Our beautiful son has autism. 

Christian developed normally for the first 15 months of his life.  He had some problems with reflux and major spit-up, but other than that he was a happy mama’s boy.  🙂  He went in to his 15 month well check seeming fine, but actually had a double ear infection.  He was placed on antibiotics and was not given any vaccinations that day because of his illness.  Two weeks later we were back in the doctor’s office, Christian was well, so they administered his shots that day – his MMR along with a few other shots.  He ran a fever, but did after all of his previous vaccinations.  We thought nothing of it.  Then the regression began.  We didn’t really notice it happening because it happened over the course of a month or month and a half.  Things just slipped away from our bright boy.  The sparkle in his eye faded away.  He no longer looked at us when we said his name or even made eye contact with us at all.  He repeated the same things over and over and over.  He didn’t use his toys for playing as he once did, but for spinning the wheels of his cars, opening and closing the doors on his toys, also turning pages in our dictionary and hymnals instead of all of his pretty colored board books and preferring to stand in the kitchen and just open and close drawers and doors without ever taking any interest to what was inside them.  He also became very clumsy, but would still climb and run VERY fast, often falling and not knowing to break his fall with his hands instead of with his face.  He would spin in circles, drag his forehead across the carpet, and flap his hands.  It was my mom who first put the thought in my head that something might be wrong.  I didn’t want to believe it.  I thought Christian was just going through a stage that he would outgrow.  But because of the concern, I dug through my book boxes and found a couple of books on autism that I had read a number of years before.  Some of those kids sounded just like my Christian!  Wow!  OK, now what do we do???  I brought up my concern with our doctor at his 18 month well-check.  The doctor wasn’t worried, except for the regression and made a referral to an audiologist and a speech therapist.  Christian’s hearing was fine, although the audiologist thought that we should get a developmental test done.  The speech therapist saw that he was way behind (again, regression – he had words before that he no longer had), and also recommended developmental testing.  That sounded scary, but we had to know for sure what was going on!  We had a wait for that test.  The day finally came in January of 2006.  Christian was 21 months old and I was almost 7 months pregnant with Olivia.  The test lasted most of the morning.  At the end they told me that he had developmental delays consistent with autism and/or pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).  They didn’t want to pinpoint a “label” at that time because of his age, but he was on the autism spectrum.  I pretty much knew that was coming, but I was still crushed.  After the appointment, Christian and I drove over to Brian’s school (because it was just about lunch time) and I broke the news to him and couldn’t contain myself anymore.  I just sobbed.  The secretary made our principal send Brian home with me that day so that we would be there to support each other with this news.  Thank goodness!  Shortly after that we started on the birth-3 program, first behavioral therapy (ABA-based), then speak therapy, and because of our speech therapist a few months later we started with occupational therapy.  Olivia was born in the midst of this and once she was a month old was dragged from therapy session to therapy session.  We found a new doctor for Christian during this time and she started him on some supplements and a gluten- & casein-free diet.  It helped him.  We didn’t notice it immediately, but when we have slip-ups we know!  Dairy products cause aggression for him and gluten causes sleep problems, along with a few other things that very with what he actually ate.  Christian has come a long way from when he was first diagnosed.  And we are dealing with a recent evaluation that puts him in the “severe autism” category.  Each day is a struggle.  We don’t understand why God allowed autism to become such a HUGE piece of our daily lives, maybe we never will, but we know that God has a reason for everything and that he will give us what we NEED to get through this, even if it is not in the way that we plan or expect. 

I think that we will always wonder if we are doing enough to help him.  Or if we are doing TOO much and trying to make him into someone that he’s not.  There is a fine balancing act with autism.  We will try to do our best as parents and pray that we are doing the right thing.

We love our son.  More than we could have ever imagined…

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2 Responses to “Our Autism Story…”

  1. kristi Says:

    Hi, I just found your blog. My son went thru the same regression. He knew his numbers, his letters and then he didnt’ know them all of the sudden. I noticed the regression at about 3 to 3 1/2. At first, I thought, OH it is just a phase. But at 4 I started researching things and realized something wasn’t right. It has been hard, it is still hard. I am hoping my son will be okay!

  2. Angelique Brown Says:

    Unlike some of the stories, my son’s eyes continually fluttered when he was about 6 months old. He would not maintain a good visual. He was diagnosed with PPD at the age of 2 1/2. He was an interesting child at the time. He could read anything you put in front of him and that is how we communicated with him, thanks to his head start teacher. The biggest problem I had with him was the constant non-control of bowels. He would wipe his feces on his clothes, walls, anywhere. He is now 14 and actively functioning in regular school environments. He plays trombone, sings in church choir, plays chess, and loves to read with his twin sister; who is not on the spectrum. There are some great things to look forward to with your child, but the main concern should be what happens when they are older. I am hoping for a loving woman to take care of my son when he is older, but if no one fits the job, we are prepared to love and enjoy living with him for rest of our lives. My advice is to consider all longterm plans before everything becomes a rush decision.

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