I hear it all too often. “We were told by our Paediatrician to come back in 6 months for a review. That’s when they may make a diagnosis”. Obtaining a diagnosis of autism for your child can be a very lengthy process. So much precious time is wasted in this limbo phase. It makes it extremely difficult and confusing for parents who want to start being proactive but don’t know where to start.
I have worked with so many families in this same position. Parents often feel lost, overwhelmed, confused and helpless. As a mother myself, I felt completely connected and compelled to empowering parents to make a difference in their child’s life – whether their child has a diagnosis or not. I wanted to enrich their lives by providing a compass to navigate the autism maze at homebase.
I have developed what I call ‘The Homebase Hope Protocol’. It is a parent-implemented protocol bridging conventional therapy with a lifestyle optimisation approach to promote functional skills and inspire healthy habits. The protocol recognises 9 fundamental pillars of growth and wellbeing for children on the spectrum (but can be useful for ANY child). The 9 pillars include nutrition, gut health, nature, sensory processing, positive behaviour support, connection, sleep, movement and lox tox living. It’s a common sense “whole child” lifestyle approach which takes advantage of the mechanics of neuroplasticity, capitalises on the knowledge of epigenetics and weaves in the fundamentals of sensory processing.
You may be thinking “how can a protocol work for a child on the spectrum – there is such variability and not every strategy works for every child”. I’m hearing you. And you’re right. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to autism but there are simple and effective strategies that all children can benefit from such as eating real food, eliminating chemicals from around the home, and using movement, sleep, connection and positive behaviour strategies to enrich a child’s life.
So let’s start at homebase.
Step by step, day by day, habit by habit….and let’s start with the fundamental 9 pillars of growth and wellbeing.
Real food is the cornerstone to any child’s health and vitality. Avoid packaged processed foods which pollute the body. Aim for a diet high in colourful vegetables and fruits, meat and fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and some quality grains, legumes and dairy. Preferably organic. Ensure adequate hydration with lots of filtered clean water.
2. Gut Health
Our microbes outnumber our human cells 10:1. We need them to survive. It is in our best interest that we protect these microbes which carry out very important functions in the body. We can do this by removing inflammatory triggers and rebalancing and restoring the gut with gut healing foods.
Provide opportunities for intentional movements at the ‘just right challenge’. Movement enhances body awareness and can re-organise and re-wire your child’s brain via the mechanics of brain plasticity.
4. Sensory Processing
A challenged brain receives all the incoming sensory input but finds it difficult to filter and prioritise the bombardment of information. Children may over-register, under-register or seek sensory input. Seek to understand and respect your child’s sensory differences. Modify the environment, adapt the task or arm your child with the tools and strategies to build resilience.
Promote less screen time and more green time. The experience of the natural world is profoundly important to human health. Enrich your child’s life with a daily dose of nature; let their feet touch the earth, let their skin soak up the sun and let them play in the dirt.
Sleep gives the body a chance to regenerate and reenergise. The healing benefits of sleep should not be underestimated. Work towards developing a sleep routine and create an environment which promotes positive sleep habits.
Slow down, be present and find micro-moments of connection. Nurture emotional connections and provide opportunities for meaningful interactions by creating a safe and fun environment for play. Become absolutely fascinated in their view of the world, whilst slowly bringing them into a joint world of connection and interaction.
8. Positive Behaviour Support
Explicitly teach your child appropriate behaviours and reward their positive behaviour with love and praise. Provide a range of supports to encourage social skills, foster self-esteem, generate independence and enable empowerment.
9. Low Tox Life
Reduce toxic exposure to avoid unnecessary stress placed on your child’s system. Be mindful of every single chemical you use in and around your home. Get back to basics with low tox cleaning products and cosmetics.
10. And finally…
Remember, homebase is where the magic happens. Your child can be receiving all the therapy in the world, but if the habits and rituals in your day to day life are not supportive of growth and development, then positive change is less likely to occur.
I am hoping to have the e-book protocol available on my website in early 2018 for those of you who wish to make a bigger difference from homebase.
What habits and strategies do you use at ‘homebase’ to enrich your child’s life?
With love and hope,