Monday, May 21, 2012

Seriously, how cute is that?

Letter I wrote for a friend about our experiences with biomedical treatment of autism

May 21, 2012

To Whom It May Concern:

Although most of my daughter’s first two years of life are somewhat of a blur, in retrospect, a few moments stand out vividly: that first car ride home from the hospital, walking the floor at night trying to soothe her infant cries, that pit that formed in my stomach when my best friend gently told me that “most of the 18-month-old girls that I know are very social,” the day the “A-bomb” was dropped for the first time by a therapist, the day that I filled out the questionnaire at the pediatrician’s office, feeling like each little check mark was condemning my precious baby, the day the referral was made for an autism evaluation and my mom and I cried together over the cell phone. These are my early memories of my only baby girl.

By the time Abby was officially diagnosed on October 11, 2011, I had grieved (mostly) and was ready to fight this with all the strength, intelligence and tenacity I had. I was all in. As a licensed speech-language pathologist, I knew the prognosis for children on the autism spectrum: years of therapy, adjusted expectations for life, modest gains. This was not acceptable for my Abby. As I began to come out of my denial and grief, I became inspired. There were parents out there who were claiming to have “recovered” their children from autism; taken them out of the grasp of this devastating disorder. I began to delve more and more into how they were doing it. Essentially, they were not simply accepting conventional medical wisdom for the treatment of autism. They were instead evaluating the true biological causes of autism in their children and were treating them “biomedically”. The results were undeniable and in some cases truly miraculous. I began Abby on a gluten free and casein free diet on my own but I needed someone to help me down this biomedical road that I knew little about but needed to learn quickly for the sake of my daughter and her future.

That someone was Dr. Daniel Kalb, a medical doctor from Franklin, Tennessee. I walked into his office with a two-and-a-half-year-old who did not look at me, did not talk to me, had chronic diarrhea, and didn’t sleep through the night. Abby could say “bu,” “du,” “cu,” and “mu.” That was it. At our first appointment, I gave Dr. Kalb a detailed history of Abby’s medical symptoms: diarrhea, sensory processing disorder, sleeplessness, even the dark spots on her teeth. He recommended a battery of tests to evaluate Abby’s intestinal functioning and started her on a course of vitamins and dietary supplements based on the history he obtained about Abby. What happened next was life-changing for Abby and our family and friends and I am hoping will be for others. Within days she was making two-syllable words, then final consonants on words, then combining two words, then making sentences. She started coming out of her world and joining ours. She began smiling and singing and making eye contact and playing with toys and sleeping through the night. She began running to me for hugs and kisses. She began calling me Mommy. She began to show us how truly brilliant her mind is when it is given the change to develop.

We have made countless changes as a family but it is beyond worth the sacrifice. We are getting to know our daughter a little more each day. We continue to follow Dr. Kalb’s guidelines to the letter and we have not been disappointed in doing so. I am nearly giddy for each appointment with him to find out what piece of the puzzle we will solve next.

This journey we are on has given me what I once thought I might never have: hope. I now have great expectations for my Abigail. And my job is to give her every opportunity to realize the dreams she will dream for herself.


Rebecca L. Haake