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3/11/2010 9:44:14 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter

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HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter
March 2010 -- Hidden Allergies and Learning
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By Dianne Craft
MA, Certified Natural Health Professional

"Our daughter is so different now."

At a recent consultation for their 12-year-old daughter, a dad stated,
"If you do nothing else for us in this consultation, you will already
have changed our lives." He and his wife had followed the advice
found on a CD purchased from a homeschool convention. The CD
explained the effects of hidden allergies on a child's learning and
behavior. They reported many changes in their daughter after they
removed dairy and soy products from her diet. They said she now
focuses much better, finishes her work in a reasonable time, does not
have daily "meltdowns," has made tremendous growth in reading,
comprehension, and writing. What phenomenon is occurring here?

Observing Struggling Learners

After homeschooling my own son, I worked for years in the public
school system, teaching special education children with moderate
needs. These were bright children with learning blocks that caused
them to work too hard to learn or to remain focused. Patterns began to
emerge as I studied these children's files. About 85% had multiple
antibiotics use when young; 99% had allergies. In my experience,
although not all children with allergies have learning or focusing
issues, most children with learning or focusing glitches have
allergies. Unfortunately, these allergies are often unknown.*

For example, when a baby is allergic to milk, common manifestations
are projectile vomiting, colic, recurrent ear or upper respiratory
infections or a rash. When the parent replaces dairy for the baby, the
symptoms disappear. Parents often say their child was allergic to
dairy as an infant but can handle it now. Actually, the manifestation
has changed. Now the allergy is manifesting as reading reversals,
meltdowns, attention and focusing problems, hyperactivity or sensory
processing problems. This is a tricky connection to make, because it
does not look like a typical allergy manifestation. ("Cerebral
Allergies," Dr. Philpott, MD, "Help for Your Hyperactive Child,"
William Crook, MD, "Superimmunity for Kids," Leo Galland, MD)

What Symptoms Should I Look For?

Children suffering with stomachaches, dark circles under the eyes,
constant sniffling, reflux, eczema, asthma, chronic bronchitis,
recurrent ear infections or bed wetting may have a hidden allergy. The
most common of these seems to be a dairy allergy or sensitivity.
Symptoms these allergies manifest in the areas of:

Academics:
1) Inconsistent performance (knows the material one day, but not the
next);
2) Appears lazy and unmotivated;
3) Poor memory;
4) Writing reversals (surprisingly);
5) Focusing and attention struggles.

Behavioral manifestations can be:
1) Sensory processing problems (noises, tags, foods, transitions
bother this child);
2) Irritability;
3) Hyperactivity;
4) Meltdowns.

If an allergy is just affecting the nervous system, it may look to the
parent like a behavior, focusing, or learning problem. If parents
suspect a food allergy, they can ask their child's pediatrician for a
blood test that will help to pinpoint the allergy. Tests that are not
blood tests, (such as the scratch test) generally are not as helpful.
On occasion, an allergy test may not uncover the allergy. The
physicians mentioned above recommend a six-week allergy elimination
trial if a child exhibits any of the above symptoms. Dr. Block warns
that during this six-week trial it is important to not even have one
teaspoon of the offending food (most common allergens are dairy, eggs,
peanuts and wheat). The child with a hidden allergy is suffering with
a malfunctioning immune/alert system. It shouts, "Red Alert!" and
sends out histamine when only one teaspoon is ingested--as though an
entire gallon was ingested. This experiment can be undertaken as a
science project. For six weeks, remove the offending food and keep
track on the calendar of any changes. Then put it back in, and watch
what happens.

Some Solutions

In her book, "No More Ritalin," Dr. Block gives samples of handwriting
before and after a child is given a suspected food allergen. Before,
the child's name is written perfectly; after the allergen is ingested,
his name is written in mirror image
(http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7815).

A pioneering physician, Dr. Batmanghelidj
(http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7816) talks about different
manifestations of allergies in "Your Body's Many Cries For Water." He
recommends that anyone with allergies or asthma consider increasing
their intake of water daily (half their body weight in ounces of
water, gradually achieved). He says that asthma and allergies are
manifestations of a dehydrated state in the body. Water and sea salt,
a natural antihistamine, with its combination of natural minerals and
natural sodium, comes to the rescue. In his book, Dr. "Batman," as he
is referred to, has many letters from physicians telling of their good
experience with this rehydration program with their own child as well
as their patients.

Many parents find relief for their child's hidden food allergy or
sensitivity (after the six-week elimination diet) using natural
enzymes designed to help the child digest the offending food
substance. Two books written by Karen DeFelice give tremendous
information about how to use enzymes to help your child with allergies
that are manifesting in behavioral and physical ways: "Enzymes for
Autism and other Neurological Conditions" (these powerful, natural
enzymes work for many other conditions other than autism, also), and
"Enzymes: Go With Your Gut" (http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7817).
My husband found that he can now eat all the offending foods he
couldn't for years, using these enzymes
(http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7818). Maybe this could be your
child (or husband), too.

In these books, parents write of a phenomenon they call the "Happy
Child Effect." Children who were previously grumpy and hard to get
along with because of a hidden allergy or sensitivity are now happy
all the time, according to the parents' reports. Speech improves,
sleep improves, and food intolerances are gradually decreased.
Children who have sensory processing disorders benefit the most, it
seems. They can soon tolerate noise, transitions and food textures.
This is certainly something for parents to read, consider, and pray
about for their child.

God has given us wonderful solutions for many of life's everyday,
perplexing problems. As we seek Him, He will faithfully show us the
way for our child.

The information in this article should not be construed as a diagnosis
or medical advice. Please consult your physician for any medical
condition and before adding supplements or changing a child's diet.

* See Dr. Leo Galland's book, "Superimmunity for Kids," and Dr.
William Crook's book, "Help for the Hyperactive Child."
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More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1108

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