I released Speechless: Finding God’s Grace in My Son’s Autism in 2011. The book is about our experiences in the first year after James’s autism diagnosis. Since it’s only about the first year, I often get questions about life for us since then. I wanted to take time to answer a few of those all in one place! I’ll continue to update this post as things change for James and for us.
- Did you find a doctor you like, who works well with James? I wrote a lot about the struggle we had finding a doctor who was knowledgeable about autism and listened to us. During that first year, we found Dr. Richard Layton who is an allergy and autism specialist in Baltimore, MD. We continue to see him four times a year. We left the pediatric practice we were with and now we all see a family doctor in our area. She is wonderful with James.
- How is James doing in school? James is in the same developmental preschool class he started after his diagnosis. He goes three days a week for three hours a day. He loves his teacher and the therapists and helpers. We are currently in the process of enrolling him for kindergarten in the fall. He will be in an autism support class that uses the verbal behavioral model.
- What therapies does James get now? The answer to this question seems to change every few months. Right now, James gets OT and speech therapy at school. We do behavioral therapy at home, under the guidance of a certified ABA therapist. Earlier in the year James was also getting speech and occupational therapy at a therapy place in a nearby town, but insurance didn’t cover any of those costs (we didn’t know that for the couple of months we were getting their services, so we’re still paying them).
- What supplements does James take and where do you buy them? James takes a multi-vitamin, B-12 shots, fish oil, a probiotic, folinic acid, Acetyl L-Carnitine, PhosChol, DMG, and yeast aid. We buy most of them through Kirkman Labs. We do all these under the supervision of his doctors.
- How does your church meet James’s special needs? My husband Lee is the pastor of our church, so when we got James’s diagnosis, we couldn’t visit around for a church that could meet his needs. We stayed where we were and prayed the church would evolve with us, and they have! James attends Sunday school and Awana with his typical peers. He goes to child care during the worship service, since he isn’t ready to sit with us yet. The occupational therapist who I mentioned in the book, Nicole, started an awesome special needs ministry in our church that is still growing. We offer respite nights for children with special needs and their siblings and a buddy system for kids who need a little extra help in Sunday school or worship. We treat each person with special needs as an individual and meet their needs accordingly.
- Have you gone back to your local support group? Yes! I mentioned in the book that our first autism support group meeting was difficult for us. Since then, the main support group has started an additional meeting in the town where our church is, in the southern part of our county. We now attend those meetings and love them. The support group has events every month for families, like movie mornings, a reserved time at the bounce house at the mall, and swim times at the YMCA. We are so thankful for them and the opportunities we have through them.
- Does he talk now? Yes and no. He has tons of words for what he wants, especially food and toys. But, he is still working on being able to answer questions with yes or no, putting sentences together, and expanding his vocabulary. He’s making great progress and we’re proud of his hard work, but if it all stopped tomorrow, we’d still be thankful for the words he knows and uses.
You can continue to keep up with James on Speechless’s Facebook page. It has turned into an encouraging community of parents and friends of kids with autism.