Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Gluten Connection???

Do I believe in the gluten free diet for kids with sensory processing disorder? This is a loaded question. So I will preface it by saying, I believe in the gluten free diet for Crash. I know families who have tried the diet and swear by it, and I know families who have tried the diet and think it is a HUGE waste of time. I think every family is different as is every child and their isn't one "right" thing out there that will work for everyone.

This being said, We saw a tremendous change in Crash after we began the diet. I can not solely attribute these changes to the diet alone because he was also participating in an intensive speech and language program as well as receiving private Occupational Therapy Services and had an intensive "Sensory diet" home program. We also noticed that his body may be reacting to gluten (frequent diarrhea, bright red cheeks). The pediatrician did some allergy testing and a minor wheat intolerance was diagnosed. The pediatrician was supportive of our interest in pursuing a gluten free diet, and encouraged us to research the connection between gluten and sensory processing as well. Within a couple months, Crash went from nonverbal to speaking in words and his behavior did become more manageable. I am not an expert in any of this, and certainly not able to draw a scientific conclusion, but it was enough proof for us to continue on with the diet. Of more significance to our family is the changes we see in Crash when he does on occasion ingest a small amount of gluten. On the rare occasions when this happens, his behavior becomes much more challenging and out of control. His cheeks again turn bright red and we are all well aware that he ate something.

So how did we do it?

Our entire family went gluten free. I did not feel it was fair for Crash to eat the cardboard bread and grainy cookies by himself. And so began our quest for "good tasting gluten free food." It wasn't easy in the beginning. We tried and eliminated several brands of cereal, bread, crackers, pretzels and every kind of pre-packaged item we could find. I came to the conclusion that I would have to make most of these items from scratch, however, we continued to try new items that came on the market as well. We also found gluten -free substitutes for common cooking items. Although it can be a daunting task, with a little perseverance and some good cook books gluten free cooking has become second nature and the food is actually turning out rather well.

Recommended pre-made items:
Glutino pretzels
Glutino flax seed bread
Glutino 4 cheese pizza
Glutino apple cinnamon cereal
Rice Chex cereal
Pamelas baking and Pancake Mix
Nature Path Home style Gluten free waffles
Bionature organic gluten free pasta
Rice crackers

Recommended cookbooks
Nearly Normal Cooking for Gluten Free Eating (I absolutely love the combination of flours that are used in this recipe book. There is only one combination and it works in every recipe.
The Gluten free vegetarian kitchen
The Gluten free Gourmet Bakes Bread
There are several different flour combination depending of the recipe in this cook book. There are plenty of recipes for bread machines as well as loaf pans.
The Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods
I enjoy this cook book. Again there are several different flour combination depending of the recipe.

I have also found many vegan recipes to be gluten free or easily adapted. A favorite blog is the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. Here the recipes are tagged if they are gluten free. Another blog I frequent is Karina's Kitchen-Recipes from a Gluten Free Goddess.

I would love anyone's ideas on products or recipes to try or interesting blogs or websites. I would also recommend that IF you are going to try this "diet" speak with your pediatrician first. Then, stick with the diet. You will not see changes in a day, and most likely not even a week. Give it a good 6 weeks or more of a strict gluten-free experience before forming any conclusions. Finally, try the food yourself. If you think it tastes awful, so will your child. Just because a brand may be called enjoy life doesn't necessarily mean it is enjoyable. Sort these things out before beginning the "diet" so you know what you are cooking and have options for everyone to eat.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Book Review-Sensational Kids

Sensational Kids Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR

Sensational Kids is written by Lucy Jane Miller and occupational therapist. She describes sensory processing using language that is easy for everyone to understand not just therapists and other professionals working in the field. She provides a great deal of information on symptoms and warning signs and even provides checklists to easily organize the information. The author goes on to elaborate upon assessment an diagnosis. She stresses the importance of early intervention and goes on to discuss utilizing your local school district and the benefits of a comprehensive evaluation and the important role parents play. The next chapter is on intervention. She outlines some key principles and explains how important it is for parents to understand their goals for themselves as well as for their child in a family-centered treatment approach. A families priorities will literally become therapy goals. She ends this chapter by explaining A SECRET...a way to given children ultimately a way to learn how to modify situations as needed to help them function more successfully. A SECRET is an acronym that stands for:

A Attention
S Sensation
E Emotional regulation
C Culture
R Relationships
E Environment
T Tasks

This combination of internal and external influences can be manipulated by parents and eventually by children to address sensory issues and behavioral problems whenever they occur.

Although Lucy Jane Miller includes anecdotal accounts through out her book, the second section is dedicated to daily experiences of five children with different types of sensory processing. It allows the reader to take a look and begin to understand the every day challenges children with sensory processing disorder experience and how it affects the family relationships.
The final section of this book builds on the knowledge the reader has acquired in the first two sections and explains things more in depth and tries to sort out some frequent questions readers may have.
I enjoyed reading this book. It was easy to read and it contained checklist charts and tables to make the information easier to understand.

But don't just take my word for it. Check out this review