Dx Autism: Reece Success Story
A healthy happy baby who falls apart. Can he find his way back to a real life?
Reece, age one year – up and ready to go.
Almost 12 years ago our sparkly-eyed baby, who was developing normally, drifted away from us, seemingly overnight, with no obvious cause. We believe that the multiple vaccinations Reece received from birth to 18 months of age caused the problems we started seeing in him before he reached 2 years of age. We believe they are also the cause of the issues he still faces today.
At 17 Months Reece was a happy toddler enjoying his life.
I remember the day I knew something was wrong.
Reece was about 18 months old when I realized there was a problem. I remember the exact day I knew something was wrong.
I was calling out his name from down the hallway, looking for him. No response. This was unusual. I continued calling out his name as I walked toward his bedroom. No response. I was starting to get worried. I continued calling out his name but still heard nothing. I was relieved to find him in his room, bent over, head in his toy box, digging for something. I said his name from the doorway. He continued digging. He didn’t say anything, stop what he was doing, or flinch — he didn’t respond in any way. I had a weird feeling. This was strange behavior for him. When he found what he was looking for, he stood up out of the toy box and concentrated on his toy. I said his name again. He didn’t look at me or stop what he was doing. My mom’s intuition told me something was wrong. I thought perhaps he was having hearing issues.
“Reece’s tantrums increased”
At this point, we took Reece to the pediatrician and expressed our concerns about his hearing. The doctor agreed and sent us to an ear, nose and throat specialist but did not express any other concerns. After a hearing test (where Reece was extremely uncooperative) and an examination, it was determined that he had fluid built up behind his eardrums and that had probably caused the slight discrepancy that was detected during the hearing test. We scheduled surgery and he had ear tubes put in both ears. We prayed this was the solution we were looking for but his behavior continued to deteriorate – his tantrums and detachment from us accelerated.
By three years of age, Reece was distant, detached and prone to temper tantrums
We did not receive an official diagnosis for Reece until he was 4 years old. At this point, he was asked to leave the preschool at the parochial school where our older son attended as he did not behave or cooperate as the other students did. They gave us a referral for a child psychologist.
“We don’t want a diagnosis, we don’t want a label. We want to know how to help our son.”
Although we had taken him to several doctors, including a child psychologist prior to this point, we had not been seeking a diagnosis. We told all of these well-intentioned people, “We don’t want a diagnosis, we don’t want a label. We want to know how to help our son.” We fought the idea of a “label” because we believed it only led to a life of Reece being put in a box, being talked down to, not being seen or heard and being written off. We knew our son. We knew how smart he was and what he was capable of.
Reece, age four dressed for Halloween
We wanted solutions.
Eventually the diagnosis came.
In our eyes, the people that wanted to “help” only wanted to stick a label on him and tell us what he would never be able to do or accomplish. That wasn’t for us or Reece. Although we fought it, eventually the diagnosis came. Autism Spectrum Disorder. We knew in our hearts this was what we were dealing with but as we read the words on the form letter sent from this latest child psychologist, (yes, she sent it in the mail) tears stung our eyes.
Age 8 with Dad – still trying to learn how to ride a bike
We knew we would fight to get back that little boy that had slipped away from us.
Although we agreed with the diagnosis and knew deep down it was coming, it was hard to see those words and all they implied. Initially, it was a struggle emotionally but we finally decided that the label really didn’t mean anything. We knew we would fight and find a way to get back that bright eyed little boy that had slipped away from us.
When we attend the What To Do About Your brain-injured Child course, we learned that our son’s brain injury was caused by lack of oxygen. Specifically, we learned that Reece’s injury was bilateral and diffuse in nature. As this information hit us, we looked at each other knowingly, realizing that our suspicions as to the cause of Reece’s problems were confirmed. In our minds, nothing else could have given him such an injury.
They had the solutions we were looking for.
The single most important thing that we learned from the What To Do About Your brain-injured Child course was that they believed in our son and all he was capable of. They gave us hope for his future and told us they would show us the way. Not only did they give us information regarding the brain and Reece’s specific injury like no one else had, they had the solutions we were looking for.
For my husband, an engineer, the solutions with the science to back it up told him we were in the right place. For me, the solutions with a heartfelt understanding told me we were “home”.
Within months of starting Reece began to change.
We attended the course when Reece was 12 years old. A month later we began a home treatment program based on what we had learned.
Within three months of beginning his auditory hypersensitivity was significantly decreased. For the first time, he did not hide in the basement during the 4th of July fireworks.
By his first appointment at The Institutes his speech was better and he was more spontaneous in conversation with us. He was now more independent in everyday life. He was brushing his teeth, taking a shower by himself and even asking for privacy in the bathroom which he never did before. He was less sensitive to touch as well.
Within a year Reece surprised us with his ability to travel easily and navigate the airport, including handling extended delays. His health was improving also – a virus affected our entire family but he was the one who suffered least.
Reece, age 14 – now he has a real life – Hunting with friends
Reece had begun reading as a three-year-old but took no pleasure in doing academic work, now he takes genuine pleasure in learning again.
“Today Reece is physically excellent, academically ahead of his peers, and a real member of his family.”
Today, at fourteen years of age, Reece is a different young man. He is cooperative and accomplishes his daily schedule with determination. His diet now includes a variety of vegetables for the first time. He routinely surpasses his daily physical and physiological goals. He is physically fit – brachiating on an overhead ladder forwards, backwards, sideways, and twisting, he successfully completed a difficult military-style obstacle course for charity, with his father and brothers.
Tough and determined, Reece works daily on his physical program now he is physically superior.
He has caught up and surpassed his peers in reading and math. He is a speed reader and doing well in geometry at his older brother’s level. He has becoming more and more a member of our family, engaging in joking and conversations now and helping with chores around the house. He enjoys camping out now.
His daily intellectual program of reading, writing and mathematics is easy and a pleasure for him.
“We believe that he will go on to fulfill all he is meant to do in this world.”
We are very hopeful about Reece’s future. Every 6 months when we’re at The Institutes for Reece’s revisit, we find that he has once again grown in leaps and bounds. Sometimes in big ways and sometimes in small ways that only our friends at The Institutes pick up on. We know that if we stay the course and keep working hard everyday at the programs designed specifically for him, one day he will graduate and go on to fulfill all he is meant to do in this world, independently, as it should be.
We would tell other parents of children that have been diagnosed with autism that you can’t get to The Institutes fast enough. You’ve found your answer. After years of doctors, protocols, therapies and prayers, our only regret is that we didn’t find The Institutes sooner.
“It is never too late.”
They will guide you, understand you, write amazing programs for you, encourage you and most importantly believe in your child as much as you do. You will not find that anywhere else – we spent almost a decade looking and finally found it here.
Reece’s Family: The people who never accepted the false despair or the ugly labels proving that it is never too late when giving up is not an option.
And for parents of “older kids” on the spectrum… it is not too late. Reece is now 14 and is changing and growing for the better every day. It is NEVER too late for your child.