Dx Autism Spectrum Disorder, Jonathon says really? (UPDATE)
After a good start as a baby, little Jonathon’s development is seriously derailed. Can he find the help he needs to get back on track? Mother tells his story.
Jonathon today – even brighter, even more capable and determined
Jonathan was born after a full term pregnancy seven years ago. Initially he developed as a normal child. He was crawling and moving around at roughly the same age as his older sister and showed good eye contact. He even had some manual skills at a rather young age already.
Baby on track: Jonathan looking at himself in the mirror at roughly 4 months of age
Constant fussing and diarrhea are the first signs something is wrong
However, at around 8 months of age, Jonathan had a bacterial infection which was severe enough for the pediatrician to use antibiotics. When Jonathan was about one year old, he seemed to be constantly fussing. He also seemed to have diarrhea very frequently. Since this was around the same time that Jonathan was teething, we attributed this, as well as the fussing, to the teething problems.
“We realized that Jonathan was not catching up with his peers”
The 18 month check-up at the pediatrician was the first time that Jonathan had not met his developmental milestones. The pediatrician recommended to simply try and spend more time with him and to provide more stimulation. The areas where Jonathan had fallen behind were speech development and social interaction and imitation.
Jonathan, 16 mo. nibbling on a corn cob, Two years later, he would not able to hold the cob in the same way.
In this one session with the pediatrician, Jonathan also received vaccinations that had normally been scheduled for two separate sessions. He responded with a bout of almost hyperactive behavior.
“He was developing strange and obsessive behaviors.”
Jonathan, 2 1⁄2 years – He was still completely non-verbal, and showed excitement through tippy-toeing and hand-flapping
Initially we thought that the diagnosed developmental delay would disappear again by itself. What reason was there to worry?
It only took a few more months for us to realize that Jonathan was not catching up with his peers. On the contrary: Whenever he got excited about something, he would flap his hands and bounce up and down on his tippy toes.
“Jonathan was still completely non-verbal at three years of age.”
However, the severest manifestation of his problem was his speech: Jonathan was still completely non-verbal at three years of age. We had three separate auditory evaluations that still could not find anything wrong with the hearing of our three-year-old whose speech was as limited as that of a functionally deaf child.
As a result of these evaluations, Jonathan was placed on an early intervention therapy program for autistic children. Jonathan received at-home developmental therapy from multiple different therapists just after he turned two.
“Jonathon could not do simple things that a child a year younger could do”
By the time he was coming up on this third birthday, Jonathan was no longer able to feed himself with a spoon, drink from a cup, or put together simple puzzles that were meant for kids 12 months younger than him.
“We removed gluten and lactose.”
The turning point came when a friend of the family commented that we might try and check for food allergies, because Jonathan still had digestion issues. The most common foods that we could think of that caused digestive issues were gluten and lactose, so we decided to remove those two from his diet for a while and see what happened.
“The result was immediate”
The effect was almost immediate: He behaved much less hyperactive. He seemed calmer and more focused than at any point during the 12 months prior.
I researched gastroenterologists who focused on the health of the digestive system as a possible cause of Jonathan’s problem. We found that Jonathan had a severe candida overgrowth in his intestines, and that his natural digestive bacterial flora was severely damaged.
Were gut problems the result of his antibiotic treatment at eight months of age?
The doctor helped a great deal in treating the candida infection, rebuilt the gut bacteria, and addressing a number of other issues that were discovered with Jonathan’s metabolism.
We spent about a year working on healing Jonathan’s metabolism, and continued to send him to early intervention preschool and multiple physical and speech therapy sessions throughout the week.
Better progress but not fast enough
Now Jonathan was making some progress which was more than we had seen up to this point. During the next year, I kept looking for alternative treatments or therapy options. At some point, I came across the success story of a child that had been to The Institutes and recovered from “Autism”.
We attended the What To Do About Your Brain-injured Child course in Philadelphia in that year and brought Jonathan for his initial visit three months later. By then, his was chronological age was five but his neurological age was determined to be little over two years. We received our Program and got to work.
Stimulation and opportunity yield results
Once we put our program into action, the advances we saw were nothing short of amazing. In hindsight, we are convinced that the 12 months of nutritional and detox program that improved Jonathan’s metabolic system before we found the Institutes, played a huge role here. Without knowing it at the time, we had gotten our son as ready as he could possibly be for The Institutes.
We had stopped Jonathan’s conventional physical and speech therapy right after we attended the course. We also pulled him out of his special needs preschool.
The move caused some raised eyebrows with the school district administration. His teachers had been excited about the advances they saw over the last few weeks of that school year (this was after we had already started The Institutes’ program at home).
“Academically he is a Rock Star”
There was one definite moment when we stopped getting inquiries on whether Jonathan was going to re-join the special needs class: A team of his (former) teachers, therapists and education specialists reviewed Jonathon’s skill and knowledge levels.
Jonathon is officially placed in a regular class -no special school
The result of this evaluation was that Jonathan got the school district’s clearance to attend a regular kindergarten the following September. One of his evaluators wrote “academically, he’s a Rockstar” Jonathan officially graduated out of the special needs class right after we pulled him out of school.
The school district has not questioned his homeschooling since.
Improved Coordination, Reading and Writing – a world of change
In the second half of that year we saw major improvements in Jonathan’s coordination. One day during his physical program, Jonathan picked up one of the markers that we used during the intellectual sessions, and started writing the numbers from 1-100 from memory and with great pen posture.
In terms of manual coordination and motor skill, he is very close to his peers.
Jonathan is able to read in both English and Spanish, and enjoys learning mathematical topics that even his older sister does not know from school yet.
His biggest challenge to this day remains speech, especially in public situations. But even in this area, we are seeing advances at an incredible pace. Over the last six months, Jonathan has started to initiate conversations with us and with his sisters. When dad comes home from work, using full sentences, Jonathan often tells him about something funny or exciting that happened during the day. I frequently speak to him in Spanish, my native language, and Jonathan clearly understands most, if not all of it.
Jonathon has worked incredibly hard and we have invested a lot of work over the last two years. But, seeing how far he has come in that time is more than enough motivation to keep putting in the effort.
After all, we don’t know what the future holds for Jonathan. As his parents, we do try to make it as bright as possible, of course. This summer, we started a small college savings plan.
It has Jonathan’s name on it.
We’re taking advantage of the fact that all classes in his school district have been moved to online-virtual learning this year because of the pandemic, and we have let Jonny attend school remotely from home this way. Our biggest concern with Jonny was his social interaction, and the fact that he was overly shy and unwilling to engage with anyone who wasn’t an immediate family member.
I think we’ve made a lot of progress on that: Jonny won the “student of the week” in his online classroom, we have a video that shows the teacher presenting the award to him, and Jonny’s reaction to it. His classmates are asking Jonny questions like “What is your favorite movie?” and he answers thoughtfully and quickly after calling on different kids individually.
We are so happy , I still can’t believe that Jonny managed to play the piano all by
himself with no help. Hopefully we will find a teacher to improve his skills. He also decided to donate some of his own money to organizations that help animals.
He bought presents for Christmas, and for her sister’s birthday. Also he has his favorite songs and singers, he listens to music when he is doing gymnastics. He does his gymnastics very fast, doing more than we were asked to do in his program.
Jonathon has worked incredibly hard and we have invested a lot of work over the years. But, seeing how far he has come in that time is more than enough motivation to keep putting in the effort.
After all, we don’t know what the future holds for Jonathan. As his parents, we do try to make it as bright as possible, of course. Last summer, we started a small college savings plan.
It has Jonathan’s name on it.