Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Autism: One Parent's Journey


Just got my first paper back from herbal medicine school and I got an A!!!!!!

It was a very personal piece written about my son and some of the things that I encountered on the road to treating his autism. Wanted to share a bit of it with everyone, especially those who have a child, or know someone who has a child with special needs.

Here's an excerpt from it:

I initially felt that the word autism had many negative connotations attached to it. In short, it meant slow, not as proficient as, one who struggles with tasks that others find easy, but worst of all incurable. Negative connotations aside, however, it was a slight relief after he was diagnosed. I could offer the diagnosis to his teachers as explanation as to why a wide array of disruptive behaviors were occurring and be received with understanding as opposed to frustration. Future flair ups and subsequent teacher annoyance could also easily be addressed and dissolved with the simple reminder that he was “autistic”. When I began using the word to describe my son, the weight of the word, measured by the responses of others surprised me. The numerous teacher complaints were now replaced with nods of understanding and in time the complaints ceased altogether even though his “bad” behavior persisted.

The feeling of relief and ease I was beginning to feel as tensions between me and his teachers quelled was short lived, however, as I began to wonder if I was negatively enabling my son. What if the ways in which this disorder affected him were not as pervasive as his doctor and I had suspected? What if both me and his teachers had a limited understanding of the true nature of the disorder and were using it as a crutch exempting him from the expectation of performing in ways that he was capable, if he were only challenged and expected to? With the inclusion of so many varied behaviors, which of his behaviors were ones that could be classified as the manifestation of the condition, and which could be classified as normal childhood defiance? Was this elusive term “autism” limiting otherwise realistic expectations of him to perform in ways that were actually at par with his current capabilities? In finding answers to these questions it was necessary for me to look beyond the language and explore my son independently of the numerous preconceived notions surrounding the disorder.

From a health standpoint the doctors stated that this was something that he would have to live with for the rest of his life, from a wellness standpoint, those words alone initially shaped my belief and slightly diminished the hope I held for treatment options. What’s the point if nothing I do will make a difference? His first pediatrician told me that I “ought” to get him tested as she suspected he might have “something”. Those words put fear in my heart. Once he was diagnosed and I did seek out therapy options, his psychologist told me to not be too “unrealistic” when it came to my expectations. “He’ll likely be this way forever” he said, so you should start to adapt. Those words have stayed with me to this day previously deterring me from pressing forward when my son showed enthusiasm in a number of different fields.

It took one classically trained physician who specialized in natural remedies to set me straight and get me back on the road to positive expectation in regards to my son’s condition. His words; “He is going to get better, I’ve seen it happen.” After a year of natural interventions that’s exactly what happened. He got better and better still, symptoms subsided and a new personality emerged. Tasks that used to be difficult became easy and the pride I saw him exhibit spoke for itself. But instead of his progress making me a happy parent at that time, it made me a bit of an angry one. While I was overjoyed at his progress, I was angry at each and every person who told me prior to this point that it couldn’t be done. Who were they to stifle my enthusiasm and how many other parents had they done this to? Due to the fact that I will one day soon be a a doctor of natural medicine I am now happy that I experienced this firsthand. I truly believe that it will help me to be more sensitive to the individual needs of those that I advise and ensure that my words do not place limitations on the most important tool at the patient’s disposal: hope.

7 comments:

  1. What a wonderful display of pure warmth and dedication toward unstanding austism. I must pass this on because I believe in the natural approach to health. Wish you more success each and everyday.
    T. Stafford

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  2. Thanks for sharing and continuing to be a beacon of hope for others. Continued blessings on you and your son's journey.

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  3. Lovely. Thank you for sharing this!

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  4. What a wonderful mother you are! I send a prayer to the universe that you are granted continued success in this wonderful field. Much love to you and son

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  5. Excellent story. I am much better with symptoms of autism. Going the natural route. By doing my own research. I found the more preservatives and other toxins increased my symptoms.

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  6. oh wow. This is so great. I wish you all the best. May the Lord Jesus Christ be with you and your family and continue to bless you.

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