Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kraft is messing with the U.S.

> Get harmful chemicals out of mac & cheese-- Kraft did it in Europe, now
> they should do it in the U.S.
> Send a letter to Kraft asking them to update U.S. ingredients!

> Did you know that Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is formulated differently for
> countries in Europe than for the U.S.?1 I didn't either until I read The
> Unhealthy Truth, a book about the toxicity of America's food supply.
> The fact is, that in 2008, Kraft removed artificial colorings, like yellow
> #5, and chemical sweeteners, like aspartame, from the products that they
> distribute in Europe, Australia, and other developed countries due to
> consumer concern over scientific studies that link these synthetic
> ingredients to hyperactivity and asthma in children. But, they haven't done
> the same thing here in the U.S.!2 Our voices are needed to make that change
> here too.
> We'd love to have you join us in writing to the Kraft CEO, Irene Rosenfeld,
> a mother of two herself, requesting that Kraft remove these same ingredients
> from their products here in the U.S.
> 97
> > vCCIJQl/dQITlq5vG>
> Kraft took these chemicals and additives out of their European products. If
> we want Kraft to do this for us in the U.S., then Kraft needs to hear from
> us!
> Join us in sending Kraft CEO, Irene Rosenfeld, a letter asking that Kraft
> value the health of our children as highly as they value the children in
> other countries. And please then share this email with friends and family so
> that they too can send a letter.
> The vast majority of American homes have Kraft products.3 Together, we can
> affect change and have these ingredients removed from the products that
> Kraft distributes here in the U.S.
> Here's that link again to sign on to the letter in case you need it:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

I had this sent to me today, right at the right time. Andrew and Adam just started school and Andrew is reacting like I haven't seen for 4 years. He loves the school though and I hope that it will work to keep him in for the year.

I cried when I read this article because there are so many things that Ellen has identified that are absolutely Andrew. People don't understand him and his sensory issues because he is a smart kid, very talented with music and words, he's a dictionary, he's supposed to be "smart", therefore people expect his behavior to be more teachable and they view him as belligerent when he shows inappropriate social behavior.

Andrew has been having facial tics and hand problems every second or two for two days. We started school three days ago. So far we've found the following problems...

General new school chaos.
Flourescent lights.
Green/Blue soap in the bathrooms that I didn't know about till today.
Fragrance on other people's clothes and hair.
And, water fountains when his water bottle with RO water ran out.

Anyway, on with the article. I think I'll read it again and get some good crying time in.

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

By Ellen Notbohm

(© 2005, 2008)

Some days it seems the only predictable thing about it is the unpredictability. The only consistent attribute -- the inconsistency. There is little argument on any level but that autism is baffling, even to those who spend their lives around it. The child who lives with autism may look "normal" but his behavior can be perplexing and downright difficult.

Autism was once thought an "incurable" disorder, but that notion is crumbling in the face knowledge and understanding that is increasing even as you read this. Every day, individuals with autism are showing us that they can overcome, compensate for and otherwise manage many of autism's most challenging characteristics. Equipping those around our children with simple understanding of autism's most basic elements has a tremendous impact on their ability to journey towards productive, independent adulthood.

Autism is an extremely complex disorder but for purposes of this one article, we can distill its myriad characteristics into four fundamental areas: sensory processing challenges, speech/language delays and impairments, the elusive social interaction skills and whole child/self-esteem issues. And though these four elements may be common to many children, keep front-of-mind the fact that autism is a spectrum disorder: no two (or ten or twenty) children with autism will be completely alike. Every child will be at a different point on the spectrum. And, just as importantly – every parent, teacher and caregiver will be at a different point on the spectrum. Child or adult, each will have a unique set of needs.

Here are ten things every child with autism wishes you knew:

1. I am first and foremost a child. I have autism. I am not primarily "autistic." My autism is only one aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person. Are you a person with thoughts, feelings and many talents, or are you just fat (overweight), myopic (wear glasses) or klutzy (uncoordinated, not good at sports)? Those may be things that I see first when I meet you, but they are not necessarily what you are all about.

As an adult, you have some control over how you define yourself. If you want to single out a single characteristic, you can make that known. As a child, I am still unfolding. Neither you nor I yet know what I may be capable of. Defining me by one characteristic runs the danger of setting up an expectation that may be too low. And if I get a sense that you don't think I "can do it," my natural response will be: Why try?

2. My sensory perceptions are disordered. Sensory integration may be the most difficult aspect of autism to understand, but it is arguably the most critical. It his means that the ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of everyday that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me. The very environment in which I have to live often seems hostile. I may appear withdrawn or belligerent to you but I am really just trying to defend myself. Here is why a "simple" trip to the grocery store may be hell for me:

My hearing may be hyper-acute. Dozens of people are talking at once. The loudspeaker booms today's special. Musak whines from the sound system. Cash registers beep and cough, a coffee grinder is chugging. The meat cutter screeches, babies wail, carts creak, the fluorescent lighting hums. My brain can't filter all the input and I'm in overload!

My sense of smell may be highly sensitive. The fish at the meat counter isn't quite fresh, the guy standing next to us hasn't showered today, the deli is handing out sausage samples, the baby in line ahead of us has a poopy diaper, they're mopping up pickles on aisle 3 with ammonia….I can't sort it all out. I am dangerously nauseated.

Because I am visually oriented (see more on this below), this may be my first sense to become overstimulated. The fluorescent light is not only too bright, it buzzes and hums. The room seems to pulsate and it hurts my eyes. The pulsating light bounces off everything and distorts what I am seeing -- the space seems to be constantly changing. There's glare from windows, too many items for me to be able to focus (I may compensate with "tunnel vision"), moving fans on the ceiling, so many bodies in constant motion. All this affects my vestibular and proprioceptive senses, and now I can't even tell where my body is in space.

3. Please remember to distinguish between won't (I choose not to) and can't (I am not able to). Receptive and expressive language and vocabulary can be major challenges for me. It isn't that I don't listen to instructions. It's that I can't understand you. When you call to me from across the room, this is what I hear: "*&^%$#@, Billy. #$%…" Instead, come speak directly to me in plain words: "Please put your book in your desk, Billy. It's time to go to lunch." This tells me what you want me to do and what is going to happen next. Now it is much easier for me to comply.

4. I am a concrete thinker. This means I interpret language very literally. It's very confusing for me when you say, "Hold your horses, cowboy!" when what you really mean is "Please stop running." Don't tell me something is a "piece of cake" when there is no dessert in sight and what you really mean is "this will be easy for you to do." When you say "Jamie really burned up the track," I see a kid playing with matches. Please just tell me "Jamie ran very fast."

Idioms, puns, nuances, double entendres, inference, metaphors, allusions and sarcasm are lost on me.

5. Please be patient with my limited vocabulary. It's hard for me to tell you what I need when I don't know the words to describe my feelings. I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened or confused but right now those words are beyond my ability to express. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation or other signs that something is wrong.

Or, there's a flip side to this: I may sound like a "little professor" or movie star, rattling off words or whole scripts well beyond my developmental age. These are messages I have memorized from the world around me to compensate for my language deficits because I know I am expected to respond when spoken to. They may come from books, TV, the speech of other people. It is called "echolalia." I don't necessarily understand the context or the terminology I'm using. I just know that it gets me off the hook for coming up with a reply.

6. Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented. Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me. And please be prepared to show me many times. Lots of consistent repetition helps me learn.

A visual schedule is extremely helpful as I move through my day. Like your PDA or day-timer, it relieves me of the stress of having to remember what comes next, makes for smooth transition between activities, helps me manage my time and meet your expectations.

I won't lose the need for a visual schedule as I get older, but my "level of representation" may change. Before I can read, I need a visual schedule with photographs or simple drawings. As I get older, a combination of words and pictures may work, and later still, just words.

7. Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can't do. Like any other human, I can't learn in an environment where I'm constantly made to feel that I'm not good enough and that I need "fixing." Trying anything new when I am almost sure to be met with criticism, however "constructive," becomes something to be avoided. Look for my strengths and you will find them. There is more than one "right" way to do most things.

8. Please help me with social interactions. It may look like I don't want to play with the other kids on the playground, but sometimes it's just that I simply do not know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation. If you can encourage other children to invite me to join them at kickball or shooting baskets, it may be that I'm delighted to be included.

I do best in structured play activities that have a clear beginning and end. I don't know how to "read" facial expressions, body language or the emotions of others, so I appreciate ongoing coaching in proper social responses. For example, if I laugh when Emily falls off the slide, it's not that I think it's funny. It's that I don't know the proper response. Teach me to say "Are you OK?"

9. Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns. Meltdowns, blow-ups, tantrums or whatever you want to call them are even more horrid for me than they are for you. They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload. If you can figure out why my meltdowns occur, they can be prevented. Keep a log noting times, settings, people, activities. A pattern may emerge.

Try to remember that all behavior is a form of communication. It tells you, when my words cannot, how I perceive something that is happening in my environment.

Parents, keep in mind as well: persistent behavior may have an underlying medical cause. Food allergies and sensitivities, sleep disorders and gastrointestinal problems can all have profound effects on behavior.

10. Love me unconditionally. Banish thoughts like, "If he would just……" and "Why can't she….." You did not fulfill every last expectation your parents had for you and you wouldn't like being constantly reminded of it. I did not choose to have autism. But remember that it is happening to me, not you. Without your support, my chances of successful, self-reliant adulthood are slim. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think. I promise you – I am worth it.

And finally, three words: Patience. Patience. Patience. Work to view my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see the gifts autism has given me. It may be true that I'm not good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don't lie, cheat at games, tattle on my classmates or pass judgment on other people? Also true that I probably won't be the next Michael Jordan. But with my attention to fine detail and capacity for extraordinary focus, I might be the next Einstein. Or Mozart. Or Van Gogh.

They may have had autism too.

The answer to Alzheimer's, the enigma of extraterrestrial life -- what future achievements from today's children with autism, children like me, lie ahead?

All that I might become won't happen without you as my foundation. Be my advocate, be my friend, and we'll see just how far I can go.

Three-time ForeWord Book of the Year finalist Ellen Notbohm is author of Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew and three other award-winning books on autism. She is a columnist for Autism Asperger's Digest and Children's Voice and a contributor to numerous publications and websites around the world. For reprint permission, book excerpts or to explore Ellen's work, please visit .

Monday, August 17, 2009

Breakfast Tacos

Breakfast Tacos, not as gross as they sound! This was a total fluke that turned out yummy. We had a crazy day, no silverware was washed, needed to use up a lot of eggs, just made apricot jam, and had leftover cream cheese in the fridge.

make pancakes as normal but with about 6 extra eggs and somewhat thin batter so they're nice and spongy. You don't want them as thin as crepes but not a thick pancake.

Cook as normal and then spread half with cream cheese, jam, fruit, or whatever else you want. Eat it like a taco.

I'd bet this would taste good with some bacon and cheese too.

These were nice and portable and didn't use as much sugar as normal either since it was eaten in hand and taco style.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Don't fall for Satan's twix?

Alyssa got this little note at church. I laughed so hard. I thought there was something fishy about twix but I didn't know that he made them!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blue dye a drug?

Reprinted from FAUS

Reported by CNN July 28, 2009

The same blue food dye found in M&Ms and Gatorade could be used to reduce damage caused by spinal injuries, offering a better chance of recovery, according to new research.

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that when they injected Blue #1 (also called Brilliant Blue G or BBG) into rats suffering spinal cord injuries, the rats were able to walk again.

The only side effect was that they temporarily turned blue.

See the entire article (and picture of the blue mouse) at

How can this work?

A chemical called ATP is both an energy source and a neurotransmitter, depending on its location. It creates energy in every cell for normal activity, and the FDA has known for some time that Blue #1 is toxic to the mitochondria which are like tiny factories inside each cell where the ATP is made. This causes a problem for people using a feeding tube. Until recently, hospitals added Blue #1 to the food used in such tubes, but some of the patients died and their colon was found to be bright blue. See and

However, in the case of a spinal injury, ATP is released from the injured cells, binds to a molecule called P2X7, and kills off healthy cells in the spinal cord, thus making the initial injury far worse.

If only there were a way to prevent the ATP from attaching to P2X7, or a way to deactivate the P2X7, ATP could not kill the spinal cord nerves. Luckily, Blue #1 was already known to be able to stop the function of P2X7. While this is not good for you or me, of course, it was perfect for a rat with an injured spinal cord. When injected with the blue dye immediately after their injury, the rats recovered and could walk again (with a limp). Those rats not injected with the dye never recovered.

This is big news in the medical field, since there is very little that doctors can now do for spinal cord injury. The first clinical trials will soon begin.

Forty years ago, Dr. Feingold warned that food dyes were similar to drugs and should be tested in the same way drugs are tested. Now, finally, one of them has been shown to be such a powerful drug that it can bring about the recovery of a damaged spinal cord. Might we hope that at least this dye will find its way out of our food and onto the prescription pad?