We Rock for Autism

by Joe Normal

I think the single hardest thing we’ve ever had to do or endure for our child was to put him on a Gluten-Free and Casein-Free diet… and maintain it.

Every parent of a child with Autism has heard about the Gluten Free / Casein Free (GF/CF) Diet, and some of the more daring (or desperate) have even tried it. But the real test of a person’s manhood is adhering to the damn thing!

Seriously, what kid wants to eat a different cake than all his buddies at a birthday party? (Yet at his own birthday party?!) What kid is going to turn down a gorgeous gloppy mound of chocolate ice cream with heaps of whipped cream and ‘Nilla Wafers on top? And c’mon, every kid in the world knows that Pizza is the greatest food ever invented!

Would you bring a kid to Disneyland, then tell her she can’t go on any of the rides? “Okay sweety… there’s going to be lots of rides here today… I know you’ll feel tempted to ride like everyone else and their friggin’ mothers, but remember you freak out when you go on the rides, so we’ve brought you a bunch of boring ‘ole crossword puzzles and math books to enjoy so you can feel like you are participating in the fun and you’ll fit right in….. NOT!!!

Eating is simply one of the great pleasures that brings us quality of life, which is why it is so hard to implement and maintain this crazy diet. We must constantly resist temptation, like an addict, because “unhealthy” foods are all around us.

We’ve been conditioned to eat certain foods and in a certain way, so a complete change of palate and mindset must be attained in order to make different choices for our bodies. We must reprogram ourselves to eat for our bodies, not for our desires. Like I said, we may be talking about addiction here.

When the decision was made to put Drayke on the diet, we realized he’d have better success with (and acceptance of) his new way of eating if the whole family did it together. Well,two of the troops around here were not having it, so I chose to partner with him and we did it together, just he and I. It was our bond! Our vendetta against mainstream society, the dairy industry and GMO’s!

Lemme tell you, anyone who doubts that this diet makes a difference has never tried it. On purely a physical level, I noticed immediately I was effortlessly shedding excess pounds and my spare tire was deflated almost entirely, much to my delight. I thinned out quickly and my energy levels went through the roof, to the point of a pleasantly mild mania! I was definitely my healthiest in a long time, and never once did I feel like I was starving myself.

I am not entirely sure it made any drastic impact in Drayke’s behavior or mental function. I would notice some subtle things like he would get a little “dopey” or slow when he had dairy. His bowel movements were farther apart when he’d deviate from the gluten-free aspects, which may have caused some restless behavior or irritability. We do get some predictably non-compliant behavior when he is backed-up. Our thoughts have been trained to go straight to, “What did he eat yesterday?”and “When was the last time he pooped?”

We certainly did and still do our best to adhere to the rigors of the diet, but we make exceptions in those cases like birthday parties, or Thanksgiving holidays, etc. and give him enzymes when he strays from the stringent menu. We’ve made it standard practice to administer the antidote with the poison, so to speak, in those cases.

Some of our spectrum kids have texture sensitivities which I imagine must make much of the dry crumbly gluten free breads and snacks dreadful to eat. I still haven’t found a Dairy Free cheese that is convincing. Goat’s milk cheese and coconut milk ice cream are god’s gift to god! And gratefully there is Trader Joes, which offers many affordable Gluten Free and Dairy Free items that are way too costly at that “Whole-paycheck” Foods store.

As a touring musician, I’ve had to travel while on the GF/CF diet, sometimes for weeks on end. That is always a real nightmare because once you leave the big cities, people’s awareness of any kind of special diet is nil.To make matters worse, I am vegetarian with a shellfish allergy and GMO corn sensitivity. Eating meals with the crew and the bands always leaves me feeling alienated or like a helpless, misunderstood prima-donna because I cannot eat what everyone else eats. It sucks big time for this fully grown man, so just imagine how a growing tween feels in those crucial, socially important situations when meals are shared with team mates, class mates, play mates… awwwk-warrrd!

I dunno…

Some days you just gotta pick your battles.

I suppose sometimes it’s okay to just let them eat cake.

Recording Artist, Songwriter, Author, Educator
(and, oh yeah… Autism Parent.)
Site: www.JoeNormalUSA.com
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/JoeNormalUSA
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JoeNormalUSA