A mother’s journey to her son’s recovery at CTAD
My second born, Noyan, was born on one of the last days of summer. The pregnancy went smoothly and the birth of our healthy baby boy brought so much joy to his sister’s life.
Days passed by, and it seemed Noyan was ahead of her sister and his peers in all growth and developmental milestones. His timely sitting, crawling, walking and even verbal skills were superb. Since my daughter was quite shy, I remember how Noyan seemed to be her opposite in having the tendency to mingle with strangers and appeared very social at the time. Living in the U.S, we had heard a lot about autism but unfortunately we weren’t well informed about it; for example we thought that autism was an innate disorder and autistic children don’t even make eye contact when they are infants. We were confident that Noyan didn’t have autism because he was all normal and had eye contact with us. How wrong we were!
When Noyan was one year old, he began to utter two- word sentences and had started walking although he would always run instead of walk. A few months passed and I suddenly realized that to my surprise, Noyan who was once reluctant to watch TV, was now crying and begging to have screen time and cell phones. He wouldn’t respond when I called him, didn’t look at me, couldn’t say words he had learned previously, let alone making any sentences. All he did was running, licking different surfaces, watching TV and despites my strict screen time rules, I couldn’t manage his will to watch TV. He was now 18 months- old but appeared to have regressed to a point of time before his first birthday.
Whenever I asked for advice, I was told that boys are generally naughty and some don’t start speaking before the age of five; but I felt that something was not right. I somehow suspected autism and after lots of research realized that it was best for my son to receive treatment in Iran. The decision was tough to make but we returned to Iran for the sake of our son. At that time I was indecisive as to which doctor I had to choose from a handful of options! First I visited a psychologist who diagnosed my son as having speaking delay and not autism. I wasn’t convinced so I went to a psychiatrist whose diagnosis was autism and required us to revisit and start the treatment process.
My search went on until I found a doctor who said that autism is treatable under the age of three. I grabbed the first opportunity to set an appointment with him. On the assessment day, when we entered, we saw a family distributing sweats and shedding tears of joy. I asked what was going on and was told that their child was diagnosed at the age of 21 months and after three months of following Dr. Pouretemad’s protocol, is now symptom free.
Seeing this with my own eyes was a miracle for me. It now knew this claim wasn’t a lie, publicity or exaggeration of any sort.
Finally it was our turn to receive the unfortunate autism diagnosis from the doctor! Although hearing the diagnosis made me wish for death, meeting that family had given me big hope. Dr.Pouretemad explained to us that his protocol for the first three months of the treatments asks for the parents or any other person who can spare time, to engage in interactive play with the child during his waking time. Even seconds matter when treating these children. So we were thought how to play and interact with him.
He explained to us how we had to have a strategic plan for our son from the time he woke up to the time he turned in. We had to have a visual plan which was shown to him and was implanted daily! For example, when he wanted to have breakfast, first we would show him a picture of a breakfast table, and then told him to eat breakfast, and when we wanted to start the playing phase of the program, we had to have twelve games ready to go for the next hour, and change them every five minutes, we would play the games in order of the pictures that we had shown him. In this way, the child stayed engaged at all times, and because the games changed every five minutes, he didn’t enter the repetition and stereotype phase; He wouldn’t also get bored from playing and would learn to plan and predict. It also meant no TV or cell phones were allowed.
From the moment we set foot in the house, we shut down all electronic devices including mobile phones and TV and started following Doctor Pouretemad’s instructions. Believe it or not, after only one week I started seeing minor changes in my son, and that was my motivation for continuing down this path. We minimized the number of outings. Well, at first it was very difficult and disappointing to interact with a child, who wouldn’t look at you, can’t focus and wouldn’t respond to you, but I had no expectations for any feedback or learning for the first month. I was just trying to do my best to pull him out of his world and insert myself into his world. For example, in the beginning, when holding a book, Noyan wouldn’t look at the pages or pictures, instead he would just quickly turn the pages, but in that one second in between I would try my best to point out the pictures and name them as eagerly as I could. After a month, he gradually learned to turn the pages more slowly and take some time to look at the pictures, until he finally repeated the shapes presented in the book; that was a huge accomplishment for me. After a while, from very simple games such as pulling on blanket, blowing balloons, we got to more complicated games like puzzles, and Lego.
After two months, changes were so obvious that even those around us who didn’t know anything, took noticed. Slowly, Noyan began to say new words and by the end of month three, his vocabulary had grown from five to eighty words, and then sentence making began. The work was extremely hard, I even reached the point of depression, at times he wouldn’t cooperate but when I saw the amount of progress, I would get determined again to keep on fighting.
Once again came the assessment day! And we had to get Noyan’s progress checked. His eye contact had reached a great point. He would completely respond to call outs and he was obedient.
With the Doctor’s discretion, without taking any classes, my son was completely out of the autism spectrum disorder, that day was one of the best days of my life, and Doctor Pouretemad was like a God- sent angle that helped my son recover.