Our oldest son attends a Montessori preschool and his teacher had been concerned from day one over a few of his little habits. In November 1999 he was assessed because he has always been an over emotional child and his concentration was not developing like his teacher expected. He was also rolling his eyes when doing work at school and he was starting to fall behind. At no time did anyone (teacher or assessor) think ADD / ADDH was a problem. Needless to say our feet hit the ground running since that assessment.

First stop was diet. The lady who did the assessment recommended getting both our children off additives immediately and reducing dairy and wheat. We were lucky to get into Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Allergy Clinic a few weeks after the assessment. By then we had totally removed additives, dairy and wheat from the children's diet. I'm sure anyone that has gone through this will remember the shock of those early days. Did we really eat that unhealthy? What was left that we could eat?

Within three days after removing additives, wheat and dairy from the children's diet our children transformed into angels. Our son and daughter had always fought. After three days there was no fighting. They were settled and calm within themselves. They slept longer. They ate more. The teachers at school wanted to know who possessed our son. All of a sudden he was focused, able to concentrate and more sociable. Parent's of his friends noticed the change. His 5 year old friends noticed a change. Of course no one believed us it was due to a major diet change. After

all, bread is good for you! The children have done the elimination diet and we have been steadily challenging food chemicals. Judging by the reaction from our dietician our children are not fitting the usual reactions. The children have had no physical reactions. All reactions have been behaviour related. Wheat made both children aggressive, giddy and unfocused. Cow's milk (both with lactose and without lactose) made both children emotional basket cases however they had no reaction to tasty cheese. We think they reacted to cow's milk yogurt but we are going to retest. I know they reacted to ice cream also. Our dietician explained that an emotional reaction to cow's milk has been observed so we weren't imagining things. Currently the children are being tested on additives from unlabeled capsules. Our son’s first test was food colouring. Even without a label the additive was obvious when I broke open the capsule. Within minutes he reacted with hyperactive energy. I believe his teacher had one of the worst days in her teaching career that day! She told me never ever ever give him that again. He was unfocused, talking non-stop and could not concentrate. It took three days to get out of his system.

A few things have amazed me through our food testing experience. Once the chemicals are out of the diet the reactions when the chemical was re-introduced has been over the top. How could the children have ever eaten those chemicals before and we did not see the reactions? Once you start from a clean slate and looking at one chemical at a time the results are amazing. I'm also amazed how many foods contain unsafe chemicals. Has anyone ever tried to buy corn chips with
no anti-oxidants? Not many edible choices out there. Lucky we're not corn chip people! I am also astonished how long it takes for the children to regain their angelic natures after a food challenge. RPA gives approximately three days but we found it takes at least one week for the bad stuff to get out of the children's systems.

I am convinced that our children are not the only children with food intolerances. I think all children have food intolerances but parents are living in denial. I speak to friends and they all agree that their child should cut back on this or that food. No one has the commitment to do this unless they have reached crisis point. We knew our son was a high needs / high returns child from day one but we never thought that food intolerances were part of the equation. We now see that unless your child has a good clean diet then they have no chance to reach their potential.

Our son’s overall problem is neurological. His birth was very bad. It appears that structural damage prevented parts of his brain integrating hence the result is he has problems getting information out. He has seen a cranial chiropractor, a behavioural optometrist and a kinesiologist plus weekly visits to a neurodevelopment therapist. The bottom line is until his diet intolerances have been confirmed and his metabolism rebuilt by the kinesiologist the neurological side will not be totally fixed.

Our daughter has been dragged along on his journey. At one stage blood tests indicated she had coeliac disease. A visit to the specialist concluded she has a strong disposition towards coeliac disease but she is not a coeliac. I was amazed that a specialist dealing with gut problems was skeptical of results from the food challenges. That specialist was recommended because he was one of the open minded ones!

Meanwhile the children are permanently off gluten, dairy (except a little cheese) and additives. We have gone back to the old fashion make it at home cooking and baking. I don't even bother with the instant gluten-free additive-free box foods. Hey, I can make a pizza base that tastes just as good from scratch. We continue with his other therapies. He's making great progress. Still up and down because the diet is still being sorted out. Our daughter is two years younger. Luckily she is young and she has not been under the scrutiny academic wise that our son has. She has had food reactions but shows no neurological problems.  The thing that frightens me most is that we live in a world of children (and adults) who are zombies due to food chemicals. All those beautiful little minds being drugged by legal chemicals in our foods. Parents who have gone through food challenges and have children with food intolerances need to educate their friends. A parent just needs to change their diet for a short time to see the proof that their child is affected by foods. - Mother, Sydney