Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Autism Speaks...and Autism Eats

This may be among the simpler of my meatloaf creations, but I wanted to pay homage to Autism Speaks, and this puzzle piece is the organization's logo.

As I sculped the piece, I thought about how appropriate a symbol it is for autism. I thought of my son Theo doing the same three-piece puzzle for hours when he was a toddler. I thought of the very puzzle that is autism--where does it come from? What will be the cure?

And I thought of the meatloaf Theo and I made together when we experimented with a gluten-free/dairy-free/soy-free diet for almost 6 months last year. The meatloaf was admittedly still pretty tasty with the gluten-free breadcrumbs. But I hoped he wouldn't have to eat this way forever.

Though other moms turn to the diet counting on it to be a cure, I secretly hoped it wouldn't work. And it didn't. (In fact, it made his stimming behaviors worse, which all his teachers could attest to!)

You see, my boy has always been my little sous chef. Cooking together is part of our relationship. I want him to know the delicate crisp of great bread, the silkiness a touch of butter brings to a sauce.

I believe Theo's food vocabulary will be a great asset to him. He's almost 7 now and as his social skills emerge, it's important for him to grab a slice of pizza with friends or bake brownies with them without having to worry about feeling different because he can't eat what they eat. Last year, with the decision to quit the special diet, I concluded that it was counterproductive to inhibit him in social situations by setting him even further apart from the other kids than he already is. I wrote a post about this on my other blog, How are Theo and Melody?.

I've often fantasized about starting a cooking therapy program for children with autism. Who's with me?


  1. Great to read this. I was just saying yesterday that I wish I could hear from the parents who the diet does NOT show better results in their child's behaviour, as all I have heard are from parents regarding how much better they seem to do.
    My 6yr olds loves being a "chef" as well. His behaviours are not that bad, actually, except he is at times very loud at home, and he hand flaps when excited.
    I am willing to eliminate milk from his diet (As Dr. Mercola suggests) as a start to see if anything improves, but living in the country, and having to drive 2hrs for any specialty items will be difficult.
    I believe it will inhibit him in so many ways as well. It sets him apart from school functions w/ food immediately.
    Thanks for this.

  2. And thank YOU for the validation as well. I remember hitting Google to look for stories where the diet didn't work, and had a hard time. But I knew others like me were out there.

    I didn't have your excuse regarding resources, with a health food store right around the corner. But the stuff sure was expensive. Even though I tried to make everything myself, the zillion flours and other ingredients required cost a bundle.