The journey of Sam

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The journey of Sam

April 4, 2013 By Lime Tree Kids Lime Tree Mumma Blog & Special Needs comments
My gorgeous boy just turned 6! I can’t believe that we have come so far in such a short time. He is funny and quirky and high energy and cheeky all rolled into one. But it wasn’t always this way.

You see my son has been diagnosed with Autism , more correctly high functioning Asperger’s with severe ADHD . This is only the latest diagnosis there have been many over his short 6 year life. It’s called the “closest working diagnosis” which means he really can’t be fit into a pigeon hole because of his background and traumatic start to life.

It all began when we picked up Sammy from the nursery in Taiwan where we adopted him. The nursery run by Christian Salvation Service is a high quality excellent facility that is run by caring loving volunteers and nursing staff.
Sammy had a rough start which is his personal story so I won’t go into it but let’s just say he had so many things against he almost died a few times in the first few weeks, he was tube fed for a LONG time and this has resulted in some interesting and perplexing complications for him.
He is a battler though and when we picked him up at 9 months old he weighed about the same as a 3 month old, was extremely unwell and very disconnected from people. All of this was a big surprise to us.

Most of this is relatively expected when you adopt a child from overseas or even take on the roll of carer through foster care. What we DID notice was different though was his absolute dislike in maintaining any eye contact , the way he would scream when touched and any form of intimacy such as cuddling and stroking etc was completely unwelcome and met with disdain and screaming , flinching and an attempt to escape. 

Being me, I had researched all of the possible attachment issues a child would or could show when coming from a background like he had. But I was in no way ready for my long awaited for child to want to be nowhere near me, especially. Actually if I’m honest it broke my heart, quite literally in two. Baby wearing was a task that I adored as he couldn’t escape but he endured with a stiff body and tortuous look on his face , he would walk away and join other families at the beach not caring if we left or not , he would cry and cry for hours … still makes my heart ache ..
It was at his 18 month point though that I knew things weren’t right. Things were not getting better they were getting worse and quickly. There was raging and screaming for hours at a time. Absolutely no eye contact with anyone. People told me that I was over reacting and I’m really proud to say I ignored them all as I KNEW in my heart something was ajar, something needed mending and healing in this child on an emotional , physical and cellular level.

At this point we started the journey into researching attachment and bonding, we sourced some amazing adoption specialists who taught us about hypervigilance, about the importance of babies being nurtured and connected with , touched and learning that they are safe in their environment. We hired a specialist in Sydney who helped us and helped ME realise it wasn’t me, I wasn’t doing something wrong.. It got to a point we needed extra assistance and at the paediatricians direction we hired a trauma and special needs therapist who has helped us take him right back to being a baby . I mean he was 2, ½ and being rocked like a newborn , having a bottle , being spoken to like a baby . It sounds cooky but when you see your child revert to a baby , crying and needing soothing like a little 6 month old , you realise there is a need that must be met so he can move forward.

And move forward he did, slowly but surely the raging and disassociation was less and less , we learnt to recognise if his moods were increasing into a red zone and talked him through understanding his emotions , how to regulate them , using charts and visuals all over our house and lots and lots of play therapy on the floor following his lead . We still do this technique and many others fortnightly with our therapist (now one of Sam’s favourite people) , as he has other new needs that need to be taught like regulating emotions at school , following through on things you don’t want to do , giving people green signals so they know you are interested in them , making friends in an acceptable way .. all that kind of thing. But that’s a different story completely.
Anyhow at 3 we realised that we would need speech lessons to help with the slurring words caused by him being tube fed and not learning to suck at birth, a lazy jaw to be exact. (It’s so amazing how much babies do things automatically that teach them other skills they will use for the rest of their life) . We learnt sign language (makaton) and communicated to him when he was frustrated in this way.

  He started daycare as quite simply Mummy needed a break! This was a great step for him as he was put in social situations where he was forced to learn what would be ok and what not. He got to run around all day as we choose a free play centre with a caring older staff.

To cut a long story short we were also sent to a psychiatrist as the paediatrician wanted to medicate him. But as he was so young he needed permission from another professional. It was granted and he was diagnosed under the Autism Label with severe Attention deficit Hyper activity Disorder (ADHD).
Medicating him was not sitting right with me. I’m not against medicating a child I just knew that we hadn’t given other options our 100% best go and I couldn’t live with the fact I hadn’t tried diet, and other alternatives before medicating him. ESPECIALLY at that age.

I started researching into food, gut and psychology, attachment and the biochemistry of stress relationships, looking into so many forms of alternative ways of treating him first it was overwhelming.

We had a moment last year because of school that we tried medication but I lost my son in there and couldn’t justify the loss of my spunky monkey who turned into a zombie and was hallucinating about dead people, with the staying still in class and doing what he was told. (Again I’m Not against medication but it is NOT for us, definitely not for Sam’s tiny body) . 

SO this is what these blogs will be about. It will be about my life as Shelley, mother of two beautiful children. About my journey in helping Sammy become the best person he can be. About the struggles I have with helping myself do exactly the same thing . It will be showing you products from our store we use and how we use them in alternative ways for encouraging bonding and other needs. It will include guest posts from professionals about nutrition and diet , about alternate therapies atht help with typical kids and also ones with extra quirks.

My son is 6 , and I am so so proud of how far he has come. He is seriously funny , he makes friends and is the quirkiest , coolest kid I know. He still has many things that need to be worked on (heck don’t we all !!) but this year he repeated prep at our local state school and he is doing so incredibly well , the last class meeting with the teacher and Special needs unit went SO well both my husband and I and our psychologist Katie were STUNNED at his improvement.

In the last 12 months he has almost done a 360 circle, he meets eyes, he can regulate his emotions (except like most kids at certain times) , he loves a cuddle and back tickle , his food intake has gone from crunchy white food and sausages to a small but expanding pallet of food. He was even able to accept his sister into our life and travel to Taiwan to go get her, understanding and processing his own adoption journey in an age appropriate way which he has NEVER done before.

The thing I attribute most of the success to is in all honesty our complete dedication to diet and supplements. We are under the care of a specialist who administers doses of vitamins and minerals for him that suit his needs. We are strictly Gluten, dairy , soy free . (I’ll be sharing this journey of food with you all including some of the people and places that have helped me along the way) .

My journey is one of a child with special needs who can now attend streamlined school and will soon not even need the assistance he gets there. My blog however is for all parents that want to eliminate the crap out of their children’s diets. To learn how to start taking baby steps and making some very baby lifestyle changes , how those small steps can connect and become large steps and eventually a new way of thinking .
My life is a crazy jumble of kids, family, work, stress, laughs, learning and all that comes along with each day. I look forward to helping you all in some way and you in turn helping me to do life xx

Disclaimer: Please do not think we are perfect in any way! We still eat junk food (just think differently and choose what we will eat) , we still slip up and give in to our children wanting treat and pay for it with behaviours for the next day ! , we yell (a lot lol) and our house is messy!!! My kids watch too much tv.
The information in this blog and those that follow are just suggestions to try they are by no means a direction you should follow. You should always seek medical advice if you think something is different with your child and or their behaviour..