It took a long time for me to believe I wasn’t to blame for my son’s Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Giovanni, 9, has autism and when he was first diagnosed two years ago it felt like relief, and then very quickly I began to panic.
How was I going to fix my son who, at 7, was already a late diagnosis? I’d have to get on top of this now, yesterday, immediately. And during those first few months as I slowly came to the realisation that I couldn’t fix my son, I also spent a lot of time feeling like it was all my fault.
Maybe I didn’t eat the right foods during pregnancy.
Maybe I breathed in wet paint accidentally.
Maybe I should have had him diagnosed sooner.
Listen to the one big problem with this season of My Kitchen Rules on The Binge.
Eventually, after experiencing some of my darkest moments, I realised it wasn’t my fault. My son was born with a neurological disorder. It happens. It is what it is. There’s no point getting upset about it.
Blaming myself for it was tantamount to blaming him for it.
Or blaming the weather for it.
The journey I went on though relief, shock, panic and pain is the exact same journey all parents of special needs children go through. To get to the point where you finally accept the diagnosis and figure out how to manage your child’s needs is a painful one.
That’s why I can no longer watch My Kitchen Rules.
My Kitchen Rules judge Pete Evans has previously claimed his controverisal Paleo diet may help curb the rise of autism. In fairness, he’s not the only one making this ridiculous claim. He’s just the one with the biggest platform.
And I can’t support someone like him misusing that platform any longer.
Here is Pete Evans’ post from two years ago in which he links autism to diet. Article continues after this post.
The first time Evans tried to link autism to diet was two years ago on his Facebook page when he wrote:
Why has our rate of autism jumped from 1 in 10000 children in 1974, to 1 in 50 in 2014, where do you think it will be in another 40 years if it is escalating at this rate? This has grown rapidly since the guidelines have been in place!
And as if it couldn’t get any worse, he then tried to allege mental illness and dementia was also due to the foods we choose to eat.
Why is the rate of mental illness including dementia and Alzheimer’s escalating at a frightening rate and we are told by the DAA and Heart Foudnation to avoid Saturated fat when this is what our brains need to survive and function properly.
These comments have always bugged me, but it wasn’t until his recent Sunday Night during which he demonstrated Tom-Cruise-like smugness and arrogance, during which he showed exactly the extent to which he is hideously misinformed, that it really upset me.
How can he think a bit of internet research qualifies him to comment on serious medical issues?
Does he ever stop to think about how he makes people like me feel or the effect he is having on already struggling families?
Maybe he doesn’t think much at all? Most likely, he doesn’t really care.
Monique Bowley’s fake interview with Pete Evans is hilarious. Article continues after this video.
Pete Evans is a major celebrity who is rich, successful and virtually untouchable. He’s so pompus he won’t even listen to medical professionals and every criticism seems to cause him to be even more vitriolic.
He’s the Donald Trump of the food world, and that is not a compliment.
Sadly nothing I say or do is going to stop him from making his baseless health claims about the Paleo way of eating which is based on how cavemen ate, just meat, eggs, vegetables and natural oils but no diary, grains or pulses.
There are lots of radical eating plans in the public sphere that claim to cure all sorts of medical conditions but Paleo is the one stealing the spotlight and warping eating habits around the world, as detoxes did before it and low fat before that.
Evans has really upset me but not just because my son is special needs, but on behalf of all of the special needs family I am lucky enough to know.
Does he really think we haven’t tried everything to help our children?
I don’t anywhere near the influence Evans has, so all I can do is switch my TV off when My Kitchen Rules comes on. And it’s hard, because it was my favourite show, watching it my way of recovering from the day.
But enough’s enough. It’s time to take a stand.
People who spread ignorance that is damaging and hurtful will no longer get my support, even if I enjoy their work, even if I’m curious about what they are going to say, even if they’re personable and entertaining. It’s time to make a stand on behalf of my son, on behalf of all children with health problems the Paleo diet claims to cure and on behalf of all parents who already wonder if they are to blame.
They’re not. Nor are their children.
We are all just doing our best to deal with the cards we have been dealt.
It’s a shame Paleo doesn’t cure stupid but it’s unlikely to do that any more than it is to prevent or cure autism. But if the hundreds of comments on his official Facebook page following his most recent interview is anything to go by, he’s reaching messiah status.
Here's what I know about autism.
Autism is a neurological disorder that has been around for generations. We have become much better and diagnosing. There's no known cause of autism or cure.
That's not to say radical changes to diet won't help with some health problems. Of course it does, as does any diet that increases intake of fruits and vegetables.
But not neurological disorders, with which children are born, by the luck of the draw.
Not bad luck, because even if I could I wouldn't change Giovanni in any way. To me he is perfect.
That's the reason I am very careful what I watch, read and listen to, whom I befriend on Facebook and whom I listen to as I go about my daily life with my three children, each of whom has different needs, my middle son having the most needs of all.
I won't be sending my son's stool sample to another state for analysis, to figure out which foods have caused his autism. It's offensive on so many levels.
There isn't one shred of evidence that diet causes or cures autism. There isn't one shred of evidence linking diet to autism. Not one person with a medical degree has ever said autism can be cured by food, or is caused by food, or vaccinations, or the paint fumes I accidentally breathed in while I was pregnant.
And I refuse to listen to such nonsense anymore. Life is hard enough.
Pete Evans can say, do and eat whatever he wants. That's his right. But I don't have to listen to him or support him in any way.
And I urge you to do the same.
Being careful about who we give our time and attention to is the only power we have.
World Autism Awareness Day is this Sunday 2 April, 2017, kicking off World Autism Awareness Month.
Who else wishes Pete Evans could be replaced with Colin Fassnidge? Answer in the comments section below.