Autism: Happy 19th Birthday Jake!

by in Autism, Guest Posts, Kitchen Sink April 27, 2009

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.
Related reading:
Autism Awareness Month
Autism: 10 Strategies for Implementing Diet Changes
The Autism Diet Connection
Autism: 10 Tips for Everyone

  1. WOW. Powerful, powerful story. Thanks so much for sharing this Tanya, I hope many others find hope and are enlightened by your experience. I know I have.
    My son is 13, and it has been a long journey. Your story gives me confidence that I am on the right path, despite having to stand up to so many people who can not understand why I stick to what feels right even when it doesn’t seem to help magically, overnight. True healing can take time, commitment, and an active search for answers. Way to listen to God in your heart, answering your prayers, and believing in the body’s miraculous ability to heal.
    Happy Birthday Jake! I hope you’re enjoying life to the fullest!!!

  2. What an amazing story! I am so inspired!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAKE! And I couldn’t be more proud to hear you are reading labels to see if they are GF…it is really tough. I am allergic to soy and it is in EVERYTHING….but have concluded that my life is better, happier, and healthier without it.
    Tanya thank you for sharing this….you are such a wonderful writer and I am glad to see a success story with the gf diet. Jake’s birthday is just as much a milestone for you. Congrats to both of you guys!!!!!
    For everyone else….remember that what helps Jake may not be what helps your child but it certainly is worth a try! There are many online support groups and recipe sites if you just google “gluten free”

  3. Happy Birthday Jake! Thank you for sharing your story. I don’t have autism but I have a hard time following the diet that I know makes me feel better. Take care, Sonya.

  4. Inspiring story! I am SO glad you posted it Nicole! Congratulations to the Dutton family for following the path that worked for you! HAPPY birthday Jake!

  5. Happy Birthday Jake!!! Love to you all ~xoxoxo
    MissMatchmaker’s last blog post..eHarmony ~ A Social Experiment

  6. Jake!! Happy Birthday buddy.

    I have to follow a challenging diet too. I have diabetes and I LOVE sugar but know how bad it makes me feel. Some days I mess up and feel sick and it just reminds me that I need to stay on the diabetes diet Dr. Nicole recommends. It really isn’t that hard. But that birthday cake sure looks good!
    Thank you for such a heart warming story and I wish you the happiest year ever! 19 is the best year Jake milk it for all it’s worth! Oh to be 19 years old again….

  8. Happy Birthday Jake! Many happy returns.
    Doug’s last blog post..Seafood Fried Right

  9. Happy Birthday Jake!!! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. Happy birthday. Have lots of cake and icecream. 

  11. Happy Birthday Jake!!! 🙂

  12. Happy Birthday, Jake! As a mother of an 8 year old child with autism, your story is a great inspiration! Best wishes!

  13. keeper of drreams April 27, 2009 at 9:27 pm Reply

    HapPy BiRthDaY 2 U, HaPpY BiRtHdAy 2 U, OhhHhHh HaPpY BiRtHDaY, HaPpy BiRthDay ,HaPPyBiRthDay 2U and many moreeeeeee…. phew
    Happy Birthday Jake!!!

  14. Happy Birthday Jake!
    We share the same birthday!
    Darren Rowse’s last blog post..Pay Special Attention to a Reader [Day 22: 31DBBB]

  15. Happy Birthday Jake!!
    Joshua’s last blog post..I have a special skill set…

  16. A belated Happy Birthday Jake!!
    I hope you had a great one and thanks for reminding me it’s my sisters today!
    Tim Brownson’s last blog post..What’s Your Story?

  17. Erin Happycamper April 28, 2009 at 4:32 am Reply

    Happy Birthday

  18. Erin Happycamper April 28, 2009 at 4:38 am Reply

    Happy Birthday!

  19. Happy Birthday Jake!! 🙂 Hope you have a great day!
    Kat’s last blog post..Sinupret for Kids Giveaway!

  20. Happy Birthday Jake.

  21. […] For a success story involving autism and the GFCF diet, read Jake’s Story. […]

  22. […] This post was Twitted by tonzah – […]

  23. It is amazing what good food can do! It is amazing what the body can do when it gets what it needs. What a great story, Happy Birthday Jake.
    Something that may be helpful to know about is quantum biofeedback. I have had tremendous luck with helping an autisitc child eat new food with one session. They are so sensitive it doesn’t take much. The sad part of the story is that though we had trememdous results the parents never came back.
    Some will have a lot of judgement about this but that is misplaced. As you menitoned there is a tremendous amount of guilt, anger, sadness etc. around this issue. Children are precious and it is so hard when they don’t appear to be 100%. The good news is that when the whole family works together anything is possible. Everyone is touched and often needs help processing. What a healthy family can come to find is that there can be a little nugget of gold in the middle of all the pain.
    Bless you both.

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