Tera July 22nd, 2008
Every once in a while you encounter someone who is courageous enough to look main stream media and conventional stereotypes in the eye and say, “I DISAGREE!” When I found out about Gina Laverde and her muffin, Dougie, I asked if she’d share her story with us.
With the rate at which Ritalin is becoming a household name, we’re glad to have fiesty moms like Gina sharing her message with the world, and we looking forward to putting our heads together in the name of Natural Solutions to Autism, ADD, etc. Hopefully you’ll be hearing a lot more from Gina, Dougie and company!
Confronting Autism With Courage, Common Sense and Raw Food
By Gina Laverde
My son will be four in 13 days. And, two years ago, our own friends and family doubted he’d survive his many health challenges with so little scarring. He is Dougie. He is emerging through what the world is calling “autism.” And, he is by far the STRONGEST person I know.
The newborn Dougie was every parent’s dream. After a complicated pregnancy disrupted by a mis-diagnosed miscarriage, placenta previa, early contractions and dilation, candida skin eruptions, and ignorant remarks from a group of non supporters – I was blessed to have a healthy happy baby boy. I stared at him sleeping for the first three hours of his life.
In order to ensure that our boy’s health remained vibrant, his daddy and I employed the city’s most expensive pediatrician. I’m talking about one who charged $700 for a well visit with immunizations (after insurance, of course). Oh, how my heart sank when we couldn’t afford two of the recommended shots according to the recommended schedule!
But, our baby was sleeping through the night in his swing, sleeping through trips to the movies, friends’ parties, and car rides. The kid slept so much, my husband and I brought him on dates. My expensive pediatrician assured me, on one of our midnight-worry-calls, that all of this sleeping was a gift, and that I should revel in it. And, so I did.
And, when my dermatologist told me that the white rashes Dougie was getting were a direct reflection to the hormones in my breast milk — and that my baby was in fact suffering from ACNE, I weaned Dougie from mother’s milk. Colic began with dairy-based formula, but I never made the connection. Our E.P. (expensive pediatrician) assured me that the brand we selected was sooooo close to breast milk, and that I made the right choice. I didn’t want to poison my kid with my ruined milk, so I traded my happy sleeper for a rash-less night crier.
By the time he was ready for food he was in love with spinach, squash and bananas. We chose almond and rice milks over dairy and his tummy issues subsided. But, I regrettably kept him on formula for 14 months, because the E.P. made a case for the “unrivaled” calcium source. He was pooping about seven times a day, but at this point I knew nothing of the problem that symbolized.
I became more confident in my mommy skills as Dougie learned to walk, talk and ask for things he wanted. I knew that I wasn’t eating dairy myself. And I knew he didn’t need it either. We filled him with wholesome home cooked and raw organic foods. We made sure we chose quality food sources of fats, protein, and other essential nutrients. He craved bananas. We made sure that he never got processed foods, candy or typical un-natural kid food. And, yeah we experienced many upturned noses because of this. But the result was that my 2 year old never needed prescriiption meds.
And despite the life-sucking day jobs, threat of home foreclosure, disownment by some family members, and MY chronic ear infections, my husband and I were overjoyed at being parents.
My husband, Doug, brought Dougie to get his next round of shots while I was at work. I had an eerie feeling about it, but just couldn’t determine a good reason not to vaccinate. I just didn’t fully understand what we were doing to Dougie. And, that’s when fever and flu entered our lives.
I put on my Healer Helmet and got him better with magic elixirs of vitamins and herbs. My parents thought I was nuts.
But before I knew it, I was facing my own doctor and my own chest x-rays and blood tests that revealed I needed to rest. I had pneumonia and had apparently held it at bay for months with my natural therapies. My doctor was disgusted at the bottles of oil of oregano, colloidal silver and other goodies I brought to show him I was taking care of myself. I still didn’t fully “GET IT.”
Soon, I was being injected with various antibiotics that made it hard for me to hold my head up. My mom was taking care of Dougie. And, Dougie was in NEED of prescriiption meds for the first time in his life. Of course, the nurse comforted me with the fact that all kids get sick all the time, and antibiotics were simply a part of life.
I felt as though I failed him by not being there to cook his meals and make his “get better” tea. He was placed on 4 back to back rounds of antibiotics. And from Christmas Eve through mid January, he regressed into a dazed state of consciousness. He lost all of his language and had no emotional response to pain. He cried or screamed almost all the time, and refused to eat anything but pizza.
By January’s end, I picked up my head, opened my laptop, and confirmed to myself and to my best friend that Dougie had autism. At this time, my husband was too sensitive to hear the word because it held so many negative connotations for him. Dougie was so sick and his daddy was so scared. I longed for someone to scream at. Someone to talk to. But, at this point I wasn’t sad or guilty. I was determined to find a cure.
Our financial predicament left us shacking up in my brother-in-law’s basement for a few months. God bless them for not killing me as I embraced the weirdness of self-healing.
Doug and I are not those parents who took our child from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what happened. Not only could we not afford it, but our experience with doctors taught us that they (at least the ones we knew of) would not have an answer. I refused to take the money we could use for getting better and hand it over to a doctor, just to hear “I’m so sorry Mr. and Mrs. McDermott, your son has autism.” I can’t even imagine the dread those parents must feel when being sold the “no way out” approach to autism. Because we were broke, we were spared this. We never got a set of blinders or a list of therapies to help us cope.
I didn’t want to cope. I wanted to cure this. But, the autism battleground had been trudged by some dedicated people who were far more educated than me, and none of them could find a cure. I knew I had to do it differently. I knew I had to embrace Dougie’s gifts. I remember explaining this to a non-mom girlfriend who reassured me of the value of early interventions like psych drugs and speech therapies. Instead of killing her I dove inside my computer.
One half hour of research solidified the Candida question that kept popping up in my mind. We definitely had it. I had to cut sugar from our diets. A few clicks later I found a woman who lived in my state and had successfully recovered her son from autism. I sent her an email and she called me the next day. She gave me hope that I could reverse Dougie’s condition with diet. We talked for 2 hours and she referred me to the bedrokcommunity.org – who have been my backbone and best friends through this journey.
I was now coming to the deeper understanding of gut health as it relates to brain function. I introduced cultured vegetables and coconut kefir to Dougie’s diet, using a tablespoon to 4oz each day for a month – AND WE GOT EYE CONTACT BACK!! The cultured veggies helped his taste buds accept greens and gluten free grains – AND HE STARTED SAYING “THOMAS THOMAS” after his favorite train. He was getting physically stronger too, and so some more autistic symptoms began to surface. Dougie hand-flapped, licked the floor and the walls, toe-walked, used repetitive language, like “Thomas, Thomas,” and would smash his face into the floor or walls. He was mystified by wheels. But, he was becoming happier and showing it. He still wasn’t responding to his name. His behavior was very hard to handle for me, as I wanted to see more results.
Another month passed and I learned that trusting my gut meant going back to my spirituality. I prayed and meditated a lot. One moment I was blending green sludge for my son to drink and the next I was screaming in excitement and horror over the phone to my mom “I saw bugs in his poop.” Yeah, bugs. Weird stuff. And each time Dougie released something overly nasty in diaper… he gained more skills. The diet was working! But not enough for anyone to believe me.
My mom was so loving and my dad just kept his mouth shut. But everyone was whispering behind our backs…. wondering if the boy was getting enough protein or this or that other nutrient. And, I realized they were wearing blinders too. They too were duped by the “milk does a body good” mindset . My mom, who slaved over delicious home-cooked meals every day of my life, didn’t understand the gift that good food gives our bodies. No one understood me like the moms at the BEDROK community.
Their level of understanding goes beyond diet cures. They helped me realize that Dougie is unique. I could do Body Ecology the generic way and get some pretty great results. Or I could apply it to Dougie’s particular needs, and consider his toxins, and deficiencies — and fully recover him from autism.
We are definitely still learning. We have embraced our son as a unique being with very special talents. His spark shines brighter as we peel away the layers of damage. We no longer focus on curing him. He has a sickness that gets better each day, but it does not define him.
In time, we’ve learned to tweak his diet to address his needs. He has now adapted to a high raw and mostly vegan diet. Something he could’ve never handled in the beginning. He does get brain food like the essential fats of cod liver oil and coconut oil. He drinks about a quart of coconut kefir each day which balances out the good gut bacteria, fills him with minerals, and makes digestion of other foods a breeze. He drinks green smoothies each morning and loooves peas with apple cider vinegar. The kid craves spirulina now! What a gift!\
By first focusing on his gut, we’ve prepared him to eat a wider variety of foods. As long as he gets his cultured foods, he can handle sweeter fruits, beans, and grains much better than before. In the last 2 months he went from speaking in two-word sentences to complex sentences.
We embrace each moment for what it can teach us.
We study poop, tongues and skin color. We rely on our instincts, our research and our friends who are in the same boat. To date, we have only done one test to confirm the presence of heavy metals from vaccines and environment.
My almost four year old drinks green, plays air guitar, and is beginning to read. What more could a mommy ask for. He IS my dream come true!
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