by Jen Boroff
Jody Moore of Alameda, Calif., and her son, Xavier, have struggled for years with the academic delays and social aggression stemming from his autism diagnosis. Everything turned around, however, several months ago, when the Moores’ lives changed dramatically for the better – thanks to assistance provided by California-based international autism support non-profit Generation Rescue.
The road to assistance was a long one for the Moores. Xavier, 14, was diagnosed with autism at age 2. He had been developing normally when he got a cold and everything changed. He stopped eating and drinking and normally responding to his environment. His mom, Jody, took Xavier to a speech and hearing evaluation when he stopped responding to his name. After testing and observing Xavier, the speech therapist suggested that Xavier might have autism.
A pediatric psychologist made the official diagnosis and gave Jody a projection of her new life: 30 to 40 hours a week of intensive behavioral intervention, including daily house visits. Jody rearranged her home and life to accommodate and support Xavier’s therapies and worked tirelessly with Xavier to teach him to speak.
Xavier entered puberty in fourth grade. He became very tall, compared to his peers, and also developed severe anxiety and aggressions issues – hitting himself or his school aid when upset. But everyone chalked his aggression up to an autism side effect. In his fourth-grade year, his elementary school matriculated him up to grade six, due to his size. The transition went horribly, and Jody pulled him from school – leaving the workforce to homeschool him.
It was clear to Jody that Xavier was uncomfortable in his body and the only way he could express his suffering was by lashing out. By the time he reached age 14, Xavier was 6 feet tall and 190 pounds – amplifying the implications of his aggression. Jody couldn’t take Xavier into public, for fear of him attacking others. Jody even received the brunt of the aggression, Xavier hitting her so severely that she got bruises up and down her arms.
Xavier always apologized after the incidents, and Jody knew it wasn’t his choice to act that way. She describes it as her “two Xaviers” – her high-functioning, social, beautiful boy, and the one who’s “trapped” inside, locked away.
Jody came to her breaking point when doctors said she’d need to institutionalize her son. Deep down, she was certain that Xavier’s real issues weren’t being treated. Over dinner this past summer, a friend mentioned the non-profit Generation Rescue and its grant program. Generation Rescue is the leading national organization that provides hope, information and immediate treatment assistance to families affected by autism spectrum disorders.
Jody applied and two weeks after submitting her application to Generation Rescue, she was accepted into the program. In September 2012, the Moores began Generation Rescue’s fully financed three-month regimen of doctor visits, laboratory testing, nutritional counseling and supplements. They also committed to a gluten- and casein-free diet with limited soy, and received access to recipes, helpful links and tips on grocery shopping for your child with autism.
“Therapy and treatment costs really put a strain on families’ budgets and resources,” said Candace McDonald, executive director of Generation Rescue. “However, we don’t want these costs to prohibit families from pursuing the best possible care for their children. That’s the idea behind Generation Rescue’s grant program, which helps individuals of all ages – including older boys, such as Xavier – get the help they need.”
A new boy
After starting the Generation Rescue grant program, the change experienced by Xavier was almost immediate. About six weeks into the program, he woke up one day and was simply, different.
“It’s hard to explain,” Jody said. “He began acting and talking like a regular teenager – being more social, saying hi to everyone, wanting to talk to girls at the grocery store.”
After years of living in a state of complete confusion, Jody learned that Xavier’s aggression stemmed largely from his inability to deal with chemicals that his body was processing via toxic foods – foods she had used to coddle him for years: fast food, french fries, chicken nuggets, peanut butter and jelly, and the like.
Jody has never seen Xavier behave the way he does now. Before the regimen, Xavier wasn’t able to focus, and he acted very cut off from the world. Since starting the regimen, Jody has seen an increase in his eye contact, affection, receptive and expressive language, and willingness to try new foods. Jody’s also observed a significant reduction in Xavier’s aggressive behavior.
“These are the answers we’ve been waiting for,” Jody said.
To learn more about Generation Rescue, visit www.generationrescue.org.
Jen Boroff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.