When my little special needs boy arrived into the world, he couldn’t move. He was listless because of low muscle tone, and further, he did not convert whatever food energy we could get him to tolerate into active energy. If you didn’t know it was normal for his genetic syndrome (you can read more about that here), you would think he was seriously ill. It was a sad, dark season with a lot of medical treatments, 11 doctors, mostly specialists, therapies and hospitalizations. Natural and organic was not. even. on. my. mind.
But, slowly he became stronger and more capable.
It was kind of like the sun began to shine again. While my son did not crawl until he was nearly 2, nor did he walk until he was 3, he was growing steadily. Yet, as the years went on, his daily health became a concern, because I just couldn’t get rid of his asthma and reflux medications. It wasn’t just his syndrome, but it was his constant congestion, which seemed to cause a problem in his health and wellness. It was the food allergies, that weren’t really labeled allergies, but were obviously triggering a reaction in his body.
Because people with my son’s genetic syndrome, their digestion can be super slow, in fact, everything can be slow, I started with this. They have low muscle tone, even in their organs, so naturally, helping my son to optimize his digestion became one of those things I focused on. Helping my son have a healthy gut, and avoiding foods that increased his tantrums, became my barometer. Letting go of all those preservatives and sugars were the most important thing initially, and yes, letting go of gluten and cow’s milk were an important step as well.
So, how can you live healthy and organic with special needs children?
1. You have to take baby steps. If you are a special needs parent, you are driving the Titanic. Turning on a dime really doesn’t work well, so adding healthy natural and organic foods into your life a bit at a time is best. In the end, you will get everyone on board, and they will cooperate.
2. You will probably need to change where and how your purchase your food. This goes hand in hand with baby steps. What I found immediately was that the fresh organic produce I wanted was not at the typical grocery store, at least not very much of it. The selection was poor and just really not all that great. I went to Whole Foods and well, I found that we just couldn’t really afford it. So, I ended up at a local health food store, which had most of what I needed.
3. You may need to order bulk to afford the cost. I really worked hard at cutting down the costs of eating natural and organic. I began shopping through Azure Standard, a co-op and trucking company that sells natural and organic produce for a really good price, and in bulk, delivering them once a month. You can also order everything else like a typical grocery store, so check it out to see if they truck to your area. I also like Zaycon Foods meats. While they aren’t organic, they are farm fresh, and their hamburger is slime-free. Their chicken breasts are fresh and their ham is the best!
4. Really consider raising chickens. You don’t have to live in the country for this one. Check into the zoning laws; you may be surprised. Our subdivision wouldn’t allow chickens, but they did allow them as a school project. Since we homeschool, it was an easy match. We don’t have a rooster, and I won’t plan on it, but we do have a regular harvest of fresh eggs daily. The quality of fresh free-range eggs is much better than even store-bought organic or cage-free eggs. Your eggs are what you feed your chickens.
5. Consider gardening. There are tons of options with this, and may even be more viable if chickens sound like too much for your family. When I garden, I use essential oils and make my own sprays. Plus, having chickens to eat the bugs really makes a difference, but don’t let them just free-range in your garden, that is, unless you want to give them all of your vegetables! It will save you money if you start with your own organic seeds and use the right mix of compost and soil.
6. Essential oils are a help. The first time I stepped into essential oils was like I said in the garden and we began to use some of the citronella and peppermint as insect repellant. My little fragile son, developed whelps from mosquitoes, so I had to keep him covered in something. I found that both of these oils worked quite well. In fact, peppermint is my favorite all-time essential oil for freshening the carpet and linens. Adding citrus drops to water refreshes and using tea tree treats all sorts of infections and bug problems. Read more about the high quality brand of oils I frequently use. There are hundreds of uses for essential oils, and getting involved in an essential oil community can really help generate some ideas.
7. Herbs really do work. Throw out all of those old ideas about herbs are just weeds. There are many that serve as great nutrition, and provide some medicinal benefits as well. St. John’s Wort is even now recognized by many medical doctors as quite effective in mild to moderate depression. I have used it both on myself and my special needs son. He did quite well with it for awhile. But, oregano is a great antibacterial. Chamomile really does calm and soothe, and many others. And elderberry is the must-have for cold and flu viruses.
8. Supplements are really important when you change your diet. One of the things I learned pretty quick is that when you remove a food from your diet, such as gluten, you may need to replace a nutrient you were receiving from it. Whole wheat bread does supply some well-needed nutrients like niacin and folate. When you remove it and fail to replace it with something comparable (which is rather difficult) you will suffer. I do like to make sure I take a B complex every day, and I give my special needs son extra vitamins for his health. Even trace minerals and sea salt are considered good healthy supplements to add to your daily smoothies, or foods. And, don’t forget your probiotics! We make our own yogurt.
9. You have to cook. There. I said it. Yes, you cannot pull through the drive-through at the last minute (at least not all the time) and expect to change your family’s diet. Make sure you have a good stir-fry pan, plenty of coconut and olive oils, and choose herbs and spices that fit your family’s palate. My special needs son surprised me with his interest in a chicken asparagus stir-fry, made with Bragg’s Amino Acids, fresh ginger and sea salt. We scooped it on a bed of cooked quinoa. It was easy and it didn’t take long.
10. Plan for things to go wrong. Yes. Things will not just go as planned. Some will not like the new food you are serving up. Others may have yet another food allergy underneath the first one you uncovered. You may have to eat grain free. You may need to find a balance between what one person is allergic to, and another one isn’t, and how do we purchase food for the family. You may have that one child that seems allergic to everything and you can’t find out what is bothering him. But, if you plan for something to go awry, then you are good. Things will work out a bit at a time and eventually, you will find the answer. Just keep peeling back the layers.
So, that’s it!
Take the leap. It was the best thing I ever did for our family, and on the whole we are healthier and stronger because of it. It really is possible to have health and wellness in special needs children and adults. I know it. Sick does not need to be our new normal, simply because we have a special needs child, and always have one foot in the medical community. But, natural and organic can go hand in hand with medicine and the benefits far outweigh going against living healthy and organic.
Blessings to you and your family~Kim