WILL AUTISM AFFECT SOMEONE IN YOUR FAMILY?
Monday, June 09, 2008
WILL AUTISM AFFECT SOMEONE IN YOUR FAMILY?
Sadly, chances are that it will.
By Mary Louise Klark
The thoughts of one of my children or grandchildren being autistic had never crossed my mind. That was until my last grandchild started showing serious developmental delays. He was diagnosed with severe autism at age 18 months. He has now just turned four.
What did I know about autism?
Basically, nothing! I had seen the movie “Rainman” many times, and like most people, that was all I knew and had no idea that only a small percentage of autistics had “Rainman” like traits. (savant)
Actually, autism is so varied that I think it would be nearly impossible to find two persons with the same symptoms, physical ailments, and unique skills. That is also why you hear it being called a “Spectrum” disorder. A child could be diagnosed as severe, mild, or anywhere in-between. The therapies are as varied as are the children.
The following is from the National Autism Association: www.nationalautismassociation.
:: Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability that generally appears before the age of 3.
:: Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.
:: Individuals with autism often suffer from numerous physical ailments which may include: allergies, asthma, epilepsy, digestive disorders, persistent viral infections, feeding disorders, sensory integration dysfunction, sleeping disorders, and more.
:: Autism is diagnosed four times more often in boys than girls. Its prevalence is not affected by race, region, or socio-economic status. Since autism was first diagnosed in the U.S. the occurrence has climbed to an alarming one in 150 people across the country.
:: Autism does not affect life expectancy. Currently there is no cure for autism, though with early intervention and treatment, the diverse symptoms related to autism can be greatly improved.
One thing that is agreed upon is that early diagnosis is critical to the child’s progress and sometimes even recovery. Yes, recovery is possible, but a cure is not. At least not yet. Recovery is bringing the child back to their normal stage of development. But chances are that there are ongoing special diets and treatments that will always be needed.
I am often asked what symptoms my grandson was showing that lead to having him evaluated by a specialist
(As I mentioned, all children are different, and this is just my experience with my beautiful grandson.)
No eye contact. This was probably the biggest clue. We got no reaction whatsoever when calling his name and even getting right in front of his face. He would just move and look around us. We even had his hearing tested as we thought perhaps he was deaf. His hearing was fine, but he was in a world of his own. One in which we didn’t exist.
Food aversions. This was strange to us because he had been eating all the typical foods for a child that age. Then almost suddenly he would just look at most foods and start gagging. At the time we had no idea that he was developing gastrointestinal and texture/sensory problems.
Physical contact. Tolerance for being held or cuddled literally disappeared. It was a fight to pick him up or carry him too. Changing a diaper was a wrestling match and this grandmother didn’t understand at the time that he was so sensitive to touch that he was actually feeling pain by being touched.
Stiming. This is self-stimulating behavior that is fairly common with autistic people. Standing in a play-pen and rocking left and right from foot to foot was the most obvious with my grandson. This could go on for hours on end.
Textures/Touching. As much as he wanted to touch our dogs, he couldn’t do it without an “extension”. This usually was a section of vacuum cleaner hose or a play rake. They were also his toys of choice He couldn’t touch the dogs with his hand.. Toys were not played with appropriately, such as pushing a car, instead the wheels were spinned. There was little interest in toys and playing as a typical child of that age would normally do.
Toe walking. Another typical trait is tippy-toeing instead of walking on flat feet. We were told this too was a way of preventing contact on the skin as much as he could.
No language. There was no language, no baby talk, and this was, and still is the biggest hurdle. Although there have been huge improvements in the other areas, no language is why he is still considered “severely autistic”. We now have a few baby words, Da Da, Mum Mum, so we are encouraged. He also has learned quite a few signs and that helps him communicate with us. It has become much easier than trying to figure out his needs when he could only grunt “ugh ugh”. There would be “meltdowns”, and I attribute those to his frustration in not being able to communicate to us his needs.
Most of these areas have been greatly improved through much efforts of therapists, doctors, and mostly his wonderful mother and her dedication to the recovery of her son that was lost in this cloud of autism. Also, a special gluten, casein, and soy free diet has helped tremendously. The majority of autistic children are allergic to gluten and casein. (Wheat & Dairy) A special diet is usually recommended after appropriate testing.
Autism is very complicated and each child diagnosed needs a specialized plan geared to their unique needs. A good neurologist with experience in autism is a must.
Support for the family is also critical, and this point is seldom mentioned. I feel the need to expound on this knowing many struggling families, and also single mothers, who desperately need a helping hand. Most insurances do not cover neurological disorders and that along with the cost of a special diet can be devastating. Many friends and family drop by the wayside because they either don’t know how to deal with the autistic child or can’t accept that their friendships have changed because the child presents unique challenges, even to something as simple as finding a babysitter willing to deal with an autistic child. The stress; emotional, physical, and financial, is so overwhelming that the divorce rate among parents of autistic kids is 80% higher than the national average! As my dear daughter says “This is not what I had planned for my life.” But she would not trade a minute of her life for another’s without her two beautiful boys.
I am also asked about vaccinations and if I think they play a part in autism. I do, although I also think other conditions are present at the time. I think, and studies are now showing, that the ingredients in the shots are part of the problem, but the bigger factor is the scheduling of the shots. My grandson turned blue and was very sick after getting his MMR shot, a combination shot for measles, mumps and rubella. He also got several other shots that day. Numerous chemicals and live virus’ injected into a tiny body. It was directly after this that he became withdrawn into his world of autism and was missing in ours.
In his first 14 months of life he had 22 vaccinations! To me this is shocking. Today’s children get three times the immunizations than their parents did.
Here is a timeline of the shots, which includes 4 Flu and the MMR which both contained thimersol, which is suspected as a trigger in autism. After 14 months the autistic traits started and by 18 months we knew it was autism that afflicted him.
1 Day old: Hepatitis B
2 Months old: Hepatitis B
DTAP Hepatitis B
5 Months old: Hepatitis B
DTAP Hepatitis B
8 Months old: DTAP Hepatitis B
1 Year old: DTAP Hepatitis B
14 Months old: HIB (Flu)
Can you imagine? Seven Hep B shots, four Pneumonia, four Flu. Why so many in such a short time period? And a Hep B the day after birth! Our children are being poisoned, with the best of intentions.
From “Generation Rescue”:
Our children are experiencing epidemics of ADD/ADHD, Asperger's, PDD-NOS, and Autism.
We believe these neurological disorders ("NDs") are environmental illnesses caused by an overload of heavy metals, live viruses, and bacteria. Proper treatment of our children, known as "biomedical intervention", is leading to recovery for thousands.
The cause of this epidemic of NDs is extremely controversial. We believe the cause may include the tripling of vaccines given to children in the last 15 years (with unstudied ingredients like mercury, aluminum and live viruses); growing evidence also suggestions that maternal toxic load and prenatal vaccines, heavy metals like mercury in our air, toxic ingredients in our water, pesticides; and the overuse of antibiotics are also implicated. Generation Rescue's mission is to support continued research on causative factors and treatment approaches for NDs.
As a grandmother and mother, my heart broke twice when we got the diagnosis. Watching the anguish my daughter and her husband were going through along with wondering how we were going to help this little boy was overwhelming. I hope through all the information that is available and the television coverage that is finally happening, some other parent or grandparents will be more informed than I was.
I am happy, even thrilled to say that at this time my grandson now waves, kisses, hugs, and eye contact is great! He shows affection and emotion, has started playing with toys in a typical way, says a few words and is a sheer delight! He is smart and has a special sense of humor, a real tease! As I said, he has learned some sign language and has even taught me some!
I have learned that all the normal milestones that I took for granted as my children grew are HUGE accomplishments for my grandson. I take little for granted now. I thank God for the smallest of blessings, for to us they are enormous hurdles that he helped us over.
My advice to all is this:
If you suspect any developmental delay, loss of speech, eye contact, etc., especially after a vaccination, get the child to a reputable doctor who specializes in autism. Better safe than sorry. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to recovery!
Insist, and I mean INSIST, on a shot schedule with your pediatrician that spaces the shots out, one at a time, and no combo shots! If your pediatrician won’t do it, get one who will!
If your child is diagnosed with autism, of course follow the specialists advice and start therapies, etc., but read, read, read…. You and others in the family will need to know all you can. Amazon.com has numerous books and I have bought most of them. It was not only informative but also comforting. There are a great number of success stories, so never give up hope!
If you have a computer start with; www.nationalautism.org. and http://talkaboutcuringautism.o
If you don’t have a computer try to get one, or borrow one, as the information that you can get online is tremendous and there are also support groups to help you through the rough times. One which I started is called “Autism in our lives” and can be found at http://grammyk.proboards53.com
/ Most communities also have support groups and I recommend joining one in your area. They are not only a source of emotional support, but a great source of information and help.
Ask for help, and give help. Parents can’t handle this on their own, grandparents and other family members need to get involved, for the long haul. In most cases, it’s a lifetime commitment. But isn’t that what a family is?
Last, but not least; Remember, you are not alone! There are thousands of us dealing with autism. They understand everything that you are going through.
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org