By Craig Willoughby
Every parent needs a break every once in a while, and this is almost doubly so for parents of autistic children. So, for Father’s Day, a friend of ours decided to help my wife and I out and watch my 6 year old autistic son, my 8 year old Aspergers daughter, and my totally rambunctious, absolutely normal 5 year old daughter. We gave her instructions on what to feed the girls and pointers on how to get my son to eat his GFCF food (he’s only been on the diet 3 weeks, and he still isn’t happy about it), and with great relish mixed in with a little bit of trepidation, my wife and I went out for a date.
The date was nice, more so for the fact that we got to eat at a decent restaurant without trying to catch the food my son likes to throw or without listening to his screams when the noise overwhelms him and he has a meltdown. After dinner, we went to a bookstore and had a pleasant hour or so of browsing without chasing down my son to pull a book he was about to tear up away from him. Of course, this was interspersed with my wife or me calling home to check on the little ones. Everything was fine, of course, but our wonderful friend said that my son was a bit anxious, looking out the window and wondering where we were at.
Too soon, the evening ended, and my wife and I headed home. Our arrival was met by our 2 daughters rushing out the front door to give us hugs, and then one of the most remarkable things that has happened to me in my 35 years.
My son spoke to me.
As we stepped into the house, he looked up and gave me one of his angelic smiles and said one word that melted me.
He said, “Daddy!” (well, it came out as “Da-eee,” but we all knew what he meant). His first word in five years was an excited greeting to his father! Quite simply, this was the best Father’s Day gift a dad could possibly get.
I did the only thing I could. I grabbed my son and gave him the biggest hug and began bawling like a little girl. Yes, a big, tough, 6 foot 4 inch man breaking down into tears. I wasn’t the only one either. My friend was sitting on the couch with a great big smile on her face while tears rolled down her cheeks. My wife was standing at the door, her hands covering her mouth as she cried tears of joy.
Parents who have experienced this know what I’m talking about. The only way I can describe it is that it is like watching the birth of your child and hearing that first little cry. In a way, it is like they are being reborn; it is joyful and humbling and beautiful.
To those people that think that the GFCF diet is a sham, I present this question; why is it that for five years, my son never once said a word until shortly after we started him on his diet? To the parents that are struggling to bring their babies out of this terrible vaccine-induced fog; please keep trying! It may not be quick or easy, and you won’t get results over night, but your child deserves the chance to speak. You deserve the chance to hear your child speak after so many years of being silent. I give you my hope that a single word can start the way to recovery.
Craig Willoughby is a mild-mannered computer programmer by day, and by night uses his razor wit and sarcasm to fight the forces of evil (i.e. Big pHARMa and idiotic bloggers).