Today is the fifth anniversary of James meeting Soma. I can still see it like it was yesterday. That day changed everything! I am so grateful for Soma and for RPM and for every person who has helped him in this journey. Mostly, I thank God! I thought it was fitting that when I asked him for a recent essay to put on the blog, this one titled “In Your Wildest Dreams” had just been written. He wrote it for the Endependence Newsletter this month.

“In Your Wildest Dreams”

A career is a life changing path. It can be a way to find your purpose and network with other people as well. As a person with a disability, there will be many hurdles to face on the path of chasing your dream. Other people will doubt your abilities, your understanding, and your independence. However, one thing you can control is belief in yourself and overcoming fear and self-doubt.

                  There are many misconceptions about what a person with a disability is capable of achieving. In times of astounding awareness, our abilities are tattered by everyone’s stereotypes. Beliefs determine action, and in most cases, we, people with disabilities, are treated based on the belief that all of us are dependent on others and can therefore not contribute to the workforce. Not a minute goes by that I don’t pay attention to the assumptions of others. Each interaction in our communities is an opportunity to break a stereotype and challenge an assumption. We can change the assumptions others make and cause people to think that maybe we are not all the same.

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. After the battle with others is behind us, the attitude we have with ourselves is very important. Doubt is very common when pursuing any dream. It is easy to allow yourself to think only about what could go wrong. One of the most important components needed to overcome doubt is preparation. Having a plan towards your goal will help you feel like that goal is very much in your reach. I have been fortunate to have an unbelievably supportive family and team of teachers and mentors surrounding me. They have been so confident in my abilities, that it has helped me overcome times of doubt and fear. The plans we have made and executed together have helped me in reducing anxiety in times of fear and encouraged me to believe in myself and my abilities.

If you have a passion, talent, or calling that you have identified, it is so important to follow that path with full confidence. We are more than capable of achieving our career goals of being entrepreneurs, model employees, or graduate students. With support from others who believe in us, we will believe in ourselves and achieve things many thought would be impossible.


Information Access


How do you as an individual access and process information? That was the question James and his English classmates at community college were supposed to answer in their most recent assignment. It was called an “information literacy narrative”. I didn’t read it until today when I saw that his teacher wrote a note saying he brought something unique to the topic. I do know that it was tough for him to write (some tears), because he was asked to reflect on a topic that reminded him how different his life is compared to those who don’t have autism. Regular readers know his story but it is interesting to read it through this lens. I hope it helps others.

“Attaining the Information of the World”

            My current environment stimulates and allows me to continue growing in my information literacy. I have a multitude of resources for receiving and sharing information. I am a college student, I listen to audiobooks and podcasts, I write a quarterly newsletter, I have a personal blog, and I often listen intently to those around me. I consider myself to be information literate. I am able to listen and process information presented to me in a variety of formats. I pride myself in the speed at which I can auditorily process information. However, all of this did not happen overnight. My journey from prisoner to college student is one of struggle in finding ways to access, use, and understand information.  

            Almost five years ago, I had very limited access to information, no ability to use the information I possessed, and was not being taught to understand what I heard daily. I have Autism and I am nonverbal. For this reason, I was denied access to information that I was presumed not to know or be able to understand. My learning consisted mostly of matching and repeating patterns. Then, one day my parents took me to meet and work with Soma Mukhopadhyay, an Autism and education specialist. I remember being taught a lesson about planes. I felt empowered by the fact someone felt I could understand a middle school lesson. I was asked questions to show my comprehension. Using a stencil board with the alphabet on it, I answered each question correctly. Everyone was surprised I could spell, and even more shocked I processed all of the information that was given to me. This day changed my life. I was given the opportunity to access information for the first time, and was able to express my understanding of that material. My shackles had finally been removed and using a letter board was the key that would allow me to freely explore the world.

            After this discovery, my parents decided that learning with a homeschool program would be best for me. A few months later, I became a homeschool student. I vividly remember meeting my teacher, Shannon. I thought she was so smart. I asked myself on many occasions if I would be able to work for a whole school day. At times, I needed breaks. The transition from not being able to communicate the thoughts in my mind to having an organized school day full of educational input was overwhelming at times. I would get tired easily, and get frustrated with myself for not being able to point at the letters as easily I wanted to. This process helped me build resilience as a learner. Now I was able to learn at my grade level. I had the opportunity of accessing the meaningful information that I always wanted.

            During this time and for the next year, I was also continuing to meet with Soma and mastering the use of my letter board. I worked on accuracy, fluency, and my teacher was also getting intense training. I was at the point where I could easily communicate my answers based on a structured lesson. I began to feel more and more confident in my communication skills using my letter board.  The letter board truly gave me a voice. Now, I was ready to use my voice to express my thoughts and feelings. When Soma first asked me an open ended question, I was nervous and excited. As she asked, “How do you feel about your parents?” I had never felt more empowered. I spelled out, “Mommy, I love you. Dad, thank you for being my best friend.” The words resonated as if they had come out of my mouth. At this moment I realized the impact I could have on others. My relationship with information had evolved from access and understanding to use and meaningfulness. I could add a personality to my voice and share emotions not just answer questions. The world was beginning to open up.

            By the summer of 2014, I had been homeschooled for a year and I was truly confident in using my board. I felt a significant connection to the world. Not only could I communicate and share information that I have learned and analyzed, but my mom had started a blog,, that helped me feel even more connected to others. She posted about my progress and also some of my essays. I felt like I was actually connecting with other people. One day that summer, my parents had a construction crew working on a project at our house. As I came out of my classroom and into the commotion of the kitchen, I heard several conversations and noises all at once. While my mom was busy in her own conversation, she noticed I was chuckling to myself, almost holding back a full belly laugh. She asked me what was so funny, so I decided to be honest and share. I spelled “the workers outside are having a conversation about you”. I couldn’t stop laughing. My mom joined me, but was also amazed that I understood their conversation because they only spoke Spanish. I didn’t realize I had picked up an auditory understanding of the language. Over time, I heard it spoken around me and learned along the way. What was most exciting for me was the ability to share a funny moment with my mom. I told her what I was thinking and she laughed with me. My personality was something I was going to be able to share along with my intellect.

            Just about a year ago, I began a new journey in my relationship with information. After three years of being in a homeschool program, which allowed me to learn many study and writing skills, I decided to become a dual enrollment student at Northern Virginia Community College. I knew there would be some challenges, but I was eager to continue my journey towards independence. Navigating my college experience is definitely a step in my path. My very first class was Introduction to Psychology. I had some anxiety as I sat in my first college class. The buzz of conversations and the feeling I was being stared at caused me to feel overwhelmed at times. However, my communication assistant helped me through it, offering me some tough love at times, and I was able to not only finish that class but four other classes since then. I am now eager to continue learning how to use the information I am given to best serve me and those around me. College has allowed me to look at information and school through a different lens.

            As a thirteen year old trapped in my own mind, I did not think I would be able to access information at will. I thought I would always have to teach myself from what I could overhear. The letter board has been the key to my freedom and my teachers have been invaluable in showing my how to use all of the information I learn in a meaningful way. I have become information literate because of my experiences and the guidance I have received. All of the knowledge I have come across is useless without meaningful application. I may have gotten a late start, but I am doing my best at taking advantage of my opportunities.


Helping Hand, Not Hand Holding


James continues to have the opportunity to write for the ECNV newsletter. Its a great organization committed to helping people with disabilities gain independence. The prompt for this newsletter was: “A lot of times we see parents with disabilities shelter their children from the world, instead of encouraging them to follow their dreams. Their intentions are to protect them, but this often results in the children not being able to live up to their full potential. For this newsletter, please describe your experience with this scenario and what kind of side effects can come from sheltering persons with disabilties as they mature”.

“Helping Hand, Not Hand Holding”

                  My experience with my parents has been one of growth and evolution. I needed a teacher, and they provided. I needed a companion, and they provided. I needed nutritional support, and they provided. Throughout my life my parents have provided me with all of my opportunities. I am appreciative of all their support, and now I am ready to be more independent. I would like to care for myself. I see my future including a meaningful career and independent living. Because of all their support, I have the ability to freely express my thoughts to them through my letter board. I have been able to share with them my goals to be an independent adult. I know it will not be easy, but they are supporting me in this journey.

                  Although I can’t say they have sheltered me, because I have been able to see and experience many new things, I think my parents have protected me from failure to a certain extent. I think this type of parental protection happens in many cases. For anyone seeking independence, failure is part of the journey. When parents take the possibility of failure away, even with the best intentions, an opportunity to learn and mature is denied. Many adults want to make life easier for the next generation. However, failing is a main ingredient in the recipe for success. In the case of young adults with disabilities, we are seen as fragile and helpless, not to mention incapable. At times, believing in myself feels impossible. I can imagine that at times it can be scary to let your child fail, especially when you have been providing and protecting them for so long. However, for those of us with limited abilities in speech, motor movement, or emotional regulation, we need to become strong individually and learn to count on ourselves. We also want to feel proud and accomplished, and even disappointed some times. These feeling are ones we can own and truly value.

My parents have always been willing and able to give me what I needed. Now, what I need from them is to let me provide for myself. I am still a teenager who wishes for freedom to do as I please, but each day I need a team of people to help me care for myself. Next year, each one of the adults in my life will only be around for minimal support. Each one of my tasks will be done by me, solely. However, in order for this goal of mine to become a reality, a lot of work on my part and also my parents and support team will be required. It will take a new mindset. Currently, I let my parents facilitate things around me. I will have to allow them to take a step back. I will have to experience failure and learn from it. This will include everything from everyday tasks, to communication, to transportation. I will have to be uncomfortable. I am starting to realize that growth happens when we are uncomfortable and open to learning from those experiences. As children, just as much as our parents, we like to stay in our comfort zone. In order to reach our true potential, we need to be open to change and our parents need to let us be uncomfortable. I am thankful for my parents being so aware and invested in my future. They believe in me, that is the best gift I can receive from them.


Religions of the World 231

islam pic

James is taking an introduction to world religions class at Northern Virginia Community College this semester. He has a natural and deep curiosity about the world and it’s really satisfying, after years of limited education, to see him have access to a wide range of subjects.  This assignment was called an “experience paper”.  He had to visit a service of another faith and write about it. He chose to go to a local mosque to the noon prayer service. (A heads up–this is a long paper!)

On November 3, 2017, I attended Jumah, or Friday prayer, at 1:30pm at Dar Al-Hijra Islamic Center located at 3159 Row St. Falls Church, VA 22044. Dar Al-Hijra is a place of worship known as Masjid, which serves the Muslim community. I am Catholic, but very available to learn about other faiths. I attend mass every Friday and Sunday with my father. I have received my sacraments and have found a great sense of identity and purpose because of my faith. My mother, who is also Christian, is not Catholic. Having two faiths in my household has led me to be eager to learn about the many religions of the world. I chose to attend a Muslim service because a lot of negative attention is received by the Islamic community. I wanted to learn more about the faith and make my own thoughts based on my experience.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Upon arrival at Dar Al-Hijra, it was obvious that there would be a lot of people at the service. We had to find parking in a nearby neighborhood and walk to the entrance of the building. The building was gated off and there were several armed security officers walking around the exterior of the building as well as in the main lobby near the entrance. The building was large, but not tall like a cathedral. There was an architectural piece that stood separate from the building. It was narrow and tall and had a crescent moon at the very top of it. I was educated on the significance of this piece of architecture after the service. It is a minaret and has traditionally been used as place where holy men climbed to the top in order to call out the call to prayer. I was told that the noise ordinance did not allow for the traditional use of the minaret, and an intercom system was used instead for the call to prayer. I also noticed a few vendors just outside the entrance doors selling some religious items and informational material. In the main lobby, there was a table with lots of packaged food stacked on top of each other. I quickly noticed that everyone surrounding me were men. We were greeted and asked to wait for our guide. I could hear that a service was already going on.

To begin the service, there was a call to prayer over an intercom system. At this point, we were guided to a large common area room with rugs covering the floor. I joined hundreds of men in removing my shoes and finding a spot in the room. I chose to sit in a chair, while my communication assistant and most other men kneeled. There was an older man, the imam, with a microphone standing on the front stage area that began to talk and give a sermon, in English. The imam was wearing a long robe and a cap on his head. He addressed everyone through a microphone. There was another room of men who also listened to his message through a video and audio system. He spoke about religion and it being a guide in our lives. His message was one about family, equality, and compassion. The care for children was discussed and also the role of men and women in the family. It was urged to value young daughters and to not overlook their importance in the family. He preached that many times boys are valued as more important members of the family as they grow older in to young men, but that women are the caretakers of the family and will one day be the ones to step up and take care of parents in their old age. Throughout his message, everyone was very quiet and attentive. There was very little movement or direct involvement from the men listening to his message. The general atmosphere was of extreme reverence and respect. After some time, the imam began to speak in Arabic and everyone stood. At this time, I stepped to the side and observed their prayer ritual. As they chanted, everyone stood in reverence, then bent forward, then kneeled. Each position there was prayer in unison. They repeated this three times. Once the service was concluded, everyone retrieved their shoes and began to exit, greeting each other and giving blessings to each other as they left. Many people bought lunches on their way out, as they were on their lunch break from their work day.

The experience of attending Friday prayer at Dar-Al Hijrah was eye opening and informative. Through attending the service directly, I noticed many familiar aspects. The standing, kneeling, and bowing during the final prayer were familiar to me. It resembled the kneeling prayer that I participate in during mass, before receiving communion. It was immediately evident how important this service and prayer was to all that participated. I could see that the faith and religion held a high priority in the daily lives of its members. There were men from what seemed to be many different walks of life. Some were dressed in suits, some long robes, some in work uniforms, and some were students. This service was during a weekday, in the middle of the day, yet hundreds of men came on time to participate. We were also shown an area in the bathrooms that was used to clean hands, mouth, and feet prior to attending the service. Our guide explained to us that this was an act of respect. Cleaning and doing so in the name of God was a very important step in participating in the prayer service that they hold to the upmost importance.

There was definitely an overt distinction between men and women. I did not actually see any women, beside our guide, in the duration of our visit. I was told that women use a separate entrance and participate in the service in two separate rooms. One room is for women, and the other is for women with children. Both rooms are much smaller and have far less participants than the two large rooms for men. I understood this to reflect the very traditional beliefs and roles that have been taught in the Islam faith. It was evident to me that tradition is very important to the lives of Muslims. Roles and expectations of men and women are intertwined and directly impacted by the teaching of their faith. Unlike other religions, the traditional values and conservative nature of each service is very important. Expectations of reverence, obedience, and order seem to be an unspoken truth among all members. This is clearly passed down to their daily living, as it was preached during the sermon.

Another important interpretation I gathered from my visit to Dar Al-Hijra came directly from my interaction with our guide, Fazeia. She was extremely helpful and passionate about educating us and answering any questions we had. She gave us important information about the traditions of the faith, the service, and the expectations of the daily prayers. However, what stood out the most about her leadership was her desire to educate for the purpose of creating tolerance and equality among different faiths. She was direct about her mission to unite people and help rid her community of prejudice and hateful behaviors. She quickly described many, many services that are provided by Dar Al-Hijra to the community, regardless of their faith. Some of these services include a weekly food bank, juvenile delinquent mentors, tolerance information sessions, family counseling, tutoring, homework help, and much more. It was eye opening to hear all of the work that is done by the Islamic community to support not only each other, but everyone. As she pointed out, it is rare to hear about the positive things that are done by a Muslim Community Center. Instead, the public generally associates acts of terror and violence with such faiths. Fazeia explained that so much negative and untrue information is shared about their faith by the media, that they have a “green screen” in the library for television interviews that are so frequently needed to address public situations. Fazeia definitely provided me with another perspective of the Islamic faith and helped me to understand the community on a more personal level.

Overall, I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn about another faith. The experience allowed me to observe, participate, and ask questions. I saw some similarities in rituals between Islam and my own faith, Catholicism. I also saw some very different traditions and was able to learn about their origin and purpose. Most importantly, I was able to connect with someone who explained that the pride and importance of their faith is just the same as anyone else’s. I would hate to have to constantly be defending my faith and its members from false or generalized accusations. I take away a new perspective from this experience as well as some valuable information.


Finding Adventure

James’ new English teacher gave them an “adventure project” to work on. They were to develop an idea of an adventure, do the adventure and then write about it. Here is James’ essay and a few photos as well!

Finding Adventure

            I recently went on a trip to Italy. This was my second time visiting Italy. My family and I had an amazing experience a few years ago, so we decided to make the trip again. I knew it would be full of discovery, sightseeing, and bonding. However, nothing could have prepared me for the adventure that lied ahead. Among all the tours and planned itineraries, there was a spontaneous moment that took place. I don’t usually do well with unplanned events, so this was a challenge as well. I have some issues with anxiety in new and unfamiliar situations. Little did I know this moment would turn into a true adventure. Remembering the basic details does not do it justice.

I always wanted to swim in the middle of the ocean. I did not realize, however, that it meant first jumping off of a boat. My family and I were on a boat on this particular afternoon, and we sailed to the middle of a bay with a beautiful view. Naturally, everyone was in their bathing suits. In a spur of the moment idea, my brother suggested we jump in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Nearly everyone was eager and excited to make the jump. My dad turned it down quickly and made it clear he was just a spectator. I was on the edge. I could not decide if I could really have the courage to jump. My nerves were out of control and I could only think about the depth of the ocean. I bent down to look at the water, only to frighten myself even more. My echo of screams was ringing in my ears. Now, everyone is angry that I won’t jump. I am overwhelmed with excitement and fear. I hear my brother on the boat say, “Go James!”, but I doubt anyone heard him, because too many people were shouting at me. Now I boldly decide to jump.

I step off the edge and drop in the water. I rush underwater a few feet with salt rushing in my eyes, nose, and mouth. After a few seconds, my head breaks the surface and I see my brother in the water next to me. He has a big smile on his face, as I am still opening my eyes and checking my surroundings. I also discovered another comforting sight next to me, a swimming “noodle”. I latched on and started to feel relief. I heard laughter and cheering from my family. I began to laugh with them, and was finally enjoying the moment.

            After I got back on to the boat safely, I immediately felt relieved and accomplished. As everyone was congratulating me, my feelings of fear and anxiety were transformed into adrenaline and pride. Now I’m reflecting on this adventure and I realize that my anxiety is such a controlling factor in my life, I rarely let it develop into other emotions. I focus intently on what could go wrong, and don’t allow moments to pleasantly surprise me sometimes. On this adventure, I surprised myself. I am happy to tell this story, and to share one example of the possibilities of stepping off the edge, and just jumping in!

Senior Year


August 2013  First week with Shannon and James starting RPM and the road to a “real education”.



Four years later…the week before senior year in High School!

My Senior Year 2017-18                                                                                                                

            This coming Monday I begin my senior year of high school and my second year of college at NOVA. I am both excited and nervous. I look forward to the new challenges and learning new material, but my teacher of four years will not attend classes with me this semester or teach me any subjects at home. She is taking a break from my studies in order to spend much deserved time with her family.

            Four years ago we both began our journey with RPM and we have flourished together. She promised to stay with me through high school and she has been with me every step of the way. I was always her priority and I know that she will always be part of my family. As much as I am going to miss her and as nervous as I am to not have her with me, I know she is not really abandoning me. She has trained my team and will continue to care about my success and progress. I hope she will return this spring to again be my partner and teacher. In the meantime, I will have to become the person she always believed I could be.

            This semester I am enrolled to take two courses at NOVA, one film class with my home school group, and will continue my Spanish at home. I will try to write updates as I go, but we will see how busy I become. Thank you for following my journey and supporting me.

Managing Autism


Lately I’ve been thinking about how much time and effort it takes James and me to manage his autism. He’s having a great summer and his anxiety, mild OCD and motor control have been pretty darn good lately. His motor control, when strong, allows him to spell reliably on a letter board or keyboard. This is paramount for him because he can quickly communicate about any physical issue he may be having, anxiety he is feeling or sensory overload he is experiencing. It also just lets him express his opinions throughout the day which is really something most human beings like to be able to do! When he can talk or rather “spell” about his needs– his and our family’s quality of life is immeasurably better.

James and I come into contact with a lot of folks who struggle with autism. Often they ask how James manages to use his board consistently and how he handles college classes? The answer is a long one and it is multi-faceted. I believe that a crucial part of helping a person with autism manage daily life and achieve their goals is rooted in diet, exercise and what is known as “functional” medicine. I’ll write more about that at the end of this post but in the spirit of helping people understand how James manages the physical aspects of autism we interviewed him last week. Here is the interview:

Can you describe some of the physical aspects of having autism that you manage or deal with?

I, personally, am always tired. Not sleepy, but exhausted. I have learned that I can manage, but sometimes it wears me down. I also struggle with perceptual interpretations of my environment, and on bad days the smallest things send me over the edge. I have learned how to better adjust to noises and to focus my attention, but it still requires extreme energy. If I am sick or over tired, then my control weakens so I easily lose patience and my ability to focus, both on listening and my motor skills. The day then tends to spiral downhill and I lack the ability to change the course.

You once said your body is a renegade who is at war with your mind. Is this still accurate and in what ways has it changed over time?

The war still continues. I have gotten better at predicting the renegade’s attacks, but I am usually only one step ahead of it. I try to request breaks before it can catch up and overpower my reasoning. Sometimes I am caught off guard or too tired to even think ahead. Stress also puts him in overdrive and almost impossible to control. Over time he has weakened so if he does gain ground his effect remains less dramatic, but I still can lose the whole battle if I am not keeping him at a rest. Then, I still rely on my communication partner to keep me sane.

Have you noticed things that impact body control?

I notice changes based on exhaustion, stress, new movements, and hunger. Any of these will keep me from being able to focus on my movements. Then, I tend to revert back to my rote and automatic movements which fail to help in the moment and just frustrate everyone.

How does food, carbs in particular, impact your ability to control your body and manage your symptoms of autism?

I have noticed that carbs and sweets give me energy, but mainly instigate my stims. They act like a drug and make me feel like I have less control over my thoughts and actions. I love their taste and crave them, but I choose to avoid them because I do not like how they make me feel and act.

How does exercise impact your ability to manage your autism?

Exercise allows my brain to practice controlling my body. Even walking gives me something to do without constant stimulation from electronics or people. It is freedom from stims and makes me feel more organized.

You have spoken about the amount of focus and skill that communicating using the letter board or keyboard requires. What helps you use it more efficiently?

I recommend starting in a quiet place with what Shannon calls silly questions. These reduce the stress so it is easier to focus. For fluent spellers, we still need prompts and support when in new places or extra stressed.

Can you elaborate a bit more on things that help you use the letter board more reliably or efficiently?

I recommend working on long tasks or important messages with someone who knows you well. Imagine texting on a new phone that has a different layout and autocorrects you differently. The comfort of working with someone you know and trust is like the phone you can text on without thinking. I need that person to know me so I can focus on my thoughts instead of the mechanics of spelling.

Can you explain what anxiety combined with autism feels like? Also, what have you learned triggers your anxiety and what helps to keep it at bay?

I think anxiety and autism should be comorbid diagnoses. Autism makes my brain work fast and limits my ability to control where the thoughts go. Once I have one worry it spirals out of control. The same is true for stims, OCD, and any strong emotion. My anxiety tends to flare when I believe something important is out of my control or when something will have dire consequences. The thoughts just intensify and I lose control of my emotions. When I feel it starting, I try to distract myself with something happy or logic my way out of the loop.

Does taking supplements make a difference in your ability to control your body?

I believe they do, but I trust my mom to know how to keep me balanced.

I have a few thoughts on helping James manage the onslaught of a body and central nervous system that are broken. Ever since he regressed we’ve used a biomedical approach to healing him–implementing a wide variety of treatments that included chelation, hyperbaric oxygen, diet, supplements, homeopathy, and a focus on fixing a very dysfunctional gut. Some things worked more effectively than others but I don’t regret any of it except that it was extremely time-consuming and expensive. And James felt really lousy for a long time, he didn’t feel decent until about age 11.

After James began communicating through RPM  I stopped being so rigorous about treatments and we all just enjoyed the fact that we had our son back! He could “talk” and we could get to know him. A year or two later we realized that all the hard work of  real school and using a letter board was incredibly demanding from a physical standpoint and we needed to refocus our efforts on healing his body. I hired a functional medicine health practitioner with the goal of giving James more energy and focus and less anxiety. We’ve been at almost 2 years and it is working.

If you don’t know what functional medicine is here is a definition:

The Functional Medicine model is an individualized, patient-centered, science-based approach that empowers patients and practitioners to work together to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. It relies on a detailed understanding of each patient’s genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors and leverages that data to direct personalized treatment plans that lead to improved patient outcomes.

We’ve done a lot of things that I won’t detail here but a big shift in my paradigm is the “total load” approach to wellness. I ask myself when helping James what is his total load right now? He already deals with a major disorder,  but what else is his body dealing with as far as exposure to toxins, stress, diet, lack of sleep or exercise? I’ve focused a lot on trying to give him nutrient dense, organic food when I can. He eats out a lot but we try to make it decent food while out and  really good food at home. We’ve dropped a lot of carbs and put in more clean fats. If I know he is having a stressful school day we try to give him more walks and down time. We’ve looked really closely at supplements that support the brain, the mitochondria and adrenal glands. It is helping because he can handle a lot more school work (which is his goal) and he is much more emotionally stable. He still has meltdowns but they are fewer.

I really hope and pray that a cure will be found for autism. And I hope that our government and medical establishment will be honest about what is causing our children’s bodies to become so ill and then start preventing it. But in the meantime  people with autism live courageously with very broken bodies doing the best they can and we need to do everything we can to help.