Pretty good week, this last one. Pretty crap day, today. Martin unresponsive, lacking attention, and throwing tantrums instead of transitioning. Tired and not himself. Mildly ill, even. Yesterday he threw up in the car, a special surprise that may have been tied to his beginning to eat meat products. (Since we started with the beef broth Martin has, now and again, after meals, appeared nauseated.)
Still, even on this crap day, some skills shined. Martin’s language, when he chose to use it, was appropriate and expressive. Also, we went shopping around Union Square, and three times (that I remember) he intentionally caught the eye of a salesperson and said, “Hi!”
I think in those terms, now. What worked today? What didn’t? I scrawl my observations into the daily log I keep for Martin.
I’ve tried to apply the same thinking to Martin’s recovery, on a meta-level. Which treatment or therapy is working? Which is not as helpful? Those, however, are much tougher questions.
The truth is, I see Martin making progress (two steps forward, one step back, usually), but it can be tough to discern the individual catalyst of progress like saying hi or trying to catch a stranger’s eye. Most likely, I suppose, every such advance results from some combination of the treatments we undertake.
As I have described previously, we see Track One doctors, who as far as I can tell have evaluated Martin but done nothing to help him. Apart from Track One doctors, this is Team Martin:
Track Two doctor. Martin’s excellent Track Two physician is riding the edge of autism recovery. I like to call her “post-DAN!” because she is so on top of treatments beyond the standard DAN! protocol. She oversees every facet of Martin’s biomedical recovery.
Home consultant. I’m new to this world of autism recovery. Questions come up on a day-to-day basis. Kathleen Reily answers them. She also helps me, for example, plan Martin’s diet, find local practitioners, and research kitchen products (water filter, lead-free glass, cutting boards not treated chemically, &c.). If I’m the coach of Team Martin, Kathleen is the manager.
Homotoxicologist. A big part of recovery lies in driving toxins and pathogens from the body. Martin’s homotoxicologist, Mary Coyle, works that angle, in coordination with his Track Two doctor.
Cranio-sacral therapist. I drive Martin all the way to Pleasantville, in Westchester, to see Diane Diamond. She helps figure out what’s not functioning well in Martin’s body and makes appropriate adjustments. She once told me, based solely on putting her hands on Martin, “I’m sensing some bile blockage. He’s not processing all this fat in his diet.” A week later, a urinalysis confirmed her assessment medically.
HANDLE therapist. We visit Katie Penque every four-to-six weeks. She observes Martin, interviews me and Adrian, evaluates how Martin’s current HANDLE exercises are working, and suggests and helps us learn new exercises. Katie and Martin’s Track Two doctor are also the proponents-in-chief for the “less is more” approach to recovery.
RDI consultant. RDI incorporates a variety of games and routines, but really it is a therapy that becomes part of daily life. Allison Zevallos helps us make that happen. She makes a home visit every month or so. In between those visits, Adrian emails her videos of Martin in action, which she reviews for a weekly phone consultation with both of us.
CPSE preschool. Martin attends a top-notch preschool for children with learning delays and developmental disabilities. Adrian and I are profoundly grateful for this service, which is provided through the Department of Education’s Committee on Special Preschool Education. Martin spends more than five hours per weekday at his CPSE school.
Speech therapist. Martin’s preschool provides him a bilingual speech therapist, in accordance with his individualized education plan, or IEP. She works to unlock language skills like pronoun use and asking questions, which Martin’s ASD has hidden.
Physical therapist and occupational therapist. Martin also sees these two professionals at his preschool. Together they assist him with gross and fine motor skills, practical life lessons like watching where he’s walking and being aware of the world around him, and performing everyday tasks.
So what among all this is facilitating Martin’s progress? Adrian and I credit HANDLE therapy for helping Martin develop better control over his body and lose some of the jerkiness that characterized his earlier movement. His physical therapy likely augments HANDLE in that regard. We credit RDI with helping Martin (this is an emerging skill, coming about slowly) learn to read faces and expressions and to better pace himself with others, so that he can undertake activities like holding my hand as we walk together. His occupational therapy likely augments RDI in that regard. It’s all puzzle pieces, coming together.
I consider the biomedical process—the restricted diet, the supplements, the detoxification—to be the sticky backing that holds those puzzle pieces in place. It was the biomedical process that got Martin sleeping and rested, eased his gut pain, and reduced the lethargy that used to characterize his days. Without that foundation, the pieces would probably still jiggle around, unable to interlock fully. Without the stronger body biomedical recovery is giving us, the therapies could have less effect.
A little bit here, a little bit there. I don’t want to spend too much time figuring out what progress comes from where, so long as we’re moving in the right direction.