I have written Arlo’s story and his subsequent update over the past 2 years. It’s officially time for update number 3 and it’s a GOOD ONE! I’d also like to introduce Regular Girl, an amazing product we have been trying with Arlo to help with gut health and digestive issues.
Arlo the Hero
My boy is excelling in all areas. I never imagined I would be able to say this about Arlo. He’s my hero. He’s always been my hero, but seeing him flourish both in and out of school has been incredible. We’ve made a few changes since his last update which I think will be great for parents of autistic children to read.
The Therapy Route
In the US, therapy for autistic children is pretty common. We chose to begin ABA therapy when Arlo was first diagnosed at age 4. ABA is amazing and Arlo has thrived thanks to his dedicated therapist and supervisor. But ABA doesn’t help him with social skills. We realised once he started in a general education classroom that he was going to need some help socially. We have since added a wonderful group therapy which is helping to close the social gap Arlo experiences.
Here’s the thing. All the therapy in the world cannot help certain physical symptoms autistic children experience.
The more research I have done, the more I have realised that gut health is just as important as therapies (as well as all the other things all children need – love, sleep, water!). We need to have a healthy gut to have healthy brain function and also to generally feel great. The gut is healed through a combination of probiotics and prebiotics (prebiotics ‘feed’ the probiotics and help the gut to utilise them).
In my search for ways to improve the gut health of our whole family, I discovered Regular Girl. Regular Girl is a dietary supplement that has been a game changer for our whole family! I will never underestimate the power of probiotics and prebiotics again.
What is Regular Girl?
A synbiotic blend of clinically proven prebiotic fiber and probiotics that help maintain a healthy digestive balance.* Regular Girl uses the award winning Sunfiber® brand of soluble dietary fiber and the clinically proven Bifidobacterium lactis. Formulated for women by a woman nutritionist and dietitian. Regular Girl is available in convenient on-the-go stick packs as well as a 30-day supply of scoop-able powder. Sunfiber is an all-natural, versatile, soluble powder that can easily be added to a wide variety of foods, beverages, and supplements without impacting the flavor, color, texture or aroma. Sunfiber is certified Kosher, 100 percent gluten-free, vegetarian, Non-GMO Project Verified and Monash University Low FODMAP CertifiedTM.
But what does Regular Girl have to do with Autism?
According to research done by Regular Girl, scientists are now finding that a simple dietary change such as increasing soluble fiber intake may improve both constipation and irritability in autistic children. What lives in our gut affects our mood and behavior. Nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott, Ph.D. explains:
What your gut tells your brain – and vice versa – is part of what scientists call the gut/brain axis. The good bacteria (probiotics) in your gut create most of the serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters responsible for your mood.
When the gut has an imbalance of the wrong kinds of bacteria, it sends improper signals to the brain. That can show up as irritability. So, the question is: How can we change the bacteria in the gut so the child feels and behaves better?
Nutritional research is leading us in a surprising new direction.
Soluble fiber, also known as prebiotic fiber, feeds the gut’s good bacteria and helps to establish a healthier probiotic balance in the gut. Soluble fiber is also known to help manage occasional constipation.
The theory is that by using soluble fiber to support gut health, behavior might also improve.
“Ten years ago, if researchers had told their universities they wanted to give fiber to address symptoms of autism, they would have been laughed out of the room,” comments Talbott. Yet today, this is a promising area of clinical research. “Early published studies have recently found a connection between soluble fiber intake and management of digestive autism symptoms.”
How has Regular Girl specifically helped Arlo?
Arlo’s bathroom habits are personal and totally not something I plan to put out into the world. However, I will say that all people suffer from occasional bathroom issues, and these are more common in autistic children. As adults, we know when we feel bloated or just not quite right. We can do things to help ourselves. Children find this more difficult to explain, and for children with autism that verbalisation can be even more difficult.
I know what you are wondering. Why is a child taking a product that sounds like it’s for women? Regular Girl is actually suitable for the whole family. Their website says:
Regular Girl is a synbiotic blend of prebiotic fiber and probiotics that is appropriate for all ages. Regular Girl addresses occasional constipation and diarrhea and is easily added to juice, milk, yogurt smoothies, or any other cool food or beverage. Regular Girl can be taken to address digestive irregularity, but is also intended to be taken on a daily basis to maintain regularity. The recommended dosage of 1 serving (6 grams) is the same for all ages above 9 months.
Regular Girl resulted in some very positive changes for Arlo (and the rest of our family). He is more relaxed, which means we are all happier! He no longer complains of a tummy ache. I worry less about the amount of fiber I am getting into his diet. I also worry less about the fact that his diet is limited in some areas. Of course, there are lots of ways to add probiotics and prebiotic fiber into your diet, but this is not so easy when the diet is restrictive.
We’ve been very lucky with Arlo’s diet in many ways. Restrictive eating is very common among the autistic community but Arlo loves to eat healthy foods. However, he does not like dairy or bitter drinks. That completely rules out kombucha, kefir, and yogurt; all foods naturally high in gut-healing probiotics. While the rest of our family have added in probiotics through our food, it hasn’t been that easy with Arlo. I have been able to sneak small amounts of kefir and kvass into his smoothies, but Regular Girl’s flavourless probiotic content means I can rest easy knowing his gut is still receiving healthy bacteria!
How do you take Regular Girl?
This is literally the best part about Regular Girl, especially for autistic children or children with taste aversions (that’s most kids isn’t it?!). It is a white powder that can be added to anything liquid and cold and it has virtually no taste. NO TASTE!
We add it to a small glass of juice or a smoothie but it can also be added to water, yogurt, milk, or any other liquid your kids love. It doesn’t change the texture or thickness. I just add it to my water bottle each day. It leaves the water ever so slightly cloudy, but I don’t think it’s noticeable unless you look closely. It genuinely has no discernable taste and there are no unwanted side effects that you can experience with other fiber supplements. It is also shelf stable so doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge. It just gets better and better right?!
How quickly does Regular Girl get to work?
The best part is that I noticed a difference with him almost right away! I am not claiming (nor do I want) that this is a ‘cure’ for autism. There is no cure for autism, nor do we need one. Autism is a neurological condition. Arlo knows he has a special brain that makes him an extra special boy. But if I am being totally honest, there are some things we would change FOR HIM. He is easily overwhelmed, has a short fuse, and can get very upset. We noticed positive effects on his behaviour within a few days (and we also noticed negative effects when we stopped giving the Regular Girl for a week). When his gut is balanced Arlo is happier, sleeps better, is less irritable, and seems to find it easy to calm himself down. That is HUGE for us.
I want it! Where can I buy Regular Girl?
Regular Girl has had so many positive effects for our whole family. I want your family to try it too!
Feeling bloated? Regular Girl!
Feeling sick or run down? Regular Girl!
Suffering from jetlag tummy? Regular Girl!
Just want to improve your gut health and feel great? You guessed it. Regular Girl!
Need some help in the bathroom dept? REGULAR GIRL (yes, it contains probiotic fiber which keeps you regular….)