By Lea Googe – TACA Co-coordinator Texas
We often look back and wonder just how Oliver got so sick. We have our suspicions. And we have our regrets. Our family has a combined medical history filled with autoimmune issues like diabetes, ALS, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, Psoriasis, Rheumatic Fever, Rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, asthma, ADD, depression and anxiety. These are all important when you’re looking for possible Autism triggers. But before Oliver was born, we had no idea that these could be warning signs. Our doctors never asked us about any of these issues while we were pregnant. Nonetheless, we were concerned about our baby’s chances of autism, even if at the time, we were unsure exactly why.
Originally, we were told we were having a girl. And knowing that girls have a much smaller chance of autism gave us a bit of relief. We decided to name her Zoe. Turns out, our OB was really bad at reading ultrasounds. And just like that, Zoe became Oliver.
Our pregnancy lasted the normal length of time. During this span, we were given folic acid in our prenatal because our OB was concerned with spinal bifida. On top of that, he had an ultra sound machine. We used that thing more that 10 times because we were so excited to see pictures of our baby. Meanwhile, we ate loads of GMOs and pursued a multi-vial flu shot that still contained mercury. Finally after 40 weeks of this, Oliver was born in an emergency c-section. He was different from birth.
We didn’t fare much better with our new pediatrician, either. In one of our initial appointments, we asked her about autism. She assured us that her best friend was an autism specialist and vaccines were not the cause. After his first vaccinations at eight weeks, Oliver developed a huge golf ball sized knot on his leg where the injection was given. Concerned, we called the doctor. They told us it was normal. “Just give him Tylenol.” Suspiciously, nothing was noted in his record file.
From the very beginning, Oliver rarely slept. For the first five months of his life, he would only sleep in his baby swing, and only if it was swinging. He was a picky eater, exclusively breast fed as he did not like bottles. After trying to feed Oliver yogurt, we discovered that he was allergic to dairy, causing him to break out in puffy red rashes. Oliver also had constant gas. Any strain he made, would push out an uncomfortable release. When we took him in for well checks, we would ask if having so much gas was normal. They would tell us no, but offered no reasoning as to why it was happening and provided no suggestions for dealing with it.
Oliver rolled 20 feet at four months and walked at nine months. It was at nine months where he fell off the charts for communication milestones as he did not wave and did not understand what we were saying. At 12 months, he had his first MMR vaccine and grew even more distant. At that appointment, our new pediatrician did suggest we start feeding therapy since he was not eating solid foods. We saw that pediatrician one last time for his only flu shot in the fall.
In the beginning of 2010, we started taking Oliver to a new pediatrician and also began Early Childhood Intervention services of Occupational Therapy and Speech. Oliver did not enjoy these home therapies, but we did have an amazing group of therapists who were full of helpful information. Looking back, I wish someone would have told us to start seeing a specialized M.A.P.S. Doctor as pediatricians are not trained in medical school on the co-morbid conditions that are associated with autism.
After that, we found another pediatrician that ran stool and urine testing on Oliver. Through this, we found a lot of oxidative stress and yeast markers in his gastrointestinal system. Our new pediatrician confirmed that our child’s immune system was not functioning normally. She advised us to “wait” on any future immunizations.
We were trying to make a difference for our son, but still not making real progress. At this point in his life, Oliver pretty much only ate Cherrios, Chick-fil-A chicken salad and saltine crackers. We were still in feeding therapy but having little success.
It was around this time that my sister’s friend at work gave her a TACA Journey Guide for us. It was one of the best gifts we’ve ever received. This was a game changer for us. It guides families through the treatments for autism. We got connected to other TACA families. We went to conferences, watched educational webinars, researched symptoms, and had medical testing which led us to treatment. It has given us insights. It has given us contacts. It has given us options. It has given us a chance. This is why we volunteer for TACA. More families need to know that Autism is treatable. There is a network of people just like you that want to help.
Today Oliver is the #1 kid in his feeding program. He loves hummus, organic chicken salad, GF/CF cookies, GF/CF pasta and still works hard to increase his healthy food intake. He is so connected and social with adults, which happened when we removed the allergens from his diet like eggs, gluten and dairy. We are still working hard on peer play and language.
This year, Oliver has many word approximations and his receptive language is growing. We are still working on his gut & immune issues and he is still not a great sleeper, but he has improved leaps and bounds. He is our superhero for working so hard. He deserves to feel better, understand and process his surroundings. We celebrate him everyday, not the autism he suffers from. There is a strong, beautiful light inside him. We just need to reach it, so he can shine. TACA gives families like ours so much hope.
Author biography: Joey, Lea and Oliver live in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Joey is a writer and Lea is a parent volunteer for the local TACA Texas chapter. Together they work hard on recovering Oliver and helping families find the resources that TACA provides.