Autism Spectrum on a Shoestring

The point of Joy on a Shoestring is to focus on being joyful even when the budget is tight. It’s my own personal motivation to keep a good attitude even when things are hard (or harder than I’d like them to be, anyway).

If you’ve read more than a couple of my posts, you’ll know I’m not particularly good at this.

I’d like to be. I’d like to be counting my blessings and focusing on the good stuff.

But I don’t always get it right.

And that’s okay.

Part of the journey is being authentic, and it wouldn’t be much of a record, or much of a journal, if I didn’t also record some of the hard stuff, and some of my honest reactions to that hard stuff, instead of being all ra, ra, jolly hockey sticks all the time.

Not too long ago I wrote about how it really is possible to eat paleo on a shoestring budget, and I’ve also reported in the past on the wonderful results paleo or SCD/grain-free living has delivered for our family.

The thing is, bread is cheap. Popcorn is an affordable snack. And rice really does make a meal go further. I wish that wasn’t the case. But there comes a time in the life of every cash-strapped paleo family, I am sure, where the thought of another green apple, or one more slice of roast butternut, just doesn’t fill the heart with the same kind of joy that a fresh, hot slice of buttered toast doesn’t. And even though I honestly oppose the practice of using food for comfort, I also know that nothing warms the cockles of one’s heart like a home-made rusk dunked into yet another cup of coffee. With sugar. And milk.

Sometimes, it just goes like that.

It’s been going like that in our house for a couple of months.

I still get migraines and digestive issues and rashes and breathing difficulties when I eat wheat, so I don’t eat it. But everyone else has a less dramatic reaction, and it takes months to manifest.

It’s manifesting now.

Red Riding Hood has a chesty cough that hasn’t budged in about two weeks. She’s battling with sinus, growing pains, nightmares, grumpiness and bloating.

And Goldilocks? Well, it’s definitely not making things easier. Her tics are off the charts – for her, at least. We’re not in any kind of Tourette’s Syndrome support group, so I don’t know what other people are facing, but Goldilocks is battling more vocal tics than she’s ever had before. She has a tic that forces her to swallow, one that makes her breathe hard, a teeth clenching tic (I have that too, at the moment), a yawning tic, and tonight she started a violent head nodding tic that is really going to make social interactions a trial for her if we can’t take care of it. She has an intermittent windmill-type tic, as well. She has to wave her arms (one or both) like a windmill, and it looks rather uncomfortable. It’s also not as easy to disguise as some of her other tics.

Furthermore, Goldilocks’ ADD is a serious challenge for us both at the moment. I realise that stress and an erratic approach to healthy eating are not doing my patience any favours, but even when I step back and assess the situation objectively, there’s no denying that her ability to focus is at an all-time low. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her like this before. She can’t sit still to any degree. She can’t keep track of conversations. We all love playing boardgames, and usually she’s streaking ahead in the game, but not now. She can barely keep track of what’s going on from one moment to the next.

Both girls are also displaying unusually high levels of anxiety. Now, I know what you’re thinking: they’re picking up on our stress. Okay, perhaps you’re right. Even though we go out of our way to shield them from most of it, they are wise, perceptive, sensitive children and we’re not that good at hiding our emotions.

But the thing is, we kind of are. When we talk about our lives and our family, they consistently report happiness, contentment and joy. They describe how grateful they are for how bountiful our lives are. They’re happy with life.

Their anxiety focuses on bigger issues: the economy; the government; the after life. Big issues that are way outside of any of our control. It could be a sublimation of what they feel at a grass roots level, but it could just as easily be the kind of sweeping paranoia that comes from eating bread – in our family, at any rate.

There can be no doubt that, at least for Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood, a grain-free diet is the only hope of a life that resembles “normal”. I am not calling it a cure, or even a solution for anyone else in a similar situation. I’m just saying our family needs to be paleo. I need to get us back to that.

Have you found similar results with paleo in your family? Or do you have a different solution/coping mechanism for your challenges? I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment in the box below and let’s chat about what works!

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