19 Aug

Alfie was my first baby - the most beautiful squishy little thing who changed our lives forever...for the better.

From the age of two, nursery care workers were concerned that Alfie did not want to engage and play with other children. When he was three, a speak and language therapist started working with him and diagnosed a speech delay with possible signs of Autism. Alfie was mostly non verbal until the age of three but then started to use short sentences and his pronunciation was difficult to understand. Alfie would have very loud and often very aggressive outbursts.

I remember one time, being at the playground and having to call my husband to help me get Alfie home because Alfie was kicking off big time and I was unable to control him. He struggled to deal with change and could not cope with a change to his routine. 

When Alfie was four, we hired a private speech and language therapist (in addition to our NHS one). Rather than focus on a diagnosis and Alfie's 'deficiencies', she taught us how to communicate and interact with Alfie and how to reduce his anxiety. I believe this was our first step to helping Alfie. We were taught to tell him instead of questioning him... for example 'this is an apple' (then let him repeat) as opposed to asking him 'what is this Alfie'? 

Around this time, Alfie became a big brother and it quickly became apparent that we needed a bigger house. We moved to a new town when Alfie was 4 1/2. I was riddled with anxiety about how Alfie would cope with the move, the change of pre-schools, making friends and so on. In fact, the move was the best thing that could ever have happened to him. His new pre-school fully embraced that Alfie was different and learning at a different pace. They worked with him, and in the short 3 months he was there, before starting school, he came on leaps and bounds.

Alfie started school in September 2016. From the start, the SENKO team and teachers have been engaged with helping reduce Alfie's anxiety levels. He loves going to school but he is still accessing very little of the curriculum - mostly because he struggles to sustain concentration and often is so anxious that he just can't focus.  We have had a lot of ups and downs since Alfie started school and a lot of tears (from me) because the hard times have been...well, really hard. 

Around Christmas time 2016, we had a particularly bad period. Up until this point, I had accepted that Autism is something which cannot be cured and that we just need to learn to deal with it and him as best as possible - however we decided that this just cannot be right.

My husband and I, both spend a lot of time researching ways to help Alfie and in February 2017, it suddenly dawned on me that there must be ways we can improve Alfie's diet to help him feel better. A quick google search showed me the phenomenon of the GFCF diet (gluten free, casein free diet) which people rant and rave about (but mostly rave about) to help improve gut health and general well being in their autistic children. 

I read testimonial after testimonial of how children had seen massive reductions in anxiety and improvement in communication, to mention just a few improvements. I was absolutely gobsmacked that no one (GP, specialist paediatric, therapists...) had ever once mentioned this as an option to look into.

A few days later, after hours and hours of research, long lists of 'can eat' and 'can't eat', shopping and more, we were ready to start. Aside from the many amazing improvements we have seen in Alfie (more in my next blog about the impact of this diet on Alfie), it has felt so good to be able to do something proactive to help my son.

Watch this space for my next blog posts coming soon: How Has a GFDF Diet Helped Alfie, The Science Behind GFCF and How We Went Gluten and Dairy Free.

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