Any parent will tell you their child is unique. I’m no different. In fact, my precious son James is one in 10,000. You see, one or two out of every 10,000 children born are diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s is a high-functioning form of autism. And this heartbreaking disorder was a struggle for our family especially since our son was not even diagnosed until age 15, denying us the opportunity to receive more of the specialized help he needed throughout his school years.
He is sweet, hardworking and loveable, but James isn’t like most kids. The most noticeable thing about Asperger’s kids is that, even though they have normal or high intelligence, they have difficulty socializing normally. For instance, in a conversation with my son, I could make statement about the weather and he’d come back with a statement regarding what the cat was doing, even though he had heard what I’d said.
That’s just one example but, as you can imagine, in most social settings like school, church, or organized sports and activities, this did not go over well with his peers, and more often than not, kept him from making friends. When James was younger, it wasn’t quite as much of a problem because younger kids are more forgiving and tolerant of those different from themselves. But as he grew older, it became harder for him to fit in with his peers and classmates.
Research is ongoing in the areas of helping Asperger’s kids learn social skills to better cope in their world, as it has been found that these kids are typically three to four years emotionally younger than their peers — something I can certainly vouch for.
Schoolwork was also a challenge. The three to four hours we’d sit together each night to keep him on track and encourage him through his homework still haunts me to this day. But had I not been so diligent in working with him, he would never have made it through high school, let alone junior high.
Heartbreak is the only way to describe how I felt as I watched my boy struggle with everyday situations. Because as a single parent raising an autistic child during a time that had little research in these areas; I would get frustrated, irritated and tired of dealing with teachers, parents, classmates, friends and family who didn’t understand why my son was the way he was and didn’t have anything to offer in the way of real help.
Then, just last year, Dr. Michael Steelman, a medical doctor specializing in diet and nutrition,showed me some research about how diet, and nutrition can play a huge role in helping kids like my son do better in all situations.
I read several research articles on autism and the role that magnesium supplementation had played in helping the autistic kids in the study function better. And the light bulb went on. James was already taking an omega 3 supplement, but I immediately added another supplement that had magnesium and potassium as primary ingredients.
Well, slowly but surely over the last year, he has made substantial gains in all aspects of his life. He communicates more effectively, puts his thoughts and words together better, and is better at reading faces and expressions. He’s also more coordinated and accepts change easier. He’s not perfect, of course, but he’s made substantial, noticeable improvement compared to a year ago. Finally, at age 19, he was able to get a job for the first time. That was a day I never thought could happen!
Was his improvement because of magnesium and potassium supplements? I can’t prove it scientifically, but I can tell you it was the only real change in his daily routine. You’ll never convince me otherwise, because I live with this child and know firsthand the daily grind of constant reinforcement, attention and vigilance that he’s had over the course of his life.
I am sharing James’ success story because I wish someone had clued me in years ago when I was struggling to keep our lives sane and trying to figure out how best to help my son grow up in a complicated world. If you are in a similar situation or know someone who is, you can tell them there’s hope for that child. And more and more research is being done on autism with the hope of finding out what else can be done that can help kids like mine. There is hope for these kids and the people who love them.
And even though no product is a cure-all, I want everyone to know that there are products, nutritional methods, therapies and other things that can be done to make it easier for kids like James to not just survive, but to learn, grow, thrive and live a valued life.