January 16, 2014
Gavin was a happy baby who rarely cried and was always content. He hit his milestones and was actually walking by around 9 months! When he was 3 years old, the doctor mentioned that Gavin was not saying words like he should be, but added that it was nothing to worry about. Of course, I was young and naive and believed everything she said. We continued on with his vaccines that day, when he received a group of shots including the MMR and the flu vaccine. Later that night, Gavin was running a high fever, which we were assured was normal. He got better, but about a week later, I noticed he was crying a lot (which wasn't like him) and he was being violent toward himself and us. We took him back to the doctor, and she referred us to a developmental pediatrician at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
After a 2-hour evaluation there, Gavin was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. To rule out other problems, he had more tests done, all of which were negative, so we were left with that diagnosis. We were completely lost and felt very overwhelmed. People kept telling us, "He doesn't have autism, he is just being a boy." We felt that perhaps Gavin was misdiagnosed and those people were right.
However, symptoms kept presenting themselves and we couldn't deny it any longer. We were concerned because of Gavin’s violent behaviors, and were referred to a behavioral pediatrician who prescribed Risperdal. Gavin was like a zombie and this didn't feel right, but again I believed his doctor and kept him on the drug. Then one day when I was dropping my daughter off at preschool, I was talking to her teacher about my son’s placement for next year. She mentioned that they didn't have the resources for special needs kids, but knew of another family at the school who had a child with autism who may be able to help.
So I got a hold of that mom, and attended a support group she was part of. There, I met a lady who was a TACA mentor! She became my unofficial mentor and friend and opened a whole new world for us. We immediately started weaning Gavin off the medication and started the GF/CF/SF diet and basic supplements, consisting of vitamins to help with constipation (one of his worst problems) and to help fight yeast overgrowth.
About six months later (June 2010), Gavin was the first child to start ABA therapy at a new center that opened near our home (to this day, he is actually on the cover of their brochures). Also during this time, we were trying different supplements and having great success. He was in ABA for a year, which was the best thing for him -- I highly recommend it. He graduated from the program potty-trained, and able to read and do math. But here’s the kicker – Gavin went from having a 12-second attention span to being able to sit for 30 minutes in a class of other peers at his functioning level! We were told that Gavin was academically gifted and was doing great, so he no longer needed that service. Following ABA, Gavin was excelling at such a fast pace that he was able to start kindergarten at age 4 1/2! He needed very little help, but still required an IEP.
Next, we moved to Indianapolis, where he and our daughter started at a strict academic, college prep school. Gavin started receiving occupational therapy to help with fine motor skills and handwriting. Due to the advanced academics, he also had a strict IEP so that he didn't fall behind due to his poor handwriting skills and inability to use scissors. The special needs team made a plan for him to use a computer instead of handwriting on tests and class work.
We also slowly started to incorporate extracurricular activities such as sports, but he didn't really like them (probably due to his poor coordination). One day, we were invited to see a performance from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and Gavin fell in love. He wanted to play so bad, that's all he talked about. I got in touch with the director of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, and they placed Gavin in a group that plays cellos. He now performs so well and can read sheet music after only three months in the orchestra! The awesome part -- he is sensitive to loud sounds, but the loud music doesn't bother him.
As of January 2014, Gavin has an almost non-existent IEP, has ended OT, and is on the honor roll at school with 6 A's and 3 B's, and a 3.65 GPA. He is amazing and improves every day. If it wasn't for TACA, I don't even want to think about where we would be!