Martin in Paradise

For the last ten days we’ve been vacationing in Costa Rica. The “we” comprised me, Adrian, Martin, my mother and stepfather, my two older brothers, Adrian’s mother, and Adrian’s brother. Nine people. Nine people together in a house on the beach, off the beaten path.

I had trouble finding organic fruits and vegetables, and I suspect the papaya we ate may have been genetically modified. I used olive oil that was partially refined. The cookware was aluminum. Martin had seafood daily, mercury be damned. He ate way too much rice, probably too much fruit, and even homemade fruit juice. I found some locally made treats with oats, nuts, and raw agave, but I couldn’t get any intel on whether the oats were gluten-free. I gave Martin the treats anyway.

We ran out of several supplements, enzymes, and antimicrobials (poor planning on my part), including mucuna, serrapeptase, MitoSpectra, Nose & Lungs, cumanda, and Boluoke.

We had no set schedule, so Martin never knew what we might throw at him in a day. We didn’t do his vision exercises. His glasses sat abandoned, unworn.

We pushed his limits, sometimes over his protests. We took him zip-lining and horseback riding, made him a passenger on ATV’s and jet skis, insisted on swim lessons.

He had two allergic reactions, one to a horse that left his face bumpy and itchy, and one to an unidentified food irritant (restaurant) that caused a rash to spread from the corners of his mouth down his neck.

In the face of these shortcomings and stress, Martin—soared. Martin’s had trouble sleeping these last couple months. In Costa Rica, he volunteered bedtime by 7:30 pm and slept 10 or 11 hours unbroken. His iPad requests, which at home are a near-constant whine, decreased markedly. On our few prior visits to beaches (I’m not a fan), Martin has refused to let the salt water rise above his knees. After a week in Costa Rica, he bobbed neck-deep as the ocean waves tossed him to and fro. Daily, he refused to leave the beach.

He conversed with his uncles and answered strangers’ questions. He used new expressions.

Overcoming recent food-choice rigidity, he rediscovered tropical fruits and ate mango, pineapple, and papaya with abandon.

Because we were without North American television, Martin could not watch his fixation of late, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He managed without complaint. Instead, he drew pictures.

One afternoon, Martin was at a local bar/café with Adrian, my brother Eddie, and my brother-in-law, Pancho. The establishment was about 300 yards from our house, past a swim pool, an exercise plot, and a several haciendas. I was in the house showering when Martin entered the bathroom and said casually, “Hi, Mommy. I came home alone.” I told him to scram—after all, I was showering—and his statement didn’t quite register until I was toweled and dressed and found a text message from Adrian: “Martin is coming home. Make sure the door is unlocked?” Adrian had indeed authorized Martin to walk home unaccompanied, and Martin had achieved the feat, without getting lost or wandering off.

Just sayin’, I would not have let Martin walk home alone. But Adrian did, and out of the decision came some measure of independence.

I’m not saying that 10 days in Costa Rica brought a miraculously fully recovered Martin. Not by a long shot. He was too distracted to get the full benefit of those swim lessons. The pictures he drew were all of marching bands or orchestras. (He used to draw only pictures of The Beatles. Now he draws only marching bands and orchestras.) He engaged in a lot of oral stimming: “mouth noises,” I call the sucking-and-clucking sound he makes. He showed virtually no interest in the other kids scampering and riding bicycles in the neighborhood. Our last full day in Costa Rica was a bad day; sneezing and maybe teetering on sickness, he requested another round of zip-lining but then melted down and refused to participate. He repeated himself, nervously. He spaced out.

Still, overall, Costa Rica brought us a behaviorally improved Martin. Indisputably.

I don’t know what made the difference. Sea water? Clean air? Reduced EMF’s and cellular radiation? Extended family? Time to be a kid?

We’re on the plane now, headed home to the New York metropolitan area. (You know how I love to airplane-blog.) Martin just told me he wants to watch Mickey’s Clubhouse, when it’s on at home. I find myself questioning whether full and true recovery might require some bolder step, like removal from urban or suburban life.

Would I have that in me? Would Adrian?

14 thoughts on “Martin in Paradise

  1. We notice the same thing being near the ocean, Carribean beach holidays in particular where the salt concentration is very high. I’ve read also that its the lower altitude (ie at sea level) that also helps, apparently it reduces the impact of heavy metals, metals give off a type of transmission which aggravates pathogens/parasites. Seemed like a far fetched explanation but also kinda makes sense. We actually supplement with ocean water, rather than mineral supplements. Ocean water (diluted 1:3) mineral profile is perfectly balanced so there is less risk of causing mineral imbalances as per supplements — and parasites hate it. I like it because its natural and eliminates all the concern of fillers etc.

  2. Wow, I had the same exact experience with my son (4.5 ASD) ! We did 7 days in Aruba and it was unbelievable the difference in his demeanor- he’s obsessed with the iPad and almost forgot it existed while we were there. I tried to convince my husband to move there lol

  3. I just stumbled upon your blog, and I love it. I identify wholeheartedly, and your sense of humor about life, Martin, and your own struggles, feels so resonant. I had a thought about this particular post. We recovered my son, Ben, who had autism. He’s 13 now, and was diagnosed at 5. A huge part of our journey of ASD recovery was me learning how to relax into life, especially letting go of beating the sh** out of myself on a regular basis. So I was wondering if it’s not necessarily that you were out of urban and into a slower-paced environment, but that you were able to find some time for yourself in Costa Rica, and if whether Martin was responding to your feeling good, and since you weren’t being hammered with the usual massive stress? I know I never caused my son’s behaviors outrightly, but I saw (and continue to see) that when I’m more relaxed, and when I’m better to myself, he seems better too. I’m learning how important it is to be good to myself… Please keep writing!! Warm wishes, Susan

    • Susan, these are really good thoughts. With me, it’s not so much “beating myself up” as “letting Martin see my anxiety,” which comes out especially when we are around other kids. I over-coach. I remind him not to repeat questions, not to talk about Mickey’s Clubhouse, not to isolate himself. Given that we had relatively few other kids around in Costa Rica, maybe I relaxed about that, and Martin felt more confident. Thanks for the reminder.

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