Update – Big Lessons from a (Gluten Free) Little Boy

Updated Big Lessons Pic

You may have read my post Big Lessons from a Little Boy when I published it in February. A few people did. In fact, it is the second most popular post on my blog, following closely behind The Busy Mom’s Coupon Series: No-Clip Coupon Options.

Something big happened to our family since I wrote Big Lessons from a Little Boy – we put our son Will on a gluten free diet and have been totally shocked at the positive changes we have seen in him. Since the original post about Will was pretty popular with my readers, I decided to write an update. (That is also a blogging trick to get more people to click through my site…but you didn’t hear that from me.)

Will has always been our sweet little love bug, but that side of him was often hidden behind his anger. Seriously, I had no idea how so much anger could come from such a little boy. His tantrums were usually prompted by not getting his way (not unusual in a young child, I know) or by extreme anxiety, and would last for up to an hour, several times a week. Sometimes daily. We were exhausted and at a loss as to how to help him.

We lived like this from the time he turned one until this past February, when he was five and a half. That was a very long four and a half years. Now, don’t get me wrong. Will has always had many strengths, chief among them his capacity to love and forgive. His blowups caused me to say a few too many things I regretted, simply because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I know many of you have been there, which is why I wrote Big Lessons from a Little Boy in the first place. I have always made a point to ask for his forgiveness when I knew I didn’t act in a loving way, making sure, though, that he understood how his actions factored into the situation.

One important note – Will has almost always been very well-behaved at daycare and school. Kids with emotional challenges often show them in only one kind of situation, i.e. family or school, but not both. So if you see a kid who has no behavioral issues at school but is difficult with his family, please don’t judge. It is impossible to know what is going on in a family unless you are actually part of the family.

Let’s fast forward to February 2014. Husband has Celiac Disease, and although Clara and Will have both tested negative for it, we knew that they may be susceptible to gluten intolerance. At the time, none of the medicine, physical therapy, diet changes, or chiropractic care that Clara was undergoing were helping the stomach pain that she has had since she was a toddler. We decided to put her on a trial gluten free diet. Why not try every trick up our sleeves until something works, right?

I made this blanket to help "Monka" with his anxiety.

I made this blanket to help “Monka” with his anxiety.

Since we were already putting Clara on the gluten free diet, we decided to try Will on it also. No amount of traditional parenting techniques were working for him, so it was worth a shot. After so many years of failed attempts to help him, I didn’t really expect the gluten free diet to work. So imagine my shock when TWO WEEKS went by with no major temper tantrums! Let me say that again. TWO WEEKS! It was like the sky opened up, angels sang, and a bright light shined down on our family. That was the most peaceful two weeks we’ve had since 2009. I am not kidding.

And then Will got a cold. His fits were once again very long and very intense. I was defeated. I thought we had found a magical solution to our problems, and then my hope disappeared as quickly as it came. I was tempted to throw in the towel and let him eat gluten again, but Husband wisely suggested that we stick with it. Maybe getting sick just pushed him over the edge and he would start acting better when he felt better. I knew I married a smart man.

Will has been gluten free for almost four months now and we are all so much happier. When he has a temper tantrum, he doesn’t threaten to hurt anyone, nothing gets broken, and he gets over it so much more quickly. Being gluten free has not solved all of his emotional challenges, but the real him – the boy who has an infinite capacity to love, share, heal, and change the world – is showing through so much more. I am so proud of him and I love him so much.

So here is the moral of the story – you know your child better than anyone. Keep fighting for him until you find the solution that works. I am telling you from experience that no situation is hopeless.

If you have had similar experiences with your own children, what tips do you have? What books, alternative parenting techniques, or medical interventions worked for your family?


Linked to Thriving Thursday


About beckymaag

Hello and thank you for visiting Peace in the Pod! My name is Becky. I am a Catholic, a wife, a mother of three beautiful young children, and a child of God. I am imperfect but I am loved.
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7 Responses to Update – Big Lessons from a (Gluten Free) Little Boy

  1. 9jaime says:

    Yes! I understand everything you wrote about! My 3rd and 4th children are recovered from very severe autism. I mistakenly let the oldest gradually go off the GFCF diet….Two years later it snowballed into a big depression/panic attack/mood swing mess. 1 1/2 months ago, he went back on the diet, added in tons of vitamins A, D, E, K and trace minerals that had been depleted. I have a long overdue blog post to write about it. Gluten is a big deal for someone with gluten intolerance or celiac. So very glad you found a way to help your kids!


    • beckymaag says:

      How did you originally find out that they needed to go gluten free? We would never have thought of it if my husband dust already have celiac.


      • 9jaime says:

        Well, a friend at our church told us about an amazing Occupational Therapist who did Listening Therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder. She nudged us into GFCF diet and biomedical treatments for autism. She always recommend that sensory kids, ADD/ADHD, and autism kiddos go GFCF. Removing both helps with learning, attention, inability to be flexible, and tantrums. We were so blessed to have found this OT! Our lives would be so different. So different!

        One of my sons and I just had genetics run, and I am ++ to a SNP related to celiac. He is +- to the HLA-DQ8 (I think that’s what it’s called) and must’ve gotten it from my hubbie because I am –. I actually made a doctor’s appt to do IgG food sensitivity tests with the celiac bloodwork added on for my very neurotypical but very tiny, dark circles under the eyes, little girl Maren. If she is making antibodies to gliadin, I may just curl up in a ball, rock, head bang, and cry. I’m afraid the whole family is reacting. 😦 Trying not to obsess, yet trying not to ignore obvious health issues.

        Did I make sense at all? I tend to ramble LOL


      • beckymaag says:

        That does make sense 🙂 It is hard to make different meals for people in our family and to help Will understand why he can’t have what other people are having, but it has gotten easier. Even if your daughter does test positive, you will be able to handle it. And if you need someone to commiserate with, send me your email through the contact form on my site. We can rock, head bang, and cry together 🙂


  2. melpiphi says:

    I was diagnosed with Celiac’s in January. My son was tested and not diagnosed. He has a diagnosis of AD/HD and SPD. Since I have changed my diet, his has also changed and his behavior has vastly improved. He was not a “bad” kid by any means but the fidgety, whiny, “all boy” behaviors have seriously decreased.


  3. Pingback: Big Lessons from a Little Boy | Peace in the Pod

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