message from the executive director
Autism: There's Hope
Tommy wasn't like our two other children. He spent most of his time in his own world. He had an unusually long attention span for piling his toys between his legs then mixing them up or lining his toys up over and over again. He spent hours in front of the television flapping his hands with excitement. Eye contact was rare. At best, it was a fleeting glance. His sleep patterns were erratic. The most disturbing thing for me was he wasn't talking.
My parents questioned whether he was deaf, but he would always come running when a Barney movie was turned on. To finally know when he was 2 years 10 months old that he was "autistic" was both a shock and a relief.
Right from the first day we were on a mission to learn everything we could to help our son. We decided on a combination of biological interventions and the one-on-one home-based Son-Rise Program. We persevered for over three years. While it was the most difficult thing we had ever done in our lives, it was also the most rewarding.
Tommy entered grade one with no Educational Assistant and no Individual Education Plan. Since then he has won the Academic Award in grade two, the Citizenship Award in grade three, the Academic Award for grade four, both the Academic Award and Citizenship Award in grade five and last year in grade six the Academic Award.
Most importantly, Tommy has friends. He goes to birthday parties, sleepovers, summer camp, participates in community theatre and recently started his first job. He has a phenomenal memory and wonderful sense of humour.
Our son is an inspiration to so many others that are facing this difficult journey. While all children will not lose their behavioural diagnosis of autism, some will. So have hope.
Today, as the Executive Director of Autism Canada I get to do a job that is my passion. This is a real pay-it-forward project for me. I know the overwhelming majority of children today can make significant progress. The best chance for these children is for parents to get accurate information on all effective treatments so parents can start interventions early. Please take time to read through the Autism Canada website.
I wish to leave you with one of my favourite quotes from a wonderful pediatric neurologist that I have come to know:
"We are hearing a growing number of reports of children recovering substantially or completely from their autism. Recovery doesn't mean leaving behind the gifts and creativity that can accompany autism, but instead leaving behind the physical suffering and narrowed options associated with impairments. Some of these recoveries are attributed to intensive behavioural therapy; some to intensive biomedical interventions; and many to a combination of both. Although autism has traditionally been considered incurable, the "incurability" is merely an assumption --- it has never been scientifically proven."
Dr. Martha Herbert
Autism Advocate – Fifth Addition 2006 Article "Time To Get A Grip"
Autism is Treatable! Recovery Is Possible!