I thought I'd post this after reading so many heart wrenching post's by parents of Autistic children.
My son was diagnosed with autism when he was 4. That was 27 years ago.
He was fairly normal until after his 2nd birthday - then he stopped talking, began to play in one spot on the floor...all day long, he would only repeat words that I would say, he began to scream at certain sounds on TV - certain shows would send him into a painful fit. He developed phobias over the wind and rain and was afraid to run. He walked on his toes but his arms seemed fine.
At 4, I took him in for a health screening to be ready for kindergarten. It was then that I was told he had autism. I was also told that he probably would never function well enough to dress himself and I should look into the option of institutionalizing him... (This was an absurd idea to me - I KNEW he could dress himself - he could take my vacume cleaner apart and put it back together in minutes! )
I was a single parent and I suppose the doctor thought he was being kind by giving me a way out of the hassle of parenthood of an autistic child. I was blissfully young and ignorant and just believed I could fix my son. This is how you have to be!
I was sent to the city Speech and Hearing center for an assessment and they were about to label him as non-verbal until he dropped the headset and said "Oops! sorry about that!" - They hadn't believed me when I told them earlier that he DID talk - when he wanted to.
He was registered to a unique elementary school in my area for Kindergarten. This school has a wing for handicapped or health challenged kids. The other part of the school were for regular students. At lunch and recess they all got together to play.
It was very therapeutic for all of the kids.
The school provided occupational therapy to help his balance, fine motor skills and his walk. His classroom targeted his attention span and social skills. I also took him to the speech and hearing center twice a week for about a year.
This was all fine and it kept him busy - but his biggest breakthroughs came when he received a video game for his birthday from my sister. It was donkey kong (remember this was about 25 years ago..) The game really strengthened his attention span and worked on his eye-hand coordination. He had to concentrate on something for more than an instant in order to advance to the next level.. This proved to be extremely therapeutic!
By the time he was 10 years old - he was sent to the regular wing of the school. He still had issues - but his speech was great, his fine motor skills were much better, attention span was good enough to follow class instructions,.....He still was stuck in "routines", He still had phobias, he still could not look me in the eye for very long.....but he was changing for the better!
He continued to progress to high function through high school and made the "Who's who of high school students" book - two years in a row.
He graduated with a 3.85 GPA. He still has a photographic memory..He is still stuck in his routines. He has learned how to copy social behavior so it is hard to tell that he's not normal...Every once in a while though there will be an inappropriate laugh - or a pause when there should be a reply...but other than that he's incredible!
He has been working at his job for 10 years. He drives. He makes good money. He doesn't understand sarcasm and is still very sweet and innocent to the world. I keep him close by.
He has researched some of the supplements that are mentioned for autism and takes Vitamin B6, NAC. etc...on occaision. He said it helps him to concentrate.
I just wanted to post this so parents of Autistic children understand that there is hope - even with the worst prognosis!