Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘ADD’

Supplementing for healing

I’m in a very “heal-y” place at the moment. It started when I read the package insert for Goldilocks’ tic medication.


For a while, when we first switched to SCD and Paelo, I used to hate medication of any kind. I wouldn’t take any or give any to my kids. We were the hippy, holistic family who home-schooled their alternative kids. I’m not that way any more. Much.

In fact, Goldilocks has been on these meds for three months already. What’s more, I’d already looked up Clonidine on the web and it seemed okay. Also, so far we’d seen no side effects.

But when I read that insert, I realised there was no way I was giving any more of that to my baby girl. For starters, the insert says, “strictly not to be given to children or adolescents.” Um. Yeah.

So I did what I do when I need to fix stuff: research.

I looked up the main things we struggle with, and what dietary shortages they’re symptomatic of. (Sorry about the conjunction at the end of that sentence but … yeah. Not sorry.)

Then I looked up the foods with the highest concentrations of those nutrients.

Then I made a table of the two. As you do. Here it is. (You’re welcome ;))

(Basically: eat lots of oily fish, spinach, and lentils. Oh, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate).

Vitamins for tics, concentration and skin

Download the .pdf

Food Vit. A Vit. B1 Vit. B2 Vit. B3 Vit. B5 Vit. B6 Vit. B7 (Biotin) Vit. B9 (Folate) Vit. B12 Vit. C Vit. D Vit. E Magnesium Omega 3 Potassium Zinc TOTALS
Oily Fish 2 10 7 10 8 8 3 8 9 4 8 9 4 90
Mackerel/tuna/salmon 2 10 6 10 8 8 1 8 9 4 8 9 4 87
Kale/Spinach 8 1 1 1 10 8 8 9 10 1 9 7 73
Seeds 7 2 2 2 10 7 9 1 6 46
Pork 9 4 8 5 6 1 3 3 39
Beans,lentils,chickpeas 1 1 1 1 1 10 7 10 2 34
Red meat 8 5 4 4 4 9 34
Legumes 5 1 3 1 9 2 10 2 33
Avos 1 7 2 1 5 6 5 3 30
Mushrooms 3 4 10 8 2 1 28
Chicken 1 9 3 7 1 3 24
Eggs 1 5 6 1 7 2 2 24
Cod Liver Oil 10 9 19
Dried fruit 5 5 2 7 19
Dried Prunes 5 5 1 7 18
Carrots 9 9 18
Liver 7 1 1 9 18
Squash 7 4 1 6 18
Dried Apricots 5 4 1 7 17
Cheese 5 4 3 2 14
Brocolli 1 4 6 2 1 14
Sweet peppers 3 10 1 14
Pure yoghurt 1 1 3 2 2 2 2 13
Dried Raisins 3 1 7 11
Sweet potatoes 10 1 11
Berries 5 5 10
Flaxseed oil 10 10
Guava 9 9
Potatoes 1 8 9
Bananas 3 3 1 7
Oranges 2 4 6
Dark chocolate 1 4 5
Cantaloupe melon 4 4
Mango 1 3 4
Olive oil 3 3
Tomatoes 3 3
– Dates 2 2
– Figs 2 2
Butter 1 1
Califlower 1 1
Fruit 1 1
Ham 1 1
Onions 1 1
Orange juice 1 1
Papaya 1 1
61 50 44 60 62 69 44 44 36 48 44 36 62 43 87 37
If you crave bread or wheat products, you probably need more: If you crave chocolate, you probably need more:
– fibre – magnesium
– protein – zinc
– omega 3
– carbs
– vitamin B
– manganese
– selenium
– omegas

When things don’t go according to plan

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to stumble across this post on Proverbs31.org, talking about being a bad mama, and how we judge ourselves so harshly for what really is, at the heart of it, a universal condition.

In the related resources section there’s a link to a book titled, “I need some help here: when things don’t go according to plan”.

It resonated with me this week.

Just two days ago I was doing a quick life review, and smiling wryly to myself about the “old days”, back when we thought Cystic Fibrosis was the only glitch on our radar, and everything else would be plain sailing if we could avoid that obstacle.

Thank God, we did.

I am grateful every single day that the spectre of CF doesn’t loom large over our lives, and every time either of the girls runs the slightest fever, battles to take a breath, is constipated for more than a day or a kiss on a sweaty forehead leaves a trace of salt on my lips, my blood pressure rises, my heart races, and in seconds flat I’m back in the darkness of that “worst case”. And as I talk myself down from the edge of the cliff and remind myself we’re not riding the thermals above that particular abyss, a fresh wave of gratitude washes over me and I am so very thankful for the health challenges we don’t face.

But things have not gone according to plan.

I look back and laugh at the young and innocent me, with her high hopes and crazy ideals. At what I thought would be my life. That audacious young woman for whom no task was too hard. That lady who was part of a team, a partnership against the trials of this world, characterised by open, honest communication and bucket-loads of laughter. That disciplined adult who saved and invested and lived within her means, always providing for her family’s needs. That tiger mama with her bold cubs and their infinite resourcefulness. Those irrepressible learners I knew I’d breed, who loved reading and maths and acquiring knowledge, and who could instinctively see how all the bits fit together and why it matters.

Sometimes I miss that silly, bright-eyed girl.

(In fact, to my surprise, I saw her again the other  day. I glanced into her eyes and couldn’t place her at all. She was in the mirror, grinning at me with a kind mischief all over her wrinkle-free face. I have no idea how she got there, and it took me a few minutes to remember who she was).

But mostly, I’m too busy with the task at hand to think much about the fun I thought I’d be having. When we imagined CF in our future, we had no compassion for challenged learners. ADD didn’t frighten me. I knew my kids would never have it, and if they did I’d be ready to guide them through it. Dyslexia? Nah. Autism spectrum? No chance. Our problems were potentially much bigger, I reasoned. Or non-existent. There was no middle ground.

I guess motherhood is a great leveller and a teacher of compassion and perspective. And for that, I am grateful.

I now know how even a mild sniffle, if it arrives on the wrong day, can be a burden you hardly feel able to bear. I also know that, surprisingly, you can bear it. It’s possible to survive and even thrive in the midst of the trails – maybe even because of them.

Yes, definitely because of them.

Those hard times that we all face (and we all do) lend an ethereal beauty to even the most mundane aspects of every day, and make our lives precious and beautiful things indeed.

I am so infinitely grateful.


Diagnosis: just another brick in the wall

On Saturday morning we arrived bright and early at Action in Autism for our scheduled screening. We decided to try to be first in line (and succeeded), as we didn’t know what to expect. Last time we were there, the girls were overwhelmed by all the other children, and I thought if our visit was fairly quick we could avoid a lot of stress.

Even the trip was not without its … ahem … intrigues, with us running out of petrol just a few km from our house (and the nearest petrol station!). Thankfully, we managed to time our incident perfectly and found ourselves right outside the door of one of my best friends, who graciously gave us her lawnmower fuel to get us to the petrol station. Ha ha! Life is full of surprises.

We made it to the petrol station! While we were there, to fortify the girls against whatever lay ahead, I bought them sneaky bribery-material (crisps and chocolates!) and then we were on our way once more!

When we arrived at our destination we were, indeed, first in line. It wasn’t long, however, before others began arriving. There was a wealthy couple with fashionably-dressed son who looked about as autistic as our children (so, not very). There was also a whole delegation of children, many of whom appeared to be orphans, from the Deaf and Blind Society of South Africa. What made this group even more interesting was their deaf-and-blind social worked and her adorable guide dog, who kept us all entertained with a series of questions (the social worker) and a lot of tail wagging (the dog).

We finally had our assessment. A paediatric neurologist asked the girls a string of questions, then told us she needs to see us at her practice in KZN Children’s Hospital. And then we left, lollipops in hand.

So we’re really not much closer to having a handle on our family’s challenges. Apparently Goldilocks has an anxiety disorder (as well as everything else), and the neurologist was very interested in the Tourette’s, low muscle tone, cardiac arrhythmia and various other aspects of our lives. She seems to think there’s “something there”, but what that something is we don’t yet know. Maybe next month. We’ll see.

A quick update

Tomorrow, it will be one year since we started SCD. Our goals included the following:

  • Fewer headaches (especially for Goldilocks and me);
  • Fewer stomach cramps (especially for Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood);
  • Better concentration (esp. Papa Bear and Goldilocks);
  • Fewer mood swings (all of us);
  • Better skin (mainly me);
  • Fewer allergic reactions (all of us but especially Papa Bear);
  • Fewer nightmares (Red Riding Hood);
  • Better sleep (all of us, but esp. Papa Bear and me);
  • More energy (the Big Bears again); and
  • Better focus.

One year in, we have achieved a lot. Papa Bear isn’t taking part, but the girls and I have had 10% success in all areas except mood swings and skin. In fact, the mood swings are significantly improved, and I am sure the imminent onset of puberty isn’t helping hat’s left of them.

melaskinAs for skin, which I discussed a little while ago, we seem to have found both the cause and a solution. Apparently, severe stress coupled with averaging about 5 hours of sleep a night and a marked zinc deficiency have conspired to cause very bad skin. I’m taking zinc supplements and a natural antibiotic from the health shop, as well as hypericum (St John’s Wort) for the stress. I’m treating topically with Cetaphil and Melaskin, and the results are dramatic. We’re not there, but I think the end is in sight. Fingers crossed!

– By Vanessa Davies – daily discovering Joy on a Shoestring.

Have you tried SCD or paleo? Has an other eating protocol worked for you?

Why I will do whatever I can NOT to drug my kids into “normalcy”

Pills. Dubious.

Pills. Dubious.

SCD, here we come!

Alright, we’re ready. On Saturday we went shopping and bought everything we need for the SCD Intro Diet. This is supposed to last for three days (give or take a day), and it cost us R164. That’s really, really good for three days for our family, so I think perhaps it won’t last as long as I’m hoping. But some of that stuff will last longer than three days, like the eggs, so we’ll see.

I spent most of Sunday (the bits where we weren’t at Church), preparing for the diet. I have given my family their “last meals.” (Pies and crisps. I know. Don’t judge me). I have cooked up a gigantic pot of chicken-and-carrot soup, 36 meatballs, 8 bowls of grape jelly and a dish of purèed carrots. I also have 40-odd eggs in the fridge, just waiting to be breakfast!

Now, I don’t know how long this lot is supposed to last, but it feels like about two days’ worth. Except the jelly – that’ll get us through today only. Again, we’ll see. The intro diet is supposed to take between two and five days, so we’ll re-evaluate on Tuesday night and decide what to do next. I foresee another full day of cooking in my future, though.

Here’s what I hope to achieve from all of this preparation:

  • Fewer headaches (especially for Goldilocks and me);
  • Fewer stomach cramps (especially for Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood);
  • Better concentration (esp. Papa Bear and Goldilocks);
  • Fewer mood swings (all of us);
  • Better skin (mainly me);
  • Fewer allergic reactions (all of us but especially Papa Bear);
  • Fewer nightmares (Red Riding Hood);
  • Better sleep (all of us, but esp. Papa Bear and me);
  • More energy (the Big Bears again); and
  • Better focus.

When I list these like this they really don’t seem that serious. One might even wonder why we’re bothering with such a strict diet and lifestyle change. But the thing is that the headaches are really debilitating at times, leaving the girls in tears and me wishing I could get away with tears! The girls spend a lot of time doubled over in agony at their stomach cramps (and their relief is our demise as they expel the offending bubbles. Sorry to share but this journey is important to me and I need to remember as much of where we started as possible so that when I look back I can see real change).

My skin breaks out all the time. It’s painful and decidedly embarrassing, given that I really am too old for this kind of thing. I’ve even had to cancel client meetings because of my skin (or headaches, or tummy troubles). Papa Bear and Goldilocks battle to concentrate and often Papa Bear’s not even here, despite being physically present. He also battles terribly with hay fever, and his hay fever, tiredness and tummy troubles have kept him out of meetings and appointments, too. Not being able to concentrate affects us all and I imagine things can only improve if we have better moods and better focus.

My vision for the outcome of this new eating plan is that we will have energy, joy, focus, time (because of better sleep and better planning), success (because of more confidence and fewer canceled appointments), and all-round awesomeness. I know the beginning is very tough indeed, and I don’t expect it to be easy, but I am looking forward to the long term results. I’ll keep you posted.

Curiouser and curiouser: interesting theories on ADD, migraines and digestive issues.

Goldilocks and Papa Bear both have ADD, apparently. It not much of a surprise – there are long lines of it on both sides of both families, after all. When Papa Bear was in school, there was no such thing as ADD, of course. In those days he was simply told to “apply himself”, and that was that. Nowadays, between research, technology, advanced medication, overcrowded classrooms and curricula that seem to expect way too much from teachers and pupils alike, we have a different solution: medication.

I must admit that before we had the option of home education, we did go the route of medicating the problem. The results were marked and mixed, and not the subject of this post. However, the final result of all of that was to find a different solution. As you know, a large part of the drive behind creating this blog was to document the pathway to that solution, so that I wouldn’t forget it.

First of all, I can say unequivocally that home education is the best possible solution for my little family. It is ideal for our temperaments and thought patterns, as well as (surprisingly) our hectic lifestyles.

But there’s more to education and a lifestyle of learning than simply how you get your basic facts into your head. What with innumerable allergies and intolerances, and a family history of epilepsy, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, cancer and chronic migraines, I’ve always been interested in what we eat and how that affects us. I may have mentioned the wonderful supplements we take, which have done wonders for our health and energy. But even with a completely gluten-free/dairy-free lifestyle, and the world’s best nutritional supplements, we still have ailments. The girls and I all battle with gastric cramps and the attendant pleasures that go with that. We get headaches and blurry vision. Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate, and Papa Bear has the added distraction of being very, very tired all the time.

Furthermore, Goldilocks and I both twitch. In both of us, it started out as chronic, though barely noticeable, blinking. It progressed from there to forehead and cheek twitching and has gained an added dimension: vocal tics. I won’t bore you with the details but, simple put, we make sounds. I’ve been doing it for years so when Goldilocks started I knew what it was. I was disappointed for her as I’d hoped it was a stress-acquired thing in me and in no way genetic, but I could fully understand what she was going through. The sounds she makes resemble throat-clearing, and have become more and more obvious. Eventually one evening Papa Bear lost his temper with her and insisted she stop. Not understanding how she could control it for brief periods, only to be driven to do it even more prominently later, he assumed she was doing it on purpose, albeit subconsciously.

Shocked at his dramatic reaction, I realised it was time to act. I spent most of that night researching “chronic compulsive throat clearing in children“. The results were astounding. I discovered that tics of all sorts, from minor to major motor tics and a wide range of vocal tics which essentially comprise passing air through the nose or mouth in different ways, were all related. These are more prevalent in people with OCD or ADD of even degree. If two or more motor tics and a vocal tic are present, and if these present before 18 years of age, the correct term for the condition, no matter how mild, is Tourettes.


I had actually been told this before, but since I didn’t think much of that particular doctor, I’d dismissed it out of hand. Now, however, I was faced with rather more concrete evidence.

Having already booked a doctor’s appointment to investigate my permanent thirst and frequent visits to the bathroom, I decided to bring this issue up there and settle it once and for all. And whaddya know. Tourettes. Both of us. So that was interesting. (The other symptoms appear to be linked to an overdose of coffee rather than anything more sinister, since I am in perfect health in every other way (besides gastric issues) – apparently two to three pots of filter coffee each day is not an acceptable average. Go figure.)

Since then I have been researching the various treatment options for Tourettes. (In short: none). It’s not serious or life threatening. Mild cases don’t even impact your quality of life in any significant way, bar teasing at school – enter Home Education! And of course it has no impact on intellect since the majority of Tourette’s sufferers have above average IQs. Well, I could have told you that :).

I have also been researching ways to perfect the gluten free lifestyle since I do still have a lot of complications with this. For instance, my weight has plateaued and nothing shifts the slightest gram. I have chronically bad skin, which is frustrating given my advanced years. I cramp and bloat and all those other lovely dinner-table topics we don’t like to discuss in huge anonymous fora like these. I stumbled across something called the SCD diet – have you heard of it? Now, that is the topic of a whole post on its own, and this one is already rather long winded, so no more on that here. What fascinated me about it, however, was the link between SCD and autism, with a huge number of parents of autistic children recording amazing results in their children’s health on this diet.


The lady who works for us is a genius and bona fide genetic scientist. She is also dyslexic and mildly OCD, so when she was studying genetics at university, she did a lot of research into the link between OCD, dyslexia, ADD (which her brother has) and genetics. Turns out: there’s a big link. Apparently any damage to chromosome 21 cause these neurological (not psychological) problems. Mild damage causes mild problems (very minor OCD, manageable migraines, etc), while the more damaged the chromosome is, the worse the results, until you get severe autism. This can be caused by birth complications, genetics or vaccines. (I am not a scientist, I’m simply repeating the results of a LOT of reading. Obviously, I may well be wrong here. I’m just saying it’s interesting). But with a family history of ADD, ADHD, OCD, epilepsy, dyslexia, migraines and now Tourettes, it certainly gives one pause for thought. Surely there must be a link?

Even more curious: how can a diet developed specifically for managing digestive issues have such a significant impact on both autism and ADD? I can’t wait to dig deeper and find more because it really is fascinating stuff. I’ll share what I find as I go along (this might be a good time to suspend your membership if this is too dull!).



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