Monday, January 23, 2012

Update After One Year On GAPS Intro

I've been meaning to update about our GAPS progress. We began our journey on January 10, 2011. After one year we are currently on Stage 4 of the Intro diet.

For the most part, the improvements that we've seen have come about slowly. In order to really evaluate the changes I had to get out a chart that I made at the beginning of our journey to track Sam's autistic behaviors. (That chart will be my next post.)

When we began the GAPS Intro diet I made note of all of Sam's autistic behaviors that I wanted to improve upon. For Sam, those behaviors included: humming, clapping, TV/movie talk, hitting head, meltdowns, argumentative, chewing, and poor sleeping.

Here's how our lives have changed in one year:

Humming: Prior to the diet Sam would hum nonstop. He would hum while eating, in bed before going to sleep, as he was riding in the van, while watching tv..all the time. After one year on GAPS Intro Sam does still hum, but it is only occasionally. Now he might hum whenever there's a lot of noise or unusual activity around him.

Clapping: You can tell in the videos from February 2010 that Sam would clap his hands at a furious pace. I'm happy to say that I cannot remember the last time that I have witnessed Sam clapping his hands involuntarily. I don't know exactly when he regained control of his body but it has been sometime in the past year.

TV/movie talk: This is something else that he used to struggle with on a daily basis. We couldn't ask him a question without getting an answer that was simply repeated from some TV show or movie. We no longer get those kinds of answers from him. Now, when we ask a question, we get an answer that comes from Sam's own mind. You can see his improvement in that area in the video from February 2011. I will say that Sam does still struggle with "book talk." He still does get extremely immersed in certain topics that he's reading about and, if you give him free reign, he will dominate the conversation with whatever topic he is currently interested in studying. Right now he is really interested in the Presidents and the weather so he could talk to you about those things all day long if you would let him.

Hitting head: Again, this happened numerous times every single day whenever Sam got angry or overwhelmed. I cannot remember the last time that I've seen Sam hit himself in the head.

Meltdowns: Prior to the diet Sam didn't necessarily have one of these every day, but they were still often enough to be a problem. Sam's meltdowns involved him hopping from one foot to the other while he banged his ears with his hands. He would scream "NO!" or just wail while he had his meltdown. I cannot remember the last time that I've seen him have a meltdown. Now, instead of losing physical control, he will use words to express anger if he doesn't get his way. Now he would be more likely to say, "God will be angry with you!" if he's upset with you about something.

Argumentative: When I say "argumentative" I mean that Sam used to argue with you about everything under the sun. You'd say, "The sky is blue" and he's scream back at you, "NO IT'S NOT!" I'd say, "We're having eggs for breakfast." and he's scream back at me, "NO WE'RE NOT!" I'd love to say that my child never argues with me, but the reality is that now Sam saves his arguments for rare occasions. It's so nice to not be in a constant battle with my child now.

Chewing: Sam used to destroy things by chewing on them. He'd chew on forks, spoons, straws, toys, clothing, cups, etc. I cannot remember the last time I've seen him do this. It has also stopped within this past year.

Poor sleeping: I think this is the area that I've most taken for granted. I look back at my chart from the beginning of our GAPS journey and I remember how bad it really used to be. Sam used to wake up at 5am every single day. He would also get up numerous times during the night. Now, he is asleep by 9pm and usually sleeps solid through the night until around 6:30am. If he does get up in the night it is just to go potty (which he does quietly without waking up anyone else) and then he puts himself back to bed.

After one year on GAPS Intro, the areas that I would like to continue improving upon are:

Help Sam to understand when someone isn't really interested in knowing everything about the Presidents or the weather or whatever his current interest is. I'd like for him to be able to sense when he needs to change the topic.

I'd like Sam to be able to expand his interests more. I'd like him to show more interest in doing "outside" tasks instead of staying inside and reading so much. I think more of a balance between the two would be healthy for him.

We'd like to see Sam improve upon his motor skills. There are still some areas where he is physically behind where most 6 year old boys are.

After one year, the results of the GAPS Diet have been more than I even hoped for. For anyone considering this is SO worth the sacrifice! I'm anxious to see what my child is like after another year of healing.