Thank you round #2

ThankYou.001

My previous entry detailed the community that comes on behalf of Filbert, which is half of the story. The other half of the story is that we have two other beautiful kiddos fortunate to have college friends of their own that come to play.

Having a child with exceptional needs means that the siblings are often afforded less time and attention. This is something I have been keenly aware of and wondering how to accommodate. Fortunately this community is open to loving on my other two kiddos as well.

My five year old eagerly anticipates “her” friends that come and do science projects, art projects, trampolining, reading books, playing games and dolls or anything else they come up with. These wonderful folk pour love into her life and enrich her with their attention, excitement and joy. Her thanksgiving list of what she was grateful for included several of her college friends. Her childhood will not be remember as being all about Filbert, but will be full of so many wonderful memories made with kind, generous ladies that took time to take interest in her life.

My littlest is 18 months and all those that visit dote on him and having lots of helping hands affords me one on one time with him to really enjoy these baby and toddler years that so quickly pass by.

To say we are blessed doesn’t scratch the surface of how I feel. We aim to love like Christ as best we can those we meet and in return receive more love than I will ever be able to quantify. This daily outpouring demonstrates God’s presence in each person we have the privilege of calling family.

Thank you to all those that have blessed us with your time and love. The difference you make is profound.

Ms. A shares: Autism – an epidemic

Autism- an Epidemic

    Ten years from now, you and your spouse are celebrating your baby boy’s 2nd birthday; instead of him giggling and blowing out the candles, he will be sitting there emotionless, not communicating, and no eye contact. Are you ready to face the fact that your beautiful child is autistic?! A couple weeks ago the Center for Disease Control released the surprising fact that in 2022 1 in 9 babies born with be on the spectrum.

Currently, 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.  Doesn’t that scare you that your child could possibly be on the spectrum? It terrifies me! It doesn’t seem real until it has affected someone close to you. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what autism was before joining Team Filbert; I just knew it was a diagnosis in the DSM.

Increasing Rates and Reasonings

Since the 80’s, autism rates have been rising at a rapid rate. Beside the increasing diagnosis, scientist and doctors are puzzled at the increasing numbers.  I believe the most controversial reason for the increased rates is vaccinations. Physicians stand by the vaccinations, however, several mothers’ that can pinpoint their child’s decline to a certain shot (MMR). Another theory is, the children’s young exposure to chemicals like mercury and aluminum through vaccinations and environmental substances. Some doctors believe that autism could be laced into our genetics, but that wouldn’t be the main source. Other environmental exposures may trigger, autism in certain children, especially those who are genetically predisposed to immune, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions.

Other studies suggest that people with autism have “abnormal levels of serotonin or other neurotransmitters in the brain” (NINDS). Disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development caused by defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other, possibly due to the influence of environmental factors on gene function.  Another study has found that women over 40 and women who retain from taking prenatal vitamins, have a greater chance for having a child on the spectrum.

Epidemic

Epidemics occur when an agent and susceptible hosts are present in adequate numbers, and the agent can be effectively conveyed from a source to the susceptible hosts. More specifically, an epidemic may result from: The recent introduction of the agent into a setting where it has not been before, A change in the susceptibility of the host response to the agent, and/or Factors that increase host exposure or involve introduction through new portals of entry.

In 1894, the first Polio epidemic hit the U.S. 41 long years later, a vaccination trial began, 57 years later, a better vaccination was designed and was established to the creators family (History). It wasn’t until 1994, 100 years later, that Polio was eliminated from the American population.

In the last 150 years, measles has been estimated to have killed about 200 million people worldwide (Measles). Unfortunately, doctors and physicians don’t keep great track records with autistic patients. Approximately, 4.6 million Americans currently have autism (NINDS). Why aren’t we concerned with this disorder being an epidemic?! From past CDC records,  it is estimated that within in the next 10 years the numbers are expected to multiply by 7.

To be precise we often say the rate of diagnosis is increasing (or decreasing), rather than the rate of the disease – unless all diagnostic artifacts have been reasonably ruled out. Yet another related issue is so-called diagnostic substitution. There are several related diagnoses that may be more likely to be diagnosed as autism today. Two or three decades ago, however, the same children might have been diagnosed with a non-specific developmental disorder, or a language disorder.

Cost

In 2005, the average annual medical costs for Medicaid-enrolled children with ASD were $10,709 per child, which was about six times higher than costs for children without ASD, $1,812 (NINDS). It costs almost $200,000 to raise a child, from birth to age eighteen. If that isn’t enough of a financial burden, consider that one out of 88 children are now diagnosed with autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prevention

Something needs to be done; yes there is scientific research, but the outrageous cost paired with the increasing rates is terrifying. Doctors and parents of children with autism are designing new strategies for carrying, birthing and raising healthier children. This epidemic needs to be contained before every child has some form of autism, that time could be within our future.

 

 

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Autism Fact Sheet. April 16, 2014http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm

 

Center for Disease Control for Prevention. Autism Spectrum DIsorder(ASD) Statistics and Data. March 24, 2014.  http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

 

History of Vaccines. Polio Timeline. 2014. http://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/timelines/polio

 

Measles (Rubeola) February 7, 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/measles/stats-surv.html

Why the Son-Rise Program for Filbert?

Where do I even start? There are so many great reasons to do the Son-Rise Program to recover Filbert from autism.

1. It is a child-centered program based around the principles of an unconditionally loving and accepting attitude — yep, I want that for my son.

2. Allows you and others to deeply connect with your child and family leading to a wonderful sense of family and community; not the isolation I felt shortly after diagnosis.

3. Hope & belief are central to every aspect of our lives and how we interact with Filbert, allowing me to leave my assumptions behind and not inhibit his growth based on what I assume he is capable of.

4. This program gives our family the opportunity to take this journey of helping our son with a incredible team of people who all have the same goal: to become who Christ would have us be as we emulate Him daily in our interactions with Filbert which spills into other parts of our lives making us beacons for Christ with all those we encounter.

5. The family support from other Son-Rise parents who understand the daily sacrifice and dedication it takes to commit to putting our children first and allowing ourselves to love them wholly is an amazing network to be a part of, I count myself privileged to be among this group.

6. Lastly, what has been most remarkable is that throughout this journey we have made our baseline, “what is best for filbert?”, it turns out that God guided us to not only what would benefit our son, but would increase our love and understanding of each other and all those we encounter. Both our family and those who work with Filbert are forever changed as they sacrifice their time, give of themselves and learn constantly of the call Christ has on each our lives; to love your neighbor as yourself.

I look forward to each day and week as my son grows in the understanding that people are amazing and have so much to offer. Relationships are what really count and enrich our lives; he is really catching on!

Whenever this phase of our journey comes to an end, I know I will miss this most blessed time I have one on one with my child and those who work with him each week; but I will also be hunting for my place in someone else’s Son-Rise Program to pass on the amazing blessings bestowed so kindly on my son and our family!

A big thanks to Bears and Samahria Kaufman for not giving up and creating the Son-Rise Program for their son, Raun. For more info: www.autismtreatmentcenterofamerica.org

Through the Eyes of a Volunteer

Throughout the month of January, I got the opportunity to complete an internship with Filbert. I did two hour sessions twice a day, as well as reading out of various books, watching DVDs, and having discussions with Emma. I went through an intensified version of Son Rise training since I was with Filbert for four hours a day, but it was quite the experience.

At first, my play with Filbert was not natural. I have a background of working in daycares for five years, so it was all too easy for me to play with Filbert like I would a child at daycare. My first several sessions were spent getting comfortable with the Son Rise program and getting to know Filbert as he got more comfortable with me. After much reading and intense discussions with Emma, I was finally able to give in and let myself go. My sessions with Filbert became exhilarating, emotional, exhausting, and fulfilling.

As I gave myself over to Filbert and presented our world as a fun and amazing place, he never ceased to amaze me in our sessions together. He and I had moments in the playroom that left me elated for the rest of the day. The first breakthrough that made me so happy it brought tears to my eyes was when he looked directly at me and told me he loved me. This kid has no idea of the effect he has on me… One morning session he put his cheek in front of my face, so I kissed it. I was so excited that he leaned in for another kiss…and then another!! I was absolutely ecstatic. Words can’t even describe it. As I left that session, I knelt down in front of Filbert to say good-bye. He leaned his head in for a good-bye kiss. These sweet moments have become a regular occurrence in our sessions together.

I would not trade my experience for anything. I became so attached to Filbert that I switched my spring schedule around so I am able to fit in internship hours every week. I have really taken to the principles of the Son Rise program. The founder, Barry Neil Kaufman has written several books based on these concepts. I am currently reading To Love is to be Happy With. I am fascinated by Filbert’s diet. I started by casually asking questions, which Emma always openly answered. She let me taste some of her homemade probiotic salsa and sour kraut…awesome!! She lent me some great books that I flip through whenever I get a chance. When I graduate from DC food and am on my own, I plan on following the diet plan.

Another plus to working with Filbert is that you get to be around his family. His little sister makes me smile every day. Emma taught her my name, too. : ) Emma and Pancho both showed me how to use my new camera because I was completely clueless. They are both incredibly open and welcoming. The entire family makes you feel loved and accepted. I can’t say enough about how wonderful they are.

God has revealed many things about myself through this experience and I thank Him every day that He brought me to it.

New, new, new…

Another incredible day where Filbert just blows me away. Every volunteer today has had the most amazing things to say about their sessions with him. This morning one volunteer told me how they introduced something new and he immediately imitated and join their game – he was so flexible! The second volunteer told me that they had interacted together for 1 hour of the session continuously and even had other shorter interactions with very small amounts of stimming between. During my session, he let me use one of his favorite cars virtually the whole time we played with cars — unheard of! I also introduced a doll for pretend play (last time I did this he immediately threw it across the room). Today he asked the doll, “what’s your name?”, allowed her to walk on the road he created, allowed her to ride on one of his favorite cars, invited her into the library “come in” and even grabbed her and made her dance! Astounding!! Every day miracles happen, I am so blessed by our volunteers and the Son-Rise Program.