Somewhere around ten years ago, I first learned about autism. I was in college and read an article in Psychology Today about how a normal baby girl had transformed into an autistic child after receiving vaccinations. The article also talked about how most autistic children are diagnosed around age two. That’s all I specifically remember from the article, but I took serious note of it, deciding that when I had children I would wait until after age two to vaccinate and/or investigate further before doing vaccinations.
Several years down the road, I had my son. I got tricked into allowing the hospital staff to give him the Hepatitis B vaccination (yes, tricked) right after he was born, while he was in the NICU on antibiotics. Sadly, I didn’t start my research on vaccines until after he was born, thinking I would have time to read up since we were going to delay them. Had I known there was so much information to work my way through, I would have begun ten years ago! I read so much conflicting information. It seemed impossible to know whether he was in more danger if he was vaccinated or not. I knew I wanted to wait, and then do a selective schedule at a slow pace. However, around the time our son was six months old, my husband was getting impatient and wanted our son to start receiving vaccines.
This really tormented me. Here I was reading of all the problems of vaccines, and my husband was doing zero research. It was impossible to catch him up on everything I was reading. But it was more than just the information; I had this feeling in my gut not to vaccinate him. It was about this time that I first took my dilemma to God. There was just no way to be certain my son could safely be vaccinated. There was no way to know if he would be exposed to a deadly or debilitating disease. Only God could possibly know which course of action was best, so I asked Him. I got two answers:
#2 LEARN MORE.
So that’s what I did. I put off vaccinating, and I continued my research. I learned and I learned, and while things were beginning to make more sense to me, I was no closer to an answer for the question of which choice was best for my son.
Every few months I would repeat this process. I would pray. I would get the same answer. I would do more research. Finally, a few months after his second birthday, I felt like it would be a good idea to get him the DTaP shot. I had my own reasoning–he was two, so he would likely handle a vaccination better; the DTaP has a fair track record after age six months or so; pertussis is still a common disease and I didn’t want him to go to school, catch it, and give it to a baby sibling that I hoped we would have one day. I had, of course, prayed about it, and I got the feeling it would be okay.
Oddly, after the vaccination is when he starting having more behavior issues and catching every little virus he was exposed to. It absolutely could have been a coincidence. In fact, I believe his problems had been slowly building over time, and it was last winter that they reached a point that I was really paying attention. Still, knowing what I know now about GAPS, the vaccination very well could have played some part in his health issues–I just don’t think it was the main or original cause.
I have been super careful with my son’s health. I knew breastfeeding was important–I didn’t know how important, but I knew it was–and I fought quite the battle to be able to breastfeed him. I have also insisted on feeding him only the healthiest foods. I have tried to keep his environment as low-toxic as possible (I don’t even use shampoo on him). I have essentially been raising him the way that parents of very sensitive children are forced to raise their children, only I’ve done it preventatively, hoping he wouldn’t develop problems. I think I have appeared a bit overzealous to some people, but I’m a sensitive person, so I’ve had good reason to believe my son could be sensitive, too. But he never really showed any problems as a baby, other than some mild indigestion at times.
If you’ve read my blog a while, you know that my little boy developed behavior issues around age 2-2 1/2 which gradually got worse until age 3 when I started making dietary changes. He would have up to ten meltdowns a day. It was like walking on ice with him, and I was breaking down from the stress. When he turned three years old last summer, he still wasn’t sleeping through the night and had difficulties falling asleep. That’s when I learned about salicylate sensitivity. I took salicylate foods out of his diet and his behavior improved dramatically, as did his sleep (he slept through the night three nights in a row). Someone on a salicylate forum said their symptoms improve with enzymes. Another said her symptoms improve when she eats gluten-free. That’s how I realized it could be a gut issue (indeed, when we removed gluten, his stomachaches went away). That’s when I became more interested in the GAPS diet. If I could heal my son’s gut, then maybe he could eat normally again!
Oh, but it goes much deeper than that. I read some stuff in Gut and Psychology Syndrome that sounds like shadows of my son. It’s as if he has been on the brink of developing a real GAPS disorder all this time. I am definitely a GAPS person myself (mood disorders), so it is quite likely I passed this condition on to my child (children get their gut flora from their mothers). What if I hadn’t breastfed him, what if I fed him the typical American diet? What if I had allowed him to be vaccinated according to schedule? Why did God tell me to wait to vaccinate him?? Why did I become interested in Autism so many years ago? Why has breastfeeding been so important to me that there was never any other choice? Why do I have such a keen interest in natural living and avoiding toxins?? I am certain that all these things have been instrumental in preserving my son’s health. I believe that had I not done these things, my little boy could be a very sick child right now. Would he have developed autism? I don’t know. Epilepsy? Maybe. Learning disabilities? Allergies? Who knows! I get the feeling, though, that whatever the potential illness is/was, it would be something debilitating.
As if to help me know that I’m not crazy imagining things, I read in Gut and Psychology Syndrome that GAPS children often react to salicylates. It turns out that salicylates are phenols and phenols detox the body. He is likely “sensitive” to them because he has a higher than normal toxic load in his body, and his mood swings and sleep disturbances are actually detox symptoms! I am not imagining things!
And also as if to prove I am not crazy, a few weeks ago, after a day of not eating his usual diet (lots of things I would normally not allow), he woke in the middle of the night itching with hives all over his whole body. We took him to the emergency department and the doctor said it definitely looked like an allergic reaction. Allergies = GAPS. I am NOT imagining this!
There is really something to be said for a mother’s intuition. It’s as though somehow I was prepared for this child. Somehow I knew to be careful with him. Somehow I knew there was something wrong when the usual response is to shrug it off to having a “difficult” child or his “development.” I am so grateful to have some confirmation in this. And I am grateful that there is a way out. We can heal his gut. We can heal my gut. We will both be going on the GAPS diet soon.