When he was 2 years old, Adam had no language, no eye contact and was seemingly unable to follow the simplest of commands, like "come here." Although our now 8-year-old son is not recovered (yet), he attends a regular education elementary school, gets straight As, adores his little sister and plays the piano beautifully. I am deeply thankful to TACA for so many of these miracles.
To backtrack slightly, we were fortunate in having an excellent pediatrician who noticed red flags at the 18-month visit and alerted us that something was not right with our son's development. For a parent, that is the last thing you want to hear, but that early diagnosis gave our son an extra year of much needed early intervention, which was crucial for his development.
We were also truly blessed in being referred to Lisa Ackerman and TACA within a week of hearing that our son may have autism. The TACA website was incredible and I was amazed by the wealth of information and resources to be found there. From the moment I heard Lisa speak at one of her support group meetings, I was filled with hope. She was my inspiration and my role model. Moreover, she gave me an action plan and a straight-forward list of things I could do to help my son. For the most part, I just tried to follow her example and do as many of the things I could do that she had done to help her son. I consulted with neuropsychologists, special education attorneys, speech therapists, ABA specialists and DAN doctors, many of whom Lisa had used and/or recommended. We started the GFCF diet. We began an intensive in-home ABA program; and, when he started school, he was shadowed by ABA-trained therapists. His behaviors improved. His language started to emerge. He became healthier, and he learned how to function at school.
Fast forward to the present. Our son is still delayed in being able to use language and converse at the same level that his peers can, but he loves school and is very smart. For example, he is great at math and has an affinity for numbers. If you tell him when your birthday is, he can tell you what day of the week it will be on. He is also very visual and learned to read at an early age. Two years ago, he started taking piano lessons and his piano teacher says that he sight reads music at the level of her upper elementary students. He loves music, and when he played "I Want to Hold Your Hand" at his school's talent show last year, he won the recognition award for most inspirational performance.
If it were not for TACA, which gave me the hope and encouragement to set my goals high and the roadmap to know how to help him, my boy's sweet personality and impressive intelligence could be locked behind the walls of autism with him living in his own little world. Instead, I believe that my son will be a gift to the world some day. Multiply that by thousands of children and families and that is the impact of what TACA is doing. God bless Lisa Ackerman, Jeff, and everyone involved with this most wonderful of organizations, TACA.