Posts Tagged ‘autism’

Re-engineering the Chocolate Chip Cookie Gluten Free

Well, it is the start of another busy day. Yesterday, I had to unexpectedly drive out to the kids’ school (60 miles round trip from home) to pick up Farmer Boy Charles, who wasn’t feeling well and who’s eye was all red and weepy. That brought me to an unexpected stop at the eye doctor, my boy has viral pinkeye (nothing doctor could do except ell him to wash hands frequently, not to rub it and keep hands to himself.) So, he’s at home until the problem passes.  Hope it doesn’t take as long as it did with my goats back in the fall of 2006, when they got exposed at State Fair to it (exhibitor in the neighboring stall had a doe down with it really bad and tried passing it off as allergies!  I was very upset, one of my favorite does, Vienna, went blind after rubbing up against that next-door stallmate.)

In the interest of a busy day and recipe days being our most popular days… we will literally keep this short and sweet.

Over the Christmas holidays, Charles requested Nestle’s Toll House Cookies after seeing frequent commercials on television for them.  Part of autism is a symptom called echolalia (affected people frequently parrot/repeat information they see or hear over and over ad nauseum to the point of driving everyone else completely batty.) When he was little he constantly repeated entire scripts of kiddie programs like Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder. Now that he’s getting older, Charles echolalia is evolving… he’s becoming very susceptible to advertising, particularly food advertising… which seems to peak during the winter holidays.

The constant bombardment by Nestle’s products resulted in this request for Toll House cookies. Not that I don’t frequently bake chocolate chip cookies anyway, but we had to go through this excercise to understand WHY these particular cookies were different or special by duplicating it Gluten Free

. (*Please note that  Nestle’s Toll House morsels are NOT dairy free, they contain milk fat and as a result a nominal amount of casein… I usually use Ghiradelli semi-swee choc. chips in baking or another dairy free brand … but in this instance I had some of the Nestle’s brand that I had bought to make fudge for hubby’s office and decided to administer enzymes to my son for casein digestion. )

I stuck very close to the original recipe with these cookies.

          Gluten Free Nestle’s Toll House Cookies

(An adaptation of a Famous Recipe for Gluten Intolerance)

Equipment:  large mixing bowl and electric mixer (or a heavy duty stand mixer like KitchenAid which is what I use and I usually double the batch size), wooden spoon, parchment paper, cookie sheets, cooling rack, a metal pancake flipper and a cookie scoop.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter or margarine (I use BestLife or Earth Balance)

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups of Gluten-Free All-purpose Flour (if using a blend with xanthan gum already added, omit xanthan gum later in recipe.  I like Jules’ Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour  www.julesglutenfree.com , but  also have used Namaste GF All Purpose flour to good result in this recipe too, if you are new to GF and not sure what brands to choose.  I do not recommend a garbanzo/fava bean based AP flour in this recipe as it will result in “beany flavored cookies”)

1 1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 pkg. Nestle’s Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels (other one of the dairy-free brands)

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional, if you have nut allergies either leave them out or use sunflower seeds or shredded coconut instead.)

Instructions:

Cream ” butter” and sugar until light and fluffy with an electric mixer.  Add eggs one at a time and mix well between additions.  Add vanilla extract and mix again.  Sift together dry ingredients, add slowly to butter mix mixing well between additions.   Add in chocolate chips and mix again and then add nuts and mix those in too if you are using them.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Place cookie dough on cookie sheets lined with parchment using cookie scoop or by heaping spoonfulls. Bake 8-12 minutes depending on your preferred doneness and your oven until lightly golden (we like them soft and chewy here).  Allow to cool slightly (5 min or so) on sheets before removing to a cooling rack or platter.

Great warm or cold and served with a glass of milk substitute (almond, rice, soy etc.)

You can also make this dough in advance, form into logs and wrap in parchment or wax paper, place in a zip-top freezer bag for later use. just partially thaw a log of dough as needed  and slice off cookies and bake them as usual.  Great idea to have on hand for when the youngster forget to tell you it’s their turn for snack day at school or Sunday School until the last minute or for busy days when a sweet snack or dessert is wanted in a hurry.

Makes 2 to 3 dozen depending on size of cookies

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New Frontiers in Education (Part 1)

The post below, New Frontiers in Education (part 1) was written by my dear friend, Aimee Packard.  Aimee is a homeschooling mother of two sons with special needs, who contracts through her local school for Special Ed. services, but otherwise educates her children in the family home.  Aimee also writes a blog about their family’s adventures as they homeschool and raise children of faith. Her blog Scribing Life can be found here a this link http://scribinglife.wordpress.com/.

“THE POWER OF HOME EDUCATION”

(Aimee’s oldest son 5 years old, “Big Brother” drew a butterfly coming out of a crytsalis and descibed it to momma using correct scientific terms . Unfortunately he erased his drawing before Daddy got home from work. )

New Frontiers in Education- Part 1

(The WHY’s of Homeschooling)

Note:  this is PART ONE – where I talk about WHY,

in PART TWO I will talk about how

Disclaimer:  I am going to discuss why TO home school, why it is important, why someday it may be necessary and not a merely an option.  However, none of this, or any of my comments should be taken as an attack on parents that choose to use the public school as a tool to educate their children.  This piece will be pro-home education and will discuss what, to us, are negatives in the public school system.  Nevertheless every family has to make their own choice, as led by God.  I have dear friends who are not Christian; I have dear friends who make use of the public school system.  This is food for thought and is certainly not a judgment on anyone.
In the New Frontier there are going to be many ‘new skills’ that are skills our Great-Grandmothers and their mothers will shake the heads in dismay that we have to learn and that we do not simply do with our mind occupied with prayer or something else of value.  There is a good chance your life, or your daughter’s life, may resemble your Great Grandmother’s mother’s life more than your mothers’.  I pray to be wrong, but the fact is we must be ready.  You and I are going to have to learn to cook from scratch, to cook things we never thought we’d eat (maybe), to can, to sew, and to knit, among other skills.  One thing we simply must do now, and will certainly be forced to in the days to come, even if we do not choose it today, is personally educate our children.  On a mere moment’s notice, if necessary.  Read, think, keep materials on hand (great for a rainy Saturday afternoon or the summer).  Be ready; know what the kids know and what they need to know.

I do not care if your child goes to the best school, with a great teacher, at the end of the day you need to be sure your child is learning the skills and acquiring the wisdom they are going to need.  You need to be fact checking their education, and being sure they are obtaining real time-tested knowledge and the ability to use it, and not merely propaganda set forth by liberal government entities.  You have be in their books, in their assignments, reviewing their class notes.  You have to know what your children are being taught and what they are being exposed to, tested material or not.  When the rubber meets the road, maybe in ways unexpected, grades are not going to help anyone.  The schools and school teachers, no matter how good, have no vested interest in your child or their life beyond the end of the year test score and beyond high school graduation.

God gave us the gift of children on loan my dear friends and we have to answer to Him for their care and the path we put their tiny feet on.  There are many places where the public schools are excellent and many good private schools are an option.  There are many places where that is not the case.  Either way, God is going to ask you, not Timmy’s 3rd grade teacher, about Timmy’s lack of long division skills or his lack of understanding of Seward’s Folly  (if you need to look that up:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Purchase).

Think about it; let’s talk about it.  Please remember entire books are written about these subjects, so this coverage is going to be brief, at least as brief as I am capable of making it.

It is extremely difficult to compare home school students vs. public school students; at least accurately.  Even if it could be done, it really doesn’t matter as we all know correlation does not prove causation.  So even if you could truly compare the two, as if comparing the ingredients on a cookie package, you could not say beyond a doubt that the benefit of either was caused by the education choice.  Education choices come down to parenting, and good parents assure their children a good education no matter what tools they choose to use.  Nevertheless there is clearly no empirical evidence that homeschooling produces negative results compared to standard institutional schooling.  Homeschooling is an extension of parenting, and if the parenting is good, the homeschooling will be; but good parents are good involved parents to children in public school too.  Parents need to take responsibility for their children, children God has given to them, and the State needs to remember it is NOT the parent and the school needs a strong and constant reminder that they are employed by and function at the pleasure of the parents. If this reminder is in the shape of many children being removed, so be it; if it is the shape of the votes packing the School Board with people of faith, that is another option.

What you and I must remember are our God given roles, our responsibilities to our families, and to our Nation.  Home education can be, though this is not a primary reason for our family, it is something that I think of, an act of preserving the Republic.

As a Nation, we were founded by home educated men; we all have a responsibility to the Nation (under God).  Home education is preparing the next generation to lead, not to follow.  Home educated individuals founded this nation and it may indeed be up to home educated individuals who are called upon to save it.

Consider this: from the 1620’s to the late 1800’s in the United States there was no mandatory public education; for a long time no public school option at all.  Education was parents, older siblings, at the kitchen table and a strong commitment to the best the child could be.  Parents taught their children to walk, to read and to be adults.  Literacy rates in the colonies, (1640 to 1700) particularly in New England, were extremely high relative to those in the Old World; and sadly relative to today. Shipton, New England has a 95% literacy rate. By the middle of the 1700’s nine Colleges / Universities had been founded including Harvard, Yale and William and Mary.  All stressed Classical studies and a Biblical foundation.  Learning to read, learning to acquire and use information, to manipulate language (written and spoken), learning to think… not learning to pass a test.

Freshmen at William and Mary had to “be able to read, write, converse, and debate in Greek”.  The King’s College inNew   Yorkrequired applicants to translate the first ten chapters of the Gospel in to Latin.  Nevertheless Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Monroe, all educated at home, of course, entered college at age sixteen.  (page 118 The Right Choice Home Schooling by Klicka).

There are three main elements, as to why we home school; there are other less critical aspects that make home educating ‘even a better deal’ but for us there are three main ‘deal makers”.  Our reason to home school, will not be the same as your reason (or your reasons not to home school).

First being we as parents do not want others (adults or peers) having a strong molding influence on our children, we want to strengthen our children’s values before they are loosed into the world and asked to make their own choices.

Secondly we dislike the public schools and their humanistic, politically correct, worldly view point; that we feel is not merely neutral (which would be acceptable if not desirable), but actually progressive and liberal.

Finally, related to both is the growth my understanding and convictions.  In many cases I truly believe God wants our children at home; and in every case no matter what tools you use, God hold the parents exclusively accountable for the education of the youth He gives them.

I strongly dislike the idea of someone other than myself or my husband or family fundamentally shaping the beliefs my children hold or their point of view about life and the world around them.   This is a statement about the inherent susceptibility of young children to things around them, good and bad alike; young children are sponges. QUOTE:  Young hearts and minds are especially vulnerable, having an amazing ability to absorb large amounts of teaching innocently, naively, without judgment, prejudice or bias.”  The How and why of Home Schooling by Ballmann page 20-21.

A big part of our parental choice to home school has to do with faith, but even more so with our understanding that children, any children are not strong enough (emotionally or spiritually) to be a leader and not a follower at 5, or 7.  Peer pressure and influence is not only for teenagers.

Big Brother came home from a week of Vacation Bible School (15 hours total) with new less-than-desirable phrases added to his vocabulary.  Bullies do not live only in middle schools and high schools either; again, Big Brother came home in tears 2 out of 5 days of VBS.  At VBS, he was in a group of 8 children with an adult and a couple of older youth helpers; what could be expected from him being a peer group of 20 or more with only one adult?

Yes, there will be leaders in Kindergarten – but the question we have had to ask is “if my child is not the leader, where will that leader take my child?”  There will be bullies in Kindergarten- what a choice!!  For our child to be either the bully or be bullied!  Can you honestly expect a 6 year old to walk away from peers making a bad choice, time after time after time?  To do so without then becoming the target of that peer group continually making poor choices?  Proverbs 13:20- He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.  One of our most basic parenting principals is that we set our children up to succeed not to fail.   We do not ask of them, or demand of them what they are not capable of.  Children below the age of reason are not capable of consistantly turning away from their peers, so we do not ask our children to do so.

We choose to keep our children at home, where their moral compass can be established and made strong by us, or other adults we personally choose.  At home where their pliable understand of the world can be wrought in accordance with out values and beliefs.  At home where their aptitudes (academic and moral) can be nurtured and supported, refined; where weaknesses can be address and remedied.  At home where they are will not be bullied, or over-looked.  At home where they have all their mental energy and emotional energy available for learning because they are safe and loved and their well is not spent trying to maintain and protect themselves.  At home where they are consistently challenged to excel, encouraged and celebrated.  At home where they are not bombarded by secular humanistic ideas; where they do not have to struggle over what is popular being deemed “right.”

We want our children to grow slowly and to grow strong- to have time to be children.  We do not want them facing moral challenges or struggling with the good and bad in the world when they are at recess.  We want them safe and happy and playing, not worrying about bullies or the greater inequalities of life.  They should be wrestling with each other, not with the moral ambiguities and life’s deeper meaning.  There is time enough for that when God calls them to be a force for change, not while they still struggle to change their shoes alone.  Trees grow slowly and, if bent while young, will always be bent.  We desire our children to be confident in themselves and in the right choices they will have to make as an adult.  I [will] have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 1:4)

Our prayer is that, in the days to come, our children will serve God and be a force for the better in the world at large.  God can use anyone, but how much more successful will the ministry be of a proven and trained worker?  We defeat this goal before we start if we allow the evils of the world to destroy them before they are educated enough, strong enough and mature enough to stand up for the Right and be that force for Good.  To change the world for the better they are going to need a strong and straight moral compass, a rock solid faith and a stalwart education.  The Nation is going to need them, God expects me to have them ready.

I keep telling you God expects you to be accountable for the education of  your children.  Now let’s let Him tell you.  Biblical support for home schooling:

*Psalm 127:3  Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.

*Deuteronomy 6:6-7 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

*Deuteronomy 4:9:  Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

*Jeremiah 10:2  Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen

*Luke 6:40 A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher the beloved teacher –

*Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

*Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

*James 3:15-16 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

The Right Choice: Home Schooling, by Kennedy is an old book but I like his discussion of Christian children in the schools.  On page 111 to the concept as Christian children in the public schools as “missionaries” or being sent there to be the Light of the Lord in the schools.  This is an often used argument for why Christians SHOULD send their children into the world rather than keep them “separate.”  Kennedy notes that nowhere in the Bible is there a precedent for a youth missionary, not even teens.  The people of the Bible sent out into the world to be a “light” were adults, educated and mature in their faith, people beyond the age of reason and accountability, not at risk of being easily corrupted by the worldview.

Conventional education operates on the philosophy that education is neutral – that it merely conveys fact and that facts do not require a spiritual context.  That sums up my fundamental “problem” with a public school education quite nicely.  We believe that facts, whether scientific, mathematical, historical, or otherwise, can only represent truth if they are taught in the context of a Christian worldview.  We believe there is no neutral standpoint, to try to avoid God is to deny Him.  I accept that the school system as a whole cannot teach a specific set of values, there is no practical way to address the diversity of faiths with in a school.  It would be too much to address the diverse Christian views alone, much less add in Jewish students and others.  That I acknowledge, understand and respect.  The fact that schools cannot teach values; it is inherently impossible.  Values are my responsibility as a parent.  My issue is when the schools deny the Judo-Christian values and choose in their place another set of values to teach.   If values were simply NOT taught that would be another case; and I would frankly feel better placing young children in a school like that, where it is understood and agreed that value education is to take place at home.  I do not think such a school is practical, or realistic, but it is one I could support.

Home education is always a hot topic, and as our great nation faces more and more challenges it is more and more a hot topic.  It is a topic each parent must answer to God for.  Right now there are many choices; but the A great place to start really thinking about your child’s education, if you want to home school or even if you are happy with the public schools, is to make a family Education Mission Statement.  Here is a link to mine: http://scribinglife.wordpress.com/education/family-education-mission-statment/.  Think about what you want your child to look like as an educated adult.  Think about the skills you want them to have, the wisdom you want for them.  Think about how you want this happen, think about what you want to avoid as much as what you do want.  Reality is there may soon be a day when you have no choice but to teach Sally to read at the table in the kitchen, are you ready?  Have you even thought about your education choices in the light of moral questions and the future of our Nation?

Don’t miss Part 2, where I discuss the “How-to” of homeschooling!

God Bless,

Aimee Packard

I hope you enjoyed my friend, Aimee’s article on the reasons WHY home education of children works for many families, the historical significance and the behind-the-scenes information she provides.  And WHY home education will be important in our near future as a nation, whether we choose to fully educate our children at home, or merely fill in the gaping holes in our kids’ edcuation that are left when traditional public/private schools allow many necessary for life skills and faith education fall by the wayside in favor of budget cuts and teaching of political propaganda.

With my own family, I typically homeschool my children during the summer months especially.  Both o catch them up to grade level in areas they are behind and to prevent complaints of boredom.  Both of my Farmer Boys (Charles and Henry) struggle in various areas at school (Charles in math, reading, spelling, self-direction, cooperative group projects and penmanship and Henry in penmanship, attention span, memory skills, direction following, turn taking and math.  Due to our religious circumstances (with a church that is only able to meet once a month and can not meet in the the church building from Nov. to April due to lack of heat… and actually this coming Easter Sunday is THE LAST SUNDAY we will ever be able to meet in our church building, as it is being closed due to the need for too many costly repairs and a great lack of rear ends in the pews), I have been doing my children’s religious education at home, as no Sunday School has been available to them.  Our son Charles was treated very badly by Sunday School teachers in our 2 previous parishes that we attended because of his disability.  The very people who should have loved and accepted him most in the community, his own religious community, instead treated him with abuse and disdain… simply because he was “different”.  This rejection of our child caused us to leave these parishes where we were not accepted as a family.  Withou a “place” to teach Sunday School to our children, we have no other option than to teach it in the home.  Because schools typically neglect areas of life skills these days, like home economics, wood/metal shop, accounting, agricultural education, and enterpenurial skills and because children with autism disorders need extra and very specific education in these areas, we work on teaching such subjects, year-round at home.  Schools no longer teach students things like: learning to grocery shop on a budget, how to plant a garden and grow your own food, how to repair a lawnmower, a car or a piece of furniture and how to run a small business.  Schools would rather teach your child to praise Communism than to read a map, to do advanced algebra  and other “higher mathematics” than to balance a checkbook or the family budget (to be sure our government is not able to do that, so why should students… the government is happy to be borrowing money from foreign countries to write checks it can’t afford and wants to teach students to do the same, to buy on credit then declare bankrupcy.)

Laura Ingalls Wilder and her sisters were homeschooled for much of their education, as was another of my favorite authors, Mark Twain–Modern Ma (Rebecca Hunter)

Rain, Rain Please Don’t Go Away

(Shhhhh…The secret to perfect garden soil is…..Bunnies! Chickens! And Goats! Oh my!  Go ahead… Get Your Manure On!)

So,it rained early yesterday morning until about 10 am or so.  I hope it continues to do so off and on this spring, as it’s been such a dry winter in South Dakota.  Usually we get several feet of snow between Nov/Dec and April.  This year we’ve had less than 8 inches of winter precipiation… most of it ice rather than snow. (Of course after 3 spring/summers of heavy flooding, really doesn’t seem so bad.  But my farming neighbors with their traditional grain crops to plant seem somewhat concerned about having a drought summer… very bad for the corn and wheat crops particularly if we don’t get rain in May/June.  I don’t want to see food commodity prices going further out of control, as grocery prices are already so high, along with fuel and clothing too.)

I do wonder though that the neighbors GMO (roundup ready) corn doing less well, might actually be a good thing for us, if Pioneer Pa plants popcorn (quite the tongue-twister… lets say that 5 times fast) as one of our family’s crops this spring.  New to farming and gardening and wondering WHY?  Corn is a crop that utilizes wind to polinate and I’d rather not have the neighbors’ Monsanto patented Genetically Modified Organisms polinating my kids’ favorite snack.  My oldest child in particular seems very sensitive to GMO’s in his diet,  as seen by his increased stimming (self-stimulating) and increased echolia behaviors when he has regular (non-organic/traditional) cornmeal or corn syrup in his diet, but seems fine eating popcorn.  Popcorn as a crop has been less “tinkered with” than the startchy common dent corn that is used for human and animal feed purposes and ethanol production.  However, popcorn can and does cross-polinate with dent and sweet corn varieties if the wind and planting times are just-so.

If you are gardening (small urban/suburban farming) this year, just say no to the GMO’s.  Please plant open-polinated heirloom plant varities in your garden.  the more folks who do so and the more people who continue to save their own seeds from their crops, the better chance we have at keeping the genetic diversity and wholesomeness of our food supply.

Recently, Monsanto has been sueing small organic and heirloom farmers and gardeners for patent-infringement, when Monsanto’s GMO crops that were planted by these farmer’s neighbors contaminated the heirloom farmers crops.  Anybody who knows anything about an organic or heirloom farmer knows that WE DON’T WANT OUR CROPS CROSS-POLINATED BY MONSANTO’S GMO’s!  This is a well-duh sort of moment.  Anybody with half a brain can figure out that this situtation is completely backwards.  If anybody is being infringed on it’s the heirloom farmer, NOT an enormous multi-national seed conglomerate.  Seriously… shouldn’t Monsanto have thought about the possiblity of cross-polination by wind and insects PRIOR to tinker with and trying to patent life???

For more info on the fight back against Monsanto, check out some excellent articles on the subject and also the fight to get GMO’s labeled on foods from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at www.rareseeds.com

K-9 Pioneers update:  At 24+ hours old, Shiny’s puppies are doing very well.  Mommy has lots of milk, is a very attentive mother and the pups are pleasingly plump.

The Next Generation of K-9 Pioneers

We first began our new frontier in raising Autism Service Dogs in 2009, when our son’s Charles’ A.S.D Black Pearl’s Black Daffodil (aka Narcissa or The K-9 Pioneer) was born into our 1st litter between our foundation female, Fish’s Sable Nyghte Arastaya (aka Kacy), and our foundation stud dog, Blue-Eyed Cowboy X.  This mating consistantly produces litters with about 50% of the puppies having temperments desirable for Service Dog work with young developmentally disabled children and also with adults who have autism.  We would have liked to use Narcissa for breeding service dog puppies, but had to have her spayed due to an auto accident that broke her pelvis.  Since then we’ve kept several of her sisters (litter sister, Kindled Flame, aka Kindlelyn, and younger full-sister, Shiny Bauble, Shiny for short) who have similar dispositions and also one of her nieces, SweetPea, out of her elder 1/2 sister, (Cashmere & Silk aka Sasha, who is no longer with us.)

The newest K-9 Pioneers (pups w/ pontential to help a special needs child) were born early this morning to our youngest mama dog, Shiny.  This is a litter of 5 puppies: 1 blue merle female, 1 red merle female, 1 pale (diluted) red tri-color female w/ a white blaze, 1 pale (diluted) red tri-color male (less white than his sister) and 1 blue-grey (diluted black) tri-colored male. The dilute color modifying gene pops up sometimes in bloodlines that carry the “harlequin” and “tweed” merle pattern modification genes, both of which are carried by Shiny’s mother Kacy (who has produced pups and grandpups of both patterns) and this litter’s sire who is himself a harlequin merle.  In coloration, this is one of the most unique litters we’ve had born and we can’t wait until their little individual personalities begin showing around a month of age.

Pictured is Black Pearl’s Shiny Bauble as a youngster and second picture is of Shiny’s 1st litter of babies. 2 males and 3 females.

New Frontiers In Food

As a family, it seems like we’ve been discovering new territory in foodstuffs for a very long time now.  It began in the summer of 2004, several months after we realized our son, Farmer Boy Charles’, allergy to cow’s milk protien at the tender age of 7 months and about a month after moving from Lubbock, TX to Liberal, KS where we purchased an 85 acre fixer-upper farm.  At the time, our pediatricians (both the one in Tx and the new one in KS) encouraged us to put Charles on goat milk, taking into consideration that my nephew was extremely allergic to soy.  We would not know for 4 more years he had autism, although he had exhibited some “odd” behavior to sensory stimuli even prior to birth.

Shortly after we moved to KS, we purchased 2 Toggenburg milk goats, their 1 month old doe kids and an Alpine/Boer cross buck.  I learned to milk and care for the goats, make butter, cheese, yogurt and ice cream and so on.  The goats became beloved members of the family and when we moved again in 2005, this time from Kansas to South Dakota, shortly after the birth of our second child, Farmer Boy Henry, we brought our small herd of 9 goats with us.  In 2006, we began showing the goats in the Open Class Dairy Goat Show at the SD State Fair.  The herd grew, it evolved from an unregistered “grade” herd to a reistered one over the years.  We lost some beloved friends in those years, but through it all, we milked and continued to learn and hone our home dairying skills.

Farmer Boy Charles  was diagnosed in June 2008 with Autism and Oppositional Defiance Disorder at 5 years old.  At the time, he had an extremely limited diet of things he would actually eat, so we spent the next 2 1/2 years resisting the idea of removing certain foods from his diet.  At this time, we were already dealing with 1 child who was allergic to cow’s milk and the other one who was mildly allergic to strawberries and also reacted to artifical food dyes and also had a life threating allergy to beestings.  It was difficult to get our minds around the idea that more dietary revisions might be necessary.

In the fall of 2010, Farmer Boy Charles began tipping our hand in regard to diet.  He’d spent much of the previous summer eating and craving vast amounts of foods that were high in gluten (if it was made of wheat flour, he wanted to eat it… bread, pancakes, cookies, cakes, breaded pre-packaged chicken nuggets and fish sticks and so on) and drinking copious quantities of goat milk.  When the school year began in August, he was suddenly limited to the portions provided by school lunch, school provided morning toast and the afternoon snack that each child brought in his or her turn for the class.  We had no idea the cause at the time, all we knew was that Charles was having these aggressive, angry, violent outbursts in class and becoming dangerous to his teachers and classmates.  Several teachers and his Para managed to injure themselves trying to remove him from the classroom (for the safety of hte other students) during some of these outbursts of aggression.  He would kick, hit, bite, spitting, throwing books, desks and chairs.  It was not only a dangerous situtation, it was also horribly disruptive to the class.  More and more he was being removed from the classroom to the resource room (Special Ed Classroom).  The previous year we had begun charting behavior at school thoughout the day, everyday on a chart, with notations of any changes in routine etc. and part of that charting included whatever he ate at school.

We ended up having to have our annual IEP meeting a month early in order to address his behavior and offically re-assign his educational status from fully-intergrated w/ Sp Ed services in the 1st grade classroom to “self-contained” status in the resource room.  In self-contained, he only got to have contact with his classmates for lunch, library, recesses and music.  Being as autism is to a large degree a disability that includes significant social impairment and dysfunctional social behavior, we as parents and the school staff concurred that Charles needed to continue having some time with his classmates to learn functional social behavior such as imaginitive and cooperative play, turn taking and place appropiated group behavior such as in the library or music class. P.E. was deemed “too much stimulation” since we’d had aggression issues in gym for Charles to participate with his class and he recieved his P.E. in a 1 on 2 class with the gym teacher and his Para, from mid-Oct until the last 2 weeks of school in May.  Slowly he was re-integrated into his class for P.E.

It was during this IEP, listening to the teachers report on his behavior, reading through the behavioral charts of the first 6 weeks of school and the ones from Kindergarten that I started seeing a pattern of escalating behavior that was always at it’s worst an hour or two after lunch and how he had suddenly gotten so much worse behaviorally right after the school term began in the fall.  I started to look for the reason WHY!  What was different??? What had changed???  Was the problem which worsened after lunch somehow food related???

In researching autism and food, I kept stumbling across a theory called the “Autism and Gut Connection”  and a condition called “Leaky Gut Syndrome” that was frequently common in children with autism.  A very simplified definition here: Leaky Gut Syndrome is a condition in which the digestive system can not completely digest gluten (protein found in wheat, rye and spelt) and casein (protein found in ALL mammalian milks, including cow milk, goat milk and human breastmilk… I know just when you think you were doing the right thing and being a great mom by breastfeeding your baby, right?)  These proteins are only partially broken down into protein peptides (rather than to the point of amino acids as they are supposed to) and are absorbed into the bloodstream this way (which they are not supposed to do) where they travel to the brain and are recognized not as incompletely digested proteins, but as OPIUM-LIKE substances!  (Totally scary when you are a parent and you realize the food you’ve fed your kid for years was turning him into a drug addict… I mean, you learned in school you are supposed to be eating x number of servings or grain, y number of servings fruits and vegetables, z number of servings of meat and so on… so you do that because you want to be a great mom or dad… never once realizing that what you are supposed to be doing right is making your child really really sick!)

Having grown up with several extended family members with drug addiction issues,  I quickly realized when I started researching food and autism together that my son had an addiction problem to both gluten and casein and the aggression issues we were fighting at school were just symptoms of drug withdrawl.  I made my husband, Modern Pioneer Pa (aka Rob), read what I was reading about this food connection and convinced him we needed to try the Gluten-Free/Casein-Free diet with our son.  Pioneer Pa finally agreed to give me 1 month, to test the theory and see if we got a reaction from Charles using the elimination diet and challenge technique.  So I proceeded to find some GF/CF cookbooks at the library and begin the adventure into the New Food and Cooking Frontier!

After 2 weeks on the new diet, we saw some incredible things happen.  We did not tell the school what we were doing, we just started sending ALL lunch and snacks from home and told them he wasn’t allowed to have ANY school or student provided foods… home food only.  Charles went into a severe withdrawl mode, complete with irritability, shakes, fevers and sweats and violently aggressive behaviors that were geared toward getting his food fix… his drug of choice.  At one point, he pulled a steak knife out of the knife block and demanded Pa to make him “regular” wheat bread toast at knife point.  This drove home the point to Pioneer Pa that we were indeed on the right path and that his oldest son had a severe addiction problem regarding food.

To backtrack just a bit, in 2008, I had begun using our excess goat milk to craft soaps, lotions and other bath products that I was selling online and at local craft shows and farmer’s markets.  Charles’ addiction to gluten and casein was so bad at this point that he could not even tolerate bathing with goat milk soap or using my insect repelling goat milk lotion/sunscreen product.  We began him on the GF/CF diet the 3rd week of October 2010, and as a point of solidarity, I, Modern Ma, joined him on his diet fully (with his father and younger brother joining us in our diet for suppers and on weekends, with Pa eating his regular bread sandwiches at work and Henry having sack lunch or school lunch at school.)  Shortly after going gluten-free and dairy-free with Charles, some skin and bowel related symtoms I’d been having  for several years (since my pregnancy with him actually) began to clear up too.  It took from October to the end of February to get Charles “clean and sober”.  Along the way there were some incidences that were particularly reinforcing of the importance of this diet to extended family members… most notably my in-laws during our family trip to Colorado for Thanksgiving in Nov. 2010, just a month after we started the diet.

My mother-in-law had taken my nieces and I shopping in Pueblo, Co.  (The previous night I’d made a large batch (thinking the leftovers would be supper the following night) of GF/CF corndogs in the “Corndog R”… a small appliance that is similar to a waffle iron that makes corndogs…( you can find one by searching “corndog makers” on www.amazon.com, it’s probably been one of the best uses of $25 I’ve ever spent, given Charles’ preferences toward “commercial/fast food type foods”), well leaving the guys (the hubby, sons , nephew, brother-in-law and Gramps) home alone is not so smart as it turns out… they ate all the corndogs for lunch.)  Us girls were kind of late getting back from our shopping trip and did not realize the corndogs for Charles’ supper were gone.  My nephew, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and is also a picky eater, and my younger niece who has a tree nut allergy wanted pizza… so grandma made them pizza and used up all the cheese she’d had.  Remember this was early in our going GF/CF… we were still allowing a little cheese once in a great while because Pa didn’t want Charles becoming lactose intolerant… and he was one of those dads “oh well, one meal off the diet isn’t going to hurt him”… so Pa told his mother it was okay for Charles to eat the wheat based pizza w/ his cousins.  WRONG!

That night Charles started stimming (self-stimmulating with repetitive behavior) out of control, being grumpy and irritable and teasing his cousin, Julian, calling him “Julie” to which Julian is obviously very sensitive to this sort of teasing (I would be too if I were a little boy).  Next morning Charles was coming down with respitory symptoms, nose running out of control, cough etc. in allergic response to food the previous night (Grandma being a nurse wanted to give some cough/allergy syrup so he could rest.)  Charles got aggressive with grandma for trying to treat his “cold”, spitting the medicine in her face, hitting, biting and kicking her.  Pioneer Pa had to pick Charles up and physically remove Charles from Grandma to another part of the house (the basement bedroom in which we were staying), calling Charles’ dog Narcissa to come with him downstairs.  Pa had to sit on the bed (back to the headboard), holding Charles tightly in his lap and having Narcissa lay on Charles legs for 2 hours to get him calmed down enough where the child could be at least civil to his grandmother and cousins.  (Please note that Narcissa is rather small in size for a Service Dog and weighs about 25 lbs.,  her weight seems to produce a calming effect on Charles, as does her very laid back temperment and her just “being there and being “fuzzy”.)

My dear mother-in-law, finally… FINALLY (after 7 years of my trying to convince her) realized thateven mild food allergies are very very serious business.  It took a granddaughter with a life-threatening allergy to nuts and a grandson who is severely addicted to the Opuim-like substances created when he eats gluten and casein to realize this and drive it home in her mind.  By noon,  my mother-in-law had me and my oldest niece ( who’s 13 years old, on behalf of her baby sister) out to the grocery store shopping for safe foods for the kids!

In the 18 months since we started the GF/CF diet there have been charges to our family.  August 2011 brought the birth of our daughter, Anna (aka the Littlest Pioneer Girl).  Anna started out a breast-fed baby, however I’ve never been a good “milk cow”… indeed, had I been a dairy cow or goat, I’d have been culled long ago for poor production.  After losing an entire pound after she was born, her pediatrician pretty much forced us to supplement her and threated to get the government involved if we didn’t.  So we did, just to shut the doctor up.  First we tried goat milk, within 36 hours she was throwing that up, then we tried the hypoallergenic formulas (avoiding soy because of my brother’s son’s severe allergy).  One after another those expensive hypoallergenic formulas met with the same results (projectile vomiting after 36 hours and there after at every feeding) and continued weigh loss… finally the doctor diagnosed Anna with casein allergy (all those hypoallergenic formulas contain “caseinate” the stuff they put in non-dairy coffee creamer to make it “white”) and we resorted to soy formula to supplement.  In the months since, her allergy has gotten more severe and at 5 1/2 months she could no longer tolerate my breast milk no matter how careful I was of my diet.  I was so very sad of this… I was finally having a good breastfeeding experience after my dismal failures with the boys… only to have a baby who could not tolerate MY MILK.  I struggle not to take the rejection of the protein in my milk personally and move on, doing what we have to to feed our kids.

In the year and a half since we first began the GF/CF diet,  I’ve had to learn to cook and bake all over again in new ways.   We’ve accumulated some new (and somewhat uncommon) small appliances and cookbooks and Pa is contemplating growning some of our own “grain” in the family garden, particularly edamne soybeans, sorghum (milo), millet and amaranth.  We’ve changed our food buying habits, away from the packaged gluten-free foods and mixes and other pre-packaged foods (which were very nice when I was relearning EVERYTHING cooking related… but rather expensive) and more toward purchase of basic ingredients we can not grow ourselves due to climate constraints such as brown and white rice that we can grind ourselves in an electric grain mill (one of said uncommon kitchen appliances) and doing more of our own cooking and baking.

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