Posted by RRB
on May 18, 2000 at 21:25:01:
My son has been diagnosed as autistic. He is almost 5 and a half now but his doctor has diagnosed him as autistic since he was 3. When he was born, his head was crushed by forceps resulting bleeding in his brain and a fractured skull. We did not become aware of this damage until he was already 6 days old, the bleed had already stopped bleeding. He started showing symptoms of physical problems at around 5 - 6 months when he failed to use his right side arm and legs. There was some difference in tone and some eye deviation as well. With physical therapy, he has overcome this weakness and only a very experienced eye can detect any difference at all. He still is not very coordinated and he is,as you might suspect, very strongly left-handed. He never slept as an infant and screamed incessantly. He was very sound and touch sensitive. Fast forward... After extensive physical therapy and speech therapy he is somewhere between 6 - 12 months behind cognitively. His intelligence seems to be intact but he is not very expressive i.e. He is able to answer questions but often chooses not to. He still is unable to sleep at night and must be drugged with a sleep "cocktail" which includes Baclofen, Clonidine and Chloral Hydrate. While most of the time he seems to understand questions and directives, often he will not follow them on the first or second time they are spoken. He can be very focused or "locked" in on a given problem or situation. His sound and touch sensitivity is greatly reduced although in part his medicines play a role in that (Other than his nighttime cocktail meds, he also is on Prozac). And yet he is a very affectionate child, he is fully potty-trained (a recent event! but finally there!) and he has never backslid on his milestones although in some areas he has always been delayed and continues to be delayed. I can see some similarities to autism in many of his problems and "symptoms" but on the other hand, he has not responded to many classic treatments including some of the diet/vitamin treatments. We have no family history of autism, and he has had genetic testing which was negative or "normal". Additionally, his pediatrician, speech and occupational therapists all say that he is misdiagnosed and doesn't seem to be autistic. The "expert" says that he is and is unbending and disregards his birth injury entirely. His only explanation is that he is "high functioning"
I'd appreciate some feedback from those people who really know because they have autistic children or know a lot about autism. Up until this point, we have not fought against the autism diagnosis although we feel it is incorrect because we feel that it has enabled him to get the therapy we know he needs. As he makes progress we aren't sure where to go from here... special schools, etc. Would there be differences in treatment if he were brain-injured vs. high-functioning autistic? I really don't feel like we are "in denial" as we have been dealing with this since birth and we just aren't concerned so much with the label as we are with the treatment.
Can brain injury cause autism? Is there a way to definitively determine this or is it a "where there is smoke there is fire" situation. Does it matter where treatment is concerned? Generally we have found the minute the words "brain injury from a traumatic birth" come up there is a clamming up of free exchange of information and most doctors start thinking lawsuit and stop providing answers and aggressive treatment.
Please, anyone with insight into this kind of thing respond... Honest,open medical opinions are welcome as well. Thank you for reading my ramblings