a no-brainer, (Ha!). This diet’s theoretical principles made a lot of biological sense to me. Notice, here, that I was logical about my decision. I didn’t base my decision on emotional considerations at all. I just thought to myself, “Logically, this makes a lot of sense. If I’m not getting the proper nutrition because of a damaged intestinal epithelium then, of course, my central nervous system won’t be in optimal health either”. So, we started the diet.

Being a professional cook for most of my working life made putting together the required broths easy. No problems there. In fact, it was a piece of cake. I even made a pate of liver since organ meats are on the diet that was phenomenal! I even showed a handful of people how to make the broths themselves. They have discovered the benefits as well!

But, enough about that. Does this diet cure autism?

What I’m gonna ask is “Does this diet cure MY autism?”

If autism is a social communication disorder characterized by the inability to ‘read’ other people, the inability to initiate and maintain relationships, the inability to capitalize on social networks and interactions, then, YES!, I am autistic. If autism is also characterized by stereotypical repetitive behaviors such as rocking back and forth whether sitting or standing (like I always hear from people “Stop that, you’re making me seasick!) or compulsively arranging things in a certain order (like arranging books in order of color according to lowest to highest wavelength of the visible light spectrum like I used to do and still do) then YES!, I fit those traits as well.

Now, however, I have seen CHANGES! The most important one is this. Since about three weeks after starting the diet, I have been able to feel a transaction of energy between myself and other people. Usually, when this happens, it changes my own emotions about what just happened or about the person I just interacted with. When this exchange happens between me and Michelle, I usually am COMPELLED to smile! Even the thought of Michelle FORCES me to smile! Before, that thought was almost always a simple acceptance of Michelle existing. In other words, a fact. That’s all. When this exchange happens between me and another person, it all depends on how the interaction goes. For instance, when someone yells at me now, I immediately feel my own anger at the injustice (instead of two days later) and immediately respond in kind instead of overboard! That means I can defend myself now after 45 years of running and hiding! That’s awesome!

Michelle can now actually read me! Before, I was very unpredictable to her. She never could tell how I felt or thought about a particular subject. She had to ask me every time. Now, with just the slightest sensing on her part, she can immediately tell how I feel. And, I actually immediately put across enough emotion so that she can read me. That’s strange! Very strange!

But, there have been hitches in the git-along. At this stage of the diet, any deviation from the prescribed foods can send me into relapse. It can take three to four weeks to get back out of it. What’s frightening about it is that the autistic symptoms come back even stronger than before. They make my life very difficult when I have relapsed but the good thing is I can come back out of it with the right foods, probiotics and motivation (which I’ve rarely had before).

Will this cure my high-functioning autism? I have to wait another 18 months or so for the healing process to complete to know whether I can be well enough to say that I have been cured. However, the changes that I’ve seen in myself and the abilities I have in reading others on a very basic level have finally let me know that I’m not alone in this life and I can now tell that other people actually care a great deal about me.

I will keep posting about my progress as I go along. You will know how I’m doing. Michelle and I are here to serve the autism community in the ways that will benefit us all the most. Please look us up here at Happy Robot Coaching. We’re always happy to help!

Happy New 2014!

~Mark

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Curing Autism?

A diet that cures autism? Yeah, right. I heard about it on an obscure interview and then looked at the web page. I had never read anything like it before in my many searches for wellness through diet. It looked impossible to me. You have to cook. Restaurants are out of the question when doing the first few stages of the diet. For maximum healing, the diet has to be followed upwards of two years. Despite these supposed negatives, the diet kept coming to my mind.

Gaps stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. The idea is that the gut is damaged by out of control pathogens. These pathogens create small holes in the lining. The holes keep food from being digested properly, nutrients from absorbing, and sends undigested foods into the bloodstream. In turn, the brain is affected in many ways: learning disabilities, autism, mental illness, etc. Dr Natasha Campbell claims that the “leaky gut” also creates problems such as arthritis and autoimmune diseases. She lists many health problems in her book.

The idea behind the GAPS Diet is to heal the intestinal lining. Consuming a diet low in simple and complex carbohydrates and high in proteins and fats is the crux of the diet. Appropriate probiotic and fatty acid supplementation, proper stress reduction, and a change in sleep habits is also required.

In July 2013, Mark and I decided to jump in and try it. So what’s the worst that can happen? We feel better? Mark will be a healthier Aspie?

It is a dramatic dietary change. The most important healing food in the diet is the bone broth which you drink as if it were water. How weird to suddenly be buying pig feet and beef bones. It’s pretty hard on the conscious when you see feet in your stew. The diet also includes organ meats. We have not yet acquired a taste for these. Of course, there are “normal” foods, but the afore mentioned are the staples.

The changes I began seeing in myself were remarkable. Relief from many pains, including the incessant jaw pain I had learned to live with, uncomfortably. But what Mark was experiencing was beyond comprehension. Miraculous to those with Auties in their lives.

For the first time in Mark’s 45 years of life, he started experiencing other’s feelings. He also started expressing his own feelings. It was as if he had awakened from a coma.

It has not been a mostly pleasant awakening. One bite of “wrong” food sent him back to autism worse than he had experienced before. In 10 minutes, all the good food was null and void and it would take weeks to get back to “feeling” again. This roller coaster ride led him to wanting to be “normal” so badly that he has been able to avoid “wrong” foods through a desire to be well. This is quite a feat since he works in a kitchen.

Imagine the overwhelm of feeling emotions suddenly at the ripe old age of 45. He had always SEEN that some people at work were grumpy, but now he was feeling their very down vibe. It made him feel so bad he thought they were mad at him. They were actually just grumpy people. We have talked about creating filters and only allowing energies in that you choose. A very difficult concept.

Imagine an emotionless, 19 year old marriage, suddenly awakening from a deep sleep. There were many walls I had put up to survive in an emotionless marriage. Walls I didn’t know were there until he awoke. Walls that affected my entire life, making me less than what I could have been. Walls I’m working on as soon as they are recognized.

The scariest part was wondering if the marriage would stay together. “What if he doesn’t really like me? What if he married me just because I offered and no one else had? What if he doesn’t like who I am emotionally? What if he starts feeling something for someone at work and decides I’m boring?”

Guess what! It turns out that even though I couldn’t feel him all these years and he couldn’t express all of these years, every choice he made was on purpose, meant something to him, and he has no regrets! In fact, I feel like I’m having an illicit love affair with my own husband.

This diet has changed our lives immeasurably. We hope to use this experience to even better help others within our sphere.

Happy 2014!

*For more information on the diet see http://www.gapsdiet.com. We are not Gaps practitioners, but if you would like support starting the diet or with recipes, we are available.

Michelle Hedges