Testimonial: "Our dream has come true."

 

by Mrs. Sara Carson

June 25, 1998

Mrs. Sara Carson talks about her son, Andrew, a patient in Dr. Zelazo’s PDD and Autism Program.

My dream to have a healthy baby came true when my son was born on February 5, 1991. I thought I had the cutest, healthiest and calmest baby a mom could ever dream of. He ate and slept well. He was a calm and happy baby. At 3 months, he began to have ear infections, though he was never a complainer. The doctor kept saying that I had a very strong and joyful baby, who was growing normally. When he was one-year-old, Andrew was already saying a few words and names. He would sing and run to us with open arms to be picked up. He showed affection and made eye contact.

Andrew's problems started following his first big fall. He was running to my mother, when he fell down and hit his top front teeth on a marble step. Ear infections started to recur more frequently. By 18 months of age, Andrew had lost all speech and no longer responded to his name. He ran all over the place, avoided eye contact, tantrummed and pushed us away. He hummed all day long. We were desperate for help and were referred to a neurologist at the Montreal Children's Hospital. Andrew's tests came back normal, so what was the matter with him? Why was he like this? When we were told he was autistic, we could not accept it. He had been growing normally and functioning well.

Andrew was now 3-years-old and we needed to act immediately. We were referred to a program in the Psychology Department at the Montreal Children's Hospital. For the first six months, we worked hard and began to be hopeful though Andrew was still very far behind for his age. We wondered whether it was too late, whether we would ever have our well-behaved and affectionate son back with us again. Andrew showed signs of improvement but I wanted to hear him speak again, see him run into my arms and say "mommy" like he used to. There were times when I thought it would never happen again. One day, I arrived home and rang the doorbell, and then I saw Andrew behind the patio door, running and giggling. He cried out, "mommy," I felt that my son had been reborn. So, I started to expect more from him. It was a struggle to follow the program, but it was all worthwhile when we heard him speak that time.

We felt that things were not moving quickly enough. Now 5-years of age, Andrew was attending a special class at the Douglas Hospital because he could not be integrated into regular school. He still only said 1 to 3 word phrases and his speech sounded robotic.

When Andrew reached 6 years of age, we wanted to send him to a regular Kindergarten school but the psychologist didn't think that would be possible. We knew things were not going well for our son. His psychologist kept showing us how to implement the LOVAAS technique but it was not helping Andrew. We contacted Dr. Zelazo and explained our situation to him, and he was able to point out the problems. He started to follow Andrew regularly and moved him away from the LOVAAS program. We did everything that he suggested. After 6 months of therapy with Dr. Zelazo, we began to recognize the Andrew we had known. We went to the regular public school to see if Andrew could be integrated. They listened to our case and agreed, even though it was the first time they would have a pupil like Andrew. They suggested he try First Grade instead of Kindergarten for a more structured environment. We accepted and Andrew went to regular First Grade with a full-time aide. The first three months of school were the toughest, and we continued our regular bi-weekly visits with Dr. Zelazo as well. We were all working hard with Andrew. Both my husband and I work full-time and we have a 4 year-old daughter as well, but we wanted to succeed in the method that Dr. Zelazo was teaching us. We made sure that Andrew did his 12-minute therapy sessions every day and, as a result, he finally started to speak spontaneously. Dr. Zelazo made our dreams come true. Andrew now has spontaneous language, writes, reads, adds and subtracts, plays on the computer and behaves much better. He can skate, rides his bike and can swim like a fish. He has now turned 7, and has improved so much. His teachers are amazed at how hard he works and the progress he has made. With hope and determination, any family can do what we have done. Andrew has now been accepted into Second Grade at his school. We are grateful to Dr. Zelazo for bringing our son back to us. Before Dr. Zelazo's therapy, no one accepted Andrew and we were isolated, like prisoners, in our home. Thanks to Dr. Zelazo and his Treatment Group, Andrew has been integrated, and we can lead a happy, normal life. Our dream has come true.

Every child, with problems like Andrew, should have the chance to benefit from such a program. It was not easy, but Dr. Zelazo brought our child back to a normally functioning level our dream come true. Our battle was well worth fighting for because my son has entered our normal world - thanks to Dr. Zelazo, Caroline Reid, their Toddler Treatment Group and parent support group.