Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Andrew story

My first pregnancy was full of unknowns. I didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl. Were they going to be healthy? What were they going to be like? The big day finally came. I will spare you the graphic details and skip to when he entered the world. It was kind of a blur, but I remember very clearly that after we got the cord cut they quickly took him to a baby tray thing to clean him up. He didn’t cry right away. We made eye contact and he lifted himself up on to his little arms. Very impressive. I didn’t realize then how much I would come to treasure his eye contact. I was so happy I actually cried. He eventually starting crying and the next day we went home. After we were home for a few hours he started crying. For hours and hours he cried. I didn’t know if he had colic or if it was because of his circumcision (not a good idea). At the time it never crossed my mind that it might be because they shot him full of mercury, a virus, and other toxins. Why would I? I was a 21 year old first time mother. They were doctors and nurses with years of experience and schooling. For days he cried with an hour here and there of sleep. He didn’t seem to cry more when I changed his diapers. No fever. I had no idea and it was heart breaking.
He started getting older. He hit most of his milestones ahead of schedule. He was a little behind in his speech, but he was talking. I wanted to be a good mother. The doctors told me to get him vaccinated. The other children were getting them. I got him the shots. They told me that him getting a fever and laying around the house afterwards was normal. I believed them because again what did I know?  Thousand of kids got them everyday. He eventually stopped talking and regressed. He had a lost look in his eyes all the time. I was lost to. I didn’t know what was happening to my son. I didn’t know what to do for him. On top of being completely ignorant I was struggling with the sadness and guilt that comes along with coming to terms with the reality that your child has autism. It was becoming more obvious every day.
He had a special bond with my husband. It hurts my pride to admit that even though I was a stay at home mom that they seemed to be closer. It probably had something to do with my son being an exact replica of his father. They just clicked. When Andrew was 2 my husband passed away. Needless to say things got worse. I was in a world of hurt. I didn’t know what to do with myself much less how to help my son. Andrew regressed further. I hate putting it like this, but at one point it was like trying to raise a wild animal. I hoped that it was because he was mourning his father and he would get better. When he was 3 and things were not getting better I finally took him to the specialist. He got the MRI, the genetic testing, every test they could give. Didn’t tell me anything I did not know. He was autistic. They couldn’t tell me why. They did accomplish making me cry. Even though I knew he was autistic it hurts when a doctor tells you your 3 year old has the cognitive skills of a 13 month old. I enrolled him in classes with teacher and therapist. I worked with him at the house. I bunch of repeated words with the asl signs. It helped. I had to wait 6 years to hear him say I love you and it was worth every minute.
I think the worst part of it (other then the uncertainty of his future) was when he was sick. He got sick a lot. He would spike fevers. He would obviously be in pain and could not tell me where. He acted like giving him medicine was a cruel torture. He still does. For the most part every fever turned into a trip to the doctor. Most of those turned into trip to the hospital with antibiotic and fluid I.V.s. It was like he had no immune system. He got to where he would start crying if we went into some place that even looked like a doctors office. He had to get ear tubes twice because of ear infections. He had to have his tonsils and adenoids out. Post op infection that needed a trip to the hospital. Roto virus that ended with a trip to the hospital. He couldn’t tell me what he was feeling. I don’t know if he was understanding me telling him what was going on.
I would hear horror stories about parents having to send their children to live in facilities when they got bigger because they couldn’t take care of them anymore for some reason or another. I would hear in the news about how special needs children were targeted by bullies and abusers. I would hear statistics like 85% of couples raising autistic kids get divorced. How people were making millions selling false hope to desperate parents searching for help for their children. I would hear about the care for children financially crippling families. It was $1000 bucks just to cover the anesthesia when we had to get his cavities filled.
He is 7 now and in kindergarten for the 2nd time. He got a new teacher this year. A wonderful, smart man who has helped Andrew improve dramatically. He is talking. Not a lot by himself but he can pretty much repeat any word you ask him to which is phenomenal. He is happy! He is becoming more social. He has stopped throwing fits all the time. I can take him places with out having to leave dragging him kicking and screaming behind me. It’s amazing.
A few weeks ago I was told it was a very real possibility that they were going to cut the special ed in my ISD.  That was a crushing blow. I’m not one to wallow in self pity and defeat. So I started writing letters, email, I attended a march/ rally in Austin. I started a page to try to get other people informed and take action. I can’t do it alone. Please help. Not just for my kids but for everyone’s kids and the future of this state. Send letters to your representatives in Texas and Washington. Let them know that you think education for EVERY CHILD is important! Let them know you will remember when you are voting.

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