Behavior is just one of the issues that prompted us to seek out a Naturopathic physician. Kenzie has had issues since infancy. At 9 months old, she underwent testing for some pretty scary diseases because she had failure to thrive. Going from 9lbs 7ozs at birth to only 16lbs 2ozs at 12 months. For several months early in her life, she had what I considered a severe case of baby acne over her entire face. It was horrible. Now I realize it may have actually been eczema caused from her food sensitivities. She would spend 20-30 minutes screaming, grunting and turning red trying to have a bowel movement. She also spit up much more than her older sister had, but not to the extent that anyone considered it “abnormal”. I was breast feeding and she didn’t have any foods introduced until 6 months. Then I went through the standard protocol of one food for a week, then adding another. I didn’t notice a reaction to any specific food, but the constipation and growth issues didn’t pop up until between 7 and 9 months of age. It was probably the addition of wheat and gluten containing foods that prompted this, but it was a slow reaction. Not one that I picked up on as a result of introducing a new food. The doctors didn’t even test for food allergies. Eventually, when all the “scary” disease tests came back normal… they decided to treat the symptoms and label her a “difficult child” regarding the behavior. At 9 months, I was instructed to start offering her a bottle of formula after each breast feeding to ensure she was getting enough nutrition. She wouldn’t drink formula. So, the Doctor prescribed Pediasure instead. Everyday she would get a can of Pediasure with fiber, usually in two servings offered in a sippy cup after she finished nursing. In addition, she was given Miralax once a day in a small amount of diluted juice. This combination helped with the constipation, but she remained a relatively small child.
As time went on, Kenzie became a screamer. Throwing horrible fits and stomping her feet for no apparent reason. She would get up in the morning and stand beside my bed, screaming and thrashing around. Nothing would calm her down until she was done. Most of the time, she didn’t even know what she wanted. In between the fits, she was a happy child who was exremely active. She started walking at only 10 months and followed her then almost 3 year old sister all over the house.
Kenzie is so fidgety, that I have always called her my “dirty child”. Everything she touches ends up all over her! Every bit of food, art mediums, dirt, etc… I thought I was the Queen of Stain Removal before Kenzie. Something about the combination of her saliva and chocolate caused spots to set for life!
While my 7 year olds can play calmly, Kenzie is hyper-reactive. She can be in the middle of quiet play and suddenly she is having a crisis. She also has a tendency to be a bit rough with her younger sister, likely to hit or push at an alarming frequency.
As far as illnesses go… she is sick all the time. From September until Spring, she has a constant cold. Runny noses… coughing… wheezing. She coughs so hard she will vomit. We rely heavily on an inhaler so she can return to normal breathing. Everytime she gets a cold, it settles in her ears. She will wake up crying. I try to treat as few of these as possible. When her ear starts hurting, I put a couple drops of Floxin in and usually that nips it without having to search out antibiotics.
Potty-learning wasn’t achieved until nearly 4 years of age. And we still have night-time isues. If Kenzie has to go to the bathroom… it is a RIGHT THIS MINUTE emergency. This is getting better and I have faith that in the next year she will have full bladder control. In the meantime, we keep a change of clothes in her backpack… just in case and I get her up to potty before I go to bed at night.
Right after she turned 4, we were prompted by a family friend who has been a nurse for over 20 years. She said that Kenzie had the presentation of a child with food allergies and that Doctors often miss it because they don’t see the child everyday. We were spending the week at the lake house with several families and she saw Kenzie all day, every day during that time. We removed all preservatives, dyes and artificial flavors. Going to foods labeled “All Natural” or “Organic”. This made a huge improvement in the behavior, but didn’t affect the blotchy face, itchy skin and other physical symptoms she had. The MD Allergist we saw did a standard skin prick allergy test. Nothing showed reactive. He basically said that it was our imagination that foods were causing behavior issues, and that our expectations of how she reacts to certain foods will cause her to act that way. Funny, since we had NO clue what foods might be prompting her reactions. He then went on to say that reflux was his favorite diagnosis for kids that had belly aches and coughed at night. So we went home with samples of children’s Prevacid SoluTabs (both dyed pink and flavored w/ artifical strawberry) and a prescription for more to add to our inhaler and Zyrtec she was already taking. He said that the test was just too hard for young kids and the best thing to do was treat for it and see how things went. I have a differnt opinion and chose to not treat my child for some illness she probably doesn’t have. We chugged on with our diet modifications until it was apparent that we needed someone who would look further for an answer. That’s when we went to visit the Naturopath. I had long conversations with her about what was going on and my concerns with the behavior/food relationship. I also shared my concerns with ADHD and that I didn’t want my child labeled by a MD and then medicated to “fix” the problem. Now we have some answers. And are hopeful that removing the Wheat, Gluten, Gliadin, Milk and Whey from her diet will help us even more.
When Kindergarten started this year, Daddy was making bets on how long it would be before we were called to the Principals office. I was sure that with the right direction she would be fine. Turns out, she is doing fine. Good even. The Teachers are aware of our needs and how to direct her toward success. I pack ALL of her snacks and lunches, not allowing any substance from joint snack items or school lunches to pass her lips. The staff is great at staying in touch with me, saying that Kenzie was more red and blotchy today or having more fidgeting than normal. This helps us stay on top of what foods might be prompting her reactions, both physical and behavior.
With the diet modifications we have made, Kenzie should hopefully return to normal body function and feel like a “normal” child at school. I worry about her teen years… will she get rebellious and decide she wants to eat the foods she shouldn’t have? What if she does and then there isn’t an immediate response? Will she understand that eating something once may not affect her, but bringing these offenders back into her diet may cause life-long health and behavior issues?
Our child is not a “problem”. She is an amazing… smart… funny and loving child. She can put together a puzzle in a quarter of the time it would take me. She is going to be a whiz with math and science, and might need a little help to slow down and take her time when writing. She is starting to focus on her letters more… instead of sending her eyes wandering all over the room and saying “I don’t know”.
We are embarking on the changes needed to help her be able to succeed and I am positive it will help!
Six Month Update…
We have officially been GFCF for Six months now. The changes have been astounding. The tummy aches have all but disappeared… another strange phenomenon is that all night time accidents ceased within weeks of the diet changes. Coincidence? There have been major improvements in regard to focus ability… she is less figidity and is able to pay attention better. The teachers report she is well within the “normal” range for behavior. Learning to read is well underway and she is right on par with other children her age. I am confident that we found the answer we were looking for. The combination of her diet and supplementation of DHA and vitamins has been astounding. In it obvious if we miss a day of the DHA… so we are careful to not miss days.
*Almost 3 years Gluten Free… and life is relatively normal. I can definitely see any accidental contamination or food sneaks. We’ve also cut out almost all refined sugars and switched to raw, local honey or palm sugar or rapadura when sweetener is needed. This has made a big difference for all of us.
Five Years Gluten Free!
Kenzie was never scoped for Celiac… her blood work (the second round) was positive and she responded so well to a GF diet that I didn’t feel it was worth it! That said, later we found out that I am in fact a gene carrier and have Celiac, and that Kenzie’s older sister ALSO has Celiac. The baby girl looks Celiac, but biopsied negative at 3 years old. She is a genetic carrier and is gluten free as well. The baby was diagnosed with relux at her endoscopy and prescribed medication (just like Kenzie had been). We’ve come to learn that dairy is the cause of her relux symptoms… so she is GFCF.
I’ve not kept Kenzie on a dairy free diet… and I’m wondering if that’s part of the problem I’m seeing again in her behavior (more defiant behaviors have returned) and increased frequency of colds again… Guess it’s time to go cold turkey again… she’s going to hate me for it.