As the old adage goes, ignorance is bliss, right? Frankly, in my experience, it isn’t.
Before my son was born and through his early life, and even a few years later when he was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, I was a happy, fulfilled young woman enjoying all that life—and modern conveniences—had to offer. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t frivolous or ignorant. I was thoughtful about taking care of myself and of our planet…eating a primarily healthy diet…exercising…taking vitamins…conserving water…recycling…arranging to carpool when I could. Let’s just say that I did what I knew was important because it doesn’t take a genius to know that our lives and our Earthly resources are limited and, well - precious. There’s a lot about our current environment, and the ever-present toxins in our lives, that I wish I had known about before conceiving, birthing and raising my son in his early years.
Skip forward to the present: I am now engrossed with raising a young boy with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – Asperger’s Syndrome, to be precise. Sadly for our society, I’m far from alone. Many families are in the same boat. Before Autism touched our lives so intimately, I did know that many children with ASD improved on gluten-free diets because Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance run in my family and I read a lot about the gluten-free diet – but that was about it. I didn’t know how very much Autism was a whole-body condition.
I didn’t know that most of these children have immune system disruptions.
I didn’tknow that many are born to mothers with auto-immune conditions, like me.
I didn’tknow that most have intestinal/digestive issues.
I didn’tknow that most of these kids are unable to effectively process toxins out of their systems.
I didn’tknow that most of these kids have issues with ongoing inflammation…yeast overgrowth…seizure disorders…sensory processing issues… the list goes on and on.
Autism is not just a “mental” disorder, as so many people mistakenly believe! These individuals’ entire systems are often “out-of-whack” and the more I learn, the more I look toward environmental factors as the culprit, or at the very least a very evident factor. The more I learn, the more I want to share; so, it is with great pleasure that I will be able to share with so many readers here, via this blog.
Since every child exhibits “Autism” differently, there is so much we have yet to learn about the “causes,” prevention and recovery from this wide range of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Additionally, there are many other childhood illnesses, learning disorders and developmental disorders which are increasing alongside Autism. My instinct (after much reading) is that they’re also closely tied to the environment, too. The good news is that there is a lot of cutting edge research taking place. Lots of questions are being asked; some are being answered, some are being blatantly ignored.
In treating my son by addressing the systems in his body which are not working “properly,” I’ve gained a new appreciation for our planet and what we (human beings in a modernized world) have chosen to do with our resources. In the past century, we’ve made extreme changes to our food supply. We’ve drastically changed the way we consume fuel. We’ve added countless chemicals, additives and modifiers into our everyday lives which haven’t been utilized by previous generations, nor studied for negative effects. To put it bluntly, we’ve done a number of things that threaten our health and well-being.
Recently, I’ve come across a few studies that have motivated me to try to help facilitate change in our society. I encourage you to take some time to read about these three phenomenal studies: The Millennium Ecosystem Assessement, The Body Burden Study and Mind, Disrupted. I’m not going to lie; you’ll be discouraged. For one, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which was completed by over 1,300 European scientists on behalf of the UN, indicates that if we continue the way we’re going, we will not be able to sustain life here on Earth for much longer…we’re talking just a couple of generations. Compelling! The Body Burden Study took a critical look at the number of chemicals present in newborn cord blood to investigate which chemicals are passed from mother to fetus. Frightening! The Mind, Disrupted study, similarly, investigated chemical compounds in adults. Disturbing? Yes. But, also, quite motivating, if you choose to look at the studies in a different light.
We are literally on a precipice…looking over the “edge” of a highly dangerous set of circumstances, and we’re faced with decisions that will affect our descendants for generations to come. My belief is that there are really big—monumentally big—changes which must be made. These must, no doubt, involve our national and global leaders…but these leaders get their information and motivation from people like you and me. There are many people working tirelessly and diligently to stimulate necessary change; I strongly feel that they need our assistance.
Through this blog, it will be my pleasure to share certain efforts with you and encourage you to take action to do what you’re able to do to help. Further, there are many changes you can implement step-by-step in your home and community which, while they may feel “small” from a global perspective, will be colossal in how they may change your child’s health and well-being, and your personal well-being as well. The small steps are what encourage me; I love seeing my son’s health improve and know that I am making a substantial difference in his life and health.
Here’s to making a difference together! Thanks in advance for joining me on this journey.
Leigh Attaway Wilcox is a Writer and Editor, Children's Book Author, Literacy Specialist and proud mom to a spunky, smart 7-year-old boy who happens to live with Asperger's Syndrome. In addition to blogging here for AutismSpot on a regular basis, Leigh writes for the Dallas Moms Blog about a variety of parenting and special needs topics. For more about Leigh, her writing and her family's journey with Autism, visit her website and blog.