On October 7, 2011, my seven-year-old son, Cody, was admitted to a psychiatric residential treatment facility for severe aggression after five stays in a short-term psychiatric hospital from October, 2010 until his transfer to the residential facility in October, 2011 (he was six at the time). On May 14, 2012, he was discharged from the residential treatment facility, not because he had received the help he so desperately needed, but because insurance would no longer cover residential treatment services for him. So, here we are learning to navigate each other again and things have been wonderful for the most part, but the aggression he was admitted for is slowly worming its way back into our daily life. His diagnoses have changed since he was initially diagnosed in October, 2011. Currently, he has been given the diagnoses of Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD-Combined, OCD, and Reactive Attachment Disorder. I vehemently disagree with the Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis, but that is something I will discuss in a future post.
Though Cody had been very advanced in his development until the age of eighteen months, after receiving immunizations he experienced a full regression. He stopped walking and talking completely. He sat on the floor and rocked back and forth most of the time. He would often have violent reactions to anyone touching him, any type of clothing on his body, or diaper changes. This change occurred one week after receiving the immunizations. Though I know there are many theories about immunizations and autism, I have yet to find a wholly believable causal relationship between the two in my son’s case. What I know for sure is that he received his immunizations and a week later experienced the regression. He began services with a state-funded early intervention program by twenty-one months, and I believe that these early interventions are why he has made such tremendous progress and is now diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s syndrome with vocabulary and speech described as that of a professor. If there is anything you take away from this post, it should be that early intervention is the most important thing you can do for your child. It is easy to deny that something is wrong because you want your child to be “normal,” but this is not the time to cave to those feelings. You can explore those feelings later while your child is getting the help she or he needs. Getting your child help the moment you realize something is not right should be your highest priority.
There is no handbook for this journey because no two children on the Autism Spectrum are alike. What works for one child does not work for another. In my son’s case, each psychiatrist and therapist who has spent a good amount of time with him has commented that they have never seen a child like him. This is good and not so good. No one has yet to come up with an intervention that works for him. Each new therapist tries what they know and each time it fails. However, my son is a teacher to each of them. He requires them to step out of their comfort zone and come up with new and creative ways to treat him and hopefully to treat the children who come after him.
I know that there are many other parents struggling with the same issues that I am, and it is my hope that I will offer ideas and inspiration for the journey we are all taking together. There are things I have incorporated into our daily life that I believe are helping to lessen the severe anxiety my son experiences and helping him to create a more positive mindset and environment. I will be sharing the successes and failures with you all, and I hope you will share your successes and failures with me.
*If you would like to help us on our journey you can learn more here:http://www.giveforward.com/keepcodyathome. I would be so grateful if you would share this link with others. Thank you!