Usually, getting to sleep is not a problem for Janey. Waking in the night is a huge problem, but we almost never have trouble actually getting her down for bed the first time in the night. She usually does it herself. Bedtime rolls around, she gets in bed and goes to sleep. It's that easy. Last night, though, something was off. Bedtime came and went, and she was rocking and rolling and hyped up. We tried over and over to get her to settle down---no luck. Finally, ten o'clocked rolled around and she finally dozed off. Tony and I talked for quite a bit trying to figure out what had happened, when Tony suddenly remembered. When Janey got home from school, she ate the top off a chocolate frosted Dunkin' Donuts doughnut. There we had it, the culprit. We have long seen that if Janey has any, ANY, chocolate past around noon, she doesn't sleep. It's only chocolate that does this. She can have the occasional sip of coffee, or tons of sugar, or any other edible substance and she gets to sleep fine, but one M&M? Forget it.
Thinking about this made me realize why I try very hard not to discount anyone else's theories or ideas about autism. The chocolate thing seems on the face of it to make little sense. Why only chocolate? Why such a tiny amount? It makes so little sense to the scientific part of my brain I tend to forget it over and over, and again let her have "just a little" chocolate. And again and again, we see the results. This is why, although I don't think lactose or gluten affect Janey at all, I am quite sure that they do affect some kids with autism, and those kids are helped by diets without those substances. And why, although I don't think my children were affected badly by vaccines, I am sure that some children were. And the list goes on and on. I truly don't think autism has one cause. It has lots of causes. I have settled in my mind on the main cause of Janey's autism being a huge family propensity to auto-immune disorders, which hit her hard. I have finally gotten a fairly solid diagnosis in my latest round of medical weird test results--Sjogren's Syndrome (here's a good article about it if you want to know more---link), which is heavily autoimmune. This adds to my life list of autoimmune woes---thyroid disease, asthma and pre-eclampsia being the other ones. Both of Janey's brothers have asthma, and Tony is an insulin-dependent diabetic (as is most all of his family). All autoimmune problems, and there are more in our extended family. The doctor explained to me yesterday that it's been found recently there is a gene that greatly increases one's propensity to get an auto-immune disease, and our family is illustration number one. Thankfully, although I have blood markers also for Scleroderma, the doctor doesn't think I yet have that, just that I need to be very closely watched as there is a high chance I'll develop it in time. Not to ramble about family medical issues, but that is why in Janey's case, I feel increasingly sure we know the "why". But there's not one WHY for everyone, and there's not one cure for everyone (or any cure at all for many, many of the people with autism). If I hear about a miracle breakthrough for one child, I am thrilled for that child, but I don't assume it will translate to helping other kids.
I very much understand why, if you had a child that someone got cured by some diet or treatment, or if you had a child that you were sure had autism caused by a vaccine, you would want to get the word out, and you would feel frustrated that everyone didn't try the diet, or rally against the vaccines. You love your child, and you also want to help others. When I keep that in mind, I can understand some of the strong emotions out there regarding treatments or cures. I can listen to them, and accept that they did help some kids, and also feel secure in my own convictions about what hurt and what helps Janey. I'm sure many kids like Janey could wolf down a pound bag of M&Ms before bedtime and do fine. That doesn't mean that I am deluded in my belief that one single M&M can cause a sleepless night for Janey, and it doesn't mean they are deluded in thinking it doesn't affect their child. We are both right. We know our kids. We have to all work together, no matter what got us to this autism life.