Thursday, April 29, 2010

plastic and toxins

Lately I've been considering my dependency on plastics and how that might have contributed to my son's developmental disabilities. This is a hard thing to consider, that our convenience-saturated lifestyle could be poisoning the next generation and subsequent generations to come. Time Magazine this past month of April had a very gripping and convicting look at plastics and other household hazards, and how they are so little regulated.,28804,1976909_1976908_1976938,00.html

The EPA can only regulate a chemical if it is proven harmful, whereas the FDA puts teh burden of proof on the pharmaceutical company to prove their product will not be harmful. The burden of proof for harm rests with the EPA, and the chemical manufacturers don't even have to be entirely forthcoming about their own findings.

so, what sort of chemicals can be harmful? Plastic drinking and eating utensils and packaging, shaving cream, cosmetics, carpeting, synthetic fibers, asbestos in toys (yes it is still used--it is not illegal) and in drywall, plastic baggies, wrap, and baby bottles, shampoos, and nearly every type of soap and cleaner. Plastics break down in microwaves, dishwashers, heat, water, scrubbing, etc. And enter our water supply and food. Teflon becomes airborne at high temps and wears off into our cooking. All of these have been linked to either reproductive anomalies or cancer in lab animals, and sometimes to neurological damage.

What can be done? switch to glass as often as possible for drinking, cooking, eating, storage, and use "green" chemicals for cleaning, such as vinegar, baking soda, and even bleach, rather than harsh chemical compounds. Air out your home when possible, and beware of preservatives in your foods. Cook fresh and from scratch as often as possible. Eat natural rather than synthetic, such as butter over margarine. Pray over your food. Mark 16 says you will eat deadly poisons and it shall not affect you. The fact is, no matter how conscientious you are, you can't eliminate all risk.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Swim team

My son is participating in the Special Olympics this year. Last year he bowled with his fourth grade team, the year President Obama facetiously belittled Special Olympics bowling. Whether or not that affected his decision, he didn't want to bowl again this year, so we tried the swim team. He has found his niche, let me tell you!

From Kindergarten, we have sent son#2 and daughter to swim lessons. Since they are only fourteen months apart in age, they have always been nearly even in their skills, lessons and grade level. But I gotta say, he has taken off in his swimming. We put up a pool in the back yard four summers ago, and they both really enjoy it, but dd had to overcome a phobia, and is just hitting her swimming stride. ds#2 has perfected his.

Out of thirty or so kids, he's been coming in a consistent third place, and often second in the backstroke. Now I know its not about competition, but it is seriously giving him confidence he didn't have. The other kids who place first and second are much older, taller and stronger, but he keeps up and swims his little heart out. I am so proud of him to finally find something he can do and succeed at. This is the kid who still can't ride a bike at the age of eleven. So to see him involved and thriving is so heartwarming.

His meet is next month, and they are practicing relays, so I am anxious that he remain in the top four so he can participate in that event with his team. Lord knows if he is told he can't, what kind of disappointment that would be. But I have to pray and trust that God knows best, even if its not the news we hope for. Maybe he needs to learn flexibility more than he needs some great sporting event, or to experience the thrill of winning something. God is sovereign.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Outings with Aspies

This week was a busy week of family trips and activities. It is always an undertaking going out into public places, particularly when crowds are possible. Crowds cause my son to become overstimulated and shut down, or worse. Occasionally, we have to take that risk of crowds and meltdowns, and venture out. Last Sunday was one of those occasions. I took dd and ds#2 to a rock and mineral show. In two rooms, vendors with tables crammed full of fossils, semi-precious gemstones, and various colorful rocks left little room for aisles where the masses of humanity were to squeeze through. It was the perfect set-up for disaster. Thousands of small trays, thousands of choices to spend his ten dollars on, and throngs of people to navigate around. Details of what, where, when, how much, under flourescent lights and tight quarters. . . I took a big risk. But I knew my son would really enjoy seeing all of the crystals and geodes, dinosaur teeth, petrified trees and trilobites.

Turned out that he really did enjoy it. He didn't want to participate in the activities, like simulated panning or polishing a stone at the wheel thingey. But he displayed amazing patience when i asked him to see everything first before deciding what to purchase. That was asking a lot from a kid who can hardly hold it together. But he did. And he remembered exactly what he wanted, how much it cost, and how much change he'd have left over to buy something else. He ended up with a resin mold of an African T-Rex tooth, several fossil shark's teeth, and a nugget of pyrite.
All told, a very successful day.

This weekend, our town held its annual Easter egg hunt at its huge outdoor sport's complex. The weather was beautiful, with mid-seventies unheard of for upstate New York in early April. On one side of the vast acreage, a BMX bike track with motocross hills featured a pack of eager racers. On the other side of the complex--our destination--hundreds, maybe a thousand kids, competed for swings and slides and monkey bars, waiting for their turn to hunt for candy-filled plastic eggs. My son's body went rigid, and he began to grunt under his breath.

I would have guessed that the wide-open spaces of the great outdoors would have been easier on him than a packed room full of minutia, but here he was, proving me wrong with every growl. I diverted him by sending him and his sister back to the car to fetch their jackets while I stood in line to register. Worked like a charm. I was done before they returned, just in time to see if he wanted his face painted. He didn't, but his sister did. his growls turned to guttural yells and one terrific outburst that turned heads. Okay, no hotdogs, either. Maybe a breather at one of the far bleachers where no one could hear him scream while he decompressed. We crossed the field and took a time out.

By and by, he came around. And just in time. They called his grade, and opened the gate to where the pastel colored treasures waited. Though the wait seemed interminably long, he waited like a soldier, and when they hollered go, he was ready.

Two very different events, but in the end, a bag full of goodies, and success. Outings with Aspies just have to be handled with flexibility, an escape route, and perseverance.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

National Autism Awareness Month

April 2 is National Autism Awareness Day, and for all of April, autism gets the spotlight. Blogs, legislation, books, movies, TV shows, and online discussions will take place to raise awareness of this increasingly common spectrum disorder.

Family Life Network, my local Christian radio station, aired an interview today with Dr. Laura Hendrickson, author of Finding your Child's Way on the Autism Spectrum In her book, Dr. Hendrickson discusses her journey to wholeness and healing for her autistic son.

Here is a blurb: "The Bible tells us that God personally designed each of us and has a plan for our lives that is for our good. Autism is not some kind of mistake that happens outside of His sovereign control. Dr. Laura has raised an autism spectrum child, now recovered from autism, to adulthood. She knows both the sorrow of receiving the diagnosis of autism and the joy of watching him grow in his abilities, and in his faith. This book will help you to apply biblical principles to the management of behavior issues, and will also encourage you to look to God in faith that He is doing something good in your life and that of your child."

You can order this book at:

I am thankful for the many voices creating awareness. Are you more aware of autism than you were a year ago? I know I am. And I will be wearing blue to honor autism awareness day. Hope you will, too.