Parenting children with special needs is a study in contradictions, to say the least. On the one hand, you feel confused, isolated, exhausted, and beyond stressed out. But on the other hand, you learn things and BECOME things that you never thought possible. My oldest son (who henceforth will be known as Monkey Boy) has been on an incredible journey in his 10 short years. He still has much ground to cover, but the improvements we’ve seen over the last few years are incredible.
My little Monkey Boy was a handful from the day we brought him home from the hospital. My mother, who gave birth and raised 6 children, remarked to me on more than one occasion that she never saw a baby as colicky as Monkey Boy. And my father suggested that I take him to the doctor to have his sight and hearing checked when at 3 months old he barely made eye contact or smiled. The doctor checked Monkey Boy out from head to toe, patted me kindly on the back and told me that I had a perfectly healthy baby. I asked him hesitantly, “Is it possible for a baby to be emotionally disturbed?” to which he answered me with a hearty laugh and a “no”.
Things just got more fun from there. Monkey Boy grew from a colicky baby to a difficult, unhappy toddler who couldn’t sit still or entertain himself for a minute – in fact he often reminded me of the energizer bunny. He had a temper, an unusually high thresh hold for pain, and odd fixations with things like street lamps and boxed apple juice containers with straws. Other children were just objects to beat up on, and most play dates with other moms and kids ended with both Monkey Boy and me leaving in tears.
The arrival of additional siblings pushed our family over the line of just having one tough kid to a borderline dysfunctional family. I don’t think I was able to use the bathroom for 5 straight years if there was no other adult in the house. And outside of the home, problems increased. As school became more academic it became more troublesome. Monkey Boy’s anxiety set in big time. In 1st grade, he would have severe panic attacks if it rained, if there was a substitute teacher, or even just from the noise in the lunch room. Focus, concentration, impulsivity – all became major issues in the classroom.
When Monkey Boy turned 7 we turned to a psychiatrist for help for help. ADHD, Generalized Anxiety disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder were the diagnoses given. We experimented with a few different medications until we found one that seemed to help with the severe anger and aggression, but did not (seem to) cause too many side effects. While things were far from perfect at home, the medication did take enough of the edge off of his horrific behavior issues making it worthwhile for us to keep Monkey Boy on it. The school was happy because he was finally calm. But after a while, we noticed he was a little too calm. Within a couple of years, it was clear to everyone that Monkey Boy was in a constant state of sedation. While the rest of his classmates were learning and proceeding to subsequent grades, Monkey Boy was stuck at a 1st grade performance level, unable to learn or grasp new material despite the fact that he was in the beginning of 3rd grade. The psychiatrist advised us to put him on an additional medication to help “wake” Monkey Boy up during the school day, and it was at this point that the little warning bells went off in my head, and I had my Natural Health awakening. I just couldn’t understand why I was being advised to medicate in order to alleviate a side effect of another medication! When I asked the doctor if there were any other options, I was told – nothing that was medically proven.
I tell people often that I came to Alternative Health out of desperation, not conviction. At this point it my life I just knew that I had to help my Monkey Boy. And if there was nothing else to try that was medically proven, well, I would just research things that were UN-medically proven. And so began The Year Of Research. I combed the library and the internet. I spoke with people who had helped their kids without medication and I slowly began educating myself on the ways of the UN-medically proven world. We tried many different things, some worked, some didn’t. This began to make sense to me as I learned more about Autism and ADHD. As much as we want to point to one thing and claim – THIS causes Autism/ADD/ADHD – we can’t. It just isn’t that simple. In the year 2013, our lifestyle is so unhealthy. Our food, the air we breathe, and even our toiletries are full of toxins. We firmly believe that only doctors know what’s best for us when it comes to our health (Hi to all Doctors reading this! Some of you are really awesome, please don’t take this personally!). With this new found knowledge, I have spent the last year and a half focusing on feeding my family Real Food (for more information on that I highly recommend you read “Real Food” by Nina Planck), and using Essential Oils. The results have been nothing short of miraculous. They often felt slow in coming, and many times during the process I doubted whether I was doing the right thing. After 2 years of eliminating food dyes, high fructose corn syrup, and other “non food” food items; feeding my family nourishing, whole, full fat food; and using a daily regimen of essential oils, Monkey Boy is a different child. He still has his challenges – he probably always will. But he’s thriving in school, is making and keeping friends, and is getting along with his siblings (usually). Most days I feel like I finally have a functional family. I have since gone on to learn about health, herbs, nutrition, and oils for many more things besides for Autism and ADHD, but that’s where my story started.
And that brings me back to the beginning of my story about the dichotomy of having a special needs child. My Monkey Boy has been one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced in my life, he has also given me a gift in disguise. I feel so privileged and grateful to have been forced into a situation in life that required me to look outside my comfort zone and expand my horizons. This blog is a place for me to share with all of you what I have learned about essential oils, and how I use them with my family. While I hope you choose to order the oils through me, this blog will be where I share information and education, rather than just promote products. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. And of course, please remember, I’m not a doctor; I’m just a mom who has learned a lot and is happy to share what is working with her family.