Noah is my beautiful, sweet spirited oldest son. He is ten. He loves the outdoors and likes to tease. He has a really laid back personality. That part comes from Doug. Noah can also be intensely stubborn. That part comes from me.
Noah met all of his developmental milestones until around 14 months of age. From around 13 months of age, Noah began to react strongly to loud noises…the ice dispenser, crowd noise, etc., would elicit terrified screams from him. By the age of two, it was very obvious that he had language delays. He had some words and used a few signs, but did not put two words together to form a phrase. Noah’s pediatrician sent him for an evaluation and the results were shocking for us. He qualified for speech therapy twice a week and occupational therapy twice a week. No one at the initial evaluation mentioned anything about autism.
At Noah’s initial occupational therapy evaluation a few weeks later, the word “autism” was uttered for the first time. I truly thought that I was going to pass out. Noah’s therapist, a wonderful Christian woman, must have sensed my strong reaction, because she immediately began to reassure me that it was too early to tell. She diagnosed him with sensory integration dysfunction. Noah’s speech therapist gave an initial diagnosis of verbal apraxia of speech. I quickly reassured myself that Noah did not have autism…that with intense occupational therapy and speech therapy, we would catch him right up and make everything “normal”.
At the age of two and a half, we took Noah to a developmental pediatrician. He diagnosed Noah with classic autism. I diagnosed the pediatrician with attention deficit disorder, psychosis and a possible drug addiction. (Not to his face of course…just when I relayed the details of our visit to Doug.) This weird little man would go on to tell me six months later that Noah no longer had autism. A year after that, he diagnosed Noah with a neurodegenerative disorder. Moving on….
At age three, Noah went for his official “does he qualify for public school services?” evaluation. He did. Noah was diagnosed as “developmentally delayed” and qualified for pre-K five days a week along with speech therapy. The clinicians brought up autism, but when I pushed them, said that he would not qualify for services under “that program” and that he would be better served in the county pre-K program.
Noah spent three years in a pre-K/kindergarten program. He had two amazing teachers….one was a speech therapist. The classes were small and the program was wonderful. By the time Noah was five, we knew that an autism diagnosis was a reality. So, at the age of five, Noah was diagnosed with classic autism by a pediatric neurologist.
In the summer of 2005, we began to travel a road that I never thought we would go down. An amazing family at our church had a son with autism and took their son to a ARI doctor for treatment. This family’s oldest son was in our youth group. (We were the high school youth leaders for 10 years before we were sent out to plant our current church.) Anyway, one night that summer, Doug was staying late after church with the youth and spent some time praying and talking with this young man. He told Doug that he really thought that we should take Noah to his brother’s doctor. Doug came home and told me that he thought we should call and make an appointment. (We learned over the years that teenagers should be listened to….especially the ones who love the Lord. They have a lot to say that ought to be heard.) Anyway, I thought that Doug had officially lost his mind, but I agreed to begin investigating.
After spending hours googling and praying, we decided to go down the ARI road. We are forever grateful that we did. Since January of 2006, Noah has been treated by an amazing doctor who has made a huge difference in his life. Noah’s five year battle with gastrointestinal problems is over. He is making wonderful progress in his ability to communicate. Noah is healthier than he has ever been in his life.
Noah is in fourth grade at a public school. We are blessed that he has the best teacher in the best autism program in the county. He is surrounded by an amazing support staff.
We are blessed by and proud of our son. We have great hope for all that lies ahead for him.