Recovering Kids

by Patricia Lemer, M.Ed.

In the early 1990’s when autism became epidemic, the idea of recovery was almost unthinkable. Eleven years later, we can find more than a half dozen titles under "Autism Recovery Stories."

Karen Seroussi’s story, appearing in 2000, was one of the first books to actually use the word "recovery." Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder: A Mother‘s Story of Research & RecoveryUnraveling the Mystery of Autism and PDD: A Mother’s Story of Research and Recovery, details how she used a gluten- and dairy-free diet to rescue her son. Not long after, Lynn Hamilton offered Facing Autism: Giving Parents Reasons for Hope and Guidance for HelpFacing Autism: Giving Parents Reasons for Hope, and Guidance for Help. Lynn’s optimism shines through as she describes treatments and the impact on her family. Seeing Lynn radiant at the Spring DAN! conference, soon after the birth of her fourth child, is an inspiration to anyone contemplating future pregnancies. Both Seroussi’s and Hamilton’s books are required reading for anyone with a newly diagnosed child.

In 2003, The Autism Research Institute (ARI) released Treating Autism: Parent Stories of Hope and Success. More than 30 families, many of them medical professionals, share their tales. For some like Dr. Alan Lewis of the Pfeiffer Treatment Center and his wife Carolyn, Dr. Bryan Jepson of the Children’s Biomedical Center of Utah and his wife Laurie and Dr. Jacqueline McCandless, author of Children with Starving Brains: A Medical Treatment Guide for Autism Spectrum DisorderChildren with Starving Brains, autism changed more than their babies. They have since dedicated their lives to helping others benefit from what they have learned about the biochemistry of autism.

Reading about success is fine, but "seeing is believing." In October, ARI showcased some of the over 1000 "recovered" kids at the Fall 2004 DAN! Conference in Los Angeles. Lou Diamond Phillips engaged them in conversations about their families, hobbies, school and sports, while a rapt audience laughed and cried. A DVD of this emotional day is available from ARI.

The past two years have brought a deluge of new recovery books. Because each child is unique, so is the approach of each book. I will mention just a few here.

Congratulations to Chantal Sicile-Kira. Her Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism, Asperger‘s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and Other ASDsAutism Spectrum Disorders: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder and other ASDs has won accolades from everyone, and a coveted award from the Autism Society of America. Just released, Christina Adams’ A Real Boy: A True Story of Autism, Early Intervention, and RecoveryA Real Boy--A True Story of Autism Recovery is also popular.

In The Boy Who Loved Windows: Opening The Heart And Mind Of A Child Threatened With AutismThe Boy who Loved Windows: Opening the Heart and Mind of a Child Threatened with Autism, Patricia Stacey introduces the reader to Floor-Time, the brainchild of psychiatrist Stanley Greenspan. This therapeutic approach engages the child’s senses physically and emotionally to develop social skills.

In Gift from My Son: Autism RedefinedGift from My Son: Autism Redefined, Keli Lindelien takes a unique approach. She questions changing autistic behavior because she believes that her son’s extra-sensory perception, which allows him to see auras, chakras and other energetic fields, is a special gift.

Temple Grandin, and Stephen Shore are two adults with autism who have written about their lives. Grandin, who insists she is not "recovered," earned a doctorate in animal handling, while Shore is now working toward his in special education.

In Emergence: Labeled AutisticEmergence and Thinking In Pictures: and Other Reports from My Life with AutismThinking in Pictures, Temple helps the reader understand how her behavior reflects her struggles with horrific sensory issues. Her newest publication is Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal BehaviorAnimals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior. Temple’s mother’s story is also compelling. In Thorn in My Pocket: Temple Grandin‘s Mother Tells the Family StoryA Thorn in My Pocket, Eustacia Cutler relates the family’s experiences helping Temple learn to relate appropriately.

Stephen Shore’s Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome, Second EditionBeyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome and Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism SpectrumAsk and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum are to be applauded. Both books are invaluable for those diagnosed late in life.

The recent launch of Generation Rescue is the culmination of the belief that we know much more about the causes and cures for autism than the media purports. Parents of recovered children agree that mercury from vaccines, amalgams and other pharmaceuticals, played a role in triggering their children’s autism. We must work toward removing this poisonous neurotoxin from all products.

Whether recovered or simply healthier and better functioning, our children are "works in progress." Even the smallest incremental differences are worth our efforts.

Interested in hearing some of these authors speak? Join DDR in Chicago Memorial Day weekend at the 2005 Autism One conference. We are the official bookseller. Come to a group book-signing on Sunday, May 29th. Can’t make it? Then place your order using the DDR Booklist, or click on the links in this article to purchase through Amazon with a referral fee to DDR.


[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 10, Number 3 - Summer, 2005]

All material in this web site is given for information purposes only and is not to be substituted for advice from your health care provider.

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