I receive letters from people from all over the world. This one arrived a few days ago. Enjoy this wonderful story!
In 2007 I bore my third child, a daughter. From the beginning she seemed unhappy, colicky, always fussy...that is unless she was passed out cold. She slept long hours, but whenever she was awake she was primarily unhappy.
Fast forward to her 12-month check up: she had been walking only a couple of weeks, but her Dr pointed out how she walked on her tip toes, and asked if she always did that. I thought nothing of it, but as it turns out, this was the first 'outside' comment on her peculiar behaviour. Family was beginning to notice that she was never happy, never smiled, always looked anxious, and had bizarre melt down fits over absolutely nothing (no known stimulus). She was still nursing, and I nursed her through my next pregnancy in tandem with the new baby for a whole year and a half. I felt it was one of the only things that was keeping her healthy, as she was tiny, even though she was 9 lb 6 oz when she was born. She rode the bottom line of the curve at the paediatricians and never seemed to gain much weight, I have often wondered if she would have been diagnosed with 'failure to thrive' if we had been going to regular paediatrician check-ups in her first few months.
In her second year I gave her one vaccine, she had a strong reaction, though not a serious one, and I decided not to pursue others with her. Her behaviour was rather odd and I was having a hard time understanding her and teaching her to have self-control. She had an unfounded fear of dogs and trucks and she was reported as aggressive in her Sunday nursery. She would not leave my side in crowds (even amongst people she knew, where kids were running and playing, even after many months). She could not tolerate baths or hair washing or combing without total meltdowns. And she was becoming a picky eater despite our efforts to require her to eat healthy food and not allowing junk in our house. She barely ate anything! She complained before and after every meal that her belly hurt, at first just once or twice a week, but then everyday at every meal. My husband and I began to worry.
One day I spoke to a close friend of mine who also happened to be an occupational therapist. She lived states away and had never met my daughter, but recommended that I have her evaluated for an autism spectrum disorder. We were planning a trip, and she was 'on the way' so we met with her and she diagnosed my daughter with Sensory Processing Disorder, then gave us some tips on occupational therapy methods. I took our daughter home and put those methods to use, and they helped some. It was about that time, when my daughter was 2.5, that I first heard of the GAPS protocol. I began looking into it online.
Just before her third birthday I weaned her and her sister off breast, as I was pregnant with my fifth child and didn't think my own body could sustain tandem nursing and another pregnancy. We gave GAPS a quick attempt for one week that fall, but it was an utter failure. I was unprepared, I was pregnant, and my husband was not on board. By her fourth birthday she had gained little more than one or two pounds in a year, and I was really worrying. I had a nursing infant, and was having trouble making enough milk (for the first time in my nursing career!), so felt that GAPS would be appropriate for us all. This time I was better prepared, and I had had another solid year of research and study of the diet, why it works, how to 'do it', etc. So, instead of jumping right onto the Intro (which I felt would be too difficult of an adjustment both for my cooking, and my family's appetites), I backed us off the traditional foods diet slowly, eliminating first all sorts of sugars, and then grains, and then onto the Full GAPS diet.
I told myself I'd give it a month and, if I saw results, I'd stick with it indefinitely until we saw healing. After just a week, I was seeing improvements, fewer meltdowns, better appetite and a few smiles here and there. I was highly motivated and kept the whole family on the Full Diet for the next two weeks, and then started Intro. After Intro, even my husband, who was a hard sell, was seeing the results and beginning to come around to it.
One day I was standing in the kitchen while the children played in the next room. They had a cardboard house to colour and play in, and I suddenly heard 'NO! STOP! YOU'RE GOING TO BREAK IT!' I almost cried; it was my four year old. Instead of a total meltdown, screaming and tears, and me coming in to try to sort things out, my daughter expressed herself IN WORDS! Sure, they were screamed at the top of her lungs, but they were ARTICULATE, and anyone could understand her meaning. Then it all started to change in a hurry, she began to tell me that the zipper in the back of her dress bothered her, and asked not to wear that style anymore. She told me her tights itched her. She told us that her car seat straps were cutting her neck, or were too tight. This was a miracle to me, because previously, all these irritations were invisible to us, they were simply screaming fits with no known cause. She began to tolerate hair combing and baths. My parents (who saw her at least once a week regularly) commented that she was smiling now. Everyone who knew us began to see the changes by the third month. She left my side in playgroups and she articulated what sorts of touching bothered her. I finally got some peace from those total screaming fits! Sometime during that period my daughter began to eat like she had been starved (and she had been). She would eat and eat, she would ask for food between meals, and clean her plate at meals. She began to GROW. She was no longer a picky eater by any means.
In the spring, six months after starting the diet, I took her to the paediatrician for her physical (in the middle of the year instead of at her birthday, as that was when my other children were going and I was hoping to get them on the same side of the calendar). She had gained 5 pounds and 3 inches in six months, a whole year's worth of growth, which brought her up one line on the percentile chart. I was aglow, and enthusiastically told our paediatrician what we were doing. He was glad to hear it, and was also satisfied to know that the diet doesn't go on forever (he had some concerns about restrictive diets). He's a wonderful doctor.
Well, now we have been on GAPS for one year. We just had a pretty major set back; my daughter was bit in the face by a dog, and we had to give her a round of serious oral antibiotics, and a DTAP vaccine. Couple that with the complications of a cross-country move which made it very difficult to strictly adhere to the diet, and an outbreak of scabies in the house. With all of those things counting against her, I am grateful to say that her behaviour would no longer qualify for Sensory Processing Disorder! She still has some behaviour issues and could possibly fall into an ADHD diagnosis, but I have no intention of getting one. I plan to go through the GAPS Intro Diet with her again starting on the first of next month, and I expect to see massive gains. I suspect that after another year on GAPS, she will be like any other kid, and people will be unable to determine which of my children fall on the spectrum.
I praise God that He led me to this wonderful diet! I tell everyone I know about it, even strangers that I meet at the park. My whole extended family is convinced of its ability to heal. It has been the catalyst of miraculous change and healing for my daughter, and has even helped my own health.
I am glad to get to know the girl who was hiding under all that anxiety and stress. The girl who smiles and loves to cuddle, who has a tender spot in her heart towards other people, and goes around the house with a song on her lips. THIS is the girl that was under the mess of fits and anxiety.
Thank you Dr Natasha!