New Year’s Resolution diet – a book review

Dietary Interventions in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Why They Work When They Do, Why They Don’t When They Don’t.

By Kenneth J. Aitken

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Available from JKP and Amazon.

There is a great deal to praise about this book: the format, the style where science is both readable and comprehensible, the facts, the theories and claims, and a hefty dose of reality.

The author makes it clear from the beginning that his book not a weight loss book nor does it tackle the behavioral issues in food avoidance.  The fact that he guides the reader to Ernsperger and Stegen-Hanson [Just Take a Bite] assures me that knows what he’s talking about.

What I found most alarming was the startling information about how very few studies there have been about dietary interventions and even more shockingly, how small the sample populations were – just 237 candidates for the CF-GF diet – and how many people do you know who have adopted this diet?  Furthermore and more worryingly, the candidates are self reporting their results, or rather to be more accurate, their parents are reporting the results.

At the beginning of 2011 many people will be considering dietary interventions for their autistic children, in which case, this book is a must read.

It has been my opinion for quite some while that since so many of our children have appalling diets that just about any addition to their limited quota must have a beneficial effect.  I used to envy other parents embarking upon some new miracle diet with their children while we pushed a Goldfish cracker around the plate and washed it down with his second food, milk, with the hope that at some time during the next 24 hours we’d manage to persuade him to eat dessert, maybe a single raisin, his third ‘food.’  But of course that was a long time ago.

I would love to claim sole credit for my desensitization and multiple exposure plan of intervention, but unfortunately there are many other reasons for his improvement: therapists, teachers, aides, life, growth and the passage of time.

You can also read a very insightful interview with the author at JKP blog where I’ll share one of his best quotes:-

“Personally I don’t believe we should be waiting on the Holy Grail of a wonder treatment for everyone with ASD, however appealing this may seem to some. Some people with ASD symptomology neither need treatment nor want it.”


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Snippet – Sugar Coated

5 Minutes for Special Needs

“Come along guys, time for cereal!”
“Ooo I hate all dez chores!

Anyone needed further words can go over “here” to my other site “alien.”


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Preservative free

She leans against the fridge and the weekly menu plan which is blank. The dictates of the organic weekly vegetable box rules the roost for everyone except junior.

“Soooooo what are we having for supper?”
“I'm not sure.”
“Er….what are you cooking then?”
“Bacon.”
“Bacon it poison! I am be having brown rice and chocolate pudding!”
“We're having bacon!” she beams.
“Not necessarily it's just that today is the sell by date.”
“What?”
“Well if I cook it now it will keep for another few days without going off.”
“What's in the other pan?”
“Greens, or it will be greens when the oil's hot.”
“Green what?”
“Green is be poison! I am be having brown rice and chocolate pudding!”
“Er…..either Curly Kale or spinach.”
“Which?”
“Whichever bunch is less yellow.”
“Yellow?”
“Which has the floppier stalks?”
“Floppy?”
“Hmm, the Kale wins by a whisker.”
“We're having curly kale and bacon?”
“Probably not. Kale and something.”
“What's the something?”
“I haven't figured that out yet.”
“How can you be cooking yet not know what we're going to eat?”
“Well, sometimes it's like that. I'm waiting for inspiration.”

Her father walks in to drape himself on the kitchen counter, but that's jet lag for you.

“Is there any inspiration in the fridge?” she queries in a tentative tone.
“I hope so. Have a peek and give me a hint.”
“What about this cheese? Ooo no it's all yucky.”
“Cheese is for mouses!”
My! His categorization skills are coming on a treat, or is that prejudices?
“We can scrape that off.”
“Eeow no.”

Her father remains silent as his eye lids droop.

“What's this?”
“Hmm looks like……they used to be…..mushrooms.”
“What are they now?”
“Petrified, I mean dried. Chuck em over.”
“Must I?”
“It'll be fine. You're a great help.”
Her father crumples a little further.
“What else dear?”
“Well there's this box of……something or other.”
“Ah, left over rice, perfect.”
“Rice is be mine!”
“So? What's it gonna be?”
“I'm still debating. What else is there in the fridge?”
“But you've got a pot on every burner now. Surely you must be cookin something?”

An unwelcome murmur comes forth from the unfortunate time traveler, “I'll never moan about airline food again.”
“Yes, there's nothing like fresh organic produce to stimulate creativity!”
“Sounds like a dose of swamp fever to me.”

I can see into the future. It'll be a different kind of fever, of the cabin variety and I'll throw away the key.


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Nutritional advice from the Neophobic

“Whatsup mum?”
“Nothing, I'm just thinking.”
Dis is a boat! Dis is a boat! Dis is a boat!
“Whataya thinking about?”
Scorchio! Scorchio! Scorchio!”
“Dinner.”
Ding ding, ding ding, ding ding.”
“For us?”
There's a name for people like you, there's a name for people like you, there's a name for people like you!” I pause to look at him, but he is elsewhere. I do not like to think where he has picked this up. I determine to find out where, later.
“Well just the three of us, not your little brother of course.”
Eat yur veggies! Eat yur veggies! Eat yur veggies!
“What are you cookin in the microwave then?”
Go Mario go! Go Mario go! Go Mario go!
'Homework.”
Ready for battle! Ready for battle! Ready for battle!
“Homework?”
No receipt, no returns!
“He spilled his water on it, again.”
Never say never! Never say never! Never say never!
“Yur cookin his homework?”
Everyone's a winner! Everyone's a winner! Everyone's a winner!
“Yes, it works a treat, although it is a bit crinkly.”
Stripy eggs, spotty eggs, coloured eggs.”
“What's he havin to eat tonight?”
Easter baskets, Easter bonnets, Easter Butts.”
“A little brown rice, half a banana and some chocolate pudding if I can find a second to make it.”
Chocolate pudding! Chocolate pudding! Chocolate pudding!
“What are we havin?”
“Pasta. I’m just not sure whether to have tomatoe soup first or Minestrone first?”
Dis year or next year, dis year or next year, dis year or next year.”
“Don't matter, I like em both!”
Nice water pipe! Nice water pipe! Nice water pipe!
“Yes but there's a problem.”
Easter bunnies, Christmas bunnies, St. Patrick's Day bunnies.”
“What?”
Mama Mia! Mama Mia! Mama Mia!
“You can't have Minestrone before a pasta dish because it has pasta in it already and you can't have tomatoe soup before because you have tomatoe sauce on your pasta.”
Cheese nip! Cat nip! Nip and tuck!
“So what? I mean, why, what difference does it make?”
Gratuity not included! Gratuity not included! Gratuity not included!”
“Because you'd be having the same thing twice over.”
Pot of gold, pot of gold, pot of gold.
“So….I mean why?”
Mario said it! Mario said it! Mario said it!
“Well it's hardly balanced is it?”
She looks at me with a blank stare, as well she might. Sometimes it’s so hard to think straight, or even wonky. My son pauses too, a brief respite for motor mouth, before he offers his contribution, “but at least they are be match!”


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The truth of the matter

When it comes to family life few people are able to imagine the mental torture of my existence. It's not just the obvious things like Hermit crab maintenance but other matters such as a well balanced nutritional diet for my off-spring. Like all parents I am keen that mine should have a good start in life, as encompassed by balanced nutrition. The rules of the food pyramid are carved on the other side of my endless grocery shopping list. I have the advantage of speed reading labels, so that I am instantly able to recognize junk food. In case you have trouble in this area, if you pick up a packet of food and the ingredients list is longer that 10, chuck it back on the shelf and save the strain on your bifocals.

I am happy to accommodate reasonable food preferences, fads and fancies within the usual budgetary restraints, but I have the added burden of different calculations, not mere financial ones. This burden becomes all the more obvious to me after my spouse returns home after a quick emergency yummies trip to Trader Joes. Clearly the man is clueless, witless and in need of a sugar fix.
“Look at these!” he beams as he shakes the 'bake to crisp up' rolls that were going cheap at the end of the day.
“He doesn't eat that kind of bread and he certainly won't eat it if it's hot!” My mind calculates the trajectory of just how far crispy crumbs could ping over a ten foot area of dining room?
“What about this!”
“Hmm, it should probably be chilled.” Half an hour in the fridge will engender the Blackberry Crush undrinkable by one and may just save us from the staining of hands, clothes and anything else within transit duty. Gross motor skills aside they could do without the empty calories and sugar rush.
“I thought this might tickle your fancy?” I smile appreciatively at the Naan bread. “Soft!” he coos as he pats my cheek that hides my malfunctioning fake teeth, although now I'll have to make a curry to go with it, that only two people, adult people, will eat. He has bought enough exotic frozen food to feed a class of hungry foreign Kindergardeners, even though the freezer is already over flowing.
“And finally,” he announces with a flourish, “my all time favourite, Panettone!” I disguise my grimace. “It's o.k. I know they've had dinner, this can be a dessert!” I pull a face. “It's o.k., it's really only sweet bread, very few crumbs and enough dried fruit it in to make it a nutritional feast.” He beams.

Those genes, the Italian ones, will out!

I know he’s almost right. I give up.


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Black Sheep bleats with forked tongue

 

I blame the Celtic blood that courses through my veins, but I believe that budgetary concerns plague everyone. Most people have the monthly cycle of rent, food and utility bills, robbing Peter to pay Paul, as well as the need to conserve energy and save the planet. So often, it is the tiny things, the small extravagances that snap the spine of the bank balance. It is because of these tiny things that I determine to eradicate all extraneous and frivolous expenditure.

I think these thoughts as I wrangle with the child safety cap on the jar. One of the best ways to save pennies, which of course will expand into many thousands of spare dollars, is by controlling the kitchen. Most of us have freezers and the careful homemaker makes full use of it's magical powers. Why make one, when two are cheaper in the long run? Ban convenience foods and make everything from scratch. Chain yourself to the cooker to liberate your finances long term. If you want to have a healthy family, then a healthy diet is an essential first step. My grip on the jar is as tight as a vice, but it refuses to yield to my will.

Although I lack a pantry, because I am an American, I have a garage full of 'whole' things that are simultaneously 'free' of all sorts of nasty substances, because I am a nutritional queen. One of the many things that can be eliminated from the diet of the average child, is all those expensive multivitamins. Who needs multivitamins if they follow a sound nutritional formula? I do not believe in indulging children and giving them those sugary, fruity vitamin pills, which is merely the equivalent of candy. It brings about bad habits. Skip the well balanced meal and sink a pint of Ensure. It's the slippery slope my friend.

The food rules keep changing but the message remains the same, each your greens, Goldfish should be banned, pile up your sugar free mini wheats into a pyramid and drown them in a flood of fat free milk or a soy or rice substitute. Beat your way back to health through diet and reach the island of financial security at the same time. No more of these feeble excuses. The spineless need spinach, the greener the better. Organic and homegrown. Don't whinge about living in a high rise apartment, there are window boxes and potted versions freely available for the free thinkers. Harvest your own harvest and watch the greenbacks grow.

The jar catapults from grasp. My hand holds the lid. The jar circles on the floor, as the spin slowly dies. The primary coloured gummy bears are scattered over a wide radius of floorboards, as my smallish children squat on all fours to lick the windfall. I watch the flock graze, before I whip out my crook, but a dust buster might be a better choice.


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The Campaign Trail

Spouse appears, “budge up you lot.”
“Budge? Budge! What is it duh 'budge?'”
“He means scoot up dear,” I explain.
“Why he say 'budge' if he is meaning 'scoot'?”

This is the trouble with autistic kids. [translation = youthful goats?] They latch onto some irrelevancy and beat you over the head with it for the next 24 hours. [translation = indefinite period of time.]
“I don't know, perhaps you could ask your Dad yourself?” I prompt, trying not to vaporise his father with my glare. [Do I have to translate for him too?] He doesn't get the chance to ask, as his Dad separates them out to nestle himself onto the sofa.
“Thanksgiving soon,” he announces to an audience glued to the telly, “I wonder if they'll eat any of it this year? How about it? Shall we practice our 'good eating' again? We could make an early start, say this Sunday? Tomorrow?”
The thought of ruining a perfectly good Sunday with food therapy, is not an attractive one, “well they did eat roast potatoes last year, not for Thanksgiving mind, but they did by Christmas,” [translation = the holidays] I add weakly.
“They'll have forgotten that by now,” he comments gloomily, “it'll be 'new' food again, as far as they're concerned.”
“What? What it is? What is da 'roast'?”
“Big chips.” [translation = fries]
“Big fries! I think I am liking dem a humungeous lot.” [translation = a great deal] The speech delay makes him difficult to understand at the best of times.
“No you don't, you hate them,” he sister remarks unhelpfully.
“Don't put him off already,” Spouse snips, but she's ready with a rebound, “well if you didn't talk foreign all the time, then we wouldn't have all this 'what it is?' business, all the time,” she complains in an imperious tone. We exchange glances, foreigners and aliens in our own home.
“Perhaps it's about time that we had a concerted campaign to switch them around again. All this 'what it is,' it is immensely irritating when they both do it and so often,” I sigh.
“What? What it is? What?” They're both off in chorus.
“Can't you shut them up they're driving me crazy,” she squeaks, jumping off the sofa, escaping their stereo system with her hands over her ears.
“Don't you think we'd be over doing it a bit?” he asks feebly.
“How so?”
“That would be two new campaigns at the same time! I don't know that I'm up to it.”
“What it is? What it is? What da 'campaign' is meaning?” His sister stamps her foot and shouts “campaign is meaning ‘fixing,’ fixing you lot. Oh man! I'm doing it now too!”
“I think roast potatoes are a little optimistic. There's not enough opportunities to reinforce them. [translation = anything that is dubbed ‘new’ has to be offered many, many times before it has the chance of taking hold] I think we should convert to the American way and have mashed potatoes instead. [translation = creamed] That would be so much easier as I could chuck them in the freezer, but roasties are foul if you freeze them.”
“Oh we can't!”
“What have you got against mashed potatoes?”
“Nothing I love them, but I love roasties more.”
“Well you'll just have to make this tiny sacrifice for the benefit of your loved ones then won't you.” I try to moderate my tone. [translation = unsucessfully]
“But we can't!”
“Yes we can. You're a diabetic and there's the cholesterol thing. [translation = most Brits are challenged in the department of ‘medical terminiology] This is a much better choice for any number of different reasons.” He backs down in the face of deprivation, but rallies with, “such as?”

“Well, it's a question of priorities. Which is more important, that they learn to eat roast potatoes that don't exist in this country, which I have to cook twice a year, or that they learn to ask 'what is it?' rather than 'what it is?' which is driving us all completely bonkers every 2 minutes?”
“What it is? What it is da 'bonkers?'” We ignore him, grabbing the only opportunity that we have had to converse for nearly a week.
“Ah! so it's just that you don't like cooking them then?”
“What it is? What it is 'bonkers?'” We persevere.
“No, I'm just saying, that it's not a very useful skill to acquire?”
“WHAT IT IS? WHAT IT IS DA 'BONKERS?'” he yells at fifty decibels. Everyone ignores him as his sister takes her turn, “the campaign we really need is for you two to stop talking foreign and then they won't have any questions any more.”

Spouse ruffles his stubble, “or we could just stop talking full stop. [translation = period] Lets just stick with the roast potato campaign. Can't the speech therapist fix the 'what it is' bit?”
“They can have a go but it won't work unless we do it at home and at school too.” [translation = generalization; what they learn to do in one setting doesn't necessarily transfer to different locations.]
“That's it then, just the roast potato campaign. At least that will have a fixed duration! We'd only have to do it until Boxing Day [translation = the 26th December] whereas the other might take a life time.”
“WHAT IT IS? WHAT IT IS DA 'BONKERS?'”

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