Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Back to School Platespinning Merry-Go-Round

The summer activities pulled me under like a rip tide. Thanks to my brother, we took our family's first trip to Disney World. WOW, what a learning experience! I hope to share some of those experiences with readers who may be wondering if they can pull it off in terms of dietary restrictions. This summer we also had swim lessons, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and then...there were the glasses. My 4.5 year old daughter was diagnosed with convergence excess, and prescribed corrective lens glasses and vision therapy to address the Venn-diagram-style triple vision that she would see when looking at a book.

This brings me to a cogent point - if you're a parent tinkering with diet as a means to support your child's growth and development, AWESOME. I give you all the high fives I can muster and congratulate you on your efforts and the (possibly very long) journey you are on to help your child to be his or her best.

That said: avoid being myopic. Do not pursue diet at the expense of having your child evaluated for other issues. Do not pursue diet at the expense of not getting your child started with proven therapies.

Our family's ideal is keeping my autistic 4 year old's diet train going - a gluten free, casein free, dye free diet with personalized tweaks - but ALSO having her in a steady chuggachugging weekly routine of private and public services: speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy. As I briefly mentioned above, we are about to add vision therapy to that list, too.

Because, think of it this way: even if you have mastered "THE PERFECT DIET (c)" for your child...but have never evaluated them for vision issues, they could be optimally fueled but still walking around with Venn-diagram-style triple vision, which would impact many kids' learning. OR, you could be getting so much valuable therapy for your child, but your little one could be distracted in therapy sessions by stomach ache and brain fog because of dietary sensitivities that have not yet been addressed.

In our case, we are glad to use diet to keep her tummy happy and her brain fog at bay- while she wears her new glasses and makes significant gains in occupational therapy with her handwriting. It's exceptionally difficult to keep many plates spinning - diet, therapies, evaluations - but ultimately they all support each other and help her to work toward her best, day in, day out.

What are your goals for your family this school year? Are you using nutritional strategies to support your child's growth and development?


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