Managing Editor's Note: We ran this post last April and thought we'd remind you to keep the faith and hope as you work to help your own child with autism. Children with autism can get better. Some will recover. None of this will happen if you believe the mainstream message that your child is doomed from the day of diagnosis. 85 year old men get cancer surgery and chemotherapy. 60 year old women are using science to give birth. Why should we believe a toddler's future isn't worth saving after an autism diagnosis? We don't. Do you?
By Angela Warner
My son, Nathan, lost his autism diagnosis on April 8th, 2009. I don’t even know where to begin. I am still trying to bring my mind back from being around the moon for HIM!!! I have shed many tears of complete and utter joy. I almost feel speechless. There is so much to tell. Not so much about the hell that we’ve been through, but how a deeper hell was avoided because I trusted the voice inside me. I trusted my Mother Warrior voice. I come from a long line of Mother Warriors.
I have shared many times over the years that I know the reason my boys did not develop severe autism is because they weren’t vaccinated according to the schedule. I know that Nathan was injured by vaccines. I thank God every day for giving me the strength to listen to my voice.
Nathan was born on August 11, 2001. Giving birth to him was amazing. I had no interventions and no medications of any kind. He was perfect and weighed in at a healthy 8 pounds 10 ounces. His first vaccine, the Hep B, was given when he was just over two weeks old. He seemed to do ok with just this one, but things changed dramatically when I took him in for his “well baby” visit at just over two months of age. On that day Nathan received Hep B, DTaP, HIB, Polio, and PCV vaccines. The slow and steady decline began that day. My happy and healthy baby began his journey into autism.
Nathan received no shots for the next year. He was always sick or covered with eczema. I’d have an appointment set up to take him in and then cancel it. He was not sick enough to go to the doctor, but I knew he was too sick to get a vaccine. His older brother got the Varicella vaccine in November and within the incubation period for chickenpox, Nathan was covered with spots. I think he got the chickenpox from Isaac getting the vaccine; it’s a live virus and Nathan was immuno-compromised at that time from his vaccines. Around Christmas he started having what appeared to be seizures. The EEG ultimately showed nothing, so we were pretty much written off as crazy, over concerned parents.
When Nathan turned one, they played catch up with him. He got DTaP, HIB, and Polio. Four weeks later he got Hep B, DTaP, HIB, PCV, and MMR. Nine vaccines. The DTaP that Nathan received that day (same lot #) killed another baby two weeks after this baby got the vaccine, in our area, and two weeks after Nathan got this vaccine. In February 2003, now 18 months old, Nathan got another DTaP and HIB. Another child in our area, who received the same lot of DTaP within 5 weeks of Nathan getting this vaccine, was diagnosed with autism a couple months after Nathan was diagnosed.
During this time things were so crazy in our lives, that Nathan’s craziness, I guess I just took it in stride most of the time. My husband was working full time, I was going to college full time, Dave was going to college half time, I was pregnant with our third child, and Dave and I just chalked it up to all this and the fact that we were just plain tired. There were plenty of signs that something was amiss then, but we’d been down the Early Intervention road with Isaac right before Nathan was born and as there were a lot of similarities in their developments, I knew EI would be a waste of time.
That following winter was the winter of the big flu scare, and I signed the boys up for a flu vaccine. Fortunately I only gave them the one dose. The same patterns continued, and even though they didn’t get much worse, I was beginning to suspect something was, in fact, wrong.
The summer of 2004 brought reality to my concerns. Dave signed up to join the Air Force in July and the kids and I moved in with my parents. I didn’t want to do it alone for six months with three kids, and honestly there was no way we would be able to afford to live on his beginning salary. When we moved in I said something to my mom about thinking I may need to have Nathan evaluated. My mom has a BA in Psychology, so when she said, she would wait and see; I trusted her. Dave left for basic training in the middle of August. I had already decided to enroll Nathan in Headstart, and made the appointment for August 30 to get him the Varicella vaccine. By September 3rd, Nathan was gone. There was no more suspecting that something was wrong.
My introduction to being a Mother Warrior was like what most, if not all of us, experience. Autism Basic Training. You better get up in the morning and make sure your combat boots are strapped on tight because you have no idea what the day is going to bring. You better march and get it right Mother Warrior; otherwise you’re dropping and pumping out 50 in the form of another meltdown.
I knew I would get Nathan back. I had no idea what the hell I was doing in those first days, I just knew I was going to bring him back. I was on my own for him. Dave was gone, add the stress of living with your mom and step-dad, and feeling judged as a parent. Totally alone, in a town where I knew no one. Fighting for my son. I became steel, and would no longer tolerate crap from anyone. Autism Basic Training.
The road has been long and hard. We have all worked hard to bring Nathan back, keep our family intact, and grow our relationships with extended family by sharing knowledge, which has been great. The past three years have brought much change and our families have been incredibly supportive even if from afar (the nuclear family). My sister in law and her hubby actually were volunteers for a multi-chapter autism organization fundraiser in New York this past weekend.
The laundry list of challenges we’ve faced for Nathan on all fronts, is as long as the laundry list of behaviors. One of the things that will forever stick in my mind is when Nathan would speak, it would be him screaming at me in the months and years following that damn vaccine, “You’re Stupid Momma!”. I knew we were on our way when he stopped screaming that, and I think he was screaming that because of the agony he was in, and because he knew it was caused by the vaccine. The laundry list for Nathan also included a subsequent EEG which showed abnormal temporal lobe activity with slowed and sharpened delta and theta waves. Essentially absence seizures. Nope, we’re not crazy parents, and through research I found that it is common for the first EEG to come back negative.
We also found that it is quite common for children with autism to react to drugs prescribed for ADHD with serious side effects. Nathan reacted with both auditory and visual hallucinations which landed him in the children’s psych ward for 11 days. Four months pregnant with our fourth child, and Dave deployed again; my combat boots are still strapped on tightly. Have you ever reached out to your Family Program Coordinator at your base, and had that person tell you, that she would recommend that you put your son in foster care, and then told her to F Bomb off? Boots tightly on. That’s what autism requires.
Bringing Nathan back… eliminating certain foods that contained offensive ingredients to his system. We’ve never done GFCF. I never felt in my gut that this would be the ultimate key for him even knowing that for so many of our kiddo’s it brings huge progress. He does not consume many casein containing foods. Does he get a little hyper after eating goldfish for a snack? Sure sometimes, yes, but he (and we) can deal with a little hyper. We ultimately did really good vitamins, lots of vitamin C for his chronic constipation, ignatia (homeopathic remedy), B-6, tons of acidophilus, avoided certain meats for some time (due to the nitrate concentrates), and enrolled him in a study on zeolite that was just getting started. All this primed him for the intensive home therapy that he started this past summer (right after the study ended), which happened because I’ve had my boots strapped on. Nathan’s gut was fortunately, not as damaged as so many of our children. I thank God everyday.
Nathan’s recovery is a miracle. I birthed a perfect child. I allowed him to receive the vaccines that pushed him into the autism abyss, and I had to fight to undo the damage I allowed to be caused. Nathan is whole again. Nathan is no longer in the abyss.
One last thing to add… in the past month since the girls had the chickenpox (which I intentionally exposed them to), Nathan has progressed in leaps and bounds. I had a discussion with my midwife about this (she attended both girls home/water births), when she sent me the email inviting me to have a pox party with her own daughter; I was concerned about Nathan knowing what we know. We may see regression, or this could somehow further fix his whacked immune system. I called her in tears last night as it is obvious that the latter happened. We’ve got a study here in the Warner home. Who’s interested???
Recovery IS Possible and IS Happening! My Nathan is PROOF!!!!!!
Angela Warner is a military wife, Mom to four children and runs the blog Autism Salutes .