Autism: Happy 19th Birthday Jake!
By Tanya Dutton
I took my boys to the doctor because my youngest son was sick. After less than five minutes in the exam room, the doctor turned to me and said “Mom, it is your other son you need to be concerned with. I think he may have autism.”
That moment will be embedded in my brain forever. I had known in my heart that something was wrong with Jake after he had his vaccinations at around one year of age.
The milestones he had reached seemed to have been erased, and further development had come to a screeching halt. Prior doctors had brushed off my concerns and told me that every child develops at their own rate, and I was a young mother so what did I know anyway?
For the next 15 years, I read every book I could get my hands on, joined support groups, and prayed every day that God would show me the way to help Jake get better.
I suffered a tremendous amount of guilt, along with sleepless nights, days full of frustration, and emotional breakdowns.
As difficult as it was for me, I knew that what I felt paled in comparison to what I had to witness Jake struggle with on a daily basis. It was like his life had been robbed from him, before he even had the chance to experience it. Something had happened to Jake that took him away, before I even got the chance to know him. It was heart wrenching.
Despite what the specialists told me, something about the diagnosis and proposed treatments did not sit right with me. I refused to medicate my son and strip away what was left of his personality, and I refused any drastic treatments that would cause Jake further distress.
I forged on, relying on my faith and instincts, and did only what I could on my own, and only what felt right in my heart. Some days it was so overwhelming that I didn’t think I could continue this fight. But, like mothers do, I kept going.
I was, however, unknowingly on the path to recovery once we went organic, chemical free, and turned to acupuncture and Eastern medicine about three years ago. Jake was definitely getting better, but there was still something missing. I just didn’t know what, so I continued searching.
Then, in December 2008, I was fortunate enough to come across Jenny McCarthy’s books, Mother Warriors and Louder Than Words. Her books were empowering. They were the first books I had read on autism in 15 years that I agreed with. Everything clicked. The books were not only empowering, they provided me with the missing link I had been searching for.
My son was physically sick! His body was toxic, and he was fighting an internal battle. And the very foods that he craved were contributing to his symptoms.
I rushed to our acupuncturist/Chinese herbalist with the new information that I had, and we sat down and formulated a custom treatment plan for Jake. We started the gluten free/casein free diet, a heavy metals detox formula, colostrum, probiotics, vitamins, and cod liver oil.
We incorporated all the aspects of the DAN protocol that were natural and non invasive. I still don’t agree with medicating Jake.
Looking back to when we went organic, I realized that Jake had gone through a withdrawal. I took a kid who lived for McDonalds and whose diet consisted of literally a handful of foods, and basically stripped him of everything. I had to start making things from scratch, and it is an understatement to say he was resistant.
Any parent of an autistic child knows how challenging food can be! We usually pick the wrong battle and let them eat what they want, just to get through the day.
But after the initial withdraw, Jake started widening his food choices! So I knew when I found out about the gf/cf diet, we had to do it!
By February, Jake was reading labels and will now choose gluten free foods on his own accord and refuses to eat fast food – “Because I feel so much better the way I am eating now.”
I am thrilled to say that Jake is making tremendous progress. He is catching up in leaps and bounds. We are able to discuss what happened to him, and he is an active part of his recovery.
His younger brother Ryan told me about a month ago “Jake is finally starting to be my brother.”
I look back to when he was diagnosed and the doctors told me there wasn’t much hope for his future.
I refused to believe that, and decided that no-one was going to cap my child’s potential. Jake is exceeding all the expectations that the doctors had for him. Best of all, I am meeting my son for the first time.
Jake will be 19 this month. I can’t erase what happened to him. I can’t take away the years of physical pain and emotional suffering that he endured. I can’t give him his childhood back. But I can help ensure that he will have the best future possible. And I can tell our story, share our experiences, and spread the word that you can help your child get better. Jake is living proof of that.
Keep searching for answers. Keep looking for help. Never, never, never give up.
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