"We Need to Pull Ryan into This World"
Not that kid in the corner anymore continued...
Nicole attributes Ryan’s improvement to several factors. First, there are his therapies and special diet. Plus, every three days, Nicole gives Ryan injections of B12 supplements, a treatment recommended by a DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) doctor — a health-care practitioner who detects underlying medical conditions that may be causing autistic behaviors and treats them through diet and supplements. Because little is known about this perplexing epidemic — and because what helps one child on the autism spectrum may not help another — it’s still impossible to determine with any certainty which factors lead to successful treatment
Therapies and medication aside, Nicole also gives some credit for Ryan’s success to her new mind-set. “As I became more secure with the situation and cared less about what others thought, I told myself, I need to pull Ryan into this world, and not let him stay in his other world,“ she says. Nicole began exposing him to everyday situations that he has trouble handling, such as grocery shopping. It wasn’t easy. At the supermarket, where the noise and crowds overwhelmed him, he threw himself on the ground, kicked, and tried to bite Nicole’s shoulder. But Nicole stood tough. “I knew I couldn’t leave the store until he stopped crying or else I’d just be giving in to the behavior,” she says. Countless tantrums and power struggles later, Ryan is now able to handle a 45-minute shopping trip.
Still work to be done
Every step forward gives Nicole hope that she’s getting back the son she once knew. Yet Ryan is still far from being developmentally on par with his peers — a contrast that comes into focus during weekly NEIS playgroups. Ryan is the only child with autism in the group; the rest of the kids are “typical.”
At circle time, when all the children take turns announcing their own name, Nicole is the one to say, “Ryan.” And when others follow the movements dictated in a song (such as “clap your hands”), Nicole helps him clap — something he once did on his own. “When you go down a list of all the things that Ryan isn’t doing well, no matter how small the skills seem, it all adds up to autism,” says Nicole. “Though I have hope for Ryan’s future and absolutely love him as he is, I’m still heartbroken over autism.”