Time for Action!
January 20, 2014
Our son, Chase, was diagnosed with autism on his 4th birthday, at the end of November 2012. At the time of diagnosis, Chase barely talked, and was already seeing a speech therapist. He had less than 30 words in total vocabulary, and his communication was limited to echoing questions asked. He was not potty-trained, and would often harm his little brother. His cognitive skills were marked at 1 year 11 months in age, yet he was 4 years old.
Before the diagnosis, we "knew" it was going to come. He was already enrolled in a school IEP program since February of that year. By May, we really started to suspect autism and already started to research everything we could while seeking an official diagnosis. When the diagnosis came, we knew it was time to go into action and that's when we contacted a DAN (now MAPS) doctor to set up an appointment. Within a few weeks, we had our first meeting and initial plan, which was to implement a GFCF diet. Because of other eating habits, our doctor suspected a peanut intolerance as well, so we also removed that from his diet.
Through January 2013, Chase underwent blood, stool, hair, and urine testing. Once all that came back, we realized our poor boy, who craved yogurt tubes and peanut butter on a spoon, was highly intolerant to those foods. With some data in hand, we started on a supplement program that made sense.
We noticed that after introducing the Nu-Thera supplement (a vitamin B complex from Kirkman Labs), we started to see some improvements in his behavior. A month later, we started with methyl B-12 injections, one every 3rd day, which was later increased to an injection every other day. A few weeks after we started the injections, like I always do when putting him to bed, I said, "Good night, Chase. I love you." He responded with an "I love you" back. His speech therapist was floored with his recent progress. His vocabulary was growing, and growing rapidly. By the end of May, eight months into speech therapy, we were completely re-writing all his yearly goals. He accomplished them all and was surpassing everyone's expectations.
Chase was in a half-day IEP class which started in February 2012, almost a year before the autism diagnosis. Ironically, his main teacher went on maternity leave at the beginning of January 2013, when we started supplements and made dietary changes. When she returned in April, she was beside herself over Chase's progress. This is the same teacher who worked with him since he started that class. She had nearly a year of teaching him, and saw him progress over that year, but the progress he was making in the three months while she was away was exponential compared to the past.
ABA therapy started at the end of February, and the same comments about his progression were echoed to us again. This is when we knew we were doing the right thing. Everyone who was working with Chase were all saying the same thing. He was progressing much faster than expected, and in some areas, his rate of progression was previously unseen by his therapists.
Just before Fathers Day, I got a text message from my wife. While she was picking up our eldest child from school, she handed Chase a dry erase marker and told him to "color on the board." When she looked over a few minutes later, she saw Chase had written in clear letters "Play" on the board. She texted me a picture of it. When it came in, I was driving to the airport for a business trip. This was the first time in a long time I broke down in tears in front of another man. That's the day that I knew that Chase was going to be okay.
At the end of July, we had to move -- not just to another city, or another state, but rather to another country. We went from the San Francisco bay area to Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Obviously there are some changes in the health care system, as well as the government support for services. We went from 3 hours of IEP school, and 2.5 hours of ABA per day plus one weekly speech therapy session, to 6 hours of IEP school per day plus a weekly 3-hour ABA session. Because his speech was doing so much better and progressing well beyond anyone's dreams, we did not continue that therapy in Canada. Chase’s schooling in Canada is integrated into the standard class, and he also has an aide who works with him.
Chase still struggles with social aspects, but is certainly gaining on his peers in cognitive areas. Recently, he has shown a great interest in reading, but the real heart-warmer is how he now enjoys spending time with his little brother, the same brother he used to constantly hurt just for coming close to him. Chase and his little brother now share toys together, laugh together, and even plot to play tricks on mom and dad together. He has made two close friends from school, and we schedule regular play dates with them to help Chase continue to develop his social skills.
We have been working with a new doctor in Canada, and decided since we see which supplements work best for him (Vitamin Bs, especially Methyl B-12), we are now working towards getting his poor little gut back on the right track. About six weeks ago, we started to phase in a new program, concentrated with probiotics and digestive enzymes. This program was also to remove much of the supplements we had him on, with the hope that he would start to absorb them more effectively on his own.
We initially pulled back the methyl B-12 shots to once per week, but his behavior started going downhill. The autism stims started to come back -- spinning, flapping hands, biting his fingers/nails, and he wouldn't hold a stare for even a few seconds. He also started to be more aggressive towards his brother. If Chase didn't get what he wanted, he would quickly go into a tantrum with lots of grunting, and he would even make odd moaning sounds. About two weeks ago, we went back to a methyl B-12 injection every other day. A few days later, his good behavior started to return. I asked my wife if she noticed him stimming lately. She pondered about it for a few seconds, smiled, and said, "Awesome! It's the B-12 baby!" I cannot wait to share the next Chase update!