To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common--this is my symphony.
~William Henry Channing

Friday, May 15, 2009

Woo Hoo!

Last night Rob asked Sam if he knew the word "autism". Sam's response..."You made that word up." However, if you ask Sam about gluten he can give you an answer...maybe not a scientific one, but he does know all about gluten.
For some children on the autism spectrum gluten is the enemy. Their bodies cannot break down this natural wheat protein and it has a huge impact on their behavior. It isn't an allergic reaction, rather it forms an opiate in their system that crosses the blood brain barrier and drugs them. This is why many of these children self-regulate to specific foods and won't eat anything else. (Sam's foods of choice were Multi-grain Cheerios and pancakes and pizza.) Within the medical community there is much debate over whether this is legitimate or not but our experience shows that it is a very real factor in Sam's world. About three years ago we went gluten free and there was an immediate and notable difference within a day of having him off products with gluten. (It was a mind blowing and difficult task as gluten is a "sticking" or "stabilizing" agent used in everything from toothpaste to sunscreen to ice cream and ketchup...and something can be wheat-free but not gluten free...and the USDA has classified gluten as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) which means it doesn't have to be listed on the food label...and gluten is never listed as has about a gazillion different names all depending upon what it has been combined with and it's usage.) But we persevered. Actually the family only persevered for about three months. I think the gluten free hamburger buns that cost a whooping $1 a piece was the straw that broke our collective backs on our show of solidarity. By this time Sam had already gone through the withdrawal stage so he was pretty good about accepting something at the table that he couldn't eat. We were typically careful about some things though. We didn't do pizza in front of him because that would have been cruel. We were a pizza free family for a little over a year but then we found some really good gluten free pizza crust. (I can still see his face the first night we made them...he was ecstatic!) Of course they are very, very expensive. Everything gluten free tends to be expensive but over the last year gluten free diets have become more common. Which means that more and more things can be found gluten free that do not involve a specialty health food store. Publix as well as Winn Dixie offer reasonably priced gluten free items. Not as cheap as regular food but not what we were paying in the beginning of our journey. Walmart has really jumped on the bandwagon though. Pasta, muffin & brownie mixes are easily available. And they label all of their Great Value brand products that are gluten free.

But the point to this post is what happened yesterday while we were grocery shopping. General Mills was one of the first companies to go gluten free with their products. Only Rice Chex though. (Not the off brand but when you are paying between $5 and $6 a box for gluten free cereal you suddenly don't mind paying the price for a name brand cereal.) Anyway, we're on the cereal aisle and Sam is suddenly grabbing boxes and saying "Mom! Mom! Look they're gluten free!" Sure enough Chex now has three different gluten free cereals. How cool is that? Now if the off brands would just go gluten free life would indeed be sweet :-)


Lauren said...

I am so excited for Sam. :) What a sweet treat.

s g said...

What's that you say?! Gluten free?

Yay Sam!