This is a topic I am very passionate about. Here is the first post about the subject of behaviour and food. I will be incuding my family and friends personal experiences and links to helpful information about this topic in this post and future posts.
As a child I was a very bright and active little girl.
In grades 1 to 3, I was in advanced reading and math as I was a year ahead of the class.
In grade 4 it all went down hill fast. My parents enrolled me in French Immersion so I could have an advantage on the competition when I was an adult and went searching for a job.
I went from being a grade ahead of my peers in math and language to failing all my subjects.
By grade 8 the teacher told my parents to put me in basic classes in high-school and not to expect me to graduate.
In grade 10 I was tested and it was determined that my spelling was at a grade 4 level and my math was at a grade 5 level, no wonder I couldn’t keep up or understand the work.
What changed over that summer from grade 3 to 4?
Was it being in french immersion and learning a new language?
It would take almost 20 years for me to find the answer.
When my daughter was a new-born I nursed her. She ate all the time but wouldn’t gain much weight yet she was unusually strong, healthy and alert.
Under the supervision of a lactation consultant and dietician I started supplementing her feedings with formula. I would nurse her for an hour, every other hour, 24 hours a day then “top her up” with formula. My daughter still didn’t gain much weight.
At 4 months old the dietician recommended that I continue to nurse her but also to start her on solid food. I made all my own baby food (except the yogurt) Again my daughter ate 10 times more than infants her age but still gained very little weight. At this time she started to have temper tantrums and fits of rage.
Physically she was like a super human infant. She could hold her head up unassisted as a day old infant, bouncing in a jolly jumper at 2 months old and standing on top of tables at 7 months old. However emotionally she was developing anxiety and other traits I knew from my years of working with children that were not normal.
At 9 months old under the recommendation of the lactation consultant (who had seen my daughter on a bi weekly basis from the time she was 6 weeks old until she was 14 months old) we consulted a child development agency. After checklists, home visits and forms it was confirmed that my daughter had sensory integration dysfunction. I knew that this was the beginning of a very long road since that diagnosis always goes hand in hand with another diagnosis.
As my daughter became a toddler her rages turned violent towards me and this was happening multiple times a day. These were not normal 2-year-old temper tantrums in fact at the age of 3 my daughter put her fist through her bedroom door during one episode.
I didn’t know what to do. I took exceptional care of my self when I was pregnant. I nursed her, grew my own vegetables to make my own baby food, she rarely had junk food or candy.
Where did I go wrong?
One day I was discussing my daughters aggressive behaviour with her worker. She asked what my daughter had eaten prior to her latest violent outburst. My daughter had been behaving wonderfully at the ice rink so I decided to reward her with a blue slushy and all hell broke loose. That’s when we realized that perhaps a lot of her behaviour was related to food, especially food colouring or dyes.
I tested the theory multiplue times and made sure she didn’t consume anything with food colouring for a week. I introduced food colouring and she went from angel to devil. It turns out that food colouring was in almost everything on the shelf including the “healthy yogurt” and children’s “healthy” snacks that I was feeding my daughter as a young baby when her rages began.
After many years of experimenting and seeing an integrative medical doctor for allergy testing I know what my daughter can and cannot eat. These foods affect her in many ways. Her behaviour is one way but it also causes leg pains at night (what used to be called growing pains) stomach aches, eczema, migraines and it affects her academically.
When she consumes food with food colouring she writes backwards! She will write full paragraphs backwards and not even notice she is doing it! She also cannot concentrate, focus and retain any new information making her ADHD so much worse.
That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks almost 20 years later! When I started in French Immersion I couldn’t concentrate, understand what was being taught and had a hard time sitting still . I would be up all night with leg pains, headaches, anxiety and stomach aches.
Did the new language cause this?
Not even close. I now know what caused this was the big bag of RED penny candy I would buy at the corner store every morning and eat while waiting for the bus to take me to my new school.
For more info on food sensitivities, what food colouring is actually made of (YUCK!) and ADHD please check out these links:
I came across this article today and it really hit home for me. My 11 year old daughter has multiple special needs including a learning disability and dyslexia.
At the end of the article there is a picture, with grey background and white type. That is exactly how my 11 year old daughter spells when she is writing answers or notes in homeschooling.
When you watch the video of the author and hear how well spoken and intelligent he is, it proves that people with dyslexia (and other learning disabilities) are not less intelligent then the rest , they just learn differently.
Are you looking for a great summer camp experience for your child with special needs?
A place where they can learn, grow and be supported by qualified staff in a safe environment?
Look no further!
This year my son and I were fortunate enough to attend the 2014 Summer Camp & Inclusive Recreation Fair held at the Abilities center in Whitby, Ontario for the second year in a row.
You missed it? No sweat, I took notes for you.
We had a blast talking to all the camps, some whom we know personally. We were able to see pictures of what each unique camp had to offer and ask questions.
Each camp listed below had a friendly, helpful and knowledgable representative present. Some camps had funding available to off set the cost of camp and some were able to point me in the right direction to apply for funding. They all agree that the time is now to apply for funding for the summer of 2014. Please contact the camp your are interested in and they will answer all your questions.
A fully accessible, state-of-the-art multi-purpose facility committed to the development of an inclusive and integrated environment. We offer programs for people of all ages and abilities (including those with and without disabilities) in the areas of sports/fitness, arts, and life skills.
Camp Awakening provides integrated summer camp, leadership & family outdoor recreation programs for children and youth with physical disabilities (ages 9-24). We offer 4 unique and innovative residential programs at mainstream summer camps across the province.
Camp Kodiak is a non-competitive, residential summer camp for children and teens with and without learning disabilities, ADHD, Asperger Syndrome and NLD. We provide a 2-to-1 camper-staff ratio, small cabin groups, academic and social skills.
Overnight camp serving children 8-17 years. All ages are welcome in the 4 day, 3 night family camp. All inclusive program for children with higher functioning Aspergers, Autism and ADHD. Programs include a life skill and social skill focus while having FUN!
Camp Merrywood (Perth) and Camp Woodeden (London): Easter Seals Ontario owns and operates two fully accessible summer camps for children and youth (ages 1-26) with physical disabilities. Campers must be registered with Easter Seals Ontario to qualify (Incontinence Supplies Grant Program is a separate registry). Funding available for applicants 18 and under (and who are not Crown ward) as of July 1st of that camping year.
Programs are designed and facilitated by our recreation staff. All activities provide the opportunity for participants to learn new skills, meet new friends and enhance self-esteem and personal growth. Programs focus on physical, creative and social activities and are offered during the day, after school and on weekends, depending on the type of program.
We provide services to individuals on the Autism Spectrum and their families. Services include: consultation to schools, families and individuals, social skills groups, vocational support and assistance in obtaining funding. Kerry’s Place also offers training and workshops for families and professionals.
The Kinark Outdoor Centre (KOC) operates year-round to provide a rich variety of outdoor education programs and autism support programs tailored to a wide range of needs and interests. From skill development, family enrichment and social recreation to ecologically-focused, adventure-based experiences, the KOC offers high-quality programming and once-in-a-lifetime experiences in a safe, well-supported and beautiful environment.
Natureways provides unique learning experiences through adventure and discovery in the outdoors. While exploring the pristine Seaton Hiking Trail campers will learn about animals, plants, river critters, fossils, survival skills, pioneers, and Aboriginal history. Exciting day trips to various conservation areas are planned once a week based on the weekly themes. Campers will also play Predator and Prey, create crafts, pioneer crafting, and play innovative cooperative games.
A non-profit registered charity, located in Brooklin, which offers a wide range of year round day camp options and event days for individuals with special needs. Nova’s Ark incorporates a wide range of individualized activities and customized programs involving youth leaders and therapy animals. Our very enthusiastic and dedicated youth leaders give generously of their time, their heart and most of all, their friendship to provide one of the most unique shared experiences that a child will ever encounter.
Kids and Teens, with developmental needs, are supported through a low camper/staff ratio, high levels of structure and the use of schedules to ensure that each individual is able to successfully engage with friends through crafts, stories, water play, music and outdoor recreation.
Sunrise Youth Group runs Recreations Events & Programs for Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities in the Durham Region. Our aim is to provide social & learning experiences for all. Sunrise is a positive outlet for leadership, creativity, and encourages all young people to explore their potential. Peer to Peer friendships with our volunteers, Dances, Cabin Retreats, Dinner & Movies, Wilderness Weekends & More.
Programs for children (4-12 years) and youth (11-15). Camp offerings include: nature & outdoors, sports, arts, performing arts and multimedia, technology and day trips. One-to-one support is available at no additional cost for Ajax residents.
Open to Pickering residents (extra spaces will be filled by non-residents). The Town of Pickering summer camps offers assistance by way of 1:1 support for campers with special needs. A maximum of 4 weeks of support is provided (campers may bring their own support staff after that). Deadline for applications is may 12 2014.
Whitby Camps: We offer inclusion services for Whitby residents. The service is for children with a physical and/or learning disability, communication, comprehension and/or interaction that could effect their safety. If you wish to apply for additional support you can fill out the application form on our website.
WindReach Farm is a fully working farm whose mission strives to enrich the of persons of all ages with disabilities and/or special needs by providing opportunities to enjoy experiences in farming, nature, outdoor recreation & other activities and to share those experiences with family and friends. WindReach Farm includes fully wheelchair accessible pathways, trails, buildings, barns and stables. Offering five core programs: Day Visitor Program, Work Experience Program; Therapeutic Program; Accommodation Program; and the Volunteer Program, WindReach welcomes both the special needs and able-bodied communities.
I have friends who ditched their microwave. I’ll admit it, I thought they were crazy.
However, when I took my 2 special needs children to a well-respected integrative doctor one of the first things he recommended was getting rid of the microwave in our home.
That’s when I started doing some research on my own about microwaves and I didn’t like what I was finding out.
As a single parent of 2 children and running a home daycare out of my home full-time I thought it would be impossible not to have a microwave for heating up meals for the 7 children in my care.
In the spring of 2013 my microwave broke.
I decided now the time to stop using the microwave.
Even with 7 kids and a broken wrist at the time it didn’t take long to get used to not having a microwave in the kitchen.
Within a week I no longer missed it at all. Honestly it was so much easier than I thought it would be!
How do we heat up left overs?
It’s very simple.
I purchased various sized glass Pyrex type containers with lids.
I store the left overs in the containers that also can be placed in the toaster over (without the lids) and then heated to the proper temperature.
Food tastes much better, the quality is visibly better and I feel better knowing its just one more small thing I am doing to keep my kids safe and healthy.
Here is a link with lots of good scientific information about microwave use. If you are short on time scroll down to the bottom of the page for the conclusions and “10 reasons to get rid of your microwave”
In the fall of 2012, my kids and I said goodbye to one of the most gentle, friendly, intelligent and loving dogs I have ever known. He was our 12 year old Collie/lab and he was like a best friend to me. I miss him everyday.
Christmas of 2012 my children received what most children would love for a gift, a 3 month old puppy. I however, received the world’s most stubborn, hyper, neurotic, anxious and food obsessed puppy. The kids were happy, I on the other hand was not so happy.
I stupidly assumed the mix was a guarantee that he would be a wonderful dog like our first collie/lab. He was good for one day, the day he came home. Then all hell broke loose.
Having the new puppy was like having a new baby but worse because you can put a diaper on a baby. I was convinced that this dog was going to give me puppy postpartum depression.
The new puppy was impossible to house train, even with a 10 year old Bouvier as a role model. I would let him out 200 times a day. He would run out, try and eat poo, eat grass, sticks, the sandbox toys, bark at nothing then step 2 feet INSIDE the house and do his business on the floor (thank god for no carpets!)
Since the puppy was a lab mix he was convinced that he had to eat everything! He would eat, no sorry inhale a whole bowl of his food then 10 seconds later grab a new loaf of bread off the kitchen counter. He would eat the entire loaf, bag included before I could catch him. Once he took a 4lb bag of apples off the kitchen counter and ate them all, bag included again! The puppy broke into the porch and ate an entire bag of dog food, this was after I fed him! He looked like he swallowed a beach ball but that didn’t stop him from eating an entire box of cereal 5 minutes later. I looked but there is no puppy over eaters anonymous groups anywhere.
The puppy’s appetite is not limited to food. He loves any kind of poo (dog, cat, bird, his own) he loves shoes, boots and socks. He has chewed the thumbs off the oven mitts, eaten countless numbers of the kids toys, books, crayons. He ate the limbs of the kids doll house people too.
The puppy ate 4 seat belts in my van because I was being a responsible pet owner and had him buckled in his “doggie seat belt”
He has a storage container addiction. He smashes, shreds and chews every size of storage type container from snack size to large storage size. Then he eats whatever is inside the container.
He ate the stairs halfway up the stairs. Not while he was lying at the top, not while he was lying at the bottom but half way up! It was as if he was on his merry way up the stairs, stopped halfway and said “this is as good as place as any to start chewing something I’m not allowed to chew” and ate the stairs.
When the pup was a few months old I had him fixed. Apparently this would calm it down. It didn’t work!!! I dropped him off at the vet, I’ll admit I was a little excited that he would be “tired” for a few days. I know it sounds mean but the puppy never slept he was on a mission to destroy all day and was up all night barking or shredding the house. He was so out of control and unruly that I even had die hard dog lovers say why don’t you get rid of him (put him down or give him to a farm) and start over. I couldn’t do that, my kids loved this 4 legged tornado and he did have some good qualities.
The plan with getting him fixed was I needed to call at noon to see how he was doing then pick him up at 6pm. I called at noon and spoke to a very exasperated employee who told me “He is fine, he is better then fine. Don’t wait until 6pm , you need to come and pick him up immediately. He is howling, jumping and trying to climb out of the cage”
The vet says if the puppy was a human he would be a triathlon athlete, lucky me.
His first near death experience was when he ate a bottle of my daughters natural seratonin pills. The pills were in her backpack. This means he had to eat a hole into her back pack and find the bottle of pills and eat the bottle. I came home one day to find a VERY relaxed puppy and I was confused until I found the bottle open and broken capsules all over the floor.
His second near death experience was when he chewed, punctured and inhaled my brand new asthma inhaler. It was in a box, in a bag, in my suitcase under a bed and out of everything on a 4 story house he could have chewed that day he choose the inhaler. Ventolin is a steroid. When a dog inhales an entire inhaler worth of ventolin their heart rate jumps to over 200 and it can be fatal. He needed to be rushed to the vet, put on heart stabilizer medication, potassium medication and monitored. That cost this single mom $500 for an afternoon to keep the puppy alive.
Another near death experience the puppy had was when he chewed up and down the air conditioner cord (must have got zapped repeatedly) He eventually chewed completely through the cord, while it was plugged in and on. That day I had taken him to the dog park for almost 3 hours of non stop running as I had a BBQ to go to 2 doors over. I assumed he would be tired. I was very wrong.
I had my own unfortunate experience when he ate an entire large can of infant baby formula that was in the kitchen cupboard. This causes the puppy to have diarrhea. I didn’t see the diarrhea. I slipped in it and broke my wrist in 2 places. For the full story please read my “This single mom’s crappy yet funny situation” blog.
Most people are probably reading this thinking why the heck did this dog not get crate (cage) trained. My friends, I tried that. I bought a brand new cage. I put him in it. He pooped, peed and rolled in it. He threw the poop out of the cage every time he was put in it. That meant that the hyper puppy, his bed, the cage, the floor and sometimes the wall would need a bath every time he was locked in a cage. He also had such bad anxiety that he would ram the cage over and over with his head to the point he almost split his head open. I’m not an expert but I think a lot has to do with him being a pet store dog and spending his first few months of life in a cage.
I also spent hundreds of dollars and tried every pet training device and product pet valu sells. Nothing worked. The only thing that has worked is my never ending patience and time.
The puppy is now 16 months old and he has come a long way. He no longer jumps up and pulls the ponytail elastic out of my hair when I come home due to his anxiety.
He is almost completely house trained. The puppy no longer steals groceries right out of the bag as I walk in the door and inhales them before I can rescue the food. He has been fantastic for both my kids especially my 8 year old autistic son (watch for “boys best friend” blog coming soon) I am no longer regretting the day he came home as he is slowly turning into a really good dog. More funny puppy pics coming soon.