Change: Notice it; Adapt to it Anticipate; and Go With It!

Everything changes: winter to spring, summer to fall, youth to adolescence, health to illness. We expect, accept and adapt naturally to the irreversible cycles of the seasons and to aging. Changes from health to illness and illness to health are not so predictable and irreversible. We can benefit from fine tuning our responses to these changes.How people deal with change is the basis for a profound, new, little book, Who Moved My Cheese?, given to me by my dear friend Diana Henry, OTR. Cheese, a metaphor for what we want in life, is elusive. As I read the book, I saw how its wisdom can help us attain our “cheese” — good health and function for our kids.

CHANGE HAPPENS: NOTICE IT

Health changes appear first in those subtle differences in skin, digestion and behavior. Do those little bumps persist? Is elimination less regular? Are sleep patterns disturbed?  In many children these early warning signs are precursors of later developmental delays, including PDD, ADD and autism.

How many of us would love to rewind the clock and return to that first year of life when our babies had eczema, thrush, reflux, colic or croup? Instead of using palliative creams, laxatives or antibiotics, we might have searched for possible causes and responded differently. Could we have prevented yeast infections and asthma?  If health means balance in the body¹s systems, sickness is an imbalance or disharmony among those systems, manifested by bumps, diarrhea and fitful sleep. Let’s inform new mothers about alternatives that could help avoid later developmental, speech/language and learning delays in their children.

THE BODY ADAPTS

Survival depends upon an organism’s capacity to maintain balance or equilibrium. When eczema disappears with the use of a cream, the unaddressed imbalance that caused it goes deeper into the body and effects inner organs. Thrush, a mild fungal infection in the mouth, can become a systemic yeast infection. A case of mild reflux is often followed by chronic constipation or diarrhea; croup, which is mild, by chronic, incapacitating asthma.

…AND SO DO WE

Change occurs not only with our kids.  Without other options, well-intentioned families and schools accommodate children’s out-of-balance behavior. They modify the home and school environment, providing structure, support, special education services and therapies of all kinds. In the meantime our children are getting sicker. The disequilibrium is still there, we’re just handling it better.

What if the parents had also changed their children’s diets by removing dairy and wheat products and started them on vitamins, essential fatty acids and other supplements? These important actions could be steps on the road back to balance.

CHANGE YOUR PHILOSOPHY, CHANGE YOUR LIFE

Changing one’s philosophy about sickness and health can be life-changing. If you believe that a child’s diagnosis is permanent, then you will adapt and adapt, not look for recovery. If, however, you change that philosophy, then you have hope.

“Get over it,” says Karyn Seroussi to those complaining about how hard the GF/CF diet is.  She did, and look at the miraculous results. I know of another entire family that, inspired by her book, did the diet to support their child with autism. Not only did he improve, but so did his brother with asthma and his mother with endometriosis!

WE MUST RE-ADAPT AS CHILDREN CHANGE FOR THE BETTER

Sometimes we forget how much we’ve adapted the environment and our behavior. Then what needs to happen when our children improve? Yes, we must change again! This realization became very clear to me last week, when I evaluated a child with significant oral motor needs. His occupational therapist had provided him with a “chewy” to help him stay organized during the testing. He entered the room gnawing on it with great relish. As the testing progressed, he became increasingly focused and the chewy fell out of his mouth. He was so rapt in attention that he didn¹t even notice. His mother panicked, however, and admonished him to put it back in. The truth was that he didn’t need it. His chewy was a means to an end. It had done its job, and for a few precious moments, this little boy was focused!

Think about some of the changes for the worse you have observed in your children. Reflect on how you adapted. Are you now in a good position to anticipate changes for the better, and readapt as they occur? I hope so. In the meantime, “Be ready…. they keep moving the cheese!”

[New Developments: Executive Director’s Column, Winter 2000 – 2001]

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