From birth, although he had reflux and terrible eczema, N was a dream child. He never fussed, slept through the night and met his milestones. He didn't seem to suffer from separation anxiety and settled quickly into preschool. When he turned 4 a series of events conspired together to change all that. My mum, his best friend, passed away that year, leaving him with a big hole in his life and an emotional family. This was coupled with a few other factors including illness and starting school the following February, all under the care of a now extremely anxiety-prone mum. We had assumed that, like everything prior to this in his life, he would fit right into school happily. Within the first term of Kindergarten his teacher asked to see us, describing our son as someone highly distracted and impulsive in class, saying he had real problems transitioning from one thing to the next, and seemingly unable to cope with any change. She was describing someone else surely! My husband told her how our son was our easy child, (sorry girls) moving quietly and happily about our house, focusing for hours on his lego or his drawing. I recall she said it sounded as if WE were describing a different child.
From there our journey began.
At the advice of his old pre-school teacher, those holidays I removed all artificial additives from his diet. Like so many families, I'd thought we were very healthy and was astounded what we were actually consuming. Honestly, back then I could only shop at Aldi as they were the only supermarket offering additive free foods! Thankfully the times have changed. His teacher said that after only a two week break he was like a new kid. A big win for him, but not nearly enough. Although much better, I was still noticing his physical symptoms (red ears and cheeks, sometimes a red dot above his lip) as a pattern with his inability to focus at school, and his "silliness". He was never aggressive or hyper, but you'd be surprised how much the "silliness" held him back from learning really enjoying sport and socialising. By year one he still hadn't learnt to read and teachers were puzzled! He also was assessed around that time, and although it was a definitive "no" for ASD or ADD, he apparently suffered greatly from Generalised Anxiety Disorder. This was causing his brain fog in the classroom, and mimicking other conditions. So further down the rabbit hole we went, until we discovered he had chemical sensitivities, not just to additives, but to natural foods. Naturally occurring food chemicals such as Salicylates and Amines are found in a huge group of fruits, vegetables and meats such as tomatoes, zucchinis, apples, berries, meats and seafood. After a full elimination diet (don't try this at home folks, unless supervised by a registered health practitioner) we discovered he was reacting to Salicylates but thankfully not Amines. This meant we for a time restricted his diet, and saw a huge improvement. Unfortunately, although this is a great place to start, I don't believe it's a good diet to maintain, he lived on starchy foods like bread, pasta, potatoes, and couldn't have most other vegetables, his only fruits were pears (oh, the pears) and occasional bananas. I can make anything out of leeks and pears. I even had to make bolognaise sauce from beetroot, leek and mince.
We did remove gluten from his diet, as advice from a therapist to reduce his anxiety- and would you believe his life-long eczema disappeared within 2 weeks! It reappears immediately upon eating wheat to this day.
Our next step was the Biomedical treatment. This was the big cash draw. He was diagnosed with Pyroluria, (more on this in a later post) a condition that sees vital nutrients such as Zinc, Magnesium and B vitamins to be mal-absorbed and excreted from the body as waste.
The state of his gut health was causing his intolerances and the lack of these nutrients was making stress management and learning impossible.
Not every patient responds to treatment this fast, but two weeks of supplementing these and other key nutrients, he was able to have salicylate laden bolognaise and anything else he wanted (with the exception of gluten) without any symptoms! 3 months later and he was learning beautifully, full of energy and coping with life easily. Nowadays he spends most of his life reading or playing sport, he's very popular at school and in the top of his class for Maths, Science and Literacy. I do wonder where we would be without all the intervention, but I suspect our crazily bright, confident boy would be bogged down in a world of labels and restriction.