Managing Edtor's Note: I met Jennifer Larson at Autism One. She was the winning bidder for a post on AoA and an autism flag signed by everyone from Dr. Wakefield to Jenny McCarthy. (Please don't tell her, but we'd have run this post even if she hadn't won the bid.) Thank you, Jennifer.
By Jennifer Larson
“Is he high functioning?”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this in reference to my autistic child. I assume they ask because I’m knowledgeable and have tried so many things to help him. The answer is a solid “no”.
I categorize my son as a “non responder”. My 1st DAN! Conference was when he was 21 months. I was on this immediately. We’ve tried “everything”. A few things have helped along the way, Seizure medication, Fibroblast Growth factor (Dr. Aguilar) and Yasko’s program. Otherwise, most things seem to make him worse. It seems there is always a reason from physicians for a regression, but at some point you just want your child to feel good and move forward.
About a year ago, I’d pretty much given up. Acceptance wasn’t a place I’d gone. I wasn’t in denial, but I was in denial that this was lifelong. I kept thinking… We caught it so early, why isn’t my son recovered?
Last fall 2008 after years of seizure medication, Cade’s seizures had disappeared. He hadn’t shown seizure activity on his EEG’s for over a year. My gut told me I needed to do Hyperbarics.
I told my husband we needed to buy a chamber. I wanted to do the hard chamber at the higher pressure and 100% oxygen. I purchased the chamber, hired and sent an EMT to training and got Cade in there. He didn’t love the hood, but quickly became acclimated to it. It was obvious he liked it because he doesn’t do anything he doesn’t like. He’s diving at 1.5ata for 1 hour a day with 100% O2.
I am pleased to say, my hope has been renewed! He might never be “recovered”, but we are making gains in time frames that I could never have imagined. We saw improvements in just the initial 20 dives, observing very clear fine motor and articulation gains first.
Here is a direct quote from my Facebook group (Holland Center Pediatric Autism Treatment Ctr): “Cade has started to spontaneously write his whole alphabet and even spontaneously write words. This evening he spontaneously started to spell out his colors and write the letters! His interest in letters, writing and reading has grown unbelievably. His speech articulation is so much clearer and his hand eye coordination continues to amaze me. His writing is so good when he has lined paper that I can't believe it's his. HBOT is the only thing that we've changed. It's almost hard to believe he's doing these things.”
Honestly, everything has improved! He’s happier, trying new foods, sleeping better, speaking longer phrases/sentences, articulating better, hand eye has improved and his receptive/cognitive understanding has improved. He finished 80 dives about a month ago and is starting up again soon.
All of us are looking for the magic piece to helping our kids. Reality is that there might not be one. Some of us with less affected kids might get true recovery. Some might get high functioning. Others like me are hoping for a certain level of life skills and a certain level of independence for them someday. I’ve never been quite as passionate about anything as I am about HBOT.
Even if we don’t continue to make the gains we’ve seen so far, this has pushed our son to a new level. Good luck to all of you…..
Jennifer Larson of The Holland Center in Excelsior, Minnesota, and Mom to Cade, 8, vaccine injured with autism.