Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Is my child autistic?
I was in labor with Connor for over 40 hours and 38 hours of it was natural. I didn't want any intervention and I definitely didn't want to use any medication. I was determined to give Connor as healthy a beginning as possible.
Connor was a bright and wonderful baby. He was social and playful and happy. Looking back, there were signs that Connor was already struggling with a toxic load, but they were so subtle there was no way to know. He had a love for fans. He would stare at his ceiling fan for long periods of time. We use to joke that the aliens were talking to him through the fan. He also never crawled. I blamed the "back to sleep" campaign for not exposing him to his tummy often enough. Despite these things, Connor seemed to be developing typically. He sat up on time. He rolled over on time. He even started talking at a year. He had six or more words by thirteen months. He was so social and happy. We always were complimented by waitresses on how happy he was. He always wanted their attention. I didn't even notice right away when all of those things started to disappear.
Connor is my first born. He is also the first grandchild. None of our friends had even started to have kids yet, and because of it we didn't have another child to compare to Connor. We thought that he lined up cars and stared at the wheels turning because he was an engineer's son and he was studying them. It wasn't until a neighbor came over with her little girl that was a couple of months younger than Connor that I began to notice differences. She pointed at a balloon we had in the house and turned to her mom and said, "balloon". Then she went over to touch Connor and he started screaming. It was then that I began to piece together the clues. I knew something was going on. I then realized Connor had stopped talking. He wasn't looking at me anymore either. I would call his name over and over and he wouldn't even look at me, then a car would drive by and he would turn and look at it. It was all so gradual that it was hard to see it happening.
I didn't know what was wrong. I took him to the doctor and he tried to reassure me that he was a boy and that nothing was wrong. I insisted that Connor had stopped talking and that that alone was not normal. I insisted he recommend we go to a speech therapist and have Connor tested for a speech issue. The speech therapist asked a couple of seemingly weird questions that didn't seem related to speech issues at all. She asked if Connor played with his toys appropriately. She explained that appropriate meant flying the plane around and making plane noises, or driving the car around and making car noises. I described how he spins wheels instead. She then asked Connor to point to mom. Connor didn't seem to hear her. He just continued to "play". She repeated, "Connor, were is mom?". He didn't even look up. She said she had seen enough. She told me that she would call his doctor and discuss her opinion of a possible diagnosis. I didn't understand why she couldn't discuss it with us . When we got home, I called the speech therapist's office and asked her to tell me what was wrong with Connor. I assured her that I wouldn't sue or hold her accountable for anything. She then told me that Connor clearly was autistic. She told me that he was a classic case.
I didn't know what autism was. I had never heard of it, but I knew it wasn't good. I started doing research on-line and quickly discovered other mom's out there that had a similar story. I would read for a while and then cry hysterically for a while. I knew that I was at a precipice. I would either lay down and die (which sounded easy) or get up and fight. Little did I know how much fighting I would have to do and for how long.
My mom had immediately gone to Barnes and Noble and found a couple of books by moms who had found ways to help their children out of autism using food and vitamins. I was so happy that although they had to suffer with the same issues my son was now going through, that they wrote a book to help those of us coming after them to learn what they had learned. I was so grateful to them for sharing their story and helping so many. They had done a lot of research and in the end their children were not considered autistic anymore. I knew this would be Connor. I had no doubt that with a diet change and supplements he would be recovered. I thought it would take a year or two and voila, Connor would be healed. It had only taken a couple of days to drive his body into autism, and I thought it would only take a year or so to heal it.
Seven years later, Connor is doing well. He is still autistic, but high functioning. I tell this to you so you don't feel like you have to see your child "cured" right away to feel like you are doing the right thing. I know now that some kids do recover right away from just diet, and others will never recover. I know that Connor was already autistic when he was given a double dose of vaccines at his 18 month check-up. I use to play the whata, coulda, shoulda game and think about what I would have done different, but everything happens for a reason. I feel like Connor is autistic to help other people. He is a strong person and he is living this life for a reason. Just today a mom called me to ask me about my journey and what I have learned along the way. Her son was just diagnosed and he is just three years old. That little boy will now be helped thanks to Connor. Maybe they won't have to make the same mistakes I made. Maybe their journey will be a short one.