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Jacqueline Laurita on Living for the Day her Autistic Son Speaks

Lee Clower

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Applied behavior analysis. Gluten-free diet. Specialized schools. Stem cells. Even camel's milk. The list of potential treatments, remedies, and supposed “cures” for autism goes on and on. How do you know what to believe?

It's been less than a year since my 3-year-old son Nicholas's autism diagnosis, but I feel we're in a race against time. One of the first things we learned is that early intervention is the key to healing. So I have spent hours and hours in bookstores, on my laptop, and in the offices of experts, collecting mountains of information. I keep it all in large notebooks, each labeled with a different topic: doctors, schools, therapies, meal plans. Early on, I remember crying to my husband, Chris, not knowing where to begin. I mean, I'm just a mom. What do I know?

Really, what I wanted was for someone to hand me a map highlighted with the path I needed to take. If I followed it perfectly, there would be sunshine and rainbows at the end, and Nicholas would be recovered. But there isn't one path, because all children—whether they are on the spectrum or not—are different, so their outcomes are different as well.

Our first goal was to get Nicholas healthy. He had dark circles under his eyes, wasn't sleeping well, and was suffering from digestive issues. We immediately started him on a gluten-free, casein-free diet, which could potentially help clean some of the toxins from his body so he would be able to get the most out of his therapies, which range from speech to physical to occupational.

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