Zachary’s story

January 31, 2013

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Author: Jackie

Zachary was born Feb 6th, 2004. Although he was sick at a day old, and almost non-stop for years, he was progressing in regards to developmental milestones. He rolled over early, sat up early, had some words at under a year, was walking at 11 months, etc. At 10 months old, however, we started becoming concerned about self-injurious behaviors. He would smack himself in the face often. By age 2 those behaviors worsened and he would now head bang often, throw himself on the floor, and push his head across the carpet. At the time we were unsure of the reason for the behavior, but we were certainly worried. He had some words (mama, ball), but he was using his words less, and grunting more. At age 26 months, he started receiving Early On services through the school district. Our biggest concerns still being self-injurious behaviors, aggression, and speech. Per school evaluations, at age 33 months he was at a 27 month age level in speech. At 35 months, he regressed to a 23 month level. He also regressed in play skills, and aggression towards others increased. By age 3-3 1/2, he spent most minutes of most days screaming and hitting himself and others. We still had no real idea as to the reason for the behaviors. From birth, he was often sick, but we never considered that the behaviors were due to his frequent illnesses or due to pain.

Zack was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at 39 months, on May 23rd, 2007. In doing research on autism (and other labels he received that day including 'possible' early onset childhood bipolar), I found TACA. I started reading, and researching, and talking to other parents. I started "connecting the dots" in regards to illnesses and regression, pain and symptom. We learned of biomedical treatment, and we started a GFCF diet. We started seeing a DAN doctor in 2008 and started some supplements. Within 4 days of starting fish oil, Zachary had his first conversation. He was 4 1/2 and it was with another child. It wasn't a 'deep' conversation, but any conversation from a child who doesn't speak to other kids, is a big deal! From then, his speech/communication exploded. We started removing more foods, and his speech increased, communication increased, social play increased, ocd behaviors decreased, etc.

Over the years, Zack has seen many doctors and has been evaluated again and again for many things, received a variety of diagnoses and has had many bouts of illness, surgeries, etc.Zack is now almost 9 years old. He is in a typical classroom, and is completely age appropriate in all speech and social areas. He has friends who call him and invite him over. He still suffers from sensory processing disorder but that is the only remaining 'autism symptom'. He has many health issues; including multiple food and environmental allergies, asthma, Chiari malformation, paresis of the vocal cords, Chronic inflammation, PANDAS, encephalopathy, mito dysfunction, chemical sensitivity, among many others. Finding and treating his medical conditions has improved his autism symptoms enormously.

In January of 2012 he had a full neuro-psych evaluation done. He no longer meets the criteria for any diagnoses on the autism spectrum.

He has a ways to go in regards to his health, and of course health issues play a big role in regards to mood/behavior. Sensory processing disorder is still a big issue, and because of that he does have a 504 with accommodations due to sensory issues. However, he is in a typical 3rd grade classroom with no IEP and is mostly indistinguishable amongst his peers.

We continue to work towards full recovery, meaning no sensory issues and good health, but I am very proud of how far he has come and the amazing young man he is.