Geekery / Mentalhealth / Toolbox

Building on their strengths…

Managing mental illness while in the early stages may seem about clinic’s and prescriptions and diagnostic assessments and scales it absolutely isn’t actually about that.

While diagnosis and treatment are critical it is only the first stage, there are many more.

Once diagnosis is confirmed it then moves on to Learning about what this diagnosis means, what is it and how does it impact their health and life?

Once we learn the various features and nuances then we can work on how do we make lifestyle and dietary changes which will help to stabilise or support them.
There are two examples to hand I can use.

The Little Super Hero with her Pediatric Bipolar Disorder, and her elder sister with Silent Dyslexia and Inattentive type Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Even before we suspected what was plaguing them, let alone diagnosed we threw everything we could find at how to help them and reduce symptoms, because with or without a diagnosis relevant medications cannot and should not be given to particularly young children, and while their diagnosis are fresh their symptoms are a long way from being a new thing, we have lived with this for a very long time.

We tried Omega 3, Vitamin D, they already had a diet almost devoid of additives preservatives and artificial flavourings due to their mother’s asthma. Sugar didn’t exacerbate symptoms, caffeine had no influence, Chocolate WOAH! Chocolate brought the house down, ok so we leave that out.

We tried numerous routines and motivational charts, chores rosters, pocket money incentives and herbal remedies, some saw a reduction most saw a contribution in one way or another. Reality is there is no one “Cure”, even medications alone are not the answer, everything is a combination of Lifestyle, Therapies and Diet.

Finding out which foods effect children’s behaviour is a very long process of trial and error, but when you find one you really know you have found one. No two children are alike in this regard, even siblings, while they may share one or two it is very rare for them all to have identical responses to everything.Even when it comes to Anaphylaxis and food allergies. I know a mum who makes 3 different meals a night in order to feed her tribe safely and needs to have two separate everythings to ensure never ingredients shall mix, because this really is life and death.

Over these years I kept an eye on research and developments and would apply them in our home in various ways, my eldest struggles with literacy, every inch of progress has been earned with endless work, reading for her will never “click” it is a long slow hard grind for every step of progress.  I came across research indicating that learning to sight read music activated the language centers in the brain in the same way that the language centers are activated in people who are bilingual.

I of course decided to try to make the most of this new knowledge for my daughter, but how would I do this? There were no guarantee’s that it would work and it was quite a stretch for me not being an academic to make the connection that the Graphical nature of music notes and sheet music in comparison to the role of letters of the Alphabet may enable my eldest to increase the blood flow in a sense, to her language centers in her brain to aid in her literacy.

There were no Practitioners or Therapists applying the theory in a structured manner for this purpose. I was just a mum. I wouldn’t even know where to start to find music teachers locally I could only by word of mouth find information about string instruments, my reading told me chords would not be enough she needed to learn to sight read notes, string instruments would not cut it!

BUT I could help an old high school friend by funding the equipment he needed to set up his home music studio as he was completing his music degree to be able to provide Skype Music Lessons from Sydney. It is also a nice buzz to be able to launch someone’s dream business for them. So in I dived paying for a years worth of music lesson’s at a time to give him the money he needed to get started. lesson’s in Keyboard and Vocals with Music Theory thrown in, Yes Please! He knew what I was trying to achieve, and suddenly for the first time in her life her literacy level was progressing at pace. She wasn’t at level with her peer’s, however a year 2 reading level which had taken 5 years to reach rapidly advanced to a Grade 4 Reading level in under 2 years.

Once she reached High School she was able to obtain lesson’s from music teachers at the school with Keyboard and Vocal’s lesson’s continuing, she is going brilliantly. I am so glad I took the plunge to make it available to her even though she had never expressed the desire to learn she absolutely loves it, even though she doesn’t actually perform. This is something she does for her benefit and development.

Jac’s sporting preferences are supported for the same reasons. it allows her to burn off energy that she can focus better when she needs too, it gets her out in the sun, it keeps her blood pumping and thoroughly motivated. She doesn’t do the greatest in team sports as well as track and field but she doesn’t let it hold her back. For her just getting in the pool and pounding the water or running for km’s is enough she does it for herself not for accolades. Although her school is thoroughly enjoying her contributing to their trophies while she is there and signing her up for everything in reach!

Like the EverReady bunny she just keeps going and going and going! She doesn’t ask for lifts very often she prefers to walk everywhere, and like her step father while manic can cover 10-18km’s a day just getting where they are going.



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