Life has gotten a little too rude for my liking… and I’m about to poke it in the eye.

17 Mar

This is the part of the story where someone or something (preferably with superhero qualifications… maybe a little flying… I’d like to fly!) jumps into my “life picture” and says in that booming cartoon-like voice, “FEAR NOT!! I will save you!!”.  And then this superhero-like entity throws down whatever magical capabilities they may have up their sleeve… and POOF!  Life’s better.  All is saved.  I fall to a weeping thankful mess all over the rug.  We all smile.  Wipe a tear.  Cut to credits.  Happy ending.  The world is a better place.

Yeah… fucking whatever.

I’ll backtrack a bit and fill everyone in on my current psychological damage.  My son, the light of my life, the creature for whom I work like a dog for, my little partner-in-crime has Asperger’s Syndrome.  If you don’t know what this is… you can click over to the wikipedia link to it HERE.   He’s extremely high functioning with it (to where you wouldn’t know there were any issues if you just hung out with him for a little while)… but he is so brilliant that this is almost working against him.  And when I say brilliant, I’m not just being the “proud inflated mother”… he really is scary smart.  I’d almost prefer for him to be an idiot… idiot’s are easy to raise and usually do what they’re told.  He has the inability to understand social peer behavior, and can be extremely defiant when he doesn’t understand WHY he has to do something he doesn’t want to do… but is high functioning and smart enough to manipulate an entire classroom and a pack of teachers into a full blown circus with the blink of an eye in order to get out of doing what he doesn’t want to do.  This is maddening.  For his teacher and for me.

But today was the big kicker.  He didn’t want to go to math class today.  I don’t know why he has such issues with math because he’s really good at it (he’s extremely advanced in all his classes, and the work isn’t a challenge for him)… but he’s actually getting a ‘D’ in math class because he out-right refuses to do the work.  But today, he refused to go.  He just wouldn’t do it.  His teachers tried every method they knew how to get him to go, and that just made him mad.  So it turned into a full blown battle of wills (between him and 5 teachers PLUS the school principal)- and he won.  Yes, this is my boy.  By “won” I mean he acted out so much, and was so unmoving in his stance that they could not get him to go to math.  They were forced to call me.  And when he was told that I was on my way there he flew into hysterics because I’m the only one he fears.  We have no god in our house- so I am the omniscient force in his life.

Long story short (too late)… he was asked to leave school for the day because they just couldn’t get him to do what he was told, and he was keeping all the other kids from doing their work as well.  This has always been a problem.  He doesn’t understand authority, or why some people are allowed to tell others what to do.  When he was in kindergarten, his principal told me a story about one of the MANY times he was sent to her office.  She was telling him why we have to follow rules, and why we have to do what the teachers say, etc etc etc.  He very patiently sat and listened… and when she was done, he stood up and put a hand on her desk (he’s very much like a little adult) and said to her, “Listen, my mom will be here at 3.  When I go home with my mom, you won’t be there.  I won’t have to stand on the line or sit in the corner.  You can’t do that at my house.  And I don’t care if you do that to me here.  So when my mom get’s here, there’s nothing else you can do to me.  I’ll wait in the office until then.”… and he marched out of her office.  HE WAS 5 YEARS OLD!!!!  At 5 years old he had a full understanding of the fact that any of us can behave any way we want if we’re willing to suffer the consequences if we get caught.  Most ADULTS don’t ever get a grasp on that concept!!!  His principal told me that he sent chills down her spine with his little lecture- because he was RIGHT… and she knew that she had no response to that.  In a Utopian society, there would be no such things as “authority figures”… but we live in the real world, and there are rules, and social hierarchy,  and social boundaries, and you do have to exist accordingly.  But he just doesn’t get it.  At all.

To sum it up…. I’m fucked.  So very very very fucked.  And I’m terrified of his “teenaged years”.

But as of recently, he has feared my powers less and less.  And he has become more and more confrontational with his teachers.  And more manipulative when trying to get what he wants.  So a friend of ours clued us into diet as being a major cause of alot of behaviors associated with this (which I knew already, but not to any specific extent), and in some extensive researching I have found that a GFCF (gluten free casein free) diet helps these kids IMMENSELY.  BUT gluten is in everything under the sun… and casein is basically dairy.  My son has never eaten meat in his life… so dairy and pastas are a gigantic part of his diet.  I’m a little overwhelmed by how much I’m going to have to change every aspect of his eating habits- and also by how expensive this is going to get (cuz all those soy cheeses and gluten free products are not cheap).  But I’m going to give it a shot, and see if any positive results come of it.  It can’t hurt… right?

So if any of you out there have any suggestions or recipes for vegan gluten free diets…. PLEASE SPEAK UP!!!  And please keep in mind that I can’t cook for shit, so the simpler the better.

Back to work I go… I got NOTHING done today, so I get to be up all night trying to catch up on everything I didn’t accomplish today.  Vomit.


20 Responses to “Life has gotten a little too rude for my liking… and I’m about to poke it in the eye.”

  1. bergertime March 18, 2008 at 9:48 am #

    Kristen…there is a product called “Bob’s Red Mill” that sells a lot of really great Gluten Free poducts and has info and recipes on their websight…

    they also sell “kits” where you just add water or a few other ingredients to make pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc. that are all pretty o.k.

    a lot of their recipes have added dairy like milk or eggs, but you can substitute egg replacer (are you familiar with that product?)
    and i have heard, but am not sure about this fact, that once you “cook” milk it doesn’t affect people in the same way as it does when it’s not. i don’t know though? that may just be if you are allergic…

    also, check this out…
    it’s a list of all the products that whole foods sells in their stores that are GFCF.
    they have all kinds of lists for special diets. you just find your specifc store, and in the list to the left there should be a link for “special diet lists”.

    Trader Joe’s also has a list of Gluten Free products that they sell here…

    i’m taking a class at work in a week all about Gluetn Free Baking! I’ll send you all the info I get!

    god luck!

  2. awalkabout March 18, 2008 at 2:57 pm #

    I feel for you. My ASpie is 12 and we see much of the same meltdown type behavior. Junior High is coming next year and I’m not looking forward to it. He has always been, as you say, afraid of my authority and his dad’s, even when nothing else is working, but he’s growing into a big boy, and I’m not sure how much longer that will be true. The therapist taught us how to use the book “Parenting with Love and Logic” and we follow that when we can.Diet won’t work with this one because none of his issues have been dietary, they’re genetic. So stay in touch and we’ll go together, hmm?

  3. Kristen Ferrell March 18, 2008 at 6:26 pm #

    THANK YOU BERGER!!!!! you are always my little superhero, and save the day brilliantly every time!!

    and yes, awalkabout… keep me posted on you’re tyke, and i’ll keep you posted on mine. he’s 9 (but already has the attitude of a 15 year old- uugghh!!), and i’m scared to death of junior high.
    junior high is traumatic for even the most sound and stable of kids… i’m not sure how my fella is going to survive it! it makes me sooooo nervous!!!

  4. germinfested March 18, 2008 at 9:54 pm #

    I am a vegetarian and subscribed to vegetarian times. Lots of yummy things.

    I can send past-issues to you, there are vegan things.

  5. Lemissa March 19, 2008 at 6:00 am #

    Sparkle can’t eat gluten, I will ask him at work today to write down some good stuff…the bad news is he will tell you that Wal-Mart stocks all kinds of cheap gluten free food, but I am afraid it is made of the chinese factory workers. Perhaps a life of crime shoplifting these things?

  6. Cassie March 19, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    Oi! Sully just may be the death of you lady. I dont know much about gluten free diets and such. Lily has only ever had mild dairy issues. she is much like Sully on the too smart for their age front.
    Hopefully we both make it thru the teen years!

  7. Tawni March 19, 2008 at 12:07 pm #

    Oh, Kristen. That sounds like an awful day. I’m so sorry to hear about Sully’s trouble at school and your day being monopolized by dealing with it all.

    I was going to recommend Trader Joe’s because I remember helping a nice father look for gluten-free foods for his son when I worked there. But I see the awesome bergertime already posted the links you need. I’m going to check them out and start doing some mommy research. My husband and I both have siblings with Asperger’s and I have already been thinking about looking into a GFCF diet for Miles and myself as a precautionary step. (It can’t hurt, right? He also gets little to no sugar. We don’t miss it.)

    Both of our siblings managed to channel the Mensa-intelligence, focus and obsession with detail into very financially lucrative and personally satisfying careers. They sometimes still lack the ability to interpret social cues and will talk about their work in excruciating detail with people who have shown little interest beyond the polite inquiry.

    As she’s gotten older, my sis has become more self-aware and will sometimes awkwardly stop, realizing that she is being “intense” and very stiffly ask something like, “So… how are YOU doing?” It is forced and obvious when she does it, but it makes me proud of her because at least she has progressed to realizing when she’s monopolizing a conversation with an absurdly detailed description of her interest that the listener doesn’t share. The transition isn’t smooth, but at least she’s recognizing the need for one.

    This is my favorite part of the Wikipedia definition you linked:

    “Simon Baron-Cohen has argued that AS and high-functioning autism are different cognitive styles, not disabilities, and that a diagnosis of AS/HFA should not be received as a family tragedy, but as interesting information, such as learning that a child is left-handed. According to Baron-Cohen, “people with AS/HFA might not necessarily be disabled in an environment in which an exact mind, attracted to detecting small details, is an advantage.”[5] Tony Attwood argues, “the unusual profile of abilities that we define as Asperger’s syndrome has probably been an important and valuable characteristic of our species throughout evolution.”

    Exactly. Not a “flaw” or tragedy, just a different cognitive style. A different set of talents and abilities. Many of our greatest inventions were probably created by extremely intelligent and focused people with AS.

    The “Education of the Exceptional Child” class I took in college when I was thinking about teaching taught me that all kids have a different learning style, and a different style is not necessarily a disability. The teachers and adults around them just need to try to find a method of input that works for that particular child. Some kids are visual learners, some aural, some detail-oriented. We are such a cookie-cutter society that sometimes we forget that kids aren’t all the same flavor of cookie.

    I really hope the GFCF diet helps Sully come to grips with his emotions and anger over being a little adult in a kiddie world. It must be so constantly irritating and frustrating for him to feel like he has to “dumb down” his thoughts and expression for the kids around him at school or be thought weird for being different (smarter). And I also hope you get a break, you good, brave, strong momma. Hugs, hugs and more hugs. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo.

  8. Kristen Ferrell March 19, 2008 at 1:53 pm #

    thank you so much for telling me about your siblings, tawni!! i get so worried about sully, and wonder if he’s ever going to really bond with people, and fret about how he’s going to adjust as he gets older.

    like i said… he’s really high functioning with it- but the obsessive one-sided conversations sometimes KILL ME!! he’ll get obsessed with one thing, and for MONTHS that is all he’ll talk about in detail to anyone who’ll listen. i’ve been really working on it with him, and he’s gotten better- but sometimes as i’m smiling at him and pretending to listen, in my head sirens are going off and my brain is screaming “I DON’T NEED TO BE FILLED IN AGAIN ON HOW MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF LEMURS THERE ARE IN THE WILD GODDAMNIT!! FFFFFUUUUCCCCKKKKK!!!!!”. but i will forever smile and listen, and then politely turn the conversation to something else in hopes that it doesn’t go back to lemurs. but it always does. always. i have grown to fucking loathe lemurs.

    but he is amazing. his little brain baffles me. the way he processes informations baffles me. the bizarre and way-too-advance-for-his-age subjects that he bonds to baffle me. i love that he’s not like “normal kids”… but with eccentric personalities comes eccentric issues to tackle. his pediatrician back in kansas was amazing, and held the same belief as the excerpt that you took from the wikipedia article… he said that all kids have strengths and weaknesses; some kids have poor eyesight, some kids coordination is a little slower, some kids don’t deal with stressful situations well, etc. none of it should be looked at as negative things or flaws- just as things that need a little more work. focus on the positive, and work on the things that need work- and all will be ok.

    thank you, tawni, for being fantastic.

    and thank you, everyone else for the suggestions and support!!

  9. whtiney March 19, 2008 at 2:39 pm #

    yr one badass mommy, you know what?

    it looks as though people have given you lots of info on the GFCF diet….hire me as yr personal chef and i’ll make whatever you want.

  10. whitney March 19, 2008 at 2:40 pm #

    ….and i totally spelled my own name wrong….

  11. emily March 19, 2008 at 3:33 pm #

    Hi, I’ve been a big fan of your work since I came across it about 9 months ago…
    My cousin and uncle (both on the same side of the family) have Asperger’s. The cousin is 18 and will successfully graduate from high school this May. He goes to a very progressive (and by progressive, I mean nonstructured) school in Seattle that was expensive, but according to his Dad, extremely worth it. He was allowed to do things that made sense to him…the lack of undersstanding regarding authority, the inability to do work that he felt didn’t pertain to him…the school worked with his situation and he was able to succeed. He’s going to a similar-structured college in the Tempe, AZ area…its for those who are extremely smart but also extremely socially awkward….I can’t even have a conversation with him, he’s on a different (higher) plane in terms of IQ…
    Point is, you don’t need to be afraid of his teenage years if he has the right “institutions” helping him.

    My family is from Wichita, KS…thats where my cousin was born. Both sets of my grandparents live there and 2/3 of my family lives in Kansas…great things can come from that place.

    Thanks for your art, Ms. Ferrell!

  12. Breanna March 20, 2008 at 6:47 am #

    Hi Kristen!

    I have a soon to be 10 year old son who was diagnosed with ADHD however as he gets older and I learn more about Aspergers, I wonder if he was misdiagnosed. He does not make eye contact with anyone while you talk to him, he becomes obsessed with one thing etc.. I plan on having him tested as soon as I can find a doctor in my area that will do it. Anyhow so I just wanted you to know you aren’t alone in this. Also on the lemur note, I love lemurs, apes, all primates (I want to be a Primatologist, I am afraid the closet I will get to that is just dreaming about it) So if he drives you crazy, you can always have him email me or something, lol.

  13. Kristen Ferrell March 20, 2008 at 8:40 am #

    teachers and doctors tried to tell me that my son had ADHD before… but i’ve been around ADHD kids- and it’s just not Sully. At 3 years old, he could sit with certain toys and books for HOURS at a time (to the point of obsession), and ADHD kids just CANNOT focus on anything long enough to sit with it long amounts of time (especially at age 3!). and with ADHD comes the pressure to medicate- which i was NOT comfortable with.
    kids sometimes get this misdiagnoses because of behavior issues, and if they won’t keep their attention on things that they aren’t interested in (school stuff, etc). but if your child is really able to focus on things he enjoys, then i would take him to a different specialist. ADHD is too easy of a diagnosis, and one that is very commonly thrown out there as a “catch-all” if negative behaviors are occurring… which is scary because it’s actually a chemical imbalance, and if it is misdiagnosed the doctors go about treating it in a way that is unproductive for the child and just makes things worse. Aspergers is a behavioral disorder, and the ONLY thing that works with it is behavioral therapy… meds don’t do anything to help, and you may actually see behavior get worse if meds are given to him (because he doesn’t need them). i was diagnosed ADHD when i was my son’s age and they started pumping me full of meds. about a decade later (and mountains of chemicals later) they found that i have a blood sugar disorder, and if i don’t eat right i have all the same symptoms of ADHD. none of the meds ever worked (because i didn’t need them), and they only gave me horrible side effects, and the doctors kept switching meds and upping the doses to try to see positive results instead of investigating deeper to see if i actually had ADHD.

    fortunately, there are TONS of resources out there for Aspergers because it is categorized in with autism- and autism has a gigantic support network. and school systems have a lot that they can offer you if you have a child with an autism-related diagnosis.

    i will definitely have Sully email you if he wants to talk about lemurs… because i just can’t listen to anymore about them. hahaha!!! he REALLY loves monkeys too- so you two would be a good match!! 🙂
    keep me posted, and if they do switch your son’s diagnosis i have mountains of websites and resources that i can forward to you about Aspergers.

  14. Michelle March 20, 2008 at 9:58 am #

    Hey, here’s a site that my friend with a massive gluten allergy writes. She also has two boys with the same allergies so she comes up with a lot of gluten free recipes. It’s mostly sweet stuff but that’s I think that’s the hardest to find without wheat.

    Good luck with your little man!

  15. Kristen Ferrell March 20, 2008 at 12:26 pm #

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!! 😀

    oh… and we did make those gluten-free vegan brownies, and they were really really good! except sully won’t be getting any today because i just got a call from his school telling me that he’s refusing to do his schoolwork again. UUUGGGHHH!!!! 😦

  16. chelsea rae March 23, 2008 at 6:34 am #

    is a great one. My friends who have it make THE most delicious food..

    I don’t know if you’ve tried
    as a wheat replacement, but my mom does gluten-free & this is her favorite replacement. I eat gluten, & it’s one of my favorite things to eat. A lot. They make flour, bread, cous cous, anything you can make with other grains, they make with quinoa.

  17. melancholymonday March 26, 2008 at 11:22 am #

    I have an idea, take it for what it’s worth. What if you did Lawrence’s virtual school? They supply a computer and printer and basically you home-school online with their curriculum. It may make things easier, I don’t know. No authority figures but YOU (and Brad).

  18. Kristen Ferrell March 26, 2008 at 7:28 pm #

    the thing with sully is that he really needs the social interaction practice with other kids his age under a supervised setting so that he can learn all the “norms” that he doesn’t naturally catch onto. he HAS to learn how to work with others, and to follow instructions (even if it’s something he doesn’t want to do). these are necessary things we all need to know to function in our society. i’d like to be the only authority figure- but he needs to learn to respect other authority figures besides me (like his teachers) so that he will respect people like his bosses (and not lose job after job) when he gets older….
    ….and if i had him home with me all day while i was trying to work (since i work out of the house), i think we might just kill each other. haha!!!

  19. jamie March 26, 2008 at 9:48 pm #


    remember how sully always seemed to socialize with adults really well when he was so tiny? i personally feel that while his teen years may be bumpier than normal, i think his adult life will fall into place.

    i don’t remember you mentioning, does he play any musical instruments right now?

    Nutritional Yeast is the secret to making things taste “cheesy”. You can get pasta made from rice and corn. i can attest that corn pasta is delicious! i don’t know if small amounts of egg that might be found in those would be detrimental, but of course there is eggless gluten-less pasta, too.

    a really addictive snack is chunks of tofu tossed in nutritional yeast and seasoning salt [i like the salt-free kind you find anywhere that sells organics/hippie stuff – Veg-All maybe??] and then you fry it. you can fry it in a little of any oil, or you can dry fry it in spray oil or you can marinate it with those ingredients in a little liquid [balsalmic vinegar, tamari [wheat free soy sauce, tastes better, too], coconut milk – whatever and bake it. 350, half hour, more or less til it seems yummy. baked tofu may be your snacky friend, as well as a great way to make sandwiches. it’s cheaper than buying fake meats – it’s totally not necessary too. Trader Joe’s has really cheap tofu, and if there is a food co-op near you, you’ll be able to get tofu made around LA. and fake meats can have gluten in them anyways. “meaty” vegetables like portabellos, eggplant, squashes and root vegetables can add the bulk to things you make. with tofu, you get a bunch, cut it up into strips or triangles, marinate it in whatever [above, or pestos or BBQ sauce or spaghetti sauce or maple syrup, etc.] and then bake it. stick it in tupperware in the fridge and pull from it for meals, cold is yummy, or microwave or heat up in the oven or a fry pan if you want it hot [fry pan, throw a few drops of water in once it’s hot, stick a lid on it, it’ll steam it and won’t dry out]. oven, heat covered in foil at a low temp.

    buy a rice cooker. i got a small, basic one for $7 and it’s awesome for cooking rice and grains. i always burn the shit on the stove cos i forget about it. acts as a steamer too, i use mine to reheat burritos. rice, quinoa, steel cut oats [groats], corn [and polenta], millet, buckwheat [kasha], lentils, beans, [no barley, rye, wheat, couscous]. spelt, soy and rice flours. spelt and buckwheat are good to use in things like pancake recipes and bread. arrowroot and cornstarch and tapioca you can use as thickening agents if you are making gravy or something, or for dusting tofu or veggies you are going to fry.

    if sully is going to miss cheese, rice cheese is pretty good, but the best that i have found for use in hot dishes is made by Follow Your Heart. the white ones more so than the yellow ones.

    so if you learn some easy doughs to make, you can make them and store portions in the fridge/freezer and then have them to make pizza crusts and stuff with. stir frys! soups, casseroles, lots of easy one dish dishes. i buy jarred or powdered simmer sauces for indian food. they are not expensive and you just add whatever the hell you want to them.

    even though you would have to make adjustments for the items with gluten, the Veganomicon is a truly amazing cookbook. i am going to get a copy, and i eat meat and dairy.

    be on the lookout for these, they mean gluten:
    * Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP), unless made from soy or corn
    * Flour or Cereal products, unless made with pure rice flour, corn flour, potato flour, or soy flour
    * Vegetable Protein unless made from soy or corn
    * Malt or Malt Flavoring unless derived from corn
    * Modified Starch or Modified Food Starch unless arrowroot, corn, potato, tapioca, waxy maize, or maize is used
    * Vegetable Gum unless vegetable gums are carob bean gum, locust bean gum, cellulose gum, guar gum, gum arabic, gum aracia, gum tragacanth, xanthan gum, or vegetable starch
    * Soy Sauce or Soy Sauce Solids unless you know they do not contain wheat

    i swear i will do this in a reasonable time frame, but i will send you links to websites with consistent recipes [by people who are cooking for their families, not crazy fancy stuff] and i’ll make a little cookbook for you as well.

    spelt bread and corn tortillas, but also rice papers [SO easy to use if you have not before] and large pieces of lettuce, cabbage, chard that you can use as wraps around food items. rice cellophane noodles. i’ll give you varied spring roll recipes and easy instructions, too.

    man, i should def move in and be your cook now! too bad i have to stay here til at least the end of the year.

    even though you don’t cook, don’t feel overwhelmed. whole foods are the key, and that will keep your costs down because you can buy in bulk and fresh produce from the market or farmer’s market. find a good asian market and a good hippie food store with a bulk selection [i don’t know where you shop now, maybe there!]. frozen fruit and veggies are fine, too. the secret to making it all work is taking like one day a week to prep a bunch of the food up that you can then store in the fridge or freezer, practically ready for you to use. sully could help, then he’d be really involved in his diet and learn to cook!

    A Dong Supermarket
    9221 Bolsa Ave.
    Westminster, CA

    My Thuan Supermarket
    8900 Westminster Blvd
    Westminster, CA

    Anh Minh Market
    10451 Bolsa Avenue
    Westminster, CA
    19770 Beach Blvd.
    Huntington Beach CA

    [PDF of their wheat-free/gluten free products:
    16672 Beach Blvd
    Huntington Beach, CA

    Wild Oats
    6550 E Pacific Coast Hwy
    Long Beach, CA

    do you guys eat fish at all? canned tuna and sardines and stuff?

  20. melancholymonday March 27, 2008 at 7:36 am #

    Ah, that makes sense.

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