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This is our update 1.5 years after using the Nemechek Protocol. We began in November 2018; I wrote updates at 11 weeks, 6 months and 1 year – please read these to get an overview of what the protocol entails. It’s important to note that I am not a doctor, nor an affiliate. I am not compensated for my review; I am just a parent with a child using the protocol.
Today marks about 1 year and 8 months, actually. I thought it important to write, especially at a time when many kids have been out of school, and those with special needs reporting regression during this pandemic.
faithfully continuing with the protocol
Using a liberal amount of certified olive oil while cooking, and batch-cooking olive oil muffins to freeze, we’re able to get that 1 Tablespoon dose of EVOO in daily. While she was going to school, sometimes I’d pack the EVOO-packed muffin in her lunch.
School stopped for my kids in early March of 2020 due to the pandemic. Crisis schooling began. It was far from easy, but we did keep up on the basics – reading, writing and basic math. We have seen some regression – most notably with speech. We are seeing much more stuttering or ‘bumpy speech’ than pre-pandemic. Speech therapy frequencies were reduced by the school, and done 100% online.
I believe that much of the regression we’ve seen is due to schedule changes and lack of consistency. Transitions are a challenge, and, on top of that, take away the comfort of the daily routine: riding the bus, the consistent daily school schedule, etc., anxiety increases. My kiddo thrives on a consistent routine.
Adapting to change
All that said, she was able to pivot much better than I anticipated. Although she grumbled about completing online work — she did complete online work. She adapted to the new daily “routine”. I use the word routine loosely — given that both my husband and I were both working more than full time through this pandemic – so we fit in schoolwork at all different hours to accommodate.
Weekly, we review sight words, and have seen no regression as it relates to reading. I can’t say there has been great forward-progress, but given the current circumstances, happy that there hasn’t been slide-back on reading skills.
Sleep schedules have shifted a bit – where we stay up a bit later and get up a bit later. For the most part, my kiddo continues to sleep all night. There have been a few nights where she’s had trouble – but then again, that happens from me from time to time too. (If you follow our blog, you know that we struggled with sleep for many years.)
Life Skills Learning
Over the last few months, we’ve focused on basic life skills tasks such as taking out garbage, making a bowl of cereal, filling and emptying the dishwasher. Pandemic life (when both parents work full time and are ‘essential’) means we need all hands on deck. Chores were not welcomed with open arms – but now they are routine.
We’ve also used social stories to teach the importance of hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing masks. It took some practice and reinforcement, but my kiddo can get her own mask on, and is a pro at using hand sanitizer. We’ve also practiced fist bumps instead of hugs. (Get the [no cost] social stories HERE)
The theme here seems to be flexibility and adaptability. This can be tough for kids who thrive on a consistent routine – and overall, I’d say my kiddo has adapted.
The main difference I’ve noticed is that, although she’s been relatively flexible, she is expressing more anger about so much change. When this happens, she needs a bit of time to regulate herself — BUT — she can self-identify this, and will go up to her room for the time she needs. We’ve just been allowing her to process that emotion, and so far, so good.
My daughter started a gluten and dairy free diet when she was 4 and has been eating that way for 10 years. She would experience horrible stomach pain when eating both – and it contributed to some behaviors (read our story here). Dr. Nemechek says that once the gut is healed, special diets won’t be needed.
With that, I feel it’s important to mention that we’ve introduced a lactose free dairy milk, something that would have caused stomach aches years ago. Although we’re careful not to overdo it – my kiddo has enjoyed chocolate milk or lactose free ice cream, about once per day. She’s also enjoyed some regular bread (at times when we’ve run out or experienced shortages during the pandemic) about once per week. For her birthday in July, I made her a (lactose free and gluten free) ice cream cake. No stomach aches. For us, this is simply amazing.
This is a tough one to measure, because social interactions have been drastically reduced during the pandemic. My kiddo has been able to Face Time her best friend daily – and this is really important to her – even if they only chat for 5 minutes. She’s also gotten good at playing games over Face Time with extended family – like Uno, Farkle, and Yahtzee.
Is the protocol the panacea?
Anyone who knows me, knows I take a conservative approach to just about everything. I research and tend to favor more holistic approaches.
Can I definitively say that the Nemechek protocol has caused ALL of the progress we’ve seen? Nope. What I can say, is that while she was in school and doing the protocol simultaneously, it seemed that progress was exponential. We started to see some language explosion – and improvement in reading.
And, let’s face it — olive oil, fish oil and inulin fiber? These are natural products – which is why I encourage parents to learn more about the protocol. It’s simple and inexpensive. Read the book. Join parents groups on the subject to hear what others are saying. If you want some background on the protocol, please visit my other posts on the subject.
Overall, I believe that the Nemechek protocol is an important tool in our toolbox. We’ve seen progress, and healing. We’ve made an appointment to see Dr. Nemechek in person – it’s in January 2021. I’m excited to learn more about vagus nerve stimulation to evaluate whether this is a good fit for our family.
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