>GFCF Butter Cookies

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This is a basic cookie recipe that is very versatile. It is gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free and egg-free. I can only find Ogran Gluten-Free Flour and Red Bob’s Mills Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Baking Flour in KL, either one of these are fine. However, personally I prefer to use Red Bob’s GF flour when baking as it doesn’t contain rice or corn flour. I have tried using Ogran GFCF flour and Red Bob’s Mill GF flour, both taste great but with slight difference and when I didn’t have enough flour, i’ve even used 1/2 each and it still turns out great.

For casein-free margarine, my favorite in Nutelex. I have also tried using other brands, it still works fine though Nutelex tastes closest to real butter. I have yet to experiment with Xylitol as a substitute for sugar, but feel free to try.

I make this often with both my girls, they love being part of the process. There’s lots of messes and squabbles, but there’s also lots of fun and laughter too. They help to spoon the sugar and Nutelex into measuring cups. They learn to sieve the flour, they spoon the cookie mixture into their own plastic bags and place it in the fridge themselves. They each have their own tiny rolling pins. I give them a bowl of flour each to sprinkle liberally on the work surface, on the dough and rolling pin and they are very good at it too. They choose their own cookie cutters and make sure they dip it into flour before cutting it. And decorating with the rainbow sprinkles are strictly their job. It’s a lot of fun and the girls really appreciate the home-baked goodies, especially when it’s their own creation.

As you can see below, I have listed down several variations of decorating the cookies.  The options are endless. just use your imagination. Give your kids free reign, don’t worry about the mess. Don’t stress out about the kids ruining the cookies, somehow it always works out. A lot of our baking comes out wonky and lopsided and looks like the Sprinkles Fairy threw up on it, but they are always, always appreciated.  I always give lots of encouragement and praises, I take photos during the baking as well as the completed cookies. They also take great pride when we go to a neighbours’ or friends’ houses to share their goodies. The girls and I will go through recipe books or websites and choose what to make.

I call these Butter Cookies even though technically there is no butter. It was originally based on my experiments with the typical Butter and Sugar Cookie recipes. However, I have reduced the amount of sugar to the point where it still retains the yummy cookie flavor without being too sweet. I have tried reducing the amount of sugar to only 1/2 cup but I found that didn’t work so well. These cookies are yummy eaten plain or decorated, especially when freshly baked. It can be stored in an airtight container for 1 week.

Butter Cookies- gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free, egg-free

Makes 24 large cookies

Ingredients

1 cup (226 grams) Nuttelex or dairy-free margarine

2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups (295 grams) GFCF Flour

1 large egg or 1 heaped teaspoon Ogran Egg Replacer

3/4 teaspoon Xantham Gum (optional)

1/4 teaspoon salt

Extra gfcf flour for rolling

Extra sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

Heat oven to 180 degrees celsius/ 350 degrees farenheit

1. Sieve flour, xantham gum and egg replacer in bowl. Add salt.
2. In separate mixing bowl or cake mixer, cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy
3. Add vanilla, mix briefly
4. Add the flour mix and mix until fully incorporated
5. Spoon the mixture into plastic bag, and chill in freezer for 20 minutes.
6. Once chilled, roll out the dough with rolling pin to 0.5cm thickness. Dough is quite soft and sticky so sprinkle liberal amounts of gfcf flour on work surface, dough and rolling pin.
7. Dip cookie cutter into flour then cut out shapes. Place on baking tray lined with baking paper.
8. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar (optional)
9. Chill the cut out cookie tray in freezer for 10 minutes (optional)
10. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Remove from tray immediately and cool on rack. Keep in airtight container once cooled.

To Decorate:

Option 1- Chocolate Dip
Melt dairy-free chocolate in a pot on low heat on the stove. Add 1-2 tablespoons rice, almond or hazelnut milk until thinned to desired consistency (optional). Add 1 teaspoon margerine so that it dries to a shiny finish (optional), mix well. While chocolate is still hot, dip the cookies halfway into the melted chocolate. If the chocolate thickens, reheat it and add a bit more milk until it reaches the desired consistency. Top with colourful sprinkles or crushed peanuts. Leave to cool on rack. Once dry, keep in airtight container in the refrigerator, store layered over baking paper.

Option 2- Sugar Glaze
Add 2 cups icing sugar and 1/4 cup hot water in a pot on the stove. On low heat, stir the sugar until melted. Add 2 tablespoons rice, almond or hazelnut milk, this makes the icing opaque. Mix well. Take off the heat. Add desired food coloring. Dip the top of the cookies into the glaze, sprinkle with decorations if desired. Leave to cool on rack. If the icing hardens, reheat it and add a bit more milk until reaching the desired consistency.

Option 3- Snow White
Sieve icing sugar on cooled cookies. Omit Step 8. Alternative, finely grind 1 stick of cinnamon with 4 tablespoons of icing sugar. Sieve the cinnamon sugar over the cookies.

Option 4- Thumbprint Jammies
Replace Step 6, 7 and 8. Roll dough into little balls. Make a little indentation in the centre with your thumb. Roll the balls into crushed nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans or pistachios) Spoon a little jam into the centre. Bake as usual.

Option 5-  Cherry Tops
Replace Step 6, 7 and 8. Roll dough into balls, roll into crushed nuts or tinned dessicated coconut. Top it with a halved glazed cherry instead of jam. Bake as usual.

Option 6- Rainbow Cookies
After Step 4, add 1/4 cup of colorful sprinkles into mixture and mix. Follow the rest of the recipe. Alternatively, at Step 8, sprinkle the cut out cookies with colorful sprinkles.

Option 7- Vanilla Gingerbread Men
Cut with a Gingerbread Man cookie cutter, place M&Ms, dairy-free chocolate bits or GFCF appropriate candy as the buttons and eyes. Follow the rest of the recipe. Alternatively, after baking use piping gel to decorate buttons and eyes.

Happy baking!

>A Good Night's Sleep

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I was recently reminded by how good sleep is generally in our home right now. It served to remind me to appreciate and not take for granted the good night’s sleep that we have all enjoyed for the past year or so. For the past 3 months, both the girls have been falling ill constantly. As usual, when children are sick, it also affects their sleep as well as the parents sleep. Having just come back from a quick little holiday with Paul, just him and I alone, we both enjoyed 2 nights of great sleep. Looking back, the sleep fairy has been extremely good to us in the past year. I had forgotten all the sleepless nights we had and how I used to crave even a straight 3 hour stretch to sleep. As a Mum, if your kids don’t sleep, YOU don’t sleep right? Since sleep disorders are a common issue for most ASD kids, I needed to remind myself of the luxury and privilege that I now have, a guaranteed good night’s sleep most nights. Nowadays, if they’re not sick, both girls would be in bed by 7.30pm and would stay asleep until 6.30am. Usually they will fall asleep by themselves without much fuss, but occasionally they would cheekily get out of bed again, so we would have to tuck them into bed again a few times, read countless bedtime stories and sing lullabies. But being the ungrateful parents that we are, Paul and I would moan over the 6.30am wake-up calls of them jumping on our beds, giving us kisses and cheerful “Good mornings !” How times have changed, how easily we forget…….



When we first started intensive Biomed, we worked out our priorities together with the doctor. This determined the first course of action and treatment and addressed our most pressing issues. First and foremost was sleep! Throughout Maya’s entire life, even from the day she was born, she always had sleep issues. A typical newborn would stay asleep for 23 hours a day, whereas Maya would be awake for 12 hours a day. For the first few months of her life, she hardly ever stayed asleep long enough like other kids. She would fall asleep while breastfeeding and I remember having to wake her up so that she could drink her fill. When she was a baby, she hated sleeping in her cot, preferring to sleep in our bed, tucked between the 2 of us. Unfortunately, though she would sleep, Paul and I couldn’t for fear that we would accidentally squash her.

When she was born, we had 4 main issues to deal with. I had difficulty breastfeeding her, getting her to sleep or stay asleep, dealing with constant pooping and her constant crying.This was going to be a pattern for much of her life.  Breastfeeding was hard!! She had difficulty latching on, she couldn’t suck properly, the milk flow would be too much for her causing her to gag, she would scream for milk, but when trying to feed, she’d scream as if in pain. I had mastitis twice and was on antibiotics while breastfeeding her. Her feeding was so erratic that it affected my milk flow, there were 2 occasions when my milk supply dried up. I had to painstakingly express milk all day long for up to a week trying to get my milk supply up to the previous level. Even when I expressed milk and fed her by bottle, she needed the slowest flow nipple and could only drink not more than 2oz at a time.  If she drank too much or too fast, she would projectile vomit. I remember many many times of cleaning up the car, the bed, the floor and changing her outfit and mine many times a day due to her throwing up. She required small feedings very frequently. I remembered breastfeeding her every hour for the first 3 months. When she was 4 months old, she only needed feeding every 2 hours. 


At that time, I knew that the mother’s diet would affect the breastfed baby, thus I was careful of avoiding caffein during and after pregnancy. Also friends and family had reminded me to stay away from foods that caused “angin”. However, in hindsight if I had known to stay off casein and gluten too, things may have been different. Even though at that time Maya was never fed any formula or milk-based products, I didn’t realise there was a lactose, dairy or casein issue involved. A child can still ingest it through the mum’s breast milk. When I was breastfeeding, I was constantly hungry, I craved chocolate milk and yoghurt. There were many varieties of yoghurt in Sydney and I loved the  fresh greek yoghurt with mixed summer berries from David Jones, Paul would buy me tubs of it. I also ate freshly baked gourmet breads and pastries everyday, now I know better…….. 


After 7.5 months of breastfeeding, Maya refused to drink from me and preferred the bottle so we moved her on to formula. I envied those other mums whose kids would drink a huge bottle of milk in one go, then fall asleep for hours. With Yasmin, it was so different. She slept well, she fed well and we only had to change her nappy 6 times a day. Because Maya was my first born, we didn’t know any better. We thought 12 poopy nappies a day was normal. We thought feeding every hour was normal for a 3 month old baby. But what I knew was abnormal was her sleeping only for 20 minutes at one time. However, no one could give us any insight on it. 

Since she was 3 weeks old, Maya would scream and scream from 6pm until 10pm every night. This went on for 4 months! We would try to feed her, change her, rock her, swaddling, anything that would calm her down. Usually, swaddling her very tightly and rocking and swaying her hard whilst walking around and around very fast would help. For 4 hours every night, Paul and I would take 1 hour shifts, both of us trying to soothe her. Yet, she would continue to scream bloody murder. Doctors would tell us it was colic and gave us some anti-colic medication which didn’t work. We were exhausted and worried about our child, but we could’t find any answers. Her crying was always high-pitched at the loudest volume, her cries were so blood-chilling that people were afraid to come to our house or invite us anywhere. We finally had an inkling that Maya had sensory issues, whenever we took her out to the shops or for an outing in the day, at night her screams were more frantic and lasted longer. If we kept her at home all day long, with no distractions or visitors, she would have an easier night. She’d still be screaming, but it was only for 4 hours, rather than 6 hours straight. This eventually got better, especially since we finally got a maid when she was 4 months old. For the first time ever, Paul and I managed to sit down to eat together while the maid would rock and soothe Maya. I remember days when I never had a chance to sit down, because Maya needed to be carried and rocked all the time.

When we finally weaned her on to solid food, it was a struggle. She did not like to eat. Mealtimes would take up to 1 hour, just to coax 2 tablespoons of food into her. She continues to be a picky eater up to this day, with a very small appetite compared to other kids. However, when she was 1.5 years old, I moved her on to fresh milk. She loves it so much and could drink up to 1 litre a day, which is a lot for her. And she loves bread, she would happily eat bread and drink milk all day and nothing else. We noticed the addiction, but nontheless we were happy that we could feed her nutritious meals by making pizzas and sandwiches which also contained protein and vegetables. We noticed her love of milk, but we have been taught that fresh milk is good, lots of calcium and nutrients right? She would drink a 6oz bottle, then she would be all dopey and sleepy and goofy. She acted like someone on drugs, all high and woozy. Initially we thought it was funny, until years later we learnt about the opiate effects of casein and gluten. 

She would have explosive bowel movements 12 times a day in the first 3 months. We did not know this was abnormal. And once a day, every day, her poop was so explosive that it would burst out of her nappy and cover her entire body. Her little bodysuit would be soiled from the knees up till halfway up her back, sometimes she would be covered in her poop from her neck down to the ankle. We threw out so many outfits because it would get so soiled.  She also had nappy rash, again and again. We were still in Sydney at the time and when I showed her poopy nappy and her red sore bottom, our well-respected and experienced Australian paediatrician said fully breast-fed babies are not supposed to have diarrhoea and they are not supposed to have nappy rash. Errr……… “Doc, I don’t care whether they’re SUPPOSED to or not, but you can see for yourself the diarrhoea and the nappy rash. I fully breastfeed her, yet she still has diarrhoea and she has bad nappy rash”. He didn’t have any answer for that, just kept saying that she’s not SUPPOSED to have them. I don’t care what medical books say, she DID have them, so help me out here will ya? Can you explain this doc? Can you help my baby? 

From the very first day she was born, Maya didn’t sleep well. Paul spent the 4 nights in hospital with me, sleeping on the floor.  The hospital advocated the baby sleeping or rooming in with the mum immediately from birth, in order to facilitate bonding. There were no nurseries where babies are placed, all babies roomed in with the mums unless they were in ICU or if the mum had complications. The nurses would always be on hand to help, but Paul was and still is an amazingly hands-on dad. Because I couldn’t get up from bed for a few days after the Caesarean birth, Paul took charge of changing her nappy, rocking her and burping her. He even gave her her first bath, even for the next few weeks after because I was afraid to bathe her myself. In hospital, Paul would hand Maya to me whenever she needed to be fed. She would not sleep in her bassinet, preferring to sleep cuddled up next to her Daddy even from her very first day. She loved being held by Paul, he would sleep on a mattress on the hospital floor in my private room. She would cuddle up to him, her little face tucked against his chest. Only then, she would sleep peacefully. I remember nights in the hospital when she would scream and scream and I was not able to get up from my bed. Paul would rock her all night long, walking down the dark hospital corridors while trying to soothe her. Even while we were all holed up in hospital, Paul still had work to attend to and would try to catch up on his emails. He would sit on the floor in front of his laptop, Maya cuddled up in his arms whilst typing out an email. 


As a young baby, Maya would fall asleep for 20 m
inutes and stay awake for 1 hour, then sleep for another 20 minutes and so on. By the time she was 2 months old, at night she eventually managed to sleep for 2 hours straight. Then wake up again for another hour to drink milk, a nappy change, then another half hour of rocking her back to sleep and she would sleep again for 2 hours. Usually, she would wake up cranky and crying, even after a somewhat long sleep. This was how life was like in the first years of her life. 
However, when she was 1 years old, she finally managed to fall asleep by herself without much difficulty and would sleep for 12 hours straight at night. We would limit her daytime naps to only once a day, and then only for 1 hour. We wouldn’t let her nap too late in the day, otherwise she would be up all night. It was mean, but that was the only way we could cope. However, even though she slept well at night, during the day time was very tough. We had to deal with her tempers, meltdowns and mood swings. It wasn’t quite as bad as after she regressed into Autism, but it was taxing enough for us. 


But throughout all the difficulties and challenges, Maya developed and achieved all the milestones at age-appropriate levels. Her growth chart and well-baby visits recorded normal development. She received all her vaccinations on time and we combined both Australian and Malaysian vaccination schedules. Therefor Maya received more vaccinations than the average Australian or Malaysian child. Her last vaccination was for Meningococcal C. She was 1.5 years old then, about 4 months after her MMR and Varicella vaccination. We were living in Sydney then, the vaccination was give 1 week after Yasmin was born. Before that, there were many videos and photos of how happy and interactive Maya was. She didn’t really talk spontaneously, but she would label things on the posters for us, when asked where’s Mummy, she would point to me. When asked who that was, she would happily tell us their name. She had a big vocabulary and could count to 20, she knew all her alphabets. Though she never did call me Mummy ever, she knew where I was and would always want my attention and be with me. She had a sparkle in her eyes, she was full of fun and played well with other kids.

Looking back, we realised she started to plateau developmentally and she slowly regressed. She talked less and less, her tantrums and aggression were worse. She retreated more and more and preferred to be alone and her sleep deteriorated. Maya constantly would wake up in the middle of the night and stay awake for 2-3 hours, singing, laughing or talking to herself. Or it would take her a long time to fall asleep. She also kept getting constipated, medical records showed many visits to the doctor with a prescription for more laxatives. And her behaviour and condition deteriorated until she was finally diagnosed with Autism.


Unfortunately, only years later with the hindsight I have now, I now understand why Maya was such a difficult baby. And why she eventually regressed and became the 1 in 100 to get Autism. 

Obviously, when we started biomedical, sleep was our first priority, years of sleepless nights has taken it’s toll on us. So getting her sleep sorted out was by far the most important thing for us, rather than the Autism behaviours. Dealing with her behaviors was extremely challenging enough, but doing it day in and day out on very little sleep was just too much for us. The GFCF diet helped by reducing some of her food cravings. By eliminating casein and gluten, this also caused a reduction in gut issues. A lot of sleep issues are directly related to GI disorders. Since we took out casein and gluten, and later introduced digestive enzymes, she could process her food better. Thus reducing her reflux and colic, which are frequent culprits when dealing with sleep issues in kids. We also used melatonin for the first few months to help regulate her sleep patterns. However, melatonin alone will not resolve the underlying sleep disorder. Once we started intensive biomedical treatments, we eliminated all the IgG reactive foods including soy and eggs, based on her IgG Food Intolerance Test results. We replenished her with magnesium, which has a calming effect and gave her high doses of casein-free multi-flora probiotics. Magnesium and probiotics also relieved her of constipation, another culprit to consider if your child has sleep issues. However, only when we started doing several rounds of anti-fungals, then her sleep issues were totally resolved. Fungal or yeast overgrowth is a common cause for night awakenings followed by laughing and giggling. Yasmin however had sleep issues whenever she had bacterial overgrowth, this would also include bloated tummy, crankiness and smelly abnormal stools. 

Therefor, whenever my children have sleep issues, I always go through my checklist;
1. Diet – were there any casein, gluten or other infractions such as MSG, preservatives, colorings, high salicylates, too much sugar etc
2. Is she constipated? If yes, then check the possible causes eg if she’s getting enough magnesium, diet infraction or yeast overgrowth. With Maya, once we resolved her constipation and yeast overgrowth, her sleep improved 100%
3. Is it due to yeast-overgrowth? Possible clues for my girls include laughing middle of the night, during the day there is giddy, silly behavior, standing upside down, lots of climbing and jumping off furniture, eating too much sugar or yeast feeding foods, scratching bottom, biting toes, rash, itchiness, constipation
4. Melatonin – would a few nights on melatonin resolve the issue? If no, then check the other causes. Also, hyper kids are not able to regulate serotonin levels amongst other things, serotonin is the precursor of melatonin. At one point, it took a long time for Maya to fall asleep, usually we would need to rock her for 1-1.5 hours every night! During those moment, melatonin helped her to fall asleep faster and easier.
5. Magnesium deficiency – increasing magnesium may be calming
6. Folinic Acid – for some kids on MB12, it may cause hyperness. Tempering it with folinic acid may have a calming effect. Some may need certain amino acids if they are deficient.
7. Is it GI problems such as bacterial infection? Bloated tummy, low appetite, tantrums and diarhhia are usually followed by sleepless night in my home.
8. Are they ill? Perhaps they have a virus, sore throat or fever or colds and flus, these would affect sleep. Especially if their nose and sinuses are congested and it affects their breathing at night. 
9. Is there enough calming treatments? Warm epsom salt baths at the end of the day is usually calming for our kids, gentle massages by mummy also helps to calm them down.
10. Sleeping arrangements and routine: is the room temperature too hot or too cold, is my child shivering or sweaty, is the room too dark? Maybe your child may be comforted if there’s a nightlight. For my girls, I installed blackout curtains so that the morning sun would not shine so brightly waking them up too early. Do they share a room, is their sibling waking them up? If they share a room with the parents, is the child being awakened by your husband’s loud snoring? Most kids respond well to a set routine, therefor try to establish a good night time routine .
11. Sleep pattern & habits – do they still have an afternoon nap, is the nap too long or too late. Is it possible to either limit the time they nap or take away nap time completely. Remember, anyone child or adult, if we have a nap in the afternoon, chances are we will be well rested and won’t feel sleepy until midnight. If we are only able to sleep a total of say 10 hours a day, then if we take a 3 hour nap in the afternoon waking up at 5pm, chances are we won’t go back to bed until 12 midnight, and will wake up fresh and rested at 7am. Simple math right? 


The challenge here is when the child is so exhausted in the day time after several hours of intensive 1 on 1 therapy, they really really need to nap. It seems cruel to take it away from them. However, in the end the mum ends up utterly exhausted too because they have to deal with a wide-awake active child until midnight. Therefor, we have 2 choices. Either follow the child’s routine ie. accept the nap time and hopefully you get a chance to nap and rest when they do, accept the fact that you will only be able to go to bed at midnight every night. Or the 2nd choice is to try to change your child’s sleep pattern, this is quite difficult according to most parents. However, due to desperation, this is what I did. We started home based ABA when she was 2y9m, she still needed a 2 hour nap everyday at 1pm. So after the morning ABA session, she’d have a quick lunch and have a nap. However, sometimes she wanted to sleep longer. Many times we had to wake her up because the therapist had arrived. However, if woken up prematurely she would be extremely cranky throughout the day, even during therapy times. Also, because of this, we couldn’t get the maximum amount of hours of ABA that Maya required. 


Therefor, I tried all means possible to keep her awake during the daytime with tv, toys, snacks, playing games, ANYTHING that would keep her entertained and not want to go to sleep. And usually by 5pm, she would be dead on her feet and try as we might, she would fall asleep for 5 hours straight and wake up at 10pm! Of course, whenever this happened, she wouldn’t go back to sleep till 3am. After a few weeks of this extremely exhausting pattern, we eventually managed to keep her awake till 6pm, then 7pm. Simultaneously, I would give her melatonin WHILE she was sleeping, in the hopes that it will keep her asleep for a few more hours. When she was overtired, it also took a long time to calm her down enough to fall asleep. It took a couple of months of even more worse broken sleep though, but eventually we got there. By the time she was 3y1m, she could stay up the whole day even with a full day of ABA with no nap. She
would be cranky, overtired and irritable in the late afternoon and always falling asleep, but we persevered and cruelly kept waking her up and keeping her awake until  she’d fall asleep exhausted at 7pm. After that, I’d sneak in a small bottle of milk with 2mg of melatonin around 11pm and she would only wake up at 7am the next morning. 



However, as she grew older and her body grew healthier and stronger, she was no longer as exhausted by 7pm. She no longer needs melatonin after the first 3 months of us regulating her sleep cycle. Though it seemed cruel at first, eventually Maya got used to the routine and was well rested and had enough energy to get through all her therapies and the demands of the day. Best of all, Paul and I get to have the evening together. We get to have some quiet relaxing time together and can look forward to a good night’s sleep. 

For my girls, after we have successfully taken away their nap times and they are able to sleep from 7pm – 7am or so, we try to have this routine for the past year. After dinner, they have a warm epsom salt bath together, often with me included, we brush our teeth together and we all choose our favourite pyjamas or nightie. Then when I can, a nice massage by mum with perhaps glutathione lotion, MSM cream or magnesium cream. If not, a simple lavender based oil or lotion is calming too. Then the girls get into bed, the air condition at a nice cool temperature, the air purifier switched on, curtains shut tight and a soft nightlight on while Daddy reads a bedtime story. Then, they have a nice bottle of rice milk with melatonin perhaps. I tuck them into bed and I kiss and hug them every night ever since they were newborns and I always tell them how much I love them, how proud I am of them, I say thank you to them for a lovely day, and that we’ll have another happy day tomorrow. I let them know how happy they make me feel and that I hope I made them happy too. I tell them how brave and clever they are. I tell each girl private words of love and affection. I tell them to have sweet dreams and that I’ll see them in my dreams. Every night whenever I tuck them into bed, I never fail to tell them this. After years and years of whispering my love to them in their ears, eventually Maya and Yasmin started telling me good night and that they love me too. Good night and sleep tight everyone………




>Relaxing the Diet

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We had an amazing holiday in Sabah recently. Yasmin loved the water slides, Maya really loves the flowers in the garden and both girls climbed trees. We went on a boat ride and visited the sea gypsy villages on the river. Maya loved fishing for crabs, she caught one and named it Pinchy the Crab. And the highlight of our trip was watching the orang utans in their natural habitat.

It was the first time that the girls did not fall sick whilst on holiday, neither did they fall sick after coming back. Most importantly, we took a bold step by relaxing the girls’ strict gluten-free and casein-free and low sugar diet.

Maya has been on the GFCF diet for 1 1/2 years and Yasmin has been on it for 1 year. Also, we have made tremendous progress in Maya and seen some improvements in Yasmin. Thus, we conclude that their gut and bodies have healed to a certain extent. My strategy was to allow the girls to eat gluten and casein and sugar, while making sure they have digestive enzymes too. And to observe for any changes or regression.
Maya was in absolute heaven, she had coco pops for breakfast, she had a choice of fresh breads and buns from the breakfast buffet. She chose a different flavor of yoghurt every morning and we would buy an ice cream or a lollipop from the shop at teatime everyday. She was loading up on wheat based carbs, dairy and sugar – all the things she has missed for so long. Yasmin just loves her coco pops and gluten toast for breakfast, but otherwise was happy to stick to her usual diet. We make sure that they have a relatively healthy lunch and dinner with lots of protein and vegetables, it’s not all junk food:-)
We would pre-mix a container with Kirkman’s Enzym DPP-IV and Kirkman’s Phenol Assist with juice. Every-time the girls ate, we would have a syringe handy and just squirt it in. We did this for the entire 5 days holiday. The other resort guests would stare at us when we brought out the giant 20cc syringe and feed the girls that way. They must think we’re nuts. We also made sure they had all the other supplements as well.
They both slept well, had daily bowel movements and there was no meltdowns or behavior changes. Previously, any infractions to the diet would result in sleep issues, constipation, increased yeast behaviors and tantrums. I assume this means the girls’ gastrointestinal health has improved especially their leaky gut. All the supplements that we have been giving religiously for the past 1 year has made a huge impact. However, now that we’re back at home, we will still continue with the GFCF diet. The diet is the cornerstone of biomedical intervention; in order for the other supplements to work optimally, we need to have the diet in place.
We have fond memories of Sabah and Maya keeps saying she wants to go back there. It’s a magical place full of yummy bread, multi-flavored lollipops and endless ice-cream.

>16 Month Journey

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This is our biomedical journey in the past 16 months – please see below for list of supplements that were added on as the months went by and the steps we took with our little girl.


June 2008 – Maya was diagnosed with mild to moderate Autism at 2 years 8 months. Implemented GFCF diet. Able to make occassional 1 word request within 1 week.

July – December 2008 – started home based ABA at 6 hours a week. Eventually this grew into 18 hours a week maximum by December. GFCF diet was refined over the next 6 months, but still included soy. Maya was able to make occassional 2 word request, less hyper and better mood. No other biomed intervention except GFCF diet.

January 2009 – Hospitalised with Rotavirus. Started center-based ABA for 30 hours per week. Change to rice milk, started Super Nu Thera, probiotics and Cod Liver Oil.

February – March 2009 – consulted with Dr Sundardas, he only required us to do hair analysis. Started calcium, zinc, 3 Billion CFU non-refrigerated probiotic, Nordic Naturals cod liver oil, Efalex, Intestamine, NTC Detox, Zeolite, digestive enzymes, ASD Plex, Super Nu Thera. Implemented the Blood Type Diet as per recommendation. After 2 1/2 months on his protocol and despite my insistence that we do more to address Maya’s unresolved gut issues, Dr S recommended we start on B12 shots instead. So we decided to change to another doctor as I feel that there were gaps in treatment for gut issues. Atec score of 78

April 2009 – consulted with Dr Erwin Kay. Asked us to do OATs, IgG and Comprehensive Stool Test. Dr Erwin accepted the previous hair test result. Revert back to basic GFCF diet, started supplements based on basic gut treatment with prebiotic, multi-species probiotic, lactobaccilus probiotic, melatonin, l-glutamine (for leaky gut, but later had to stop because of bad regression), super nu thera, cod liver oil.


May 09 – added on taurine, digestive enzyme, phenol assist, glutathione lotion, 1 month course of anti-fungal Diflucan, epsom salt bath, n-acetyl cysteine, zinc. Changed to organic food.


June 09 – started 2 week course of Cedax antibiotic, rotate probiotics to Kirkman’s Probio Gold, 2nd course of Fluconazole antifungal, added calcium/magnesium combo, vitamin C, vitamin E, Methyl B12 (every 2 days, adjusted dosage for next 1 month) and Ketaconazole cream for her itchy and flaky feet (2-3 weeks only). Replaced old carpeting and air conditioning in the girls’ bedroom. Removed all dust-collecting and mold-producing items and installed an air purifier.


July 09 – added on Interfase, sodium butyrate, MSM glucosamin cream, AminoPlex (all these 4 based on Dr Westaway’s consult and monitored by Dr Erwin. Eventually had to stop AminoPlex due to regression) more readjustment of dosage for existing supplements. Added Dual Detox and Valtrex anti-viral (eventually we had to give up on Valtrex because we couldn’t get Maya to take it), 2 month course of Nystatin, Candex, increase magnesium, s.boulardii, OSR (upon Dr Westaway’s consult, but product ordered and approved by Dr Erwin). Replaced all non-stick cookware, reduce microwave use and plastics.


August 09- We did additional tests for Essential Fatty Acids, Plasma Amino Acid and kidney and liver function. Changed to Zinc picolinate and Ester C (based on Dr Rina’s consult), change to separate Calcium and magnesium (not combined), magnesium sulfate cream, 2nd course of Cedax antibiotic, another course of Fluconazole (both girls at this time had recurring gastro issues with bacterial infections and colds & flu), change MB12 to daily shots, rotate probiotics to Klaire Labs Therbiotic complete. Only use organic and chemical free cleaning products for household cleaning as well as body care including shampoo and soaps.


September 09 – Added Culturelle and increased probiotics due to last month’s infections, gut issues and antibiotic use. Increase MB12 to 0.05, change from SNT to B6 P-5-P, change to Magnesium glycinate powder, rotate digestive enzyme with Trienza, added ViraStop, SAMe200, Folate Acid, and adjustment of supplements based on new test results. Psychological assesment shows great improvement across the board, Atec scores down to 30 from previous 78 in April 2009.


October 09 – Maya turns 4 years old. Added TMG (upon Dr Anthony Underwood’s consult), readjust MB12 to alternate days, change from Candex to Candidase, increase ViraStop dosage (very little change due to Dr Erwin being away) Replaced all milk bottles to BPA free.


Who knows what next month will bring. It is undeniable that Maya’s progress has been on fast track ever since we had Dr Erwin to guide us, we couldn’t have gotten this far without him.

>KL Biomed Forum

>There is now an active forum on Yahoo Group where Malaysian parents can post queries or information regarding biomedical intervention. KL Biomed is a forum for parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder who are doing biomedical intervention in Malaysia. Members can post questions to the groups and any member can reply. Group members are also welcome to post relevant materials and information with regards to biomedical.


This is a private group intended as a form of communication and sharing of knowledge with other parents. Any advice given in this forum is not to be construed as medical advice. So far, we have had many postings and queries relating to diets, medical testings, nutritional supplements and DAN treatments.


>How to Be a Domestic Goddess

>

The best source of food & nutrition is always home-cooked meals with organic produce. But not all mothers are full-time domestic goddesses. And trying to achieve GFCF whilst juggling family, careers & part-time medical research necessitates us taking several shortcuts. High-fives to those mums who are able to do all that and more. But for us mere mortals, I’d like to share some of my tips and tricks on faking it as a domestic goddess.
We don’t get as many brands as in the U.S especially of the gluten-free, casein-free and organic variety. However, there are several substitutes that we’ve found in our Malaysian supermarkets & health food stores. But I find that most of the imported products are more easily found in expat-oriented shops like Village Grocer in Bangsar Village 1 and Cold Storage in Bangsar Shopping Center. My other favorite shops include Body Basics in Bangsar Shopping Center and Vitacare in LG, The Gardens. Here’s a few of my girls’ favorite snacks & GFCF substitutes;
Freedom Foods – they have several types of cookies and breakfast cereals
Biologique – cornflakes, rice puffs & other cereals
Ogran – bread mixes, cake & muffin mixes, vanilla & chocolate ready made cookies, pastas
Red Bob Mill’s – bread mix (contains yeast), brownie mix, pancake mix & gluten-free flour, chocolate chip cookie mix (I would make up a batch, bake 1/3 and freeze the rest. When needed, I let it defrost, get the kids involved in rolling it into balls & press into the baking tray)
Lay’s Classic Potato Chips – only Classic flavor, the other flavors contains non GFCF ingredients
Pacific Rice Milk – Original & Vanilla flavor rice milk (I can no longer find CF chocolate milk)
Aussie Dreams Organic Rice Milk Original Flavor – RM2.00 more expensive than Pacific, but it’s organic. Only comes in original flavor.
Japanese rice crackers – there are many brands, read the labels carefully
Frozen french fries – many brands & again, check the ingredients. Chicken nuggets & potato wedges are usually coated in wheat.
Whenever in Singapore, I stock up at Brown Rice Paradise in Tanglin Mall. They stock many brands of GFCF foods, organic cleaning products & personal care products. I try to cook home-made meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, when going out or for teatime, packaged snacks are the easiest option. However, a friend pointed out to me recently to watch out for trans-fats. Yes, there’s always something to watch out for.
Paul is Australian, I’m Malay and our maid is from the Philippines. So with 3 adults from 3 different countries and 2 little girls who are very picky eaters, planning a meal is pretty challenging as every one has different preferences. Starting the girls on GFCF was pretty hard initially, but as time went by it does get easier and easier.
Here are some of our favorite crowd pleasers;
Stirfry one dish meal – We would vary the stirfrys with different meats & vegetables. Garlic, ginger, onions, thai red curry paste, lemongrass, galangal, tumeric, soy sauce occassionally or sesame oil for variation. Serve with rice.
Fried Meehoon – pre-soaked meehoon with onions, garlic, chicken & veg.
Local dishes like ayam masak merah, pumpkin & spinach in coconut milk, masak lemak ikan, fried cod fish with tumeric or tamarind, beef curry, dalca, lamb kurma, steamed fish, local chicken & veg soup
Rice dishes – I would vary different types of rice, eg. basmati for veg & lamb pilaf or briyani, jasmine rice for nasi lemak (rice with coconut milk, pandan leaf, ginger & shallots) & fragrant rice for stir fries, local dishes & fried rice, arborio for risottos (Paul makes an exquisite chicken, pumpkin & sage risotto) I’d like to introduce brown rice to the girls diet soon.
GFCF pasta – spaghetti or spiral pasta served with bolognese sauce (organic mince beef, chopped onions & organic pasta sauce) or olio style (olive oil, onions, garlic, mushroom, chicken & zuchinni)
Sandwiches – GFCF bread with fillings such as peanut butter (unless you have peanut allergies) roast chicken with mayo (this used to be a favorite but Maya tested allergic to eggs. I got the egg-free mayo, but the taste is quite tangy, will have to get her used to this) I’d love to introduce hummus or chicken & avocado soon.
I have served lambchops, steaks, roast chicken, chicken with BBQ sauce or roast beef and a side of steamed veg with mashed potatoes for Paul and I but for the girls I serve it with rice. We’re constantly trying to expand the girls diet with some success.
Take it step by step and start with the GFCF first, then concentrate on eliminating yeast & sugars. If you see adverse reactions to soy & corn, target that next. You will never know for sure what diets are suitable for your child until you do the IgG test. There’s Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD eliminates most carbs including rice, corn, potatoes), low-oxalate diet, feingold diet, low-phenolic diet and many more which are much more restrictive than GFCF.
6 months ago, Maya will only eat plain white rice, toast and occasionally fried rice. And she would fill up on gluten-free chocolate biscuits, cakes & muffins. Slowly I weaned her off chocolate flavors and sugars and she would get a sugary treat maybe once a week. Also, we make more effort to eat together, setting the table with adult-type plates & cutlery made the girls feel grown up and excited to join us. Doing individual small portions helped, so the girls didn’t feel overwhelmed about having to finish it all. We try to eat the same things as they do, we play games like `Monster Bites’ and ‘Princess Eat’ and ‘Everybody Drinks’ to encourage them to eat more. And occasionally we resort to putting on the video to encourage the girls to sit at the table a bit longer.
So for the mothers out there who are going through the very difficult process of changing your child’s diet and worrying about what to cook and the frustration when your child refuses to eat anything – you are doing one of the most important changes in your child’s life, you will have to experiment with different recipes and you will need tons of patience. Slowly but assuredly, you WILL become a Domestic Goddess of the GFCF variety.