Take a look at my post on the Dallas Moms Blog about The Brain Institute in Colleyville.

Cap used for QEEG

Cap used for QEEG

Posted by Leigh, filed under Asperger's Syndrome, Dallas Moms Blog. Date: May 5, 2010, 4:31 pm | No Comments »

02  May
Sure, Sugar!

            Last month, I was awarded The Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award by friend, writer, literacy enthusiast and fellow blogger, Hema Penmetsa. (I was right in the middle of too many projects at the time, so Hema graciously suggested I “sit on it” for a few weeks and then “claim” it whenever I could! Check out Hema’s fantastic blog, Wading Through Words.

The Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award

             Here to “claim” the award, as a “Sugar Doll,” I am asked to complete two tasks: 1) I must reveal ten things about myself, and 2) I must pass the award along to a fellow blogger. What an honor! And, what a challenge… 

             I am truly, deeply honored that someone appreciates my writing enough to give me an award! The challenge? Selecting 10 things to reveal about myself that others might find interesting. Many of my readers are friends and family, and I’m a rather transparent person, but I’ll certainly do my best to share some interesting tidbits. Then, at the end of my ten, you’ll find out how I fulfill task number two… that’ll be easy!

             Thanks again, Hema!

 

“Ten things” about Leigh Attaway Wilcox:

1.      I have loved to write since I was a very little girl; when my family moved back to NM from CO when I was in the first grade, I followed my mom and aunt around the house begging (well, probably more accurately nagging) for a pencil and paper…while they were unpacking box after box in various rooms in the house (searching for nothing other than pencils, no doubt), my aunt asked my mom where she should empty a particular box. As she rattled off the contents, my small ears heard only, “…pencils…” They laugh when they talk about my excited voice inquiring from another room, “Pencils?!?!”

2.      Growing up I was a total tomboy! My bother (Jake) and my cousins (Nate & Ryan, whom we lovingly refer to as “Cousin-brothers”) can attest to this fact. I loved to run, romp, dig, bike and play with the guys just as much as I liked playing with my girl friends and cousins…and for the record; I NEVER liked playing with Barbie dolls!

3.      I had a rockin’ sticker collection at the end of grade school. Looking back, it was a rather silly collection because I never really “used” the stickers for anything much fun…I just loved having “rad” stickers in a sparkly binder to drool over every now and then.

4.      As a child and adolescent, I loved playing soccer; when I was in high school though, there was not a girls’ team. So, I went out for the guys’ team and was the first girl in the history of Farmington High School to make it. Fun times! I’ll never forget playing out-of-town teams for the first time…many opponents would take it easy on me until they found out that I would “burn” them just as fast as would any of my teammates. But, you can bet they were a little miffed when it happened…after all, I was a girl!

5.      My first car was a hulkingly huge brown Ford Bronco and I got my driver’s license on my 15th birthday. My BFF, Dana, and I lovingly called her “Brown Bertha.” Along the lines of being a licensed driver, I’ve had more driving years than non-driving years in my life! Ugh.

6.      I live with an Auto-Immune illness called Ankylosing Spondylitis, which is a cousin of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Many of my joints are affected and I self-inject medication. I was diagnosed about 7 years ago but was likely suffering from it in my late teens when I started having back pain that never quite went away. I am also gluten-intolerant; Celiac Disease (another auto-immune disease) runs in my family. But, as a result, I can bake a mean Gluten-Free chocolate cake!

7.      While I love living in Texas to a certain degree, I secretly dream of moving back to New Mexico to be near my family; it kills me not to see them more than a couple of times a year. But, honestly, I’d settle for southern Colorado so that I could make weekend trips…in addition to missing my family, I also missing having actual seasons (like, four of them instead of the two in Texas…winter and summer.) The mountains and valleys call my name on a regular basis. Texas is rather flat, you know? I miss New Mexico!

8.      In my life I have blessed by true friendship! God has hand-selected a number of wonderful women in each stage of my life to help me along my journey; I am so thankful for these women! (You know who you are, Ladies!)

9.      When I was in college (learning to be an educator), I always thought I’d go on to obtain several graduate degrees and eventually teach at the collegiate level. These days I can’t even fathom going back to school. However, I am constantly learning! Because Ethan, my only child, lives with Asperger’s Syndrome (an Autism Spectrum Disorder), I almost always have a book in my hand, a documentary to watch, a new blog to read or something powerful I feel empowered to write about regarding Autism. Recently when we went to a movie at our local AMC theater, there was an advertisement for the AMC Sensory-Friendly films (now showing across the country in association with the Autism Society). Ethan heard “Autism,” looked at me with the sweetest, most innocent, excited face and said, “Mom—Autism! YOU could help them with that!” Oh how I am blessed!

10.  Before becoming a mother, I didn’t truly understand how deeply profound and fully encompassing love could be. My son is an amazing gift; I have learned more through him than I ever knew was possible! Through motherhood, I have also developed a new-found respect and love for my mother. Family is such an integral part of who I am, who I’ve become and who I want to be.

 

            Now, drum roll please…it is my pleasure to pass The Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogging Award along to fellow mom, and Dallas Moms Blogger – Amy Twomey. Amy’s personal blog “i am a celiac,” incorporates her beautiful photography with all sorts of great information about living Gluten Free. Congratulations, Amy! You are the next Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger!

 

      Hema and Amy, thanks for inspiring me and motivating me through your blogs on a regular basis.

 

      Readers, thanks for reading, commenting and always managing to provide encouragement when I need it most.

Posted by Leigh, filed under Asperger's Syndrome, Dallas Moms Blog, Family. Date: May 2, 2010, 3:10 pm | 1 Comment »

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to click over to the Dallas Moms Blog to read my post about Midwestern State University’s fantastic residential Autism Support Program – Initium House. This place inspires hope! Plus, in just a few short days, you can view a fantastic documentary about the program at AutismSpot. Until next Wednesday, the two trailers for the documentary will help you get excited about seeing the entire film!

Kitchen at Initium House - MSU

Kitchen at Initium House - MSU

Posted by Leigh, filed under Asperger's Syndrome, Dallas Moms Blog. Date: April 30, 2010, 8:14 am | No Comments »

Well, “life” in general has been extra busy for the past couple of weeks and I sincerely apologize for not posting…in my absence here, there have been a few new posts you may want to read over at the Dallas Moms Blog:

This link is to a blog entry about parents as advocates (for their special needs children) and a few really great tips from Nick Martin (photo below) about having effective, diplomatic ARD meetings in the school setting.

Nicholas Martin, MA

This link will take you to a post about local events in honor of Autism Awareness month. Though some have passed, the Behavior Innovations event will be happening next week! Check it out.

bi-logo-300-dpi-final

This link will take you to a thoughtful guest post from Melody Latimer who not only is the parent of children with ASD, she also lives with Asperger’s herself. She discusses “neurodiversity.” Well worth a read if you’ve never heard of “neurodiversity.”

Melody Latimer & Family

Melody Latimer & Family

Posted by Leigh, filed under Asperger's Syndrome, Dallas Moms Blog. Date: April 24, 2010, 7:15 am | No Comments »

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

Check out my Dallas Moms Blog post about Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew, by Ellen Notbohm. If you leave a comment AT THE DALLAS MOMS BLOG, thanks to Future Horizons, you’ll be entered to win a pair of Ellen Notbohm’s books (Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew and 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching or Raising a Child with Autism or Asperger’s.) Great opportunity; pass it on!

1001 Great Ideas for Teaching or Raising a Child with Autism or Asperger's
1001 Great Ideas for Teaching or Raising a Child with Autism or Asperger’s

 

Posted by Leigh, filed under Asperger's Syndrome, Dallas Moms Blog. Date: April 8, 2010, 8:57 am | No Comments »

05  Apr
Neruotherapy

Well, folks. Many of you know that Greg and I are constantly searching for therapies, activities and treatments for Ethan that will help him live a happier, fuller life in spite of living with Asperger’s Syndrome. (I guess I should clarify that I do the constant searching and Greg encourages me and makes it possible to pay for the new therapies and activities!) But I digress…

In March we decided to meet with Dr. Jonathan Walker, a Board Certified Neurologist at the Neurotherapy Center of Dallas who is a pioneer in the field of Neurotherapy. He has been studying, researching, teaching and practicing in this field for over 35 years. Neurotherapy, also referred to as Biofeedback and/or Neurofeedback, utilizes ground-breaking technology to “re-train” certain portions of the brain which are not functioning as fast as they should be, in comparison to typical age peers with no brain injuries, brain damage or other neurological issues. Dr. Walker and his staff use a non-invasive QEEG-guided form of neurotherapy to help the brain learn to self-correct abnormal brain patterns.

In order to see if Ethan would be a good candidate, Dr. Walker took a thorough history and also physically examined Ethan. We had a lengthy dialog about what kinds of things we have done with and for Ethan, what kind of results we’ve seen and what we hope to accomplish via neurotherapy. What have we done, you ask? Lots! Ethan has been in Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Social Thinking Groups, Social Skills Groups, on special diets, takes a compilation of very helpful natural supplements, uses certain prescription medications to help manage yeast- and bacterial-overgrowths and we also have chelated Ethan’s body to purge heavy metals. We’ve also recently started Yoga with a teacher certified to teach individuals with special needs and we’ve also started seeing Dr. Amber Brooks, a DAN! doctor who will be doing Cranio Sacral therapy with Ethan.

What have our results been? Ethan’s speech (pragmatics) and disfluency (stuttering) continue to improve thanks to continuous therapy, through the school system as well as private therapy. Ethan’s Sensory Processing Disorder issues have diminished greatly and become much easier to control over the years thanks to our work alongside private OTs and now Ethan is receiving some help via a school OT, too. Through Social Thinking Groups and Social Skills Groups, Ethan has become more proficient at interacting appropriately with his peers and handling unexpected or difficult situations. Ethan’s gluten-free, yeast-free, sugar-free, almost completely soy-free and low oxalate diet help him to feel good and stay focused. We’ve also discovered recently that casein seems to be affecting Ethan negatively, so we’re in the process of removing all dairy products from his meals. The natural supplement regimen has been wonderful for Ethan! While the kid has to be a trooper and swallow anywhere from 15-25 pills every morning and evening, he knows it helps him function better and feel good. When he has had to go off of all supplements for laboratory tests, he was a different child, more akin to the Tasmanian Devil than the loving, sweet boy Greg and I adore so much. Without the help of prescription anti-fungals and anti-bacterials paired with high-quality probiotics, I don’t know if we would have ever gotten Ethan’s digestive tract in healthy shape! After receiving so many antibiotics for ear infections when he was younger, Ethan has struggled with yeast overgrowth for years. Antiobiotics essentially kill all bacteria–even the good flora our guts need to adequately digest food, mainain balance and help provide immunity to infection and disease. Finally through what is called chelation, we have been able to help Ethan’s system rid his body of some of the toxins his system doesn’t naturally detoxify well, like Mercury, Lead and Arsenic. With all of these therapies working in conjunction together, we know we have done amazing things for Ethan and helped him in ways we will never regret. We already like what we’re seeing in terms of Yoga and eagerly anticipate how the Cranio Sacral therapy will help, too.

However, even with all that spelled out, Ethan still has issues with impulsivity and self-control that concern us. This is why I sought out information on neurotherapy and came to find Dr. Walker and the Neurotherapy Center of Dallas. Dr. Walker has had many patients lose symptoms like Ethan’s with permanent results and only very mild side effects like a headache from focusing too hard the day of therapy. Permanent symptom loss with minor side effects certainly appeals to us. Dr. Walker, after  conducting his initial evalutaion of Ethan and reviewing his extensive history, felt sure that Ethan would be a good candidate for neurotherapy. As such Ethan underwent a few tests/assessments in order to understand how Ethan’s brain is currently functioning and develop a treatment protocol. We meet with Dr. Walker tomorrow to find out more.

Many people have asked me what the tests/assessments were like, so I thought I’d put it here s. First, Ethan underwent a QEEG (Qualatiative Electroencephalogram) in Dr. Walker’s office with one of the staff therapists. A space-age cap (see photo) with 19 strategically-placed electrodes was placed on Ethan’s head. The therapist carefully worked to make sure each electrode made contact with Ethan’s scalp in the accurate places while Ethan watched The Incredibles on DVD. About four additional electrodes were gently placed on Ethan’s forehead and ears. This therapist was especially kind, gentle and understanding of Ethan’s sensory issues and I could tell he is very good at what he does. Several readings are required to create a “brain map” of Ethan’s current brain patterns. Readings were taken 1) while Ethan watched the movie, 2) looked intently at a spot for several minutes, 3) closed eyes and rested for several minutes and also 4) read aloud to the therapist. I’m told that about 70 pages of readings will result from Ethan’s hour hooked up to the cap.

Ethan wearing the space-age QEEG cap in Dr. Walker's office

Ethan wearing the space-age QEEG cap in Dr. Walker's office prior to electrode attachment; Greg watching on.

Ethan also underwent a few other evaluations in Dr. Walker’s office so that the protocol prescribed for Ethan will be a good reflection of what his brain needs to function at its best. The IVA (Integrated Visual and Auditory) CPT (Continuous Performance Test) helps to measure ADHD criterion. This was done with Ethan on the computer utilizing the mouse; we did not observe this one so that the clinician could get a clear read. We also completed a DASS (Depression Anxiety Stress Scales) questionaire to allow them to measure possible negative emotional states of depression, anxiety and stress.

One of the things I like most about Dr. Walker is that he is actively working to provide non-pharmaceutical approaches for treating many of the issues that have become commonplace for Ethan’s generation. While there are prescription options available to help with impulsivity and self-control, I hesitate to use them until I have exhausted all other avenues. Dr. Walker is one of the doctors who believes that gluten and casein negatively impact many kids on the Spectrum, as do some vaccines. He outright stated that based on Ethan’s history and his physical evaluation, Ethan was likely suffering “brain damage” from vaccinations. If you’ve spoken with me at length, you know that I, too, believe that vaccinations have a played a role in Ethan’s Autism, but I don’t fell they are completely to “blame.” Dr. Walker seems to encourage families to work with a DAN! doctor and when dietary changes and chelation don’t sufficiently resolve problems, he claims it is likely because “there is usually residual brain damage that is not remediated with such treatments.” In comes Neurotherapy…

So, while we don’t yet have a Neurotherapy protocol yet, I am encouraged by our visit with Dr. Walker and his staff! Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we embark on this new leg of our journey with Autism. If you’re interested – please let me know. I’d be glad to post more about Ethan’s recommended protocol and what we see when he begins.

Posted by Leigh, filed under Asperger's Syndrome, Family, Gluten-Free and GFCF Foods. Date: April 5, 2010, 11:59 am | 2 Comments »

The Dallas Museum of Art is offering a special event for families living with Autism in honor of Autism Awareness Month (April.) Hearing about the event prompted me to write a bit about how difficult it can be to go into public places when your child is difficult to handle and how nice it is when places, like the DMA, recognize this on-going challenge many parents face. Whether you click and read to “hear” about our struggles or to learn more about the event, I hope you’ll enjoy. And, I hope you’ll leave a quick comment so we’ll know you stopped by.

Click here to read my post about DMA’s Autism Awareness Day Family Celebration on the Dallas Moms Blog.

Dallas Museum of Art

Dallas Museum of Art

Posted by Leigh, filed under Asperger's Syndrome, Dallas Moms Blog. Date: March 3, 2010, 12:40 pm | No Comments »

My blog post for the Dallas Moms Blog this week is about Ethan’s first successful sleep-over. Many families living with Autism Spectrum Disorders have to deal with sleep issues and other things which make sleep-overs all but impossible at times. Click here to read more!

Ethan with Grandma and Grandpa.

Ethan with Grandma and Grandpa.

Posted by Leigh, filed under Asperger's Syndrome, Dallas Moms Blog. Date: February 24, 2010, 5:38 pm | No Comments »

A new post went live on the Dallas Moms Blog yesterday about a media panel I spoke on last week. Good recommendations from my editor, Nancy Churnin, about making sure our voices in the special needs community are heard, are shared within the post.

Leigh Attaway Wilcox (left) with Nancy Churnin (right) discussing the media and Autism Awareness.

Leigh Attaway Wilcox (left) with Nancy Churnin (right) discussing the media and Autism Awareness.

Posted by Leigh, filed under Asperger's Syndrome, Dallas Moms Blog. Date: February 18, 2010, 4:38 pm | No Comments »

Stop by the Dallas Moms Blog to read my new post about Ethan, Asperger’s Syndrome, Super Mario Bros., Friendship and Unexpected Valentines. Leave a comment to let me know what you think!

Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS

Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS

Posted by Leigh, filed under Asperger's Syndrome, Dallas Moms Blog, Family. Date: February 10, 2010, 1:49 pm | No Comments »

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