How did I tell this mom, let’s call her Margie, that I did just about everything? When it comes to autism, the conventional path is pretty narrow and, well, kinda short.
I know she’d made a stab at wandering off the beaten path, but hadn’t stuck it out. I’d stepped out of the box, off the path, and into the weeds…and have pretty much stayed there. I kept thinking “I took the road less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
Our sons had started in kindergarten together at a small private school that operated on a model of 50% neuro-typical kids and 50% special needs kids. Both our sons had autism. When they started I’d say they were pretty close in terms of functioning, and we’d been told our son was high functioning autism. Her son was a math whiz and they had hired a 1-on-1 aide for him. He didn’t come on the same schedule as the other kids. He was obsessed with the color orange. My son was a ball of anxiety and had to sit next to the classroom aide. This was in a class of 7 kids with a teacher and a full-time aide. My kid was obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine, wouldn’t walk on grass, and would only eat 5 things.
So jump ahead 7 years, and we’re standing in the courtyard of a different school. Our boys are in the 7th grade, and are now 13 years old. We’re trying to get caught up and I can tell she wants the scoop on how he’s really doing, but there never seems to be enough time at pick-up/drop-off. My son had transferred to another school in the middle of the third grade. Her younger daughter had started at the new school and our paths crossed after diverging for several years. Margie had seen my son walking around campus and was impressed with how he seemed to be doing. It was another small private school, but this time there was no program for special needs other than the size and a culture of support.
Then the school play rolled around. It was about the Iroquois League of Nations. My guy—I’ll call him Connor since he’d be mortified like only a 13 year old would be if I used his real name—was The Great Spirit of America, one of the narrators of the play. He’s a tall, good looking kid with a surprisingly deep voice. He’s also got a talent for this acting thing. He delivers his lines beautifully and has a certain gravitas. Last year he played the Dalai Lama. No joke. And he rocked it.
My husband and I took turns going to the play to see our Great Spirit, so one of us was at each of the four shows. Margie went on one of my husband’s nights at the play. He said she was practically in tears when she hunted him down at intermission.
“What did you do??”
You see, my kid has recovered from autism and her kid was still at the therapeutic school.
Yeah, I said it, recovered from autism. It didn’t happen overnight and we started way before Jenny McCarthy showed up. It wasn’t a straight line from point A to point R, and I had no idea if this would work when we started.
This is my record, to the best of my recollection, of what we did. When we were in the throes of autism, I didn’t take notes. I didn’t want to give the experience the anchor of a diary. My intention is to support the idea that recovery from autism in not a one-off event. Some kids CAN and DO recover. I’m offering this free to parents who are interested. If you are not interested or you want to argue with me about it, please keep moving.
For several years, I co-moderated an on-line and in-person support group for parents pursuing the biomedical path for their kids. I felt it was crucial that we make the information available and we make it available at little-to-no cost. If this is helpful in anyway, please pay it forward and offer your expertise or support to another family.
Robert Frost (1874–1963). Mountain Interval. 1920.
1. The Road Not Taken
I was going to write about neurofeedback, but changed my mind. Today I learned that Dr. John Wakefield passed away a few weeks ago from melanoma. His obit said he was 77. Dr. Wakefield was an environmental medicine and Defeat Autism Now doctor. He was the one who got us started down the right road to recover our son from autism. We eventually moved my son’s treatment to a doctor who was a little more cutting edge, but I continued to see Dr. Wakefield for my own lingering health issues.
He was the first one to delve into my health history beyond the basics. He was the one who unraveled the mystery as to why I’m so frickin’ tired all the time. Chronic Epstein-Barr virus and chronic mycoplasma pneumonia with sub-clinical hypothyroidism. I’m still struggling with these issues, but Dr Wakefield gave me a handle to hold on to and a significant starting point.
He was a very sweet, compassionate man. His wife ran his office and she is a delightful person. My heart breaks for her.
I saw Dr. Wakefield about nine months ago. He looked terrible. He had lost a lot of weight and aged what seemed 10 years since I’d seen him a few months previously. He told me his 25 year old son, who had brittle bone disease, was wheelchair bound and facing another series of painful surgeries, had died in a drowning accident…that probably wasn’t really an accident.
I hope Dr. Wakefield knew how much he had helped people, even when his own son decided he was beyond help. I hope the good Dr. Wakefield did in the world grows. I’m sure he counts among the legion of angels now.
God Bless you, John Wakefield. And thank you.