This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Working with Chocolate

In the world of homemade candy and treats chocolate stands alone.  While there are many simple and easy recipes that use mostly processed ingredients, if you spend some time learning the techniques of working with chocolate you can learn to create much higher quality candy.

General information and getting to know chocolate:
Tree to Bar || How to Make Chocolate Every Step
Dutch Process Cocoa Powder vs. Natural Cocoa Powder
Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates YouTube Channel (very helpful videos with a lot of information      about working with chocolate)
How to Cook That YouTube channel (Lots of very good "how to" videos for making desserts including many very good videos about working with chocolate)

Tempering and molding chocolate:

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Disorders, Conditions, and Symptoms of the Digestive System

The gastrointestinal system (aka "the GI tract" or "digestive system") includes the entire "tube" from the lips to the anus.  Because it is open to the outside world on both ends, the inside of the GI tract is considered to be outside of the body.  It is a system with many different components and functions and is especially immunologically active because it must protect us from pathogens and other dangerous exposures through what we eat and drink, and for the upper part even the air we breathe.  GI disorders and symptoms are very common among people with ASD, mast cell disease, and some of the other conditions discussed on this blog.  I am including links in this post about both the normal functioning of many of the parts of the GI system as well as the many symptoms, conditions, etc that can arise when things don't work properly.

For a general introduction to the GI tract, the book "Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ" by Giulia Enders is a great place to start.  This is an interview of her about her book.  The GI tract is still not very well understood and new discoveries are being made about it...it's various functions, what can go wrong, options for treatment and for staying healthy, etc.  For example new organ in the GI tract was recently discovered called the Mesentery.

General information:
Introduction to the digestive system (video series from Anatomy Zone)
Digestive system by CrashCourse part 1     part 2     part 3   
YouTube Channel Gastroenterology 101
The enteric nervous system (the brain in the gut)

Specific disorders, conditions, symptoms, and syndromes:
Burning Mouth Syndrome
Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)
Periodontitis

Swallowing disorders
Animation of both normal and dysphagic swallowing
Airway disorders (can have implications for the GI tract)
Dysphagia (disorders of swallowing)
Swallowing Disorders and Achalasia
Laryngospasm: Sudden, Terrifying Difficulty Breathing (Part II: Laryngospasm: Straw Breathing)
"There is some evidence that Laryngospasm is caused by damage to sensory nerves from a virus."
Laryngospasm: What causes it?
Acid Reflux aka GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)

How does the Stomach Function?
Dumping Syndrome (caused by injury to the Vagus nerve from surgery)
Gatroparesis (delayed emptying of the stomach and stomach paralysis)
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs)
Autoimmune Pancreatitis
Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome
Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome - Kirsten Tillisch, MD | UCLA Digestive Diseases
SMAS (Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome)
Obstructed Defecation Syndrome (ODS)
Hirschsprung's disease

More advanced information:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Organizing, Managing, and Traveling with Medical Supplies

Some of the people who live with the constellation of symptoms and diagnoses that I discuss on this blog are so sick that we require an intensive level of medical intervention that necessitates using, storing, and transporting large amounts of medical supplies.  This can include supplies needed for tube feeding and TPN (IV feeding), central line care, infusions of medicine such as IVIG therapy, oxygen therapy, braces for joint support, and more.  The sheer amount of supplies can quickly become overwhelming but for these supplies to help we need to know what we have so we can avoid running out and also be able to find what we need quickly.  Below are ideas and videos by people with a variety of medical needs showing the systems and tricks that they have found work for them.

Storing and organizing supplies:

 Room Tour (from Cheyanne Perry’s blog Hospital Princess)



Transporting and traveling with medical supplies:

New Feeding Tube and  IV Therapy Tools! | Travel Supplies & Backpacks (from Chronically Jaquie)

PACKING MEDICAL SUPPLIES FOR AN AIRPLANE TRIP (from The Frey Life
My Chronic Illness Travel Essentials







Monday, April 16, 2018

Health and Holidays

Holidays can be a challenging time for many people, but for people dealing with chronic health problems- especially ones that involve food and eating- they can be especially difficult.  Below are some resources that can help us to cope with these challenges.

Basic information and suggestions from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology

Traveling on a Special Diet by Julie Matthews

Talk About the Holidays from TACA

Holiday hints from The Oley Foundation

Reducing holiday stress from The Oley Foundation

Coping with the holidays from The Oley Foundation

Holiday hurdles from The Oley Foundation

Phenols and Christmas trees

Some tips for Thanksgiving from TACA

Halloween

Halloween and trick or treating (geared towards autism but widely applicable)

GFCF candy that is widely available






Saturday, March 31, 2018

Simple Fruit Desserts (recipes)

(more recipes to follow)

Raspberry Sauce

Ingredients:


1 bag frozen raspberries (10 oz.)

1 T sweetener (sugar or syrup)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp arrowroot powder dissolved in 1 T of water

Other fruit optional such as blackberries, cranberries, rhubarb, etc.

3 to 4 T port or red wine

1 tsp oil or fat

Bring berries to a boil in a small pan. Mix arrowroot powder (or alternate thickener) with water in small bowl, then mix dissolved thickener and sweetener into berries. After simmering for 5 or more minutes remove from heat and mix in the oil, vanilla, and port (or red wine).  Once it cools down you may want to put it through a strainer to remove the seeds.

PB and J apple "sandwiches"

Thinly slice apples into rounds about 1/4 inch thick.  Remove the core from the middle of the slices with a small cookie cutter.  Spread with jam and nut or seed butter and put together to make small sandwiches.  Other fillings could include cream cheese (dairy or not), aged cheeses if tolerated, caramel, chocolate, or a chocolate and nut (or seed) spread like Nutella.

Juice served in a watermelon keg

A watermelon can be hollowed out much like a pumpkin at Halloween and then used to serve fruit juice made with the watermelon pulp (or almost any other drink).  For instructions on how to do this, including actually adding a keg faucet, go here.  If you prefer something simpler the watermelon shell can be cut to be like a punch bowl.





Sunday, March 25, 2018

Resources and Information About Giftedness in Students and Adults

This is a list of links to resources and other things of interest to families with gifted individuals.  Many people with disabilities are also gifted, for which the term is 2E for "twice exceptional".  Finding appropriate educational placements is often already difficult for a child with Autism or any number of other "learning disabilities" but when you add in giftedness it can become almost impossible to find placements that are appropriate and work well.  Families often find that they need to be creative in putting together the pieces of their child's educational plan.

GENERAL:


"Since 1979, the Gifted Development Center (GDC) has served as a global leader in the assessment and development of gifted individuals of all ages. We support giftedness throughout the lifespan. Through our work, we have changed the lives of over 6,000 children and their families worldwide. We also build awareness and understanding of giftedness, through research, advocacy and development of national policy.

Our philosophy is child-centered: we put your child first. We focus on understanding your child’s inner world (overexcitabilities, emotions, perceptions, relationships, personality, etc.), rather than on his or her potential for success. We see giftedness as a pervasive way of being in the world, not as being "gifted in...."

We provide assessment, advocacy, counseling, books, articles, Advanced Development Journal, and a Speakers Bureau to educate the public about the needs of gifted children and adults."




EVALUATION and EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES:








WHAT IS GIFTEDNESS, AND WHAT ARE GIFTED PEOPLE LIKE?

What is Giftedness? (from the website of GDC)




New Research Says Overthinking Worriers Are Probably Creative Geniuses

WHAT CAUSES OR DIFFERENTIATES GIFTED PEOPLE?



The Biology of Late Bloomers - Gifted, but Immature?


Friday, March 23, 2018

Techniques, Tips, and Tricks for Making Fun Sweet Treats (Cakes, Candy, etc.)

I love to cook and bake and enjoy the challenge of adapting recipes and techniques into ones that work for various special diets and eating preferences.  Most of these recipes and techniques use ingredients such as artificial colors and corn syrup that many people avoid eating as well as common allergens such as dairy, gluten, and corn.  Below are links to videos and resources that demonstrate techniques, methods, and ideas that I'd like to use in adapting recipes.  They are NOT included for the recipes themselves.  I hope you have as much fun as I do playing with your food!

General:
How to Cook That (fancy cakes, chocolate, and desert)
The First Year blog has so many fun ideas for decorating desserts

Candy:
More cookie art
How to make 3D cookie tea cups
Gluten-free milk and cookie shots
S'mores blossom cookies
Cookie ice cream cones

Cake:
How to make a cake (teaches the basics of cake making from start to finish, very detailed)
How to make a basic ice cream cake
How to bake a heart inside of a cupcake
Inside-out rainbow cake
Making a geode cake
How to make geode cake pops
Snow globe Christmas cupcakes
Cakecrumbs (blog with instructions for many different amazing cakes)
Spherical planetary cakes with scientifically accurate layers
Rubik's cube cake
Red velvet brain cake for Halloween
Long snake cake (from Harry Potter?)

How to Make Frosting:
Chocolate Ganache Recipe - 3 Ways! (Whipped, Poured and Spread Frosting)
(melt with double boiler instead of microwave)
The Science Behind Chocolate Ganache
9 Essential Frosting Recipes

How to Decorate with Frosting:
LEGO brownies
How to Fill and Frost a Perfect Cake Like a Pro
Learn How to Fill a Pastry Bag and Pipe
How to Use Russian Piping Nozzles
How to make rolled fondant

Making Other Decorations:
How to Make Chocolate Butterflies (and other piped filigree designs)
Making candy googly eyes for decoration

Marshmallows: