Heath was officially diagnosed with High Functioning Autism around 20mo but I ‘just knew’ by 13 mo when I saw him sitting in the driveway, spinning leaves. I was in denial for 4-6 mo until I realized he had stopped talking. He had in-home early intervention until age 3 and began pre-school then which continued for 3 yrs because of his late birthday. He was able to enter main stream kindergarten and is now making high grades in 2nd grade.
Ok, what happened: I never opted for any other medical intervention, therapies, or diets. I couldn’t do that to myself or to Heath. We did the best we could, my husband, son, and I. Although he was very loving and made good eye contact, Heath was non-verbal, violent at times, had sensory disorders and he was getting worse.
With the help of his in-home therapists, we taught Heath basic sign language and also communication using Picture Exchange Communication (PECS). He learned quickly with the pictures and hand-over-hand teaching. His constant need for same-ness and no interruptions caused many meltdowns, which are different from tantrums as the child is simply overwhelmed and cannot stop. Everything was a battle and usually ended with me crying and Heath crying, both of us suffering an anxiety attack and neither of us knowing what the other one wanted or needed. And he was strong; it took 4 people to hold him still at regular dentist visits.
Heath didn’t sleep well, or regularly. He hit himself and bounced off walls and people. He spun and twirled everything that would spin or twirl (q-tips, straws, leaves) and he lined up everything else. He couldn’t touch or eat certain textures. He would spend hours at time in his room or spinning the wheels on a matchbox car.
He couldn’t tell me if he was in pain or if he was hungry. When Heath began to regain his speech at age 3, he spoke only in questions. If I asked, “Are you hungry?” his ‘yes’ response would be, “Are you hungry?” When we gave him commands for a task it would have to broken down into a few words or Heath would become overwhelmed. He watched the same movies for weeks at a time and memorized them line by line. After a time, we could ask Heath a question and he would pull a responsive line out of a movie; sometimes the line was an appropriate answer but there was no real conversation until around age 7. The clinical word for all this is Echolalia.
In November 2009, just after Heath turned 4, I visited a church suggested to me by a dear friend. That day I was healed and delivered from suicidal thoughts, manic depression, anxiety/panic attacks, and much more! The next week I felt I was supposed to take Heath there and he would be healed so Heath and I made the short trip and I saw him delivered from evil spirits and claimed healing from Autism.
I spoke over him, not daily, but as the Lord gave me His word for him. I have been raised in my faith to believe that Jesus accomplished our healing and deliverance, indeed everything we need, 2000 years ago by His death, burial, and resurrection. Is it in 1 Corinthians where God “calls those things that be not as though they were?” I believe God’s word is alive and has creating power in it (He spoke and created the earth and everything in it.) The Bible says “the power of life and death lies in the tongue” and “you shall have what you say…believe.” Because he could repeat anything he heard, I was able to teach Heath to say, “Thank you, Lord, for delivering me from Autism.” I would lie in the living room floor beside Heath and speak over him knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and the ability to speak what he knows. I crawled into his bed while he watched TV and spoke to him healing of his mind, body, emotions, intellect, and even social abilities. I said whatever I heard God say through the Holy Spirit. I still speak Life and healing into him, not daily but as directed by the Spirit of the Lord.
Did I doubt? Did I waver? Did I complain and argue and cry? Yes! But I had Spirit-filled friends who came along-side me every time and helped me to see.
Heath’s progress was immediate, albeit slow. By January 2010, his teachers were telling me new things. I saw and heard new things almost every week and documented a lot of it. He does have speech, beginning around age 3 when we got his dog for him. He has dropped most all echolalia, except once in a blue moon. He began potty-training himself at age 5 and was out of pull-ups in time for kindergarten. He started feeding himself at age 4 and has developed a taste for a wide variety and textures of foods in the last year. He learned to ride his bike (with training wheels) at 7 yrs and learned to button and zip blue jeans at 8. Also in the last year he has learned to brush his teeth, tend to his bathroom needs, take a shower, and so much more.
Heath still exhibits some of the symptoms from time to time but his progress has been phenomenal. He his now able to tell me, “That is too much information,” or “I don’t understand.”
At the end of this last school year, his special education counselor set a meeting with me to have Heath removed from special education all together. She said he no longer qualifies and indeed excels in all areas.
The Lord has gifted him in many ways and Heath continues to be very loving and places high value on others. He has a servant’s heart and loves to help, whether at school, church, home, or with strangers.
We still have a little way to go verbally and socially but honestly, I only notice it when I’m around other kids his age. So, this is our story in a nut shell.