Maya has improved considerably in the past 1 year since her diagnosis. Some skeptics choose to feel that the improvements were part and parcel of her getting older. Occasionally we feel that our efforts were being undermined by people whose lack of knowledge or ignorance makes them so quick to jump to conclusions. However, we are blessed with good friends and family who support and encourage us.
My goal is Recovery for Maya,and I look to several people for answers. Lisa Ackerman, Jenny McCarthy, Karyn Seroussi, Stan Kurtz, Dr Brian Jepson, Dr Kenneth Bock, Dr Steve Edelson, Dr Nancy O’Hara, Dr Jerry Kartzinel, Dr Elizabeth Mumper, Dr Andrew Wakefield, Dr Jon Pangborn, Dr Bernard Rimland – they may not be household names, but for us parents who chose to do biomedical, these people are our heroes. Lisa, Jenny, Karyn and Stan have recovered their kids from Autism using a combination of behavioral therapy and biomedical intervention. The doctors are all key members of Defeat Autism Now!, a fantastic foundation created by the late great Dr Bernard Rimland (www.autism.com). I have met some of the speakers and key members of DAN! and find them kind, caring, highly knowledgeable, helpful and full of integrity. So I chose to follow in their footsteps.
Autism if left untreated will either show no improvement at all or get worse. Different children will respond differently to every therapy or treatment. A combination of intensive ABA and biomedical treatment has shown the best result for us.
This is a look at Maya 1 year ago – intense echolalia, very little eye contact, prefers to be alone, lines toys up, doesn’t play appropriately, mood swings, does not handle transitions well at all. A lot of temper tantrums, banging head on the floor, crying and rolling on the floor, hyper active, wakes up in the middle of the night for 2-3 hours talking or laughing. She was constantly licking everything including toys and supermarket floors, very picky eater, addicted to milk and bread, chronic constipation, red rimmed eyes, dark circles under her eyes, tip toe walking, always climbing and jumping off furniture, runs sideways and looks out of the corner of her eyes. She was uncontrollable at times, had an intense fear of strangers, unable to form relationships with peers, indifferent to other children, does not seem to hear when we call her, when asking for something she will pull our hand and point at the thing with our hand or tantrum. We avoided taking her to public places because she would scream and scream, she was continually living in her own world. Her Psychological Assessment reports her developmental age at only 18 months, even though she was 2 years 8 months old at that time. There was very little happiness in her and we couldn’t seem to get through to her.
Maya now – she speaks in 7-8 word sentences, looks us in the eye, obeys and understands instructions, beginning to understand reasoning, she is calm and no longer agitated, no tantrums, no more rolling on the floor, sleeps 11 hours straight every night, smiles and laughs, plays well with her sister, very affectionate, greets us every time she sees us, good appetite, very easy to take out in public, shows interest in other children, has tried to initiate conversation with other kids, requests for everything with proper language, let’s us know her likes and dislikes, no more irrational fear of strangers. She now plays appropriately, has pretend conversations with her dolls and her imaginative play has finally emerged, always asking us to play with her, she is loving and responsive. We love taking Maya out, always trying to expand her horizons and giving her new experiences because she is able to absorb so much more and she genuinely enjoys new experiences. Life with Maya is now full of happiness, however there are still other issues we need to keep working on and I will keep on going until Maya is recovered.
Maya is doing intensive ABA for 30 hours a week, she is doing her programs really well and her progress is good. From not being able to sit at the table, she is now learning to draw, plays games with other children, increased her vocabulary tenfold, learning more complex sentence structures, build tolerance, master many of the fine motor skills she lacked previously, able to ask and answer simple questions. ABA has helped shaped many of Maya’s abilities and intelligence that was previously shrouded by Autism.
Maya is on gluten-free and casein-free diet, low sugar, no yeast and no soy. Most of our foods are now organic, we only use organic cleaning products including laundry and dishwashing detergent, all natural and organic soaps and shampoos, we changed our Teflon cookware to stainless steel and we’ve cleaned up Maya’s room of all possible allergens.
Along with the improvements, we have experienced several set backs. Our journey has been hard, but every day we get closer and closer to the end of the tunnel.