DX Autism: One little boy has a long journey to find his way home
Mother finds the answers and saves her boy
As a child Chris cried constantly and had cholic and jaundice at birth. He was induced and I always wondered if he had a lack of oxygen, but he was taken to ICU immediately.
As his mother, I was not able to cuddle or comfort him. He went rigid, he was uncomfortable with touch and was terrified of noises.
Was there a way to reach him?
His behavior bewildered me. Why did he stare seemingly at nothing? Why did he not make eye contact with me? Why was he closed off in his own world? What were his thoughts? How could I reach him? Was there even a way?
What made all of this more perplexing was the drastic contrast of giving birth to my perfectly healthy daughter three years earlier. She delighted us, hitting every developmental milestone ahead of schedule. I expected the same experience with Chris. That is not what happened.
No one could tell me what was wrong.
When he was born, and began exhibiting these peculiar behaviors, nobody could tell me what was wrong. Thirty-five years ago, there was no Internet or Google. There was nowhere to turn for “instant” answers. The medical community and social systems around Chris also were novices at figuring out how to deal with his symptoms. Having an undiagnosed brain-injured child was the hardest challenge I had ever faced.
When Chris was 3 years old, I sent him to California where his father lived to receive help obtaining a diagnosis. My sister was a medical doctor and advised me of the importance of early intervention. However, once the diagnosis was received Chris did not come back to me. It would be five long years before I got him back. Instead, he was put on medication with which I did not agree. I was ignored and did not have the money to fight a custody battle.
Chris was given Ritalin, Tegretol and Clonidine at age four. His eyes rolled back into his head, and he was sedated. He could not benefit from speech therapy and occupational therapy. He did not think clearly. He felt like the floor was moving up and down. Ritalin is an amphetamine (an upper), and clonidine is a downer. I cannot imagine how frustrating that must have been for him? No wonder he was so angry!!
When Chris unexpectedly came back to live with me at age eight, I had no advanced warning of his return and I was not sure what to do.
Chris was dizzy, nauseated, and angry.
The side effects of the medications were horrible. He was dizzy, nauseated, and angry. He punched through a window when he was given Tegretol. Ritalin also made him aggressive. Chris described how badly the medications tasted and how they made his head hurt and his stomachache.
Thankfully, a friend told me about the book, “What to Do about Your Brain-Injured Child,” by Glenn Doman. I couldn’t put that book down. It changed our lives! I brought Chris to The Institutes.
The doctors at The Institutes discovered that he was lactose and gluten intolerant and we needed to change his diet. He had tactile and auditory issues. He dragged one leg when he crawled as a baby. He had developed grand mal seizures. He bit his wrist and banged his head on the floor in frustration. He did not talk.
The home program of The Institutes addressed all these issues. We changed his diet immediately. We very gradually and carefully followed the protocol taught to us to wean him off all medications. We began an oxygen enrichment program. We did auditory and tactile stimulation which involved teaching him how it feels to crawl properly. I taught him to read, and we began a full intellectual program of general knowledge.
I got my sweet boy back!
It was hard work, but it was WORTH IT!
He learned to read, to talk, and his aggressive behaviors stopped. Now he had a healthy diet, and he was not sick anymore. He began to run and play and enjoy life fully. I had my sweet boy back!
That was 25 years ago. Chris is now 35 years old. He has not had a seizure since he was 9 years old. His seizures are gone! He lives a full and happy life.
A documentary is being made about his life. I wanted to contact the staff of The Institutes after 25 years to thank them and met with Janet Doman. She was very proud of Chris but kindly and honestly informed me that more could be done to help him.
A Second Chance
So, we returned to The Institutes with Chris. His home program now includes running a mile a day, a program to improve his breathing and his oxygen enrichment program. He has an intellectual program and maintains his healthy gluten free and dairy free diet with supplements
The most exciting news is that Chris is no longer hypersensitive to noise and was able to fly in a helicopter! He has been made an honorary team member with Healthnet Aeromedical Services and has now flown 6 times! He received his own flight suit and wings just like the other crew members in honor of the many years he worked so hard to get better.
He was even given a logo that was placed on all the helicopters that says, “Flying in Honor of Chris Gott”. This love and friendship that he receives makes him so happy.
There is no doubt that medications used appropriately can save lives. But I encourage parents to do research on the contra indications and the side effects of some medications that may be proposed for young brain-injured children.
If you have found The Institutes, it is a blessing. The hard work and hours you spend will be worth it. A carefully designed neurological program can bring about significant and lasting changes when parents have the time and energy required to accomplish the program.
I want to thank the staff of The Institutes for helping me to help my son live his happy, fearless life!