How did he get autism? Is it genetic? What about Josh, does he have it, too? Is his diet making it worse? Did having him vaccinated cause it? Is it true that early intervention can cure him? Did he get early intervention?
We have heard all of these questions about Brandon’s autism. From well meaning friends and family as well as from complete strangers in the community.
There is research out there that supports a strong genetic link in autism. Maybe it is genetic. There is a lot of money spent on research, studies, and testing. While I think this is worthwhile, it does not change the fact that Brandon has autism. I wish there were more funds available to help those children and adult already living with autism.
There is also much research that debunks the theory that vaccines (specifically the MMR) cause autism. If the genetic theory is ultimately proven, then the community at large will have to recognize that it isn’t the vaccines. I do not think vaccines cause autism. All three of my children were vaccinated. Only Brandon has autism.
Does diet play a part? Maybe. I know some parents have their kiddos with autism on special diets and they have told me it has helped some of the behaviors associated with autism. Do we have Brandon on a special diet? No. Do I think Brandon’s birth mom’s diet caused him to have autism? No.
When Brandon was 8 years old, he stopped eating. It happened gradually and we did not initially see what was happening. It got to the point where he would only eat Zebra Cakes, which are not the healthiest, but we didn’t know what to do.
And then Brandon stopped eating. He absolutely refused to put anything in his mouth. People told us he would eat when he got hungry enough. But he didn’t. The behaviors were becoming unmanageable. He wasn’t sleeping, which meant I wasn’t sleeping either.
After 4-5 days of this, we had to have him hospitalized. His child psychiatrist was amazing and worked hard to get his medications stabilized. He started sleeping and he slowly started eating again. When he came home, we worked with a behavioral therapist for 3 months who was finally able to get Brandon to eat a wider variety of foods. He gained weight and looked so much healthier.
Since then, Brandon has his favorites and is much better about trying new things. I hope he never gets to that point again. He can have his favorites!
Early intervention is so important in those with autism. But we have to remember that Brandon is 21. He was diagnosed when he was 18 months old. That was 19 years ago. Early intervention was in its early stages then. Yes, Brandon received some therapies and supports when he was 3 years old. But it was nothing like the early intervention kiddos receive now.
Does early intervention cure autism? No. But it can provide children and their parents with more information and support from the time of diagnosis.
Autism is a life long thing. It isn’t a disease. It isn’t contagious. And it certainly isn’t the worse thing in the world. Can it make our family life more challenging? Yes. Do we live our life around schedules and routines? Yes. Do we love Brandon with all our heart? Absolutely.
It doesn’t matter how Brandon got autism. It is here and that’s that.