Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Year, New Supplements

I am back at it, after taking a several month hiatus from blogging. Holidays can get so busy! ...and then there's the recovery afterward. ;)

Zane is doing well. I kept him on his homeopathic therapies and the chiropractor and horse lessons up until December. After christmas, we took a break for about three months. No homeopathics, except for the formula 303 that helps him sleep at night and an adjustment every few weeks.

Wow - I never thought I'd believe that those homeopathics work, but they sure do! Very quickly after we stopped taking them, Zane started to bite his hands whenever he got frustrated - which was frequently. He threw horrible tantrums throwing himself on the floor and banging his head - and his hands were always covered with bruises from him biting. He would get so frustrated he would just shake. Scary!

He was sleeping well at night, but he was waking up upset a lot of the time and generally ornery most of the day. At school, he was fussy and unhappy some of the time and his teachers started to squirt him with water from a squirt bottle trying to break the chain of frustration that kept him biting and hurting himself. That seemed to help a little bit, but it was very hard to catch him every time.

Four weeks ago we started back with the homeopathic remedies and later added the chiropractic and laser sessions back. Almost instantly Zane stopped biting himself... not altogether, of course, but over every little thing. Biting became a couple times a week thing rather than the several times a day it was before. We haven't started horse therapy again yet, although that is something I want to add to his "supplemental diet."

Two weeks ago a friend of mine introduced me to A*** (the product company asked me to take down their name from this post). It's a salt-water drink with "reactive molecules".  The technology behind it is based on redox-signalling, which is how our cells communicate with each other. In the Autism studies I've researched, everything I've read explains that people with autism suffer from oxidative stress in their cells, which basically means the cells are not receiving the nutrients they need to not only survive, but to thrive. These cells struggle with the day to day work needed to keep the body healthy and active, which is why many of us feel sluggish and tired without understanding why. They are in overload trying to accommodate the body's needs. With autism, we already know that cells aren't communicating - that their neurons are misfiring, which is why it takes them 100 times to learn something solidly whereas a normal person only takes 3-5 times.

There are several very cool things about this reactive molecule formula. One is that it is a natural supplement - reactive molecules are already present in our bodies; we are born with them, but over stress, aging, free radicals, and our environment our body's natural supply is diminished. The evidence of this is in our aging skin and bodies as we get older. Reactive molecules go in and repair stressed-out cells, making them nice and plump and healthy again. Doing this opens the communication channel between other healthy cells and we find our aches and pains begin to go away, our skin is flushed and supple, our cells are able to absorb nutrition and antioxidants we feed them and we have energy. Reactive molecules also balance the PH in our blood and our hormones. It is very common to experience a "stablizing" effect. 

My experience with this Product: a little background..... I'm a single, working, autism mom, which basically means my life is really busy, hectic and stressful. I am - like every other autism mom out there - totally full of worry over Zane and his progress, and whether or not he is getting the help he needs. I am also in graduate school full time.

I have this unconscious habit of pulling my hair out at my hairline - where i once had a widow's peak - when I am overloaded and stressed out. I have had to see a chiropractor regularly for my back and neck, which is burdened with the stress. I too often reach for the sugar filled goodies, I don't like fish and eating healthy is usually seen as too time consuming for me to follow. So pretty much I feel yucky and tired all the time while trying to keep this schedule. I'm good at exercising, which has probably been my saving grace energy-wise, but I am not very consistent about it because I have to prioritize my time with the heavy load I carry.

I started taking it the same time as Zane - mostly because I wanted to know for myself whether there was anything to this. With Zane's homeopathics, I just have to trust blindly that they do something for him because they are formulated specifically for him and i can't afford my own homeopathics just to try it out on myself.

I noticed within the first few days my energy was better and i wasn't reaching for as much sugary foods. The second week I felt so good. I feel in control - my emotions are in check. I still have all the same concerns and burdens, yet somehow I am not overwhelmed by them at all. In fact, I was able to finish my thesis paper without pulling my hair out! Actually - my widow's peak is growing back in. That nervous habit I had no longer exists.

I take a ballet class every day and I have noticed my performance in the class is better. I have more endurance, and more strength - and I am actually starting to lose weight. I don't feel as hungry, nor do I have uncontrollable cravings as I used to.

My concentration with school is so much better. I get more done is less time because I don't feel so much anxiety over making my deadlines and getting things done. In short, my life is totally manageable and I have even been able to give more attention to Zane. My patience is greater, and I feel at ease with life. My skin is also gorgeous. It has never looked so good. I could go without makeup and my complexion is perfectly even-toned. I feel happy and good. What is interesting is that my body now seems to know when it needs more. I kind of crave it.

I know with all the stress I've lived with over the last few years how awful that felt and how bad my energy was and my attitude. Now, my attitude is positive all the time. I don't berate myself over little things as I used to and I'm not afraid of failing. 

Zane's experience: With all the remedies I've tried with Zane, all of them have had some effect, though very subtle. You'd miss it if you weren't looking. After giving Zane A*** some new developments have occurred. Hard to say if it's the supplement or just a good day though as we have had similar experiences without supplements.

At church, he approached and sat next to one of my friends, eventually laying his head on her lap - who he previously wouldn't look at or respond to. Then, he lead my mother out to our car after church and when she asked him where mama was, he lead her right back to me - he remembered where our car was parked and he understood and comprehended the question my mother asked him. Before Zane would act crazy running through the halls 'eeeee-ing' and would act like he didn't hear the question at all.

Last week, Zane was in the backyard playing and I called to him from the kitchen and asked him to come in and get dressed for school. Zane got right up and came into the house. No argument, no complaining, no ignoring me, no fussing, no tantrum. He totally understood me and acted appropriately.

His teachers at school tell me his participation is better, he is not getting frustrated as often - down to once a day on only some days. He is watching the other kids more and trying to copy them. He is doing much better with academics and handwriting. He is the best at matching - on the first trial - and this morning he wrote his name all by himself!

His demeanor is so pleasant and he is content and at peace. In fact, we are both so relaxed in comparison to the anxiety and stress felt before. He is happy almost all the time. If he gets upset over something it is a rare occurance and very brief. Yesterday he was having fun running around the house saying actual words: Go! I want... Thank you, come please, and other words he repeated from his iPod movies. He's said these words before, but the difference is he wasn't prompted to this time. Usually I have to prompt him several times before he offers part of a word. Now, he offers it freely and his pronunciation is clear.

A few days ago, Zane - not toilet trained yet - came over to hug me and he had a stinky diaper. I teased him by exclaiming, "OOooo! You stink!" He laughed and then went over to the drawer where I keep the wipes and opened it and took the wipes and brought them over to me, then proceeded to lay down on the ground so I could change him..... now, if he can do that he can definitely figure out the potty!

Here is a list of all the "stuff" he is taking:

Formula 303 - 2 pills am (in am mixture), 2 pills pm ( mixed with homeos)
Cataplex G - 2 pills am (am mixture)
Juice plus - 1 fruit, 1 veg (am mix)
1 scoop digestive enzymes (am mix)
1 probiotic pill (am mix)
1 vial each homeopathics: balance, organ-neuro, emotion (am mix & pm mix)
1 oz. liquid health childrens vitamins (am mix)
1 oz. liquid health calcium/magnesium (am mix)
1 T flax or fish oil (am mix)

1.5 oz. A*** (am - all by itself on empty stomach)
1.5 oz. A*** (pm - all by itself on empty stomach- usually about 4pm)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Electrodermal Screening and Homeopathic Solutions

Zane has been off all medication for two weeks now.... and he is sleeping through the night - a miracle in itself. I give him only 1 3mg melatonin tablet and about 5 drops of Bachflower remedy (I find the liquid version works better than the spray, although some attest to the efficacy of the spray).

We had our second appointment with Dr. Frazier this past week and Zane was tested using their electrodermal screening method. Zane had to hold (or rather, I helped him hold) a metal cylinder while specific points on his fingers were tested on the other hand. He made it through most of the lengthy testing, but towards the end I ended up filling in as proxy for him and cut a significant lock of his hair to place on the machine - which then, using my body as a sort of grounding point, analyzed the hair sample.... very interesting.
I wish I could remember everything they told me, but with so much information being thrown at me and Zane eeeeing in my ear, I couldn't concentrate on much. I do remember them saying he had evidence of vaccine injury - DTaP specifically, as well as metals such as lead in his system. Also that his neurotransmitters were not communicating - they were misfiring, which means that they are being blocked by other "bad" elements. His body was also screaming for essential fatty acids and vitamins and minerals - most of what he'd been getting was not being absorbed by his intestines... which we already know are a mess.

They prescribed a few homeopathic remedies for him to take three times a day along with digestive enzymes, probiotics and vitamins and EFA's. The remedies they created deal with detoxing the brain/organs as well as supporting the neurological and organ functions. They also created a remedy to support his emotional well being - with elements meant to calm and give confidence and reduce anxieties, give center and balance.

I have to admit there has been a part of me that scoffs at homeopathic stuff - I mean, seriously - how can a few drops of this or that make a real difference?? But, then I decided to try Zane's emotional remedy on myself. I'm recently divorced, feeling a whole lot of stress, trying to balance work and school and manage a household on top of raising as autistic son and having to resort to creative ways to pay for his expensive therapies and then find the time to run him here and there.... I decided to call it the wonderwoman remedy. It works. Somehow it really works. 11 little drops three times a day and I feel centered and balanced and confident that I can handle the heavy load that I carry alone. This is amazing to me and I am so hopeful and excited to see how it will help Zane. It is already beginning to show.
He has had three very good days in a row at school - happy all day and participating in his work. He hasn't had a meltdown since we started. He's screamed at me a couple times... like today in church - he couldn't figure out how to get me to understand what he wanted... either it was a back tickle or he wanted me to pound on his bones.... that is something he really likes. When he lays down I let a heavy hand land on his bones starting with his shoulders I make my way down his vertebrae and onto his hip bones and femurs and knees and ankles... not too hard but firm - enough for him to "feel" his body. I wonder if the reverberation in his bones gives him an awareness of his body. It feels good - try it on yourself... it kind of makes your body wake up.
We are still struggling with the bowel movements. Since that difficult one last Saturday, I haven't seen another one since.... another week gone by. Last night Zane was doing his potty dance - he lifts his legs up awkwardly while he walks.... and then there's the distressed look on his face that gives it away. I ran him to the bathroom where we sat with little result. Poor little boy. We are still waiting. I do have much hope though. I haven't given him metamucil or anything like that since last week. Only Dr. Frazier's prescriptions and we also had him adjusted while we were at the appointment. He said we should see his movements get more and more frequent as we take the remedies. It seems that he is right. I am totally thrilled that only one week has gone by.
Last week Zane and I were visiting with my niece when Zane - out of nowhere - climbed up on my lap and looked me straight in the eye and said as clearly as anything, "love you." Then he gave me a hug and kiss and went on his way. I was stunned. He is always so affectionate and loving and always kissing and hugging me, but he has never been able to communicate anything like this before.... and rarely has any word from him mouth not been prompted. The fact that he thought about it and acted on his own is a miracle. For one little moment I had Zane, just Zane, and not autistic Zane.
Matisow is still following Zane everywhere... both love to snuggle in my bed - at anytime of the day. They are both so cozy it makes it hard for me to get anything done, I want to snuggle too! I've noticed Zane's humming is not as prevalent, however he is grinding his teeth, although that isn't so prevalent either. In fact, he was quite quiet today, not resorting to humming, teeth grinding, or even rubbing too much. Tonight I only gave him the melatonin to go to sleep with and not the Bachflower remedy. Since Dr. Frazier didn't tell me whether to use it or not, I thought I'd try not using it for a couple nights and see if Zane still sleeps through the night.
This next week is a full week for Zane. He has equestrian therapy Mon, Wed, and Fri, and on Thursday he sees Dr. Frazier for an adjustment and laser therapy. This will be our first time with the laser, but because Zane is so still when he is worked on, Dr. Frazier felt we could start. He expects to see Zane's toe-walking and eye crossing diminish and go away altogether, but would take some time. I am feeling very good about this. This is the first time I have felt like what I am doing for Zane is actually helping him and I am so happy not to have him on medications... I look around his classroom at the other kids in his class and although Zane is a little hyperactive and much more vocal and more difficult in some ways than the other kids, at least he is not a walking zombie. Those kids all looked like they're drugged - the same expressions I've seen in Zane on his medications. Now, when Zane looks at me, though it might be glancing, I can see him. There is no cloud over his eyes as before, but has a clarity and brightness there.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A visit to the Doctor

Zane finished out this week well. His teachers at school have figured out to put him in the swing for a few minutes before bringing him to join the other kids in the semi-circle for calendar time/group times during the day. He seems to struggle with transitions throughout the day and the swing really helps to calm and center him in between work periods.
I've been watching him closely all week.... waiting and waiting for a bowel movement. I've been waiting for over two weeks. I never know what to do - this has been his pattern since day one and usually we just wait it out. But I know this isn't normal and this is the longest he has gone without a movement before.... I panicked and brought him to the doctor, who told me to give him metamucil and enemas for a couple days.
Well, it worked.... and within hours. I gave Zane a little enema using a baby bulb syringe right before putting him in the tub for his bath. He didn't like that very much, but a few minutes later I saw a few tiny floaties in the water so I pulled him out and put him on the toilet. And not a moment too soon. The rest of it came pouring out in squirts and then he struggled with the big part. Thank goodness it had been worked down as much as it had by the enemas and metamucil, castor oil and prune juice, etc. I've been giving him. I can't imagine how much worse it would have been without having done that. As it was, I had to reach in and help pull it out by breaking it up.... needless to say, we were both miserable. I kept thinking to myself - only a mother with her unconditional and infinite love would dive in no matter the conditions to save her child. The thought of how gross that actually was didn't even occur to me until after the moment passed!
I noticed the next day, the rubbing had gone down tremendously. He is still doing it, which tells me there is probably more in there that needs help coming out. I think Metamucil will be a regular part of our diet from now on. It's silly - it seems to commonsensical to me now, but you'd be surprised how many times we've been to the doctor over this same problem and every time I get the same answer: put him on a yeast protocol diet, give him castor oil (which only induces peristalsis - the involuntary muscle movement of the intestines that moves things through the tube... which is great if it's moveable. But in Zane's case he had some kind of blockage that wasn't moving despite all the castor oil, prune juice and magnesium I was giving him. Using a suppository came to mind as well, but something in me told me not to use it because that too induces peristalsis. What we needed was some kind of stool softener.... Metamucil. The fiber in it somehow helps soften the stool. I was worried about giving him fiber when he was blocked - I thought that by giving him more fiber it would make the cramping worse - even more painful and just make the blockage bigger... which apparently isn't the case).
I won't be going back to our regular DAN doctor - the one who prescribes Zane a yeast-protocol diet every time we go see him. We can't seem to progress past that. For someone who has been trained in autism medical treatments (such as the DAN association teaches) - I am very disappointed that he has done so little for Zane. Wouldn't it be nice to see a doctor and have him say - okay, this is where we need to start and this is what we're going to do after that and if that doesn't help, this is what we're going to try. Ugh.. doctors! What good is medical school anyway?? Is it just an expensive method to qualify to write prescriptions?? And for what? No prescription Zane's been given has done much for him - in fact they've made him worse in some ways. I don't believe that's the answer - that's just masking the symptoms.... I want to get at the very core of the problem. Besides - these days it seems you have to self-diagnose before you can get anywhere - and then you have to convince your doctor that you're right! It's ridiculous.
There seems to be some question that Zane's toe-walking may be a neurological problem. Tami Tanner mentioned this possibility. (Why can a horse therapy specialist think of this and not a doctor?? Does anyone have any idea why no doctor has ever posed this possibility to me before? They are all too busy trying to convince me that his heel cords need to be cut and put him in casts for 6-8 weeks in order for him to walk normally. I'm sorry, but I don't buy that. Then the other "specialists" tell me his toe walking is a sensory seeking problem and that he'll probably grow out of it - that was 2 years ago and it still persists only stronger now).

Tami is interesting... she has a real gift and can see things from those horses and the way they respond to the kids that ride them. Our last session she observed Zane's right leg straightening with his toes pointed - the whole leg locked straight out. I see this in him on a daily basis and think nothing of it. She watched him round the circle in the arena to see if the left leg was doing the same thing. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Then she says the most profound thing to me:
"That's his way of stimming."

Duh.... I could have told you that if my head wasn't filled with so many "expert" opinions. Of course! That's the most logical, sensical thing I've heard since Zane was diagnosed! And he does this all day long - he is in a constant state of agitation or tenseness. And.... I believe everything is related - the toe-walking stimming, the boy parts rubbing, the chronic constipation, and even the cross-eyed eye (just one of them) that turns a little too far inward when he looks in that direction - I think they are all related, whether it's neurological or a gut problem - or perhaps the gut problem causes the neurological ones. Actually - I believe this is the case. If I can heal Zane's gut, I think I can heal his neurological problems and maybe cure him of his autism.

So... how do I do this with a boy who is the pickiest eater ever??? Hopefully Dr. Frazier and the remedies he will prescribe for Zane can help us on our way!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Equestrian Therapy - week 2

Zane started Kindergarten this week... his first day he was a little apprehensive but also excited. He fussed a little bit before going inside and didn't want to sit in the semi-circle for calendar time. He threw a big fit. His teachers wrapped him in a compression vest and that seemed to help him calm down fairly quickly. We went to get his hair cut last Saturday, which he hates... it's always a crying/screaming event. The dead hair that sticks to him after it falls from the scissors seems to freak him out. I tried the same technique - using my hands around his chest- and squeezed slightly... enough to let him feel I was there, but not restricting him so he couldn't breathe. He calmed down a little bit and let his hairstylist finish... although he was whimpering through the rest of it!
It is into our second full week of equestrian therapy and Zane seems to be doing well behaviorally, his tantrums are equally as desperate as before, yet there is something different about it - maybe a feeling we both have. It is very clear that he gets upset because he can't communicate he doesn't want to do something. This afternoon, Zane got upset and threw a fit (fit - meaning biting himself or being physically aggressive to someone else or himself while screaming at them) the last 20 minutes of school. The whole day he was as happy as could be.

In fact, this morning as I dropped him off, the toothbrush he carries with him everywhere (which is the preferred object he uses to wave in front of his eyes as a stimming thing) that I usually have to negotiate with him to hand over when he goes into the classroom (I don't let him go into class without giving it up) he got out of the car and promptly threw it in the backseat! Then he held out his arms to put on his backpack and we walked to his classroom. As soon as he saw the door, he dropped my hand and ran inside excitedly. So cute! I had to beg him for a goodbye kiss!

His teacher told me his whole day was just as happy and fun until the last 20 minutes... he wanted to go and couldn't go and couldn't tell anyone what he wanted and didn't want to do what they were telling him and he couldn't express that. Anyone would be so frustrated by that. He was very upset when I picked him up - with big tears streaming down his face and just sobbing. But he was fine once I put him in the car and figured he must just be very tired. We drove out to his horse therapy session and his crying fit started all over again. It lasted the almost the whole session.

This picture above is at Dr. Frazier's office - the naturopath chiropractor we will be working with. I have never seen Zane voluntarily entertain himself with books... first of all he would have to notice them under that little TV, and next he sorted through the ones he thought looked interesting. He sat there and jabbered as he turned each page. I wondered if he was telling himself the story!

He is still humming his "eeee" sound regularly - just as always... but it comes and goes. Some days are worse than others and usually those other days he is grinding his teeth in place of the humming. Either one is enough to hurt your ears. I worry so much over him. I wish for just one day where I didn't have to worry whether his teeth were whittling down to nothing, or his hearing going bad (ignoring me), or his toe-walking preventing him from ever walking normally or causing underdeveloped muscles, or his eyes going crossed sometimes, or the head cock to the side, or whether or not he will ever call me "mama," or be able to tell me his thoughts, or his hurts, or his needs and wants, or whether he's giving himself brain damage with each hit of his head to the ground that I can't prevent, whether he will be able to make friends, hold a pencil and write his name, use the toilet by himself, get himself dressed and brush his teeth by himself, or talk on the phone, or read a book, or... or...

No one knows what it means to be an autism mom unless you've been thrown into it yourself. Women worry about things - that's a given. We worry even more about our husbands and even more than that about our kids, then there's the state of affairs within our families, where we are headed in life and how we will get there, and how we will be able to obtain what we need in our lives possible, etc.

I rode the horses this week. Tami tells me the horses reveal everything that's going on inside of you. It's no secret, since emerging as a single mother ...of an autistic little boy... I'm scared to death about how to keep us going month to month - and it feels as though there were a trap door under my feet that at any moment could be opened and engulf me - and I'll lose everything I'm working so hard for, including myself. It is the worst feeling in the world to be dependent on other people or institutions, etc., but only in the sense that if for whatever reason that trap door opens and what you depend on is taken away - you don't have a replacement for it, or even the ability to replace it. You are at the mercy of that institution or SOL.

I spend so much of my energy and time caring for Zane - it is so easy to let my own needs slip away. (Me? have needs? .... what are those??) Tami pointed out my neck to me and what she told me really opened my eyes. She accused me of having a Dowager's hump. (a condition caused by osteoporosis that invokes little fractures at the base of the spine and causes the neck to compress and round, which creates a "lump"). I freaked out - not just about the unsightly hump on my back, but the impending fight with my health I was now up against.

But, researching it further myself, I realize.... I haven't been able to stand up straight for years. I physically can't do it. It hurts and I'm too tired all the time, and I don't straighten anymore. And, I don't have a Dowager's hump.... maybe a little more fat at the base of my neck than I wish I had, but that's just another testament of my lack of attention to myself.

I know people keep telling me to care for yourself first and I've been trying... but when you have a kid with such needs, spending money to care for myself feels like such a selfish act. I would go for a walk everyday, but i'd have to hire a babysitter.... He is too big for a stroller now or I'd just take him... I'd do a lot of things, if only I had the energy/strength/stamina for it. A kid like Zane exhausts you to the bone. At the end of the day when he is in bed and all is quiet, the last thing I want to do is hop on the treadmill... a hot bubble bath however might just help!

I took Zane off all of his meds (the Risperdal, and the Tenex - for ADHD) a week ago and I am amazed to report that he is sleeping through the night. I give him one 35mg (I think) of melatonin and one little dropper of Bach flower Rescue Remedy liquid solution. It comes in a spray as well, but I find the dropper works best at night. I've also given him a dropper for church and that seems to help him calm down a bit enough for Primary and all the kids.

The changes, subtle as they are, are changes nonetheless. Any parent of a special needs child will tell you how wonderful it is to celebrate the little victories. Like the fact that Zane and our cat, Matisow are little buddies now. Even a month ago Zane wouldn't want the cat near him, but since his horse training, Matty and Zane play together a lot.... mostly because Matty butts his way in. They swing together, and jump on the trampoline together, and Matty does his best to sleep next to Zane. It's so wonderful to see the interaction. Zane will look at me sometimes when Matty give him attention and laugh. Never thought I'd see that! And once in a while I'll catch Zane reaching out on his own to touch Matty.

Everyone always talks about how great dogs are for these kids, but this cat has been so much better for us than a dog.

Zane's bowels have been a horror/mystery to me since his birth. Even since that first week he has had horrible bowel movements. I mean horrible in the sense that he doesn't have a bowel movement for weeks.... yes, weeks... and when it finally comes - it is as hard as a rock - a compacted, fibrous, very dry rock. It's unbelievable.

Everytime I think I've got a handle on his bowels, I get thrown again. He passes this "rock" and then his bowels will return to normal - having normal bowel movements on a daily basis. And then weeks or months later, the problem returns. It is so confusing. And I've no idea what is causing it or why and with each time it gets harder and harder to treat.

I've tried prune juice, oils, extra doses of magnesium, Karo syrup, aloe, laxative teas, etc. What I haven't tried are suppositories, colonics, or something else of that nature.... although I'm leaning heavily that way. Zane also rubs his boy parts almost uncontrollably sometimes. Now, this doesn't happen on a daily basis, but sometimes it happens all day long for days and then it goes away. I think I've narrowed down the association between the rubbing and the bowel movements and I wonder if the rubbing gets worse because of the constipation he is feeling?

Food allergy is another possible culprit, but anyhow - the rubbing thing is basically out of control these last few days. It will be interesting to see if it goes away after this bowel movement has been passed.

As far as my health goes, I decided I would make a commitment to myself. While I may not have the energy to workout as hard as I once did when I was younger, I understand how important it is to keep me going and eating a healthy diet is equally as important. I've been off sugar for several days now - almost a week - and I can feel the difference. If I can keep in mind how necessary it is for me to have this energy, I can keep up the no sugar diet and maybe even gain the strength and energy to stand erect once again!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Equestrian Therapy - week 1

Zane started horse therapy last week and absolutely loves it! Now, this is a kid who doesn't like to be around animals too much and is aversive to them the majority of the time... excepting our cat, Matisow, who pretty much forces himself on everyone... and Zane has finally stopped trying to push him away.

I found out about Hoofbeats to Healing through a chiropractor in the valley, Dr. Troy Frazier. My cousin Paul referred him to me after learning his biofeedback machine wasn't giving accurate readings. Dr. Frazier has one of those machines and works with autism. We have an appointment to see Dr. Frazier this week and hope to learn some new strategies to help Zane.

I learned about Tami Tanner, the horse trainer, through Dr. Frazier's website... after poking around a bit. She works with all kinds of special needs and brain injuries. She uses only Missouri Foxtrotters... horses that are bred for their unusual gait. They walk much like a giraffe, with the side legs coming together. They are very smooth, especially when galloping, and their movement mimics what crawling does for infants for the brain.

Infants learn proprioception, hand-eye coordination, right and left lobe interaction, vestibular development, and a horde of other developmental markers through crawling. Most kids with autism never crawled. Zane didn't. Well... he crawled, literally, for one day. I chalked it up to his superior development. Had I known, I would have spent much more time working with him this way.

Zane rode bareback for his initial consultation. He lasted three laps around the arena before "wilting." Wilting is when the body gives out and can no longer support itself through the horse's movements. The only option when that happens is to take a break or quit for the day.

Zane responded very well to that initial consult. He was quiet all the way home... usually I have an ear full of eeeee's. :) He was compliant when we ran errands before returning home, when usually he complains. Zane has had terrible mood swings for a couple years. I think mostly due to his inability to communicate or whatever anxiety/stress his autism causes. After this ride, he was even-keel the rest of the night and slept soundly in his bed.

We returned the next day for a full session. One and a half hours, in a soft saddle, around the arena and we couldn't get him off the horse to take a break. He would fake giving high fives when the girls reached for him to get down. And finally, patted the horse's neck and asked, "please?" So he got an extra lap around!

That night, there was no fussing, no screaming, no hitting, biting himself, throwing himself down on the ground and hitting his head on the floor, no meltdowns, no tears whatsoever. He also wasn't bouncing off the walls with hyperactivity, humming "eeeeee" all over the house at annoying levels, running everywhere, waving the preferred toothbrush in front of his eyes constantly, or smothering me with choke-hold hugs. In fact, he was more even keeled than I've ever seen him.

The following day, the same even temperament followed us around all day. I kept waiting for an explosion, but it never came. My mother watched him for a couple hours that afternoon and observed the following.
"I tended Zane today. He was enjoying himself in the front room while I was Upholstering a chair. I sneezed twice. He turned and looked me in the eyes and said, "Ah-choo, ah-choo."

"He came up from the basement with a DVD cover in his hand and gave it to me - wanting me to change his movie on the TV downstairs. I picked up two other movie covers from a chair that he had brought up earlier and took all three downstairs with me. When we got to the hallway, Zane said, "Let me do it," He took the first one out of my hand and ran ahead with it to the TV."

By Sunday, three days after his first session, his humming started coming back a little... some 'eeee's here and there but mostly his humming sounds like actual humming - with lips closed. He had an even temperament most of the day - again, no meltdowns, screaming or tantruming. Towards bedtime, however, he started getting more hyperactive and his eeee's began to come back... probably due to being tired.

We came back for session #2 today, Monday, and Zane rode this gray horse, a level 5. This level is the highest level, which horse gives the most impact. We are bombarding Zane with input for the first few weeks by putting him on a horse like this. In Session #1, Zane rode Marquis... another level 5, but different within the level. Zane could ride Marquis for the entire session... but this gray horse Zane had to take several breaks. He cried a little and screamed a little here and there. After one lap around the arena, Zane was already wilting to the left - which means his right brain was dominating.

He didn't seem to like this horse very much and was upset periodically through the session. He only rode for 45 min. The last go around, Zane screamed and reached out to the boy in the purple shirt to get him down... he must have meant it to reach for a stranger like that. Tami told me to watch him the rest of the night. He has been very pleasant... noisy, with his humming, (the lips closed kind, not the eeees), and stayed by my side as we went into the grocery store. Usually he runs off and I have to chase him down. He is happily playing with his iPod and has finally decided to explore the new games I put on there several weeks ago.

We also met with Dr. Frazier today.... who is recommending some different therapies for Zane, but we won't know exactly what protocol to follow until we have him computer tested this Wednesday. He will be able to tell what is going on with Zane, from food allergies, to metal toxins, to neurotransmitters not working properly. I am very excited to work with him. He currently has 3 or 4 autistic patients who they hope will lose their diagnoses this year. Below is a video of his horse riding.... kind of boring, but it is interesting to note his posture with each lap.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tulsa Trip - August 2009

Aaaaahhhh.... summertime. A time to relax... and a time for lots of naps! Zane loves Nonni's big tub and climbed in one afternoon with a pillow from her bed and fell asleep watching his iPod.
Grandpa Comish wasn't too happy to see his pillow in the tub and playfully teases about Zane frequently crawling into his side of the bed to get snuggled and cozy while he watches his movies. Today he just happened to find the tub a suitable bed. Sometimes when things get a little too quiet, we wonder what happened to Zane.... then we think to check Nonni and Grandpa's bed and.... yep! There he is! All snuggled in for a cozy nap. :)

During our visit to Tulsa to see Todd, we found a really fun kids park with neat water activities, fountains, falls, etc. Zane really enjoyed that and Todd is so great with Zane and helping him figure out how to get in and get dirty!

This park is really smartly designed with little man-made hills covered in artificial grass that act as an enclosure/seating area. It is really perfect for parents who can then see their child from any area of the park they are in and for a kids like Zane, who tends to run off, it provides a boundary area that makes sense to him.

Todd is such a great dad to Zane... he knows just what to do to get Zane to respond to his surroundings and Zane always gets more verbal when he is around. At the park, Todd showed Zane what the other kids were doing by sitting him down in the water and getting him all wet and helped him chase the water in the various fountains. After that, Zane had no problem investigating the fun on his own!

I wish we had parks like this in Utah... the kids have so much fun and there are different sensory experiences there for kids like Zane.

Sweet daddy brought all of us to the zoo in Tulsa and we had so much fun! I rented a little push cart for Zane to ride in, which saved us all from having to carry him everywhere. He had a great time riding to each exhibit then jumping out to investigate and hopping back into his little car to move on to the next stop.

We took a camel ride and Zane kept looking down and around the camel trying to figure out how this thing worked. You could see the expression on his face that said: What's moving this thing? :)

Zane's favorite exhibit was the wetlands which was really neat. We walked through a jungle and saw several small aquariums that looked like a cross-section, seeing above the water and the bottom of the water at the same time and all right at Zane's level. I think we could have spend hours there.

He did so great at the zoo... I am very proud of him. It was a long, hot day and he stayed interested and happy the whole time!

Todd also brought us to see the aquarium while PawPaw and Granny were there to visit and spend time with Zane. Another great activity idea for Zane, although it didn't hold the same interest as the zoo but I believe that is because the zoo is so spread out - not so many visuals in one place to cause distraction to him. He loves the fish and especially the jellyfish. We also went under the shark exhibit where you walk through a tunnel and watch all the scary sharks swim over your head! Zane was fascinated!!

Most of Zane's interest was caught up in the smaller aquariums were he could find the little fish and follow the bubbles that the smaller tanks filters made.

He had a hard time adjusting to a new place and unknown schedule for the first two days. Todd and I decided that next time we would wait for Zane to adjust before bringing him to these activities, hoping he would handle the overwhelming input a little easier.... but he still did pretty well.

We had such a fun time with all of us together again. Todd was wonderful to buy Zane a hammock swing for his apartment which made Zane feel more on his normal schedule and surroundings. It really helped him sleep better at night - he would swing until he started to get tired and then go and put himself to bed... little sweetheart.

It was hard to leave, but we needed to come home and get ready for school to start. Zane slept almost the entire plane ride and was happy to get in his own bed that night.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Preschool Graduation

This year has gone by so quickly I can't believe it's over and is now time to move on to Kindergarten. Zane has had a wonderful time in school.... loves Miss Amber and all the classroom aides and
other mom's that have helped out during the year.

His favorite part of school... just like his mom.... was P.E. - or in his case, adapted P.E. This is the area where he made the most progress and has learned to jump, walk on a balance beam, skip, crawl like a crab, spin in circles like an airplane, kick a ball and other fun activities.

His most notable mark of progress is his speech and Zane has started to mimic words and has learned to ask for the things he desires. At the beginning of the school year, Zane had only one word, "please." He still says please - after everything - and his teachers named him the most polite and well-mannered kid in the class! At the end of the school year, Zane can most of the time repeat words and sometimes phrases with some clarity. On his own, he still needs prompting and help to remember how to ask and what the names of things are, however, he is not a shy little boy when it comes to something he wants, although he is precociously polite. ;)

The video clips below are my first attempt to record on my camera and I wish I'd figured out the zoom feature. I think he was a little bit overwhelmed with so many people in the auditorium and the noise of all the kids. He does a few of the actions he knows the best, but eventually the noise gets to him. I think he would have done more if he weren't preoccupied with the fruit snacks that one of the aides brought for him into the gym. They've been working on these songs for months and the kids all did really great. I am especially proud of Zane - for keeping his hat on his head the whole time, paying close attention to Miss Amber, and for participating in the songs as best he could, despite the overwhelming nature this kind of meeting is for him. Throughout the year the school attends various assemblies, where Zane has thrown fits due to the noise. He can't take all the input. I think this meeting is quite noisy and Zane did really great to filter the noise as best he could. This was also meant to be much shorter in duration, but they had a problem with the sound at first, and perhaps if Zane hadn't had to sit still for so long, he may have made it through to the end a happy little boy.

Anyhow... here's the star of our show: