This story comes from a beautiful Son-Rise mom, Eva. I have met her in the Son-Rise Program Start-up at the Autism Treatment Center of America. We have been friends ever since and this is her story:
Our son, Josheph, was born very premature, at 30 weeks of gestational age. He was very small, only weighing 2 lbs 2 oz (approximate 1kg). His stay at the hospital was uneventful. Our doctors predicted we would soon forget he was born so small and he would come to develop like any other child. But our story turned out differently. What a journey! I would certainly describe it as “climbing a mountain”. It has been a difficult one but also filled with many lessons and gifts.
Joseph has had a very delicate belly since his very first months of life. He had a very debilitating case of reflux that would keep him from drinking his milk most of the time. He would cry incessantly of pain. When he was weaned and started on solid foods he became severely constipated. His constipation kept worsening week by week. My husband and I, first time parents, were very concerned, but the so-called professionals insisted that constipation is almost a normal issue in babies and they overcome it eventually. I was in disbelief as Joseph was weaned on healthy, organic foods. We introduced a variety of grains pureed with fruit and vegetables. Sometimes, I had to physically help Joseph pass his stools as they were incredibly hard and he seemed in so much pain.
By the age of one, I realised that Joseph was developmentally delayed. Once again our doctors dismissed my concerns. A lot of professionals told me I was biased since, at the time, I worked as a trained pedagogue with people with developmental challenges. I strongly wanted to believe that I was biased, as the idea that Joseph would have some challenges was truly scary. By the time he was two years old, his delays were more evident, especially his communication and ability to socialise. He was completely non-verbal and lacked social skills. He would not respond to his name and was also late in other developmental areas. His constipation had aggravated even more by then. When Joseph was about three years old, we nearly faced surgery as he was no longer able to have bowel movements. His body decided to forget about this natural function, as this was too difficult and painful to deal with. We were not offered any solutions apart from commercial laxatives, which were prescribed by the paediatrician. We had little knowledge on how to support our son.
My way of doing things has always been by researching. Joseph finally received a diagnosis of Autism a year ago. He is now seven years old. I have always suspected that this was the case but could not come to terms with it until he was three and a half. At that time I started to look at ways of healing my son’s Autism. There is so much research on Autism nowadays as it is spreading fast at epidemic rates. By reading and reading, my husband and I have chosen to help Joseph with therapies which are consonant with our ideas and our way of living. The Son-Rise program is one example of that, being a very gentle and non-jugmental approach we have chosen to help our son. This program is a social base (not skill base) therapy that is tailored to inspire a child to join our world by joining their world first. We also chose to adopt specific diets, homeopathy and other alternative therapies. By rethinking nutrition and discovering that organic foods alone were not the answer, we decided to challenge ourselves in taking a true step to recovery.
We started with a gluten and casein free diet but that was not sufficient. Constipation continued to be fierce and stubborn. We were truly at a loss, especially due to the lack of support offered from mainstream health services. The beginning of Joseph’s recovery was the GAPS diet. We didn’t start seeing results right away and a lot of patience and perseverance was required. Joseph is not the child that shows signs of healing after 3 months on a special diet, as sometimes we read in recovery storybooks about Autism. None the less, we have seen slow but steady progress towards full physical health, which I believe is the foundation in making recovery from Autism possible. A child cannot develop normally in my view, if their body is too busy with solving physical ailments. We believe that what has made a real difference in Joseph’s improvement in digestion, apart from following the GAPS diet as close as possible, has been the introduction of fermented vegetables, juices made with fresh fruit and digestive enzymes, and supplements that are individually prescribed by a nutritionist.
In the past six months, our son Joseph is almost a new child. He has spontaneous bowel movements, no longer needing conventional laxatives, and enjoys eating a wide variety of foods. His appetite is good and it is a joy to see him progressing at his own pace. He is also more communicative, social, connected, content and, as our homeopathic doctor said, ‘half way to a full recovery’! The journey is still long and we are aware of it. We are still dealing with several challenges but we are happy, strong and hopeful for the future. Research, commitment, dedication, love, hope and belief that our son can fully recover have been our magical instruments in this beautiful journey to recovery.
Eva is a Pedagogue, Mother, Researcher and Leader of Joseph’s Son-Rise Program