Autism: Our Story | Organizing Made Fun: Autism: Our Story

Monday, April 11, 2011

Autism: Our Story

Last week I told you a little bit about autism and directed you to Autism Speaks website to learn even more.  Today I want to tell you our story.

My husband and I did not get pregnant right away. It took awhile but I was pregnant after we were married almost 4 1/2 years.  I did not have a great pregnancy...I get VERY swollen and gained a ton of weight

Me, at six months pregnant - 1999!
I had a long three days of labor and a c-section with our son, Adam.He was so cute and sweet - a bit quirky and didn't talk much, either.  

My hubby with Adam, June 7, 1999!

Being our first we didn't really notice it much.  My MIL's cousin would see Adam at family functions and mention it to me {she was a school psychologist}.  I never caught her hints.  He would go nuts over ceiling fans - the light AND the fan had to both be on or he'd go berzerk and throw a huge tantrum.  

John and Adam 2001

He would take his Hot Wheels cars and line them up in a row near me.  Then, if I moved to another room, he'd do the same thing again.  He would learn a word and then suddenly a few days later, he'd "lose" that word and couldn't say it anymore.  He had very sensitive taste and hearing issues.  We just figured he was quirky and peculiar.  

Adam and our helper/babysitter, Danny 2003
  Out of urgency my MIL's cousin finally came right out and told me she thought he had autism and handed me a packet of information to read.  I had no idea what autism was - never even heard of it before.  I looked over all the information and rationalized all the symptoms and claimed he was fine.  Well, after several days of rationalizing, we could no longer deny that something was wrong.  He was now a few months away from his third birthday.  

Adam with his new baby sister, January 2004

If you don't know what that means, it's crucial.  Once a child turns three, the regional center for your area {a state run special needs facility} no longer qualifies them as a client anymore and is given to the public school district. As a client, they qualify for more services that are specifically geared towards them as autistic {or whatever special needs they have}.  It's all very complicated to explain, so if you need further information please feel free to contact me personally.

Adam on his first day of "regular" kindergarten, September 2005

So, we contacted our regional center for our area and he was evaluated with high functioning autism.  He later was also evaluated with apraxia {a neurological speech disorder}. 

Adam's 7th birthday, June 2006

As you might have guessed, we were very sad about hearing of his diagnosis.  He was just under three, thankfully.  But, honestly, it was more of a relief to us than anything.  There were just so many puzzling things we just couldn't understand that once we had a diagnosis, it made it easier to understand why he would do the things he would do.  

Adam & Rachel, Easter morning 2007

 He was a VERY difficult baby - he'd scream all the time off and on all day.  I'd get so frustrated that I would just set him in his crib and walk out and close the door.  I figured it was safer that way - so I wouldn't be tempted to get out of hand with him.  

Adam was Star Student at school Spring 2008

Well, after telling our families, I distinctly remember feeling that now we should just shelter him and not attend large-group activities.  It just caused him to get upset and throw tantrums.  Thankfully my wonderful mom and dad in law insistently told us "no way" to that.  They pointed out that they didn't want us to do that - make him feel the uncomfort and help him to be with his family in large groups.  His family loved him and wanted to be around us, even if it wasn't fun.

Adam and I, June 2009

Well, that was it....we decided that he wasn't going to be treated any differently than if he were a "typical"
kid.  That's what we have done with him since he was diagnosed 9 1/2 years ago.  Yes, we've made a few exceptions, noting that there were situations that truly he was acting out and it was autism, but we did not make that the norm.  We made him learn to eat everything - that kid will eat anything!  Kids with autism have sensory disorders and many have difficulty with taste or texture.  I was around some kids that would only eat ONE specific brand of something and that was it!!  We did NOT want that to happen.

Adam and Rachel, Summer 2010

We put Adam on a casein-free, gluten-free diet for about four years {GFCF}.  I think it was effective in the beginning.  We also had/have him on a LOT of supplements and used a holistic approach and never wanted him to be on medication.  He thrived...and still does!  We make him obey, smile, talk to people, and all the other things regular kids do.  He is indeed, regular - he just thinks differently than the rest of us. That kid can also swallow about FOUR HUGE pills all at once {if I let him} since he's been taking pills since he was six!!

Dad teaching him to mow the lawn, Spring 2009

What are we doing now?  He was in a special education preschool and kindergarten and then when he was six, we put him into mainstreamed, regular kindergarten.  He has had good years and bad ones....he has had two VERY good years recently!  He is responsible.  He rides his bike to and from school every day.  He mows the lawn.  He has a list of chores to do each day- which he normally does with a happy heart {schedules have been wonderful for him}!  He's super smart, too!  He recently was awarded for having the biggest improvement in state testing of anyone in his school from fourth to fifth grade.  

My "train boy" since 2, Christmas 2010

Next fall we put him in middle school.  I won't lie....I'm a little anxious.  I also must tell you that it is ONLY through God's grace that he is the child he is today.  My husband and I can take NO credit at all for the things we've done to help him improve.  We are thankful that HE has allowed us the ability to put him in all the therapies that I drag he and his sister to weekly.  I am thankful that God has given us so much with a child that we, at first, thought would be a burden.  He is not.  He is an amazing young man.  

Capturing his cuteness, March 2011

If you were to meet him, you would have no idea he has autism.  If you spent time with him, you'd know there was a few peculiarities. He's uninhibited.  That's actually a neat quality - socially, our society doesn't like that, but on him it's endearing! Don't ever promise him anything and forget - cause he won't!  He remembers everything!  

Legoland, March 2011

I hope you are encouraged.  I hope that you can see that God can allow something in our lives that can seem so awful to be turned into something so good to be used for His glory.  When Adam was first diagnosed, I was studying 2 Corinthians in my Bible Study.  This verse particularly stuck out and has been my very favorite verse ever since:

2 Cor. 1:3-4 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

So, I hope that through my affliction, I can comfort any of you who may be afflicted with the comfort that God gives us.  Thank you for reading this entire was long, but I hope well worth it to you!  

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