Ms.Marina, Mother of Leo with Team Autism Connect Association
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social-communication challenges and restricted repetitive activities, behaviors and interests. Ever since Dr. Leo Kanner first described autism in just eleven kids in the year 1943, this disorder, once thought to be rare, has seen an exponential rise in prevalence and is now considered to be a pandemic. Although years of research have been conducted on autism, scientists are still unable to pinpoint its exact cause and pathophysiology. It has been identified in all racial, ethnic and social groups. In spite of all the debates, doubts, recent controversies and apprehensions surrounding autism, it is now well established that a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach goes a long way in the treatment of autism. Here, we bring you the story of London boy Leo, to shine a light on the benefits of a warm, multi-disciplinary approach to autism.
Leo, our son, is a cheerful and passive 12 year old boy. He enjoys solving puzzles, the Rubik’s cube and playing games on his tablet. Leo had a history of normal milestones, with well-developed speech and spoke words like “pasta”, “biscuit” and “juice”. He was a bright kid and had a good grasping power. At the age of 2 and a half years, he suddenly started regressing. We noticed that he preferred to stay aloof and had bouts of hyperactivity and aggression. He started having trouble with social interaction and speech. He was always very sensitive to loud noises. He also had unusual emotional responses like laughing and crying without any reason, along with mannerisms like finger wiggling, rocking behavior, presence of staring spells, fear of small kids and affinity for spinning objects. All this began to concern us and we consulted a psychiatrist. He was then diagnosed with autism at the age of 4 and a half years. We initially sent him to a normal school with a shadow teacher and later sent him to a special school. We also started occupational and speech therapy. We did everything possible. He was responsive sometimes and at other times he would get worse. This instability in his behavior and response, made us worry a lot. We were always on the edge, but kept looking for alternate treatment interventions.
We were doing a lot of research on the internet and would read anything and everything that was associated with the word “autism”. Our search eventually led us to the concept of stem cells for autism. This concept intrigued us and we decided to look more into it. After reading more about it and having several back and forth conversations with doctors and experts about Leo’s current condition and therapies, we were all set to embark on this new journey of stem cell therapy. Due to the complexity of autism, the doctors used an approach which integrated rehabilitation techniques like occupational, speech, art, music and ABA therapies with stem cell therapy. After years of struggles and meltdowns, this discovery gave us a ray of hope.
Leo has undergone stem cell therapy four times along with extensive rehabilitation and as advised by his doctors, continues to undergo therapy at home too. After carrying out this multi-disciplinary approach, we began to notice remarkable improvements in Leo’s condition. His attention and tolerance improved dramatically! He even began to speak, which we thought would be impossible! He also started operating the iPad and computer independently. He can also solve his favorite 100 piece puzzle independently. He started interacting with other kids and also showed an interest in learning new activities. He started helping out in household chores.
He has shown an overall improvement in his perceptual and cognitive skills including meaningful eye contact, communication, expression and increased awareness of his surroundings. Moreover, his neuro-imaging results also showed improvements.
He has been receiving ABA therapy for 6 hours a day. This one-to-one teaching method has greatly influenced his mood and ability to learn in more details and has also encouraged him to focus on the activities which he previously found difficult.
Leo likes listening to classical music, as it seems to have a great impact on his mood. He also enjoys ice skating, roller skating, scootering and other outdoor activities. He is now able to pursue all these interests with more ease and we have seen tremendous progress in his academics, especially in his reading and writing. We have been very involved in our son’s education and day to day activities.
In this ever-evolving world of autism, we learn something new from our son every day. He has indeed personified his name “Leo” which means “lion” and is a symbol of strength and courage. He continues to surprise and impress us every day.
As he now enters the teenage world, a host of new adventures and challenges await us. Through the combined efforts of stem cell experts, doctors and therapists, coupled with our understanding and affection, we finally feel that Leo may one day be confident enough to integrate independently into our society.