Food for thought.

It has been 10 years since I began my journey with the big A...autism.  Embarrassingly, I really did not know much at all about autism spectrum disorder when my child was diagnosed.  Through my experience over the years I am still surprised at how many people know so little about a condition that affects 1 in 68 children, which in my opinion is a lot.  So at best I am not alone, like so many issues in life,  they don't matter until they are on your own personal radar.  This is my motivation to continue to share and advocate for the autism community.

I can say that the first year after the diagnosis was very challenging.  I was uninformed and scared about my child's future.  The "experts" were telling us to lower our expectations, medicate and home school our bright and quirky little child.  I looked to doctors, therapists and autism associations to inform my outlook and it was pretty deflating honestly.  But after I got over the initial windedness, I dug deep and tried to find what I could to  help my child be happy and productive, instead of placated and blunted.  I believe every child has something special to offer and is here to give something unique to the world.  It seems that's that ones challenges can actually be their advantages.  The old "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade" saying or as I like to say when life gives you cucumbers, make pickles because well, pickles are yummy.  I digress.

That autism diagnosis was a transformative moment that lead me to culinary school and then eventually to study holistic nutrition.  I can honestly say that if it weren't for autism I wouldn't have discovered this meaningful and important work.  Sharing my experience and knowing that it resonates with other parents. Food is life, and life with autism often is be very much focused on food, food allergies, food preferences, food fixations, food fears, balancing nutrition,  and digestive issues.   

Food and digestion can  affect the network of neurons lining our guts that is so extensive some scientists have nicknamed it our "second brain". A deeper understanding of this mass of neural tissue, filled with important neurotransmitters, is revealing that it does much more than merely handle digestion or inflict the occasional nervous pang. The little brain in our innards, in connection with the big one in our skulls, partly determines our mental state. In fact 90% of the bodies serotonin is made on the gut. Serotonin can affect mood, appetite, sleep, behavior, learning and memory.  Now that is food for thought!

laura johanson