One year on since we stopped all medication for Zak so here is our update……
My fear flying to Spain last year knowing that Zak had just taken his last Ritalin was softened by knowing a had a secret stash packed deeply in my case and convinced myself that I could sneak him one and bribe him not to tell his Dad. My plan the following morning didn’t even get off the ground as the realisation of Zaks inability to keep a secret dawned on me. Pure honesty comes with Autism and this has its plus’ and minus’. I adore how he has never told a lie. Telling the man at the Esso garage he looks like Mrs Brown and needs to learn his manners, not so much.
Anyway I spent the whole of last summer being a child phycologist watching his every move, analysing him and having a constant game of ping pong in my head.
The downs to no meds….
Zak gained 3 stone
No 3hr morning respite
The ups to no meds….
Ok the 3 stone has been hard to handle, however he was 1 stone underweight to begin with and he has grown 9 cm so in my head he was 1.5 stone over so over the past 3 months we have addressed that and managed to get 18 pounds off him but as I try and join him as much as possible I too have benefited from this!
I have dealt with the lack of respite with a dog! This has proved the best therapy for Zak. Reggie has increased his responsibility, taught him boundaries and given Zak a purpose!
His communication has improved significantly. He is more able to tell me his feelings and what he is struggling with and learnt many techniques to help him including breathing exercises and yoga!
I trained as an aromatherapist 29 years ago but not practised for the last 20, Zak has reignited that passion and I can honestly say they have been life changing for him, school actually want them as part of his day! If you come within 3 foot of me I get you with a rollerball for any ailment.
Zak has also had is Sats this year and I am proud to say I blankly refused for him to participate! How can u take a standardised test for an anything but standard mind??? You wouldn’t ask a fish to climb a tree!! Zak may not know his maths anywhere like his peers but he would give any Olympian a run for their money at javelin!! He’s proving to be a little Jamie Oliver in the kitchen and his knowledge on coronation street characters dating back before he was born is immense!! Please let’s starts measuring all the special qualities of our kids and not just the standard ones!!!!
The bottom line to Zak being better on or off meds and my advice to anyone who has tried them and failed is this….
You never really have a full picture of what your dealing with on meds. They mask the child, his abilities and his personality. How can we give them skills to deal with their issues if you can’t see what they are? I plan to do a protocol for any parents considering the alternative route so please get in touch with any questions.
In the meantime it really is the best decision we ever made and as for Zaks non standard mind….who wants to be remembered as bloody normal anyway 🐟
Well its that time of year again when we have a solid 6 weeks with Zak and without the craziness of school runs, pack lunches and the daily grind, it gives us the time to refocus, regroup and plan for Zaks year ahead.
Hubby hates Zak on medication, believing that we are not dealing with any issues Zak may have, masking what is really going on and asked me to consider a summer without it.
Zaks medication has given me 4 hours of peace a day, taking him down a couple of notches which allows me to do all the above with some kind of normal. One hour after taking it, my home resembles some of what a house with 3 kids in it does……busy!!! Without it……carnage!!
The comedown from Ritalin is unpleasant, Zaks mood adjusting from “on it to normal”. We get anger, frustration and general misery and I think in my mind this is what we would encounter all day without it. Never-mind Zak becoming dependant on it, it has been my crutch.
Zak takes the minimum dose of his medication but every CAMHS appointment we are offered higher, being told due to his growth he “could probably do with more” and then a minimum dose of melatonin every night to counteract the Ritalin to allow him to sleep. All this is handed out to you with no parent warning on the bottle……GUILT!! Ritalin is a controlled drug, which basically means “a potential for abuse or addiction”. This is not just your baby, but your baby who is struggling to cope with the world around them and although I am not against medication in the short term, stratagies and coping skills need to be taught.
I totally believe it has played a positive part of our journey, 3 years ago when Zak was unable to sit and learn and take in knowledge that he would so desperately need in his younger years. However since then he has grown, we have worked so hard with his home based programme that maybe just maybe it was worth a shot.
So one week ago we boarded a plane with an extra suitcase full of aromatherapy oils, plug in vaporisers, crystals, supplements and rescue remedy, repeating my mantra…..we can always change our minds.
What are the changes I have seen? His appetite is back in full force and I have to keep a constant eye on it. Although he has more energy in the morning this is consistent throughout the day, taking no dips or sudden outbursts. His OCD is definatly better and the glazed look has gone. He has managed to still do his independent reading and lego building and his attention is no different and I believe his engagement is better and the guilt from me has vanished.
So will I continue on this holistic lifestyle for Zak or crumble??? At the moment I will say we will continue but I maybe more equipped to answer that at the end of the summer holidays!
You can continue watching Zaks summer on Instagram – tothemoonandzak
And one last thing……don’t forget your own medicine………WINE!!!!
Thanks for reading xxxxx
It is 12months since I started fundraising for Zak and what a year it has been!!
Zak’s programme has cost £29,200 so far. The majority has been raised by ourselves, my family, the generosity of another family and the rest by fundraising by me and my sister and kind donations from friends.
This money has allowed me to train and set up a home based programme for Zak, daily OT exercises, 3 monthly visits to an autism specialist and weekly special needs tutor.
Zak has loved his therapy room where we have been able to use his motivation to bring him on, reducing meltdowns, increasing communication and allowing Zak to thrive in an environment he feels safe and in control.
His daily exercises which are tedious and relentless have shown a 24% increase in brain function in 9 months (without any intervention this would be expected to be 2%)
Zak’s autism specialist makes sure Zak is on the correct supplements and the rest of his health is in tip top condition.
As for Zak’s tutor…..what can I say…… I was told he would be unlikely to read…..he can read the newspaper!!!! 1+1 =5…..he now knows his number bonds up to 10….
We are overjoyed with Zak’s progress and none of it would be possible without this fundraising.
We are about to go into our 2nd year of our 3 year plan and we would like to expand Zak’s therapy room sessions, taking on more workers so Zak gets more social interactions with different personalities.
His daily exercises and weekly tutors will continue and we would like to include some cranial work by the fab Phillip Owen in Gatley.
Zak will leave his current school at Christmas and after a long battle will start at a high functioning Autism School in Church Lawton. Watch this space on the progress I believe he will make in an environment which is correct for him.
Our next fundraising is our September walk of the Monopoly Board in London and I thank anyone in advance who is able to donate…..
Lots of Love & Hope
I have travelled the country with my little man, from healers in Wales to a homeopath in Cornwall and all the counties in between. I love our Thelma and Louise outings and Zak’s knowledge of every vehicle on the road could win me a place on mastermind!!
My next trip is taking me to America to take part in the Son Rise Programme and this time I am on my own! Flying to New York and then getting a train to New England to spend 6 days learning a method that is going to help all of us understand Zak better and connect with him more.
Someone said to me “for gods sake Trish, why go all that way? Zak is high functioning, doing well, why don’t you just accept what is?”
We all want our children to be the best they can be, however when you have a child with special needs this is more of a need than a want.
I love Zak just they way he is but if I somehow have left a stone unturned that could possibly enrich his life, in my eyes I have failed.
And finally, you never, ever give up on your child, however small or big they are!
So to my best boy…… Have a great week with Daddy, enjoy not being doused in Rosemary oil and having reflexology EVERY night, eat gluten & remember……I love you to the moon and back xxx
Spent a fantastic day on Saturday at The Hope Centre in Sale Cheshire. Anna delivered a fantastic day on the uses of crystals in the home!!!
Zak’s room will now be encased with rosé quartz, amethyst & kyanite.
I truly believe in the power of crystals and will keep you updated of any changes…… X x x