I started wondering if I should supplement Ruby’s diet with fish oil, or with some other Omega 3 supplement. I’ve known that some people supplement their children with apraxia with extra Omega 3 fatty acids for some time, and I’ve read bits and pieces about it on the internet, but I never seriously looked into it. Whenever I did a little Google search about I came across parents’ remarks that sounded credulous (overeager to attribute the progress most children, apraxic or not, would be expected to make, given therapy and time, to supplements) a product website or two that looked quackish to me, and here and there some concerns about supplements that held potentially dangerous amounts of Vitamin E. I never asked a professional if I should put Ruby on supplements, and nobody — not her wise pediatrician of several years in DC, not the Childhood Apraxia of Speech specialist we travelled to the Mayo Clinic for, not neurologists or geneticists, nor any of her therapists — ever suggested it (the pediatrician simply said that she recommended that all her patients take a multi-vitamin, a recommendation that I was happy not to follow, since Ruby has always scorned sweets and hogs all mushrooms, berries, and cheese in sight). Which is just to say that though I definitely didn’t seek professional guidance regarding supplements and whether they’d help with Ruby’s apraxia and other developmental delays, I never worried that she was missing out on something that she needed.
Now for the first time (thanks mainly to Facebook and my new oodles of free time) I am connected to a network of families of children with apraxia. It’s already been useful to me. And I’ve learned through this network that indeed many parents of children with apraxia do use supplements for their children, even ones who seem smart and reasonable, from what one can creepily glean through what is shared online. And so, for the first time (that is, for this particular reason, of course!) I felt that shame and guilt and fear of wondering if I’ve been doing wrong by Ruby this whole time by not dosing her up with Omegas.
So I started looking a bit more purposefully at supplement options and what people were saying about them (though I’ve yet to read an academic article — If anyone has one to share, please send it my way) and thinking about what dealing with the yucky pill/fish oil situation would be like, and then found lists of the foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids (other than fish, which even this dummy already knew about…but there’s only so much fish one can eat, and there’s only so much fish one should eat).
Flax seeds and walnuts are at the top of the list. Duh, Kristen. Duh duh duh duh duh. I smiled and laughed at myself and almost cried as I pictured my mother standing in her blue robe doing a little dance with Ruby to the sound of the coffee grinder grinding up flax seeds to mix into oatmeal topped with walnuts and raisins, practically every morning for the three years that Ruby and I lived with her and my father. Like all of her delicious food, Ruby gobbled it up.
There’s something so delicate and respectful about this, I don’t think I can describe it. My mother would never tell me she thought Ruby should take a supplement, and compared to what she actually did, that starts to seem crude. She just took advantage of the fact that Ruby has a good appetite (which should probably be credited to her) and her position as Ruby’s main cook for several years and in her quiet healthy Gran Ma way, making oatmeal and salmon and seafood gumbo, slipped tons of Omega 3 fatty acids into Ruby’s diet. Sometimes I despair because really, this is a confusing situation and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, people constantly ask me questions about Ruby but nobody gives me answers. This liberal dousing of Omega 3s reminded me that we’ve always been supported.
With all the celebratory domestic-goddess wannabe cooking I’ve been doing this year, Ruby’s flax seeds have fallen away and I’ve been sitting around thinking of making something phenomenal like banana cream pie, which she won’t even eat…and she certainly eats more pasta and cereal than she used to. Feeling relieved and embarrassed and vaguely stressed or simply reminded that there’s so much to be done, and so much at stake, I headed to Brooklyn’s new Whole Foods (which I usually avoid except for Ruby’s yogurt and organic lactose-free milk, not carried by our local supermarket) and binge shopped for Omegas and superfoods. Then, while Ruby and Andrew watched “Adventures in Babysitting,” I prepared an Omega-blasting feast of baked salmon and wild rice salad with freshly ground flaxseeds (I bought a sexy grinder), walnuts, vidalia onion, prune, parsley, apple, celery, and sherry-vinegar dressing. My girl ate well. Now that it’s on my radar, another thing to be vigilant about, providing a diet rich enough in Omega 3 fatty acids should be an easy win.