Okay, since I haven’t posted much over the holidays I will try to make up for lost time this week.  First off, we started back on vision therapy with Dr. Kaplan, and visited his office in lovely Tarrytown NY last weekend. We had a great visit, and our new vision exercises are much easier than the last set.

Second, we started the Feingold diet.  For those of you who are not familiar, the Feingold diet was designed by Doctor Feingold, an allergist at San Francisco’s Kaiser Permanente Medical Center.  He began working with patients who he thought had aspirin sensitivities, and discovered that many of these patients also had allergies to various food dyes and additives.  Next, he documented changes in behavior due to the allergic reactions.

The Feingold diet eliminates ALL food dyes, food additives, artificial colors, artificial preservatives and artificial sweeteners. Additionally, it removes foods that contain salicylate, which is a substance similar to aspirin. Oddly enough, many foods contain salicylate, which came as a huge surprise to me.  Apparently salicylate is a natural pesticide that plants produce to protect themselves from insects.

Anyway, we got started a few weeks back when we described some behavior to our pediatrician.  Raymond and I had just come home one day, and Raymond promply went and sat down beside one of our friends.  Then, after a few times of his mother saying “Raymond” he looked up and said “Mommy!”  Then he quickly ran over to his mother and sat beside her.  We believed that, since our friend was sitting in his mother’s usual seat, he assumed she was his mom and didn’t do any visual “follow up.”  We have seen this sort of tuned out behavior a number of times with Raymond, and his pediatrician commented that it was typical for kids with ADD/ADHD.  That led her to begin questioning his diet more, and we settled on Feingold as it has been shown to be effective in treating ADD/ADHD.

Next step was to join the Feingold Association. The link is http://www.feingold.org and costs $82.50 to join.  Believe me, that is money well spent.  These folks investigate food more thoroughly than any other group I’ve ever encountered.  So we joined and our books arrived a few days later.  We received the general guidelines to the diet and a foodlist, as well as a restaurant guide.  The restaurant guide was pretty thin, as most restaurants use stuff that is off the diet.

The next step was to take an entire sunday and create a menu, shop, clean out the cupboards and prepare foods.  Let me tell you, that is too much for one day.  We only got a 5 day menu done, but it did help us become really familiar with what Raymond could and could not eat. We made a shopping list, and hit the store.  Then, since we don’t have any local breads that fit the bill, we spent the rest of the day baking bread and cleaning out the pantry. We gave away a huge box of food, and threw away about half that.  We were careful to keep things that are allowed on stage 2, but since the pantry had mostly processed foods that didn’t apply very often.

After that, we started the school week!  We decided to follow the diet as well, thus reducing the possibility of having something in the house that was off the list. One of the first things we noticed monday was how calm Raymond was!  According to the literature, some changes may be immediate, some may occur over several days and some may several weeks.  Apparently many of these chemicals accumulate in the body, and it takes time for the body to shed them.  At any rate, Raymond was wonderful on the first day until…

We went to our pediatrician’s office to pick up some supplements.  We set Raymond up with some magic markers to color while we talked to her.  As soon as he got some marker on his skin he became uncontrollable.  We racked our brains until we put 2 and 2 together.  The markers are full of artificial coloring!  We got Raymond home and calmed down, and then realized we had a bigger job ahead of us.

Many of these additives are also present in cleaning products, soaps and other household items.  We have a fairly toxin free home, as we have weeded out all of the paraben, phthalate and sulfate products in addition to removing all chemical cleaners, candles and soaps.  However, there were still some additives in his soap, shampoo and other things that he couldn’t tolerate.  We lived with them for the week, but I’m happy to say that after a trip to Whole Foods (and a ridiculous amount of money) we finally have a clean environment for the diet.

Tuesday was rough.  It almost seemed like Raymond was going through some withdrawal.  Wednesday was better, although he was still a little off.  Thursday was wonderful.  Not only did we have school, but he also had speech and OT.  He did great in speech, but would not cooperate with his OT until she found some trains. Still, the fact that he was able to do both therapies in one day in addition to the work we did at home says a lot about his ability to concentrate and sustain activity.

Friday was a nightmare, which didn’t make sense to me.  He woke up in a good mood, and was great all the way to school. When I picked him up, his teacher and para both told me that he had a rough day, which didn’t jive with what I experienced that morning.  It bothered me so much that I called back about an hour after we got home.  Raymond was wired and on edge.  I’m sure plenty of parents have had days like that, where your kid is into everything, climbing the furniture and doing everything he knows not to do.  Well triple that and you have our friday!

My first thought was that he had a dietary challenge. So I called the school and spoke with his para, who said he definitely didn’t have any food off the list.  Then I thought about the markers, and asked about that.  Then she said that he did get some marker on his hand, but it wasn’t very much.  I knew it didn’t take much, but somehow felt there had to be more to it.  After all, Raymond had marker on his hand earlier in the week and it hadn’t been this bad.

Then the teacher called back and we went through the day step by step.  Apparently one of the kids had an accident in the bathroom, and they had to call the custodial staff.  Then, after they left, the teacher sprayed lysol all over the bathroom.  That clicked with my wife, as she had spoken with another mom who has a very sensitive child, and lysol has a number of chemicals that affect her kid.  Finally we knew!  We explained to the teacher what happened, and why he was so difficult, which was a relief.

Saturday and Sunday were okay, but we did eat out at a restaurant for the first time since starting the diet.  Let me tell you, that is tough.  One of the stage one no-nos is tomatos, which are tough to avoid in an italian restaurant!  Still we got by, and Raymond had a good weekend. We’ll see how this week goes.