She had been a difficult baby. She screamed a lot and was extremely constipated. I eliminated gluten from my diet (I was breastfeeding her) and Little C's bowel movements normalized and her screaming totally went away - our baby became normal.
As time went on, Little C started eating solids and we did our best to keep gluten out of our diet.
Things were going well, until one day, we experienced a totally crazy tantrum from our sweet little girl. Little C was almost 2 when she began having tantrums that seemed too bizarre to blame on the terrible two's.
This past summer I hadn't been diligent in taking gluten-free snacks for Little C to eat when she was in the nursery at church and sometimes I assumed everyone knew about her 'allergy'. It wasn't so. There were quite a few times where Little C was given goldfish crackers because someone in her class didn't see her allergy sticker - or I'd simply forgotten to put one on her. The first time she ever had goldfish crackers it was reported that, "She really liked them!!" (as in...she ate a ton).
With Little C's gluten allergy, and mine as well, the side effects aren't immediate and they last for about 2 weeks after we've eaten gluten. Well, 1-3 days after church, Little C would begin having quite crazy, hair-raising screaming fits. Her eyes would go blank (as if nobody was home) and she would belt out the most terrifying scream I've ever heard. This screaming would go on for 30-45 minutes straight. There was no consoling her. She threw herself on the ground if we tried to touch her. Her whole body would go completely stiff if we picked her up. Talking to her was like talking to a wall - there was no reaction, no less screaming, it was like we weren't even there.
It was frightening.
We weren't always sure if she had eaten goldfish at church, and these tantrums seemed like more than a simple allergic reaction. It had been a long time since the days of our 'scrying baby' and it seemed we got a little lax in our food monitoring.
When Little C was having her episodes, the thought of her being autistic was front and center. I started researching, and you know what? Quite a few articles correlated un-diagnosed food sensitivities as being a leading cause of autism.
We had always blamed her fits on gluten, but after a while, it started to seem silly to attribute her behavior to food. I felt like everyone else thought I was a loony mom who was making up excuses for my kid's bad behavior. I didn't know what to do. My child had a problem.
It was not easy to figure out the source of Little C's tantrums. Our doctor had us document her food intake, and we kept detailed records of her tantrums (including videos our doc could watch). After a couple months of record keeping, the answer became quite clear.
The research I had read and the words our doctor spoke were reassuring to us that gluten DOES cause our child to behave in a way that seems out of her control. Gluten is the culprit. My daughter has a delayed food sensitivity (this phrase was so foreign to me before all of this).
I wish we knew why Little C's body doesn't agree with gluten, but for now, we will continue to be those annoying parents who hover near the food table at a party, just to make sure our child doesn't sneak up and grab something off-limits to her body.
Also see: Gluten Intolerance Symptoms | My Story
Does your kid have behavioral issues that are beyond the normal spectrum? Have you ever considered how food might have an impact on mental health? I'd love to hear - share below!