Teri S. and her husband Alan arrived at my Autism Recovery Clinic in December of 2013. Their then 12-year old son refused to eat-he would scream and clear the table when she served him a meal, he was so thin Teri cried each time she bathed him, his meltdowns were so severe trips out in public were limited, he was totally non-verbal, chronically constipated, and not potty trained.
Here is her story.
Our youngest child, Seth, now 17 was diagnosed with Autism at the age of five. Although I had suspected that he had Autism long before his official diagnosis, like most parents, I was in denial. Seth made eye contact, really great eye contact, he can’t be autistic I would think. Over the years, I have learned a lot. And there is so much more to learn, as Kara taught me.
Seth was born an essentially healthy baby but then he had his first of multiple seizures at just 24 hours old. We have been on a roller coaster ever since; doctor’s appointments, multiple therapies, numerous illnesses, major sensory and behavioral issues, the list goes on and on.
The only constant that I held onto over the last 13-years is my attitude and persistence. I read a quote recently that stated: “Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react.” I love this because this is really how I have tried to fulfill the role of Seth’s mom that God gave me.
I have always been very proactive with Seth. Every time I heard about a new Autism treatment I would research it and if I felt there was even the slightest chance of it helping Seth improve, we would try it. Most of the interventions that we have tried have helped to some degree. Over the years, Seth was improving slowly, so I pushed forward. What choice did I have?
Then in 2011, Seth’s behaviors began to change drastically as he approached puberty. He had always had behavioral issues but they were now extreme. He would have random outbursts that led to the most severe rages. His gassiness, bloatedness, and severe constipation came into effect. He had always had these symptoms but now they had become a nightmare. We took him to three GI specialists who each told us “These are all symptoms of Autism. You need to give him Mirlax daily and suppositories and enemas as needed.” Not once did any of these specialists question why was he having these symptoms. His rages continued to escalate and he began to refuse to eat. He became so emaciated and weak. We were so lost as parents.
It was an extremely dark time for our family, we simply did not know where to turn. I was praying a lot but I had begun to think that God had forsaken us.
Then one day, December 2013, I received a random email from Integrated Connections, Kara’s Autism Recovery Clinic. Our family was probably at the lowest point ever but I certainly would never give up on our son. However, we could not continue living as we had been. Seth was in such extreme pain and I knew there had to be something more to this. I view this email as God’s divine intervention; it truly saved us.
Alan and I drove 2 hours to meet with Kara. Her then 12-year old son was actually in the clinic when we arrived. After hearing a little bit about Kara’s heartbreaking but uplifting story of healing the underlying medical conditions, we could not believe this well-spoken, polite, happy 12-year old boy was the same she had previously described. I looked at my husband and tears were rolling down his cheeks. “Please help our son. Tell us what we need to do and we will do it.”
In less than a year our lives changed in ways I could only dream about. Seth has gone from daily rages and meltdowns, severe constipation and gassiness, refusing to eat, being extremely limited verbally, constantly being sick and fighting infections to a happy, smiling, healthy boy, who eats basically whatever I give him, has normal bowel movements daily (without MIRLAX!) entertains himself appropriately, and is now using his words to express his wants and needs. As a matter of a fact, 3-months into working with Kara and Integrated Connections team, Seth said hs very first unprompted sentence “I want more granola please, Mom.”
For years, I had no hope. I was simply managing unmanageable behaviors. I look back and wonder how did we ever survive?
My husband and I didn’t truly understand prior to working with Kara at Integrated Connections that Seth’s behaviors were communication he was in pain, that he doesn’t feel well. Our kids are sick. They are fragile. The process Kara took us through must be done very slowly to avoid causing more harm. Often times we took 2 steps backward before we moved forward in progress. It does require a lot of effort and time.
A favorite quote of mine “Nobody ever said anything worth achieving in life was easy…but it will be worth it.”