Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Milk Project

At some point in the next couple days, when I finally get up the guts and Jacob is out of his current milk, I'm going to try to take him off milk.  Not all dairy, yet, but milk as a drink.  This is a big deal because Jacob drinks a lot of milk.  He's loved it since the beginning and has always drunk it so well.  I ordered it with pride (white milk in particular) out at restaurants, and kept Jacob's juice drinking to a minimum.  SO what's changed?

Well, a friend of a friend has a little boy about Jacob's age, and he was quite a handful.  From all I've heard, he sounds about as difficult, but he tended to be even more challenging at times, to the point of being destructive.  The little boy's grandma happened to read about a connection between ADHD and milk, and mentioned it to his mother.  She did some research, and it sounded like it had potential to help her son, even if he was too young to actually be diagnosed with ADHD.  She started him on soy milk, and within a couple days, he was a different child.  He was still three, of course, but he listened better, behaved better, and was just a more pleasant kid to be around.  And that wasn't even taking him off all dairy, which seems to be the ideal.

Long story short, something about the way casein in milk interacts with the bodies of kids with ADHD that makes their symptoms worse.  It's basically like an allergy.  Considering how much milk Jacob drinks, it's amazing to think that he might actually be allergic to it, but you never know.  Back when he was a tiny baby, I had a suspicion that he had a sensitivity to cow's milk because it seemed to make him gassy, or at least generally uncomfortable.  I stopped having milk, both as a drink and in my cereal, but I couldn't quit dairy completely.  Whether he just got better on his own or changing my diet worked, I'm not sure, but I figured he just outgrew it since he seemed to tolerate milk fine. 

It's hard to say if it might be affecting his behavior.  I mean, his intake of regular milk was probably right around the time that he started to get a little more difficult, but that could just be coincidence since that was when he started to get more mobile and more independent.  Nowadays, he tends to get crazy at the end of meals, but is that the milk he's drinking, or is it just boredom and normal, age-appropriate antsiness? 

In the end, I figured it was worth a shot.  If there's any chance that changing that part of his diet, even just a bit, will make a difference, it's worth trying.  I know that Jacob can be an amazing kid, and I wouldn't want to change the essence of who he is...but if I can make him an easier kid to be around by making a change like that, then it's something I'm willing to try.  I bought one half gallon of soy milk, and he'll drink that this week.  I'll have to ask daycare to give him only water or juice, and skip milk in his morning cereal.  I'm not thrilled about the thought of losing our ability to do milk in public, nor spending twice as much for half as much milk, but I feel that it's only fair that we give it a shot.  If it works, then we have a happier kid.  If it doesn't, then we'll just hope he grows out of it and take satisfaction in knowing we tried.  And hopefully we could take that as some evidence that he doesn't have any blossoming ADHD issues.  But you never know. 

In between some pleasantness lately he's had some ridiculous meltdowns about nothing (the bowl his cereal is in, issues about getting clothes or pajamas on), and he tends to ignore us or defy us most of the time.  While on the surface it doesn't sound any different than most three year olds, I feel like some of the tantrums are too intense and too frequent to be normal.  He needs to be told over and over to do simple things, and he can get rather violent out of nowhere.  It gets exhausting, and as I tell him all the time, I'm tired of yelling at him.  I'd like to give it a shot and see how it goes.  He's had a cold for a while now, so I think we'll be going into the doctor sometime this week.  I can ask their thoughts on it then. 

It's a big step and I'd hate to set him up for a life of expensive, hard-to-find milk, too many sweeter-than-necessary beverages, and a potential for lactose intolerance (if he's away from milk for a long time I'm guessing that could happen), but for now, it's just one week, one half gallon, and an attempt at bettering all of our lives.  I'll let you know how it goes.

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