Monday, July 15, 2013

Disconnected (part 2)

(If you missed Part 1, you can read it here)

Even after reading in Disconnected Kids about parents that were seeing their children come out of Autism, I was not sure it would work for us. But I was ready to try.....

I am very sure now. It was January when we began Aiden on his program. At that time he was not initiating much conversation, very rarely giving eye contact, he was throwing outrageous and uncontrollable tantrums, he was always tired, and pretty moody overall. At Aiden's first appointment with Dr.Gazhi there were multiple tests done to determine if we were looking to strengthen the left or right side of the brain. Dr.Gazhi checked his balance, hearing, eye coordination, posture, and strength on both sides of his body, among other things. Aiden was having a difficult time keeping eye contact, staying on the same subject of conversation, and sitting up straight, or showing much strength at all. After a couple of these diagnostic visits he started chiropractic adjustments as well as different therapies to start to strengthen his body and his brain

Three months into Aiden's new treatments it hit us. This was not too good to be true. This was working. We were realizing that Aiden was talking more, starting conversations and actually giving us details about his day. Instead of giving us an "I don't know answer" to almost everything, he was really communicating with us. He was having less fits, and he was looking people in the eye. He was starting conversations with people he didn't know. He was reading better and talking about his friends. This was all so new and so so wonderful. These therapies, along with a gluten free diet and supplements, were really helping. I was so excited.

Life has gotten easier, but we have to stick to a plan. We have to do therapy, and we have to do supplements. All the little details to make sure he can have the best possible day. When I get lazy I see the results of it through Aiden and it's not good. He still needs a very strict routine and consistency in his exercises, but he is a different kid than he was 6 months ago. And Aiden loves going to Dr.Gazhi, also known by him as the "game doctor." He runs in so excited to share the latest happenings of his life with Dr.Gazhi. We were stuck. He was disconnected until we found this doctor and this book that opened our eyes to see the tools we could use to help Aiden become connected. To feel better in his body and be more confident. I am so thankful for what brought me to this place. Even though I whined and complained about my back, I see how God used that to get us where we are.

Aiden has come a long way, but he is not where we want him to be and we still have some bad days. I know very well the glares and stares. The judgement of other people thinking I am not parenting my child well. I know, I have been one of them myself. Do me a favor; I will join you. When you are out and about and you see a child out of control, and most likely a worn out mom, please remember my Aiden. Spectrum disorder or not, they need grace. We don't know the details of their lives. We are seeing but a tiny glimpse. Give a smile and save your judgement. You never know what that person has gone through or is currently going through. Even if she isn't parenting well, it's not our job to fix them.

What is most important to me about all of this is the help we got for Aiden. I didn't know if it was ever going to happen. But I got even more out of it. Through this experience I was able to correct by back that had hurt me every single day for years, start on a new eating lifestyle that would clear my skin and help me lose weight, and be healthy; feeling better overall. But this has been more than getting healing for myself and my son. It's about learning to have a better attitude in these hard situations. It's about the amazing people that God brings into your life when you feel like there is no good that can come out of what you're going through. Even in times we feel there can be no life in what we are going through, like God must have made a mistake, we see Him at work in others and we see beauty come from pain. People are learning lessons from us by the strength we show through our struggles.

This is our story. We were frustrated, lost, and sad for the unknown. I'm so thankful for the day I strained my back. It brought me to the right person who handed us the keys to unlock our little boy. We are seeing Aiden, who was an angry, out of control child with Autism become happy, brighter, funny, and smarter. He is getting better. He is getting connected.

It's never too late to get intervention. I highly recommend this book, our chiropractor, and these centers.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Disconnected (part 1)

Aiden was the easiest baby. He was a great sleeper and always so happy, but when he was 9 months I started feeling uneasy. I had several friends with baby boys around his age and the summer before his first birthday I remember sitting in silence, paranoid with a million thoughts racing through my mind, at a play date. Aiden wasn't talking like them. He wasn't playing with them. He wasn't crawling. And the sting of the questions never went away; "How many words is he saying?"

I knew deep down things weren't right. Anytime I brought up my concern, people replied nicely with an "I'm sure he's fine. All kids are different and learn at their own pace." Which they are, and I know those responses came with the best intentions. But it was getting more serious. I knew with all of my being something wasn't right. Despite everyone else telling me to wait it out, I sought help. (Moms and dads, this is where you trust your instincts.) People want to believe the best and give advice. And in love they do that, but they aren't always right. When you have that gut feeling go with it. There was nothing to lose but everything to gain.

So I took it upon myself to contact Easter Seals and got Aiden in their ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) program at the age of 18 months. My concerns were confirmed in our first meeting with them. He was behind in speech and had many signs of being on the spectrum. He was enrolled in their program and immediately given speech and occupational therapy twice a week. As much as we saw some improvements, we also saw our little boy go from a carefree happy baby to a frustrated and angry little boy. Simple things weren't simple for him. It was very discouraging. He was disconnected.

It was a warm day in April when I met with the psychologist and teachers. It was that day the dreaded label was confirmed. Aiden had Autism. His specific diagnosis was Autism PDD NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified) I knew this deep down for years, but in that moment it was made more real. I handled it better than I imagined I would, but I had to remind myself that Aiden was the same child and we just had a label to go off of to get him more help. Sadly I didn't handle the really hard days that well. I still wondered what his future looked like. Were these therapies even helping him? I hated Autism. I'm not going to sit here and pretend like I dealt with all of this well. I didn't. I was mad. I felt sorry for myself and envied every family with children that were "normal." I was exhausted and I wanted God to fix him. This would be a cycle that had lasted for 3 years and would continue. I would read about these families that saw Autism as a gift and it only made me feel worse about myself because I didn't see it that way. I didn't want to be a part of any of it. I didn't feel like we belonged. I had many angry conversations with God and I was ashamed of myself for that. Why couldn't I be like one of those people that just embraced it?

I kept waiting for change. Hoping that something would click. Aiden had been in public school for three years and he was still having trouble socially, verbally, emotionally, and was still behind on reading. The fits he was throwing would come out of nowhere and were impossible to control. Many days I wanted to walk out of the house the moment Justin arrived home from work. It's emotionally exhausting.

And that brings us to last October. I remember pouting to Justin the night I strained my back. I was super upset and very annoyed because it had ruined our plans of having the weekend without the kids. And it meant money to see a doctor and it was irritating to me that I wouldn't be able to exercise or get around easily for a while. How many times have we done this? Gotten so worked up over something that puts a wrench in our plans that we don't take the time to see what it could be for. Or not even that. Just to see it for exactly what it is. It was a strained back. I wasn't dying. We were all fine. But I chose to have a bad attitude about it. Did I need rest, a chance to get my back in good shape, and a moment to be thankful for what I had? Yes, I needed all of that. Sadly it took me awhile to get there. And little did I know all I was going to get out of this experience....

I had no idea that when I got the recommendation for my chiropractor how much it would change my life. I had a 6 week recovery time for my back heal. And I got something even better than healing for my own body. Through conversation with my doctor I brought up Aiden and his struggles. Dr. Gazhi recommended a book, Disconnected Kids by Doctor Robert Melillo. I ordered it right away and as I frantically read through each page light bulbs were going off. It made so much sense. I was scared though. Was this too good to be true? Exercising the side of the brain that was behind and changing his diet. Was this really the answer? Was this really going to work? Why had I not heard of this book before? He was disconnected... How were we going to get him back?