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My son has autism – Now What??

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My youngest child has autism.  He was officially diagnosed 6 1/2 years ago.  Like many parents, I KNEW something was not right with our youngest child.  He was not progressing and developing like my older 2 children.  He was exhibiting  the signs of autism I had read about in Parenting magazines and books.  While I was slowly coming to the realization of the challenges that were ahead, my toughest challenge was getting a confirmed diagnosis.

What happens when you get the “Official” diagnosis??  Well, if you are normal, you start to google everything you can about autism and how to fix it.  You probably buy the Jenny McCarthy book(s) that talk about her son.  You might join a few Yahoo groups to find comfort in numbers.  You can cry, yell, feel sorry for yourself, drink too much one night, and just basically try to do anything to wake yourself up from this nightmare.

I did all those things.  None of them worked and a few of them left me feeling like a truck ran over me.  When I realized that the answers did not lie with Yahoo groups or Google (Jenny McCarthy too), the real work began.  I have been working with different doctors, teachers, and mentors for 6 years to try and find the best treatment plan for our son.  It has not been easy and the work will never end.

If you have a child diagnosed with autism, the best thing to do is find someone who is on the same journey as you.  The news reports 1 in 88 children is diagnosed on the spectrum.  If that number is true it will not be difficult to find another family in the same situation.  Find a family that is using different ideas for treating autism.  I recommend staying away from those who advocate no vaccinations and ADD or ADHD medications.  Our son is on a Gluten, Dairy (I know the irony :-)), Soy, Nuts, Egg, and Legume free diet.  He also takes supplements each day to make up for those important vitamins and minerals he lacks.  Is everyday great??  NO.  But it is better than him screaming ALL day.  As I said, it is a journey and it is paved with lots of ups and downs.  You just need to ride out the lows to get to the highs.

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Joey and his siblings. Most people who meet him would never guess he is autistic.

 

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Perspective

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Our 3rd child was diagnosed with autism when he was around 3 years old.  From the beginning, I knew something was not right. But, that is not the story is our son has been under the care of a wonderful doctor Dr. Greene.  Dr. Greene is located in Oregon City, Oregon.  He is an amazing person who gave us hope that we could unlock Joey from his autism.  I never looked to Dr. Greene to “cure” the autism.  I looked to Dr. Greene to help us develop the tools to manage his autism and hopefully allow Joey to function as normally as possible.  Over the past 5 years we have made an incredible transformation.  Joey is able to attend a regular school and most people who meet him for the first time would never guess he is on the Autism Spectrum.  He has done so well that we did not need to see Dr. Greene for a long time.

We made the trip to Oregon City yesterday for a much needed visit.  Our visit with Dr. Greene went very well.  He has recommended some additional supplements to help address self regulation and impulsiveness.  Dr. Greene also wanted to check different levels in Joey’s system so this required quite a bit of blood work.  Most adults do not appreciate needles and for sure my 8 year old did not like it either.  Because he did such an amazing job allowing the nurses to draw 10 vials of blood I promised a trip to The Disney Store.  We headed to the Clackamas Mall and enjoyed a Jamba Juice and Joey picked out a “Bucket of Army Men” from The Disney Store.  We enjoyed the festive atmosphere of the mall for just a bit, I had to get Joey back for choir practice.  We left the Clackamas Mall at 2:00 p.m.  Not until we returned home did we find out the nightmare that fell upon the mall.

I titled this post as “Perspective”.  Here is why.  My heart truly breaks for this unspeakable tragedy and what is has done to the amazing people in this great community.  While I consider my son and I very lucky it was hard for me not be angry.  I was angry because we would never had been near this tragedy if we were not dealing with the whole issue of autism.  It is hard to understand why things happen, everyone says things happen for a reason.  I do not think I will ever understand why some crazy individual unleashed so much heartache on so many innocent people.  Just like I will never understand why we were blessed with a beautiful boy who just so happens to suffer from autism.  Some day I hope I can find perspective and maybe it will finally make sense.

Our son Joey who was diagnosed with autism at age 3

Our son Joey who was diagnosed with autism at age 3

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