I am the mother of two beautiful children. My oldest Brittney is seventeen years old and full of life. My second child is Nicholas; he is four years and was diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder before the age of two. Nicholas met all of his developmental milestones right on time. He sat on his own at six months, crawled at nine months, walked at twelve months and was saying several words by the time he turned a year old. Nicholas would wake up in the morning and shake his crib wile calling out “Mama, Mama”. He was friendly and interacting appropriately with his environment. We were one big happy family. Little did we know what was in store for us.
At about eighteen months my beautiful cherub faced little angle started to disappear into his own world. He stopped responding to his name. It was as if we were speaking to him in a foreign language. He stopped waving, he stopped kissing us, and he started loosing his speech and would stare off into space for long periods of time as if he was daydreaming. He would become transfixed by a ceiling fan, open and close drawers and line up his toys. Next, came the horrible tantrums that were difficult to control. We never knew what would set him off or how to calm him down. We would literally ride out the tantrums and pray that they would not last too long. I know something was very wrong. I took my beautiful boy to the pediatrician and she assured me that nothing was wrong. She told me “boys talk later than girls”. I told her that Nicholas was talking and that now he was loosing his speech. She told me that I should wait a month and if things did not improve that she would refer us to a speech pathologist to allay our fears.
A month later, we were back at the pediatrician’s office and requested a referral to have Nicholas evaluated. We took Nicholas to the speech and language pathologist that advised us that Nicholas was delayed and referred us to early intervention. Alas, I knew I was not going crazy. She asked me what my concerns were and I told her that I thought Nicholas was autistic. She said, I cannot diagnose but, I do have some concerns about his development. When we left the appointment, I immediately contacted the Dan Marino Center for an appointment. We were able to see a neurologist a week later. He confirmed my worst nightmare. Nicholas was “Definitely on the autistic spectrum”. He told us that we were lucky because we had time on our side. Nicholas was only twenty months old and with early intervention the prognosis was much better. He advised us that the only scientifically proven treatment was applied behavior analysis. He told us that insurance will not cover this treatment but it was our only chance. I felt like someone had dropped a bomb on us. I wanted to close my eyes and pretend it was a bad dream. I quickly recovered from my shock and realized time is of the essence and we were going to get our little boy back.
I contacted Behavior Analysis, Inc., and within weeks Nicholas was receiving therapy. We have not stopped since. It has been two years and four months since we have been coming to Behavior Analysis, Inc., and we would not stop now for anything in the world. The staff at BAI have become like family. They are all very caring and dedicated to our kids. Nicholas’ improvement over the last two years has been remarkable. Initially, Nicholas was being taught sign language due to his loss of speech. Needless to say, we thought he would never speak again. How wrong we were. The sign language enables him to communicate thus, decreasing his frustration and eliminating his tantrums. Imagine being in a foreign country and not being able to communicate your basic needs. This is how our soon must have felt.
I am happy to say that Nicholas is now communicating in two and three words phrases. Nicholas is very affectionate and enjoys interacting with us now. None of this would have been possible with out the help and perseverance of our BAI family. Nicholas has come such a very long way. We implemented the gluten and casein free diet as well. Nicholas’ allergies cleared up, his reflux disappeared and he no longer has a Buddha belly as we affectionately called it. I believe that the diet has allowed Nicholas to feel better and therefore be more attentive to learn all the wonderful things the staff at BAI has taught him. The journey is not over. It is a long journey but, I feel blessed to have learned many life lessons. I have learned how to be more humble and patient, how to appreciate the smallest miracles and above all, I have learned the meaning of unconditional love. My final words to anyone chosen to take this journey are: never ever lose hope and know that you are not alone. I encourage anyone considering applied behavioral analysis to contact BAI. We would not be where we are without them.
— Carol, Mother of Nicholas