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!