What a Week

This past week had to be the most stressful week I’ve experienced in a long time. Nothing extreme happened. There were no disasters or crises. Nobody got hurt. No property got damaged. So why was it so stressful? Avery was at a new camp.

If you have never had a child with a behavioral issue attending a camp where no one knew him, after having been essentially kicked out of two camps previously, consider yourself lucky. The anxiety, the nerve-wracking tension that each phone call brings, the reluctant hopefulness that day brings — it was a rollercoaster of emotions and nerves.

As I mentioned last time, I cut most sugar out of Avery’s diet. No sweet cereals, no sweet snacks, no 100% juice. The first day on the diet was a success. The second day was decent, too. The third day was his first day at the new camp. Trigger the anxiety. I had no idea how he was going to do. When I started his diet some said his behavior could actually get worse, as he body “detoxed” from the sugar. But he seemed to be taking it in stride. Was I lucky? Or was I just on borrowed time? I was a nervous wreck. But the first day at camp seemed to go OK. The man in charge lumped Avery in with the other young campers when he said he had some trouble listening. I breathed a hopeful sigh of relief.

Then Tuesday hit. On top of difficulties at home in the morning, this second day at camp was horrible, reminiscent of the very difficult days Avery had experienced elsewhere. Great. Were we back to square one?

The third day, following the bad behavior on Tuesday, was even more nerve-wracking than the previous two days. Would he get kicked out? Would they make him sit out activities, say he couldn’t come back? But Wednesday was OK. Some trouble not listening, a couple of small issues, nothing major. Small sigh of relief.

Thursday: not good again. But they said he could come back…

Friday morning I broke down. Avery was already acting up at home. What was he going to be like at camp? I was fortunate that they had put up with him already, that they had said he could keep going. But would they live to regret that decision? Would Avery make the last day of camp miserable for everyone? The stress got the better of me, and I broke down and cried.

And, while I had gone into a separate room so he wouldn’t see me, Avery came in and saw me anyway. As difficult as it had been, I think seeing me break down like that affected him more than the yelling and talking and punishments and pleas had. Because after that, he was OK. And his day at camp was OK. Not great, but OK.

I was relieved when camp was over. I was able to breathe a little deeper. I was able to stop worrying every second of the day. Of course I still don’t know what to expect from Avery each day, but I think we’re making some progress. I have definitely seen a difference since taking him off most sugar (and if I hadn’t before, all it took was giving him a cookie dough pop yesterday to quickly show me the difference!). He’s getting used to less-sweet drinks and snacks. And, as he continues to progress, we can move on to more changes, to improve his diet overall and get him to a better place.

While the next couple of weeks will certainly be busy, I’m hopeful they will be a bit more peaceful. We’ll be gearing up for a new school year — and Emily will be starting preschool! There are projects to finish up, places to go, things to do. But it’s all good stuff. And as long as we keep moving in the right direction, I’m going to stay positive. We can do this!

 

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Hoping For a Miracle

Sometimes life gets to the point where you think “everything’s so crazy, why not add one more thing?” That feels like where I am right now. The one thing I’m adding? Changing Avery’s diet.

For those who read my last post, you know that we’ve been struggling with Avery’s behavior this summer. And I had been reading a book to help him with executive function skills. But another option had been suggested, especially since I was having limited success with my efforts thus far: diet.

It’s no secret that Avery’s diet has been far from ideal for a while now. He’s been a “typical kid” with what he likes: what they call a “white diet,” with a few chicken nuggets or a hot dog thrown in for good measure. The white diet consists of starches such as bread, pasta, crackers, etc., milk, and cheese. Sounds like Avery to me! So I already knew he wasn’t getting enough protein, and he wasn’t getting enough nutrients. But, of course, he liked his sweets. He takes after me, and I’m a big fan, too, so that’s no surprise, either. So, with diet being suggested, I decided to check out another book, this time one focusing on diet: Cure Your Child With Food.

I’m not trying to go crazy here. I don’t want to pump my child full of supplements or suddenly say he can’t eat anything he loves. But last night, as I was listening to the book, I heard a story that was all too familiar, about a boy whose behavior sounded a lot like Avery’s: poor impulse control, not listening, hyperactive. He had a diet similar to Avery’s. And what helped him was cutting out added sugar.

Some kids are just more sensitive to sugar than others. And I figure, even if that’s not the biggest cause of his behavior, what could it hurt? It’s not like sugar is a necessary nutrient. So wish me luck, because we’re starting today with cutting WAY back on sugar.

I’m trying other things, too, like trying new foods and taking a vitamin to fill in some nutritional gaps. And while I’m not exactly expecting a miracle, I’m certainly hoping for one! He starts a new camp on Monday, one he’s been excited about attending: Camp Invention. And I want him to go. I want him to learn and explore and try new things. He wants to go. And it would be good for him. But I have my fears. I worry that he’s going to struggle again, that he’s going to have to leave early again. And I don’t want that. I don’t want to have to worry about my son missing out on things he would otherwise enjoy because he can’t control his behavior.

It won’t be an easy road, but what’s one more thing, right? And if it helps, it will all be worth it.