Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How It All Started

Andrew was born June 4, 2004 in Roseville, California. He was 21”, 7lbs 5oz and healthy. We moved to Washington when Andy was 10 months old. My mother and father came to visit us in Washington in September of 2004. My mother was the first to really see the change (Andy was 15 months old). She noticed that Andy wasn’t aware of his surroundings or sounds. We started to challenge his hearing by banging blocks behind him to see if he would look for the sound. He didn’t flinch or blink his eyes. We thought he was deaf. I knew this was something we could handle, we would have his hearing tested and if hearing aids didn’t work then we would all learn sign language. When we had his hearing tested all the test results concluded that Andy could hear fine. That’s when I started to get scared, what was wrong with my baby? I went to his pediatrician for help. He told me that Andy looks like a healthy baby. I asked if Andy might have Autism. He told me that he didn’t see any signs of Autism. This was a relief for me, but we still didn’t know what was going on. The doctor gave me the phone numbers for Children’s Services of Sno Valley (CSSV) and a Neurologist. I called both. We got and appointment with CSSV in December and the Neurologist was booked out for 9 months (October 2005 was the soonest appointment). Andy was evaluated at CSSV and a week later we got the results that he was severely delayed in all developmental areas. This was not surprising news to me. From September to December I was watching him closely and noticed that he was not communicating in any way. I looked in my baby books to see what milestones he should be meeting and noticed that he had only met one and that was walking. He was very off balanced and spent most of his time alone. He had no interest in anyone not even his older sister. I asked Andy’s doctor to give me the name of another Neurologist; we were able to get into see him sooner. He asked us a lot of questions and evaluated Andy for about 5 minutes. Then he told us that Andy had brain damage and we would do some blood work and he wanted to see Andy back in 6 months. We were thoroughly disheartened by this. We couldn’t believe that he wasn’t going to order any other tests to determine the extent of the brain damage. In January 2005 Andy started Speech and Occupational Therapy for his delays. Each session was one day a week for one hour. He was also meeting with a special education teacher for one hour a week. All three of the therapists told me they didn’t see any signs of Autism. By this time I couldn’t believe them. I started doing research on the internet and looked into what the signs of Autism really were. I found a lot of sites that listed symptoms and when Andy fell into 85% of the symptoms I know he was Autistic. But with no diagnosis and no one that would listen to me I felt frustrated and alone. While we were trying to get help in Washington, my parents were doing lots of research of there own in California. They found an article by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that said Autistic children were benefiting from a diet without gluten or casein, so we took them out as best we could in February. Within one week Andy started to make eye contact, and his therapists were amazed. My parents also found a wonderful resource at Warmline. They found that we could get help back in California, so we packed up and moved back. As soon as we got back to California I called Alta Regional Center on March 14th and got Andy registered. On March 24th we were seen by our service coordinator and things really started to happen. April 6th Andy was evaluated and diagnosed with Moderate to Severe Autism. We knew he was autistic, but to have someone else validate it made it real and very emotionally overwhelming. What were we supposed to do next? That was answered as well. On April 15th my mom and I attended the three day DAN Conference in Boston. That is when I found that I’m not alone. There are so many more parents out there going through what we are. The conference gave us so much hope for Andy’s future, and it also gave us answers to what is really going on with him physically. We found a DAN Doctor, an ABA program and help. We had Andy on supplements before we moved back. He was on a liquid multi vitamin and cod liver oil. Andy has seen his doctor and is now on 9 supplements including B12 injections. We are seeing great improvements. He is laughing and playing with his sister, and babbling. I can’t wait to see what happens when we start 40 hours of ABA therapy on June 21st. Statistics have shown that over 50% of autistic children that have started the diet, supplements and ABA therapy before age 2 have recovered. This is what we want for Andy, to have his label of Autism removed.

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