Autism: Seth's Story
My name is Kelly, and I am the very proud mom of a beautiful little boy named Seth. He is seven years old and has Autism.
Back when I was pregnant with Seth, I never knew that Autism was becoming the most rapidly growing epidemic of our time. Back then, I’m sure it was still around 1 out of 500 or so. Did I ever think that I would be here today, fighting this battle? No, in fact, the only time I had ever heard of autism was when I saw a primetime movie about a young child with autism back in the 80’s. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be living out that movie myself. Never did I think I would be in the forefront, fighting for my son.
Firstly, I had a normal pregnancy! I was a single mom, but Seth’s dad and I made the decision to live together and raise Seth, even though we didn’t have a relationship anymore. It was a good decision.
Seth was no ordinary baby and he loved to be loved. I would sing to him or play music to him while giving him a bath. He loved to be held, he smiled, laughed, had the most beautiful blue eyes. We were so proud of him when he began walking on his own at 10 months old, speaking his first words, and reaching his milestones much earlier than normal.
Being good parents, we kept up with his physicals and vaccines. Around 18 months, things started to change. I really noticed big changes around age 2. He spoke, but made no sense; he had bowel issues, he flapped his hands, made us read the same book over and over, ran in circles. He would get up every morning, take the register off of the heating/air duct in the kitchen, stand INSIDE it, and proceed to take out everything and line it all up.
What’s more, he was sick constantly with fevers that seemed to come out of the blue. He developed pneumonia, his ears would drain, and he cried more than usual. Still, I had no idea this raging epidemic that was going on all around us had its latest victim right in front of my face. No clue that it could have been related to his last vaccination.
We moved to a larger house. My oldest son finally got his own room, and Seth got a yard! I thought it would be great! It gave Seth all the room he wanted. He became obsessed with trains. He still talked, but still didn’t make a lot of sense. He just wasn’t where he should be at three years old. It bothered me but his dad would say “oh, he’s just odd, he’ll grow out of it.” I actually remembered that TV movie from 25 years prior, and thought to myself, “Could my son ALSO have autism?” I didn’t want to think about it.
When Seth was 3 1/2, his dad and I parted ways and I worried about the impact it would have on Seth, but he adjusted quite well. Not long after that, I met a wonderful man. From day one he was on the bandwagon with me. The first time he met Seth, he immediately knew something was amiss; did he have a delay? I said “No, but I think he may have Autism.” He BELIEVED me and encouraged me to have Seth checked. I actually had someone on my side.
When Seth was four, this boy who never said “I love you” walked up to me, put his arms around me and said, “Mommy, I love you.” I looked at Alan, tears in my eyes. This was the first time that my son had said this to me and I’ll never forget it. Alan looked at me and said “That was huge, and you KNOW he meant it.” Still, even with all of the signs, I didn’t have him checked. I should have taken that boy the next day, and the bottom line is that I didn’t. Denial still had its hold on me.
Fast forward a year to kindergarten. Seth had an EXTREMELY rough time adjusting to a new schedule. He cried every morning when I left him. His teacher would send notes home about the troubles he was having. What was I going to do? I knew what was wrong, but didn’t want to admit it to myself. My answer came during parent-teacher conferences about a month after school started.
We talked about Seth, I mean really talked. Then there came a point where I looked into her eyes and she didn’t have to say a thing, her silence said it all. Neither one of us could say the A word, but when I told her that I was going to take him to have him evaluated, she said to me in a very soft voice, “I think that’s a good idea.” I left that room with tears in my eyes for my child.
At his next physical, Seth was sick (once again.) When he had a fever, oddly, he was more coherent – almost normal. So during this visit, when I told his doctor that I thought Seth had Autism and I would like a referral, he looked at me like I was from Mars. He said: “Well, he’s acting fine NOW. Why do you think there’s something wrong with him?” I said “I didn’t say I thought there was something WRONG with him. I said that I think he may have Autism. He’s sick today! See him when he’s NOT sick!” He took my word for it, and referred us to a child psychologist.
This man was absolutely fantastic. He saw us within a week, observed Seth and worked with him. After five days of waiting, he told me what I knew in my heart all along. Seth had Autism. Funny thing is, he never said “I’m sorry, but…”
I like to describe his diagnosis like this: “Here is your son. I’m giving him an Autism Badge, NOT a label. Yes, he will always have it; however, great things lie in store not just for him but for YOU as well, depending on what you do. Now, here’s a sword, a shield, and a suit of armor, you go out of this office a Warrior Mother, go fight the monster and get your son! You make him the best thing he can be!”
ME? I know nothing, and I’m no fighter! Soon, Google became my best friend. I read a ton of books, joined a support group, and made a few friends. I learned to work WITH Seth, not against him, and learned to give him the strength he needs to just be Seth.
Since that day, Seth has blossomed. He still exhibits some signs of Autism, but for the most part he is so much better than he was last year at this time. My fears have been put to rest. This monster isn’t so scary, because a mother’s love for her child is the most powerful force in the universe. Autism may have won a couple of battles, but this mom has won the war.
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