Sunday, December 31, 2017

Jeers and Cheers 2017

Every week, TV Guide Magazine offers a feature entitled “Cheers and Jeers” with brief descriptions of what the writers thought were the best and worst in television for that week. At the end of the year, they do a “Cheers and Jeers” summary for the entire year, a best (“Love it!”) and worst (“Hate it!”) list for the year in review. Like many people do on the last day of the year, I’ve been reflecting on 2017 and coming up with my own “Cheers and Jeers” list for the year. However, since I like to end on a positive note, I’ll flip the order and call this “Jeers and Cheers” for 2017.

Jeers to candida, the bane of our existence! Alex has struggled with candida overgrowth in his digestive tract for years, primarily in the form of thrush that irritates his mouth and throat. Moreover, it just makes him plain irritable and irritating. This year he had a doozy of a case of thrush that lasted for months and required multiple doses of the prescription anti-fungal fluconazole.

Cheers to Alex’s primary care doctor! Not only does he recognize how negatively candida overgrowth affects Alex’s health and behavior, but he also worked closely with us for months, trying to eradicate this annoying condition by prescribing appropriate doses of medication. At Alex’s annual physical last week, his doctor told us that he couldn’t see any signs of thrush, so hopefully, we have this under control going into the new year.

Jeers to the mainstream media who chose to downplay or ignore the new autism statistics released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that show 1 in 36 kids have autism and 1 in 28 boys have autism! Perhaps following the “Me, too” movement of victims of sexual harassment, parents of children with autism need to start a social media blitz indicating “Mine, too,” to share the widespread impact of autism upon our children.

Cheers to ABC for adding to their fall line-up, The Good Doctor, a wonderful show featuring a main character with autism! Not only does actor Freddie Highmore do a fantastic job of portraying a young man with autism, but also he makes Dr. Shaun Murphy loveable in spite of his impaired social skills.

Jeers to whatever suddenly made Alex a picky eater this year! Although many children and adults with autism are picky eaters, Alex has always had an excellent appetite and was willing to eat nearly any foods we gave him. Currently, he has limited his diet to fruit, Jello, Rice Dream, coconut milk smoothies, and scrambled eggs with spinach herb seasoning. This change in his eating habits has made me quite empathetic to those parents whose children refuse to eat most foods.

Cheers to whatever suddenly made Alex decide that he wanted to eat pepperoni last week! He asked me a few days ago if we had any pepperoni, and when I bought some for him at the store I had doubts that he would eat it. However, this is his new favorite food, and we’re happy that he is moving away from the vegetarian (fruitarian?) diet he’s adopted for the past eight months. Fingers crossed he’ll come up with some new ideas of foods he’d like to eat in 2018.

Jeers to losing two terrific members of Alex’s support team! His case manager and the representative from the agency that provides respite care both took other jobs, and we are sorry to see them go. Their enthusiasm, expertise, and efficiency made them outstanding, and both of them were especially kind to Alex. We hope that their replacements will do a good job, too.

Cheers to our fantastic long-time members of Alex’s support team! Even though his behavioral therapist and music therapist are now in supervisory positions and his respite care worker has another full-time job, they have continued to keep Alex on their caseload when they had to let other clients go. We are extremely thankful for these three whose kindness, dedication, and patience have helped Alex make significant progress.

Jeers to the manufacturer of paliperidone that had to recall their medication because the time-release aspect did not work properly! Apparently, this company has decided to cease production of the drug, creating a shortage.

Cheers to how well Alex has responded to medication reduction this year! With the shortage of paliperidone, we cut his dose in half this month with the blessing of his psychiatric nurse practitioner, and he has done remarkably well. In addition, he weaned off one medication completely this year, and he is on a lower dose of another. Praise God that he doesn’t need as many medications to remain calm and content!

Jeers to anxiety that makes Alex’s life more difficult! Like his mother, he thinks too much and worries about things that will likely never happen. Nonetheless, his fears are very real to him, and he relies upon schedules and lists to help him cope.

Cheers to the coping skills Alex has learned through behavioral therapy! Now, instead of escalating into agitation and meltdown, he has learned to express his feelings in a reasonable way, telling us that he’s upset. He’s also learned that sometimes he needs to sit and be quiet, but other times he wants to discuss what’s bothering him. This learning to be in tune with his feelings has been a huge improvement and a help to him and to us.

Jeers to the majority of autism research that does nothing to help families currently struggling with autism! Moreover, while certain factors contributing to autism exist, most mainstream medicine ignores these potential causes.

Cheers to the work of Professor Chris Exley of Keele University in England, who has discovered a link between aluminum toxicity and Alzheimer’s disease and autism! Moreover, his research indicating the value of drinking silicon-rich mineral water, such as Fiji and Volvic, gives hope that a simple solution may exist to lessen the effects of aluminum in the body.

Jeers to the obstacles autism presents! From impaired language to difficulties with social skills to health issues to poor motor skills, autism makes life harder than necessary. Add in intense anxiety that can lead to aggression and the tendency to wander from places of safety to ponds, railroad tracks, and highways, and people with autism are put in grave danger.

Cheers to the progress Alex has made in 2017! Thanks to God’s blessings and healing, along with Alex’s tenacity, he continues to overcome challenges and get better with time. May the coming year 2018 bring our children with autism health, happiness, and hope!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

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