By Shannon Hunt
March 2010 I rec'd email from a friend that asked it I would talk to LA Times reporter, Alan Zarembo. I then sent him an email and set up a time to meet with him at my home. The time that he was able to do the interview was during my younger sons ABA session and team meeting (all therapists and super). He sat in for the team meeting and part of the session. He said he was interested in my family because I have two boys that are DX with ASD and both are Regional Center clients. Additionally, he was interested because my older son was DX while we lived in Southern CA.
When he arrived, I had pulled out boxes of IEP's, IPP's (regional center plan) and IFSP's (Early intervention plan), and our Data Book for ABA. I gave up two plus hours giving him tons of information about how I have had to spent countless hours in IEP meetings and IFSP/IPP meetings and hours and hours of on-line research regarding Special Education law, CA Disability Rights and more importantly, Bio-Medical Research. I opened up my medicine cabinet and showed him the supplements that I give my boys and shared with him my thoughts on why my children have autism. I shared with him that my now 13 year old son had sudden on set on seizures just shortly after his 15 month "well child" visit that included the MMR vaccine. I advised him that my older son is very high functioning now but that we had done lots of work that included dietary changes, speech therapy, occupational therapy and some behavior analysis.
I advised him that my younger son, who at the time was completely non-verbal (at 6 years and still not completely toilet trained that the ABA services we received had been invaluable and that I did not know where we would be with out them. At the time, my son was receiving 18 (down from 30) hours on ABA in the home, 2 hours of speech therapy and one hour of occupational therapy per week. I told him how we had taken him off of Gluten, Casien and Soy a year and a half earlier. I told him that two weeks after removing Gluten from his diet that I finally was able to get a full night sleep because my son had slept all night for the first time in 3 years. I told him about the (sometimes) 20 bowel movements that my son would have before we put him on GF,CF, SF diet and how I was cleaning up bowel accidents ALL OF THE TIME prior to diet and supplements. I told him about how after this son had gone to his doctor and received a flu vaccine (because he was under two and that it was recommended) that he has stopped making eye contact and started having tics and started flapping him arms and toe walking and stacking and lining toys and on and on.
At the time, I recall having a conversation with my son's ABA therapist after Mr.Zarembo left my home. I asked her if she noticed that same things that I had noticed. She said yes. I wondered if that was why he was writing the article. I noticed a lot of traits that are consistent with the "Neurodiversity" movement. He appeared to very unfriendly towards the idea of ABA and talked about what a financial burden it was on the state. I thought to myself surely he must have a different opinion after meeting my son and seeing what the therapist does with him and listening to our team meeting and the detail of the program and how dedicated his team is. Surely.
After 20 months of waiting, once I was advised it was finally running. Every day I would go to the LA Times website and read that days installment looking for my interview. It's not there today. Oh well, it will be there tomorrow. Tomorrow, he will write about how much benefit my youngest son has received from Bio-Medical interventions and how he regressed after vaccines. He will surely add in the information I gave him on how my older son had seizures after his vaccines. Tomorrow he will write about how much both of my boys have benefited from ABA, Speech and Occupational therapies. Tomorrow, he has to share with his readers all of the emotional testimony I gave him about sleepless nights with a child running around at 3 am spinning and flapping. He must tell about the fear I have about a non- verbal child and how I long to just hear my son tell me that he loves me. Tomorrow he will write about how sick these children are and how many of them have severe GI issues and how important bio-medical interventions are combined with traditional therapies. Tomorrow, he will share the whole story of autism. Tomorrow never came.
Shannon Hunt is parent to two boys diagnosed with ASD. Prior to staying home to care for her children's autism related needs, including homeschooling her youngest, she was in the insurance industry. She lives in California.,