About Me

I am the proud mother of 6 children. 5 of our children have autism. We do not feel our world has ended, but just begun. We do not chelate, intervene biochemically, give shots of any kind, practice ABA, etc. We treat them as we treat any humanbeing. We treat them with kindness and respect and expect the same from them. They are exceptional children.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

SWEET 16....

Yes, it is true, my daughter Caitlin turned 16 today. She was born on Feb. 8, 1991 at 1:37 AM.
She came in at 8 lbs. 11 oz. She was one of the smaller babies I gave birth to.
Caitlin was 2 weeks late, and I was so happy to see her. She was beautiful. Big blue eyes and the most beautiful face. She seemed in shock at birth, but she came very fast. She was born in the ER, because they did not have time to prep me. No epidural, no drugs at all.
Caitlin screamed furiously from the day she was born. She never slept at night and she wore me out. I thought it was something I was doing wrong as a new mother. I knew something was wrong from birth, but promised this child she would never need for anything. I have tried to keep that promise.
As Caitlin grew, she met all milestones. She walked at 9 months, but NEVER crawled. She babbled, but NEVER spoke. I took her to the doctors, but not one would listen to me.
Finally, after 4 doctors, I found one who would listen. Dr. Blumberg told me he was worried about her not talking....Caitlin was 2 1/2.
We started interventions immediately. She was enrolled in Speech Therapy 2 times a week, Occupational Therapy 1 time a week and Physical Therapy 1 time a week.
She was enrolled in a preschool for regular kids and given a one-to-one. She has had one ever since.
Caitlin continued to do better. But, still no words and alot of behavioral problems. We tried everything from GFCF, Supplement powders (what a friggin waste of money) and ABA Therapy (like training a dog)....
Finally, Patrick and I decided enough was enough. Let us just let this little girl be that, A Little Girl.
Caitlin began to thrive. She was using sign language like a professional. She was following rountines at school. Her temper tantrums STOPPED. She became a sweet, loving little girl.
Caitlin continued to do well in school. When she was 9, she decided to start talking. She has never stopped. In fact, she has never regressed in ANYTHING. She has always shown progress in all of her tasks....hmmm....I wonder why? We never pulled any metals out of her....we never gave B12 shots......Oh, maybe that is why!!!

She is a bright, straight A student, with an amazing aide at school. Her teacher's adore her and her classmates are amazed by her.

Caitlin is still Autistic. Caitlin will be Autistic for the rest of her life. She will have a quality life, just as I promised her the day she was born.....16 years ago today. That is why 16 is SWEET to me, her mother.

28 comments:

Bonnie Ventura said...

Happy birthday to Caitlin, and congratulations on your new house!

Mom26children said...

Thanks Bonnie,
I will relay the Birthday wishes to Caitlin. She is so proud to be 16....
Jeanette

GG said...

Happy Birthday to Caitlin!!!

<3

Anonymous said...

You referring to ABA as "dog training" shows that you either had very bad ABA therapists or you have no idea what good ABA entails. It is a methodology that works very well to teach children whether you want to believe that or not.

Many children would just not "get better" without the help of many hours of intense therapy. Maybe your daughter did, but many would not.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, late, to Caitlin. I remember so well when she was 8 years old. Can't wait to see EMHM this week..
Love y'all,
Mary Hutka

Mom26children said...

Hi gg,
Thanks for the greeting. Hope all is well with you and yours...
Jeanette

Mom26children said...

Oh Mary,
You had Caitlin at her best...or should I say her worst. You held in there and were amazing.
Much love back to you.
Jeanette and Caitlin
PS..
There are more O'Donnell's coming.

MommynSister said...

Congrats on your new house. I used to live in San Antonio, so I know how beautiful Austin is! I saw you on Xtreme Makeover, and I was touched. Oh, and Happy Bday to Caitlin!! My brother watched it too and he wants to know what kind of cake she had! (One track mind, you know! I do not think in our family we can blame that on the autism!! we are all a little OCD!)I read though some of your blogs and comments, and you and I share a lot of the same feelings. I felt a connection to you and your family when I say you tonight. I would LOVE to have the opportunity to talk more with you, when you have a moment to relax. You can email me direct at Raven12280@aol.com. Have a great time in your new house! And remember that you were chosen for this by whomever as a higher power you believe in. Not everyone survives this journey. You have shown us ALL what it really menas to be a parent.

Aspiegirl44 said...

I have read your blogs several times but I am usually to chicken to post. I have autism/aspergers (not sure which) and I wanted to thank you for sharing to everyone in your blogs and on the Home Makeover show that people with ASD are simply that - people.

You and your husbands love for your children shined on that show and their love for both of you shined also.

Thank you sooo much and I hope that Caitlins birthday was the best.

((HUGS to you and your family))

Aspiegirl

sixmaybemore said...

Happy Birthday to Caitlin! I would love, love LOVE to talk to you. I, too, have six children. We also have children with multiple developmental diagnoses. By the time we are done with our evals at our Childrens Hospital we it looks like we will end up with multiple children in the spectrum. So far, the one that looks to be developmentally on target? He has damaged lungs, and a heart condition. Can't win for losin'! Ha! Congrats on your new house, I was drooling over all the sensory and communication aids that were in the house! Wow!

losmom (Jan) said...

Happy b-day Caitlin!

Gail Laubenthal said...

I just wanted to wish Caitlin a belated happy birthday!I was so proud as one of Caitlin's former teachers to see you all last night on TV. I know that this gift of a new home and bedrooms, etc. for all was just another angel looking out for you and your family. My daughter sent me a copy of the "angels" article that you published. Where did she find it...I was happy to see that you all still remember me. I think of Caitlin a lot, as I work with other parents who have autistic children...thanks for being fo open about the difficulties. Love to all, Gail Laubenthal

Tera said...

Happy belated birthday, Caitlin--and your birthday is the day after mine! (Turning 16 is awesome. I remember feeling so "adult" on my 16th birthday).

LIVSPARENTS said...

How can you be so sure that ALL biomed, ALL ABA, ALL use of B12, ALL use of vitamin therapy is a 'friggin waste of money'?

I beleive ABA has changed MUCH since you encountered it in the mid 1990's. Some children have other issues that MAY be helped by 'alternative' therapies. Gastrointestinal issues MAY be manifested by headbanging or other self injurous behaviors. B12 has helped BOTH my children and hundreds of others as well. I would encourage others to investigate and make up their own minds before dismissing them as completely useless.

I'm sorry to step on your child's birthday post to make my point. But I find your bias against all but your way of thinking to be as ignorant and repulsive as those who put forth that all autistic children will benefit from extreme therapies.
Bill

javaverses said...

I don't know you, I haven't seen the show (yet), all I know is what I have read here and I'm so glad there are moms out there like you. I might not agree with you on everything, but we all have to make what we feel is the right choice for our kids, and at least you are informed enough to have an opinion. Congratulations on your home & wish Caitlin a very happy birthday.

Erika said...

Just wanted to say that I watched the show on Sunday and you are an AMAZING mother! I was so impressed with how you are giving of yourself daily, to help your children be the best they can be. It brought tears to my eyes to see your deep love, devotion and determination to help them. I hope you are all enjoying that new house and I hope it truly helps each of your children. May God bless you!

Anonymous said...

I find your bias against all but your way of thinking to be as ignorant and repulsive...

Sorta like "It's the GUT, stupid!" eh, Bill? ;^)

LIVSPARENTS said...

It STILL could be the gut for some kids, stupid. GF/CF diets work for many many kids giving them relief from pain that they may not be able to express.

It's the 'all or nothing' attitude with regards to causes and therapies that is the stupidity. I feel that the range of autism is too wide to discount therapies and treatments as useless to all on the spectrum.
Bill

Mom26children said...

Hi Bill,
I truly believe some children do have gut issues. I do not dispute that. I have no problem at all with GF/CF diets. IT is not a cure-all for all autistic children as it was presented to our family.
The ONLY thing that I have ever wanted to present to parents of autistic children is the fact that our autistic children have gotten so much better without any interventions with the exception of OT, PT and Speech. These are vital in their existence.
With maturity, in our children, came results. Just a thought.
I welcome your comments on my blog Bill...honestly, I do.

LIVSPARENTS said...

I just want parents to know that they should not give up helping their kids and to not believe anyone who says it always or never works whatever they pursue...

BTW, the 'before' setting on the show was like looking at a mirror of the chaos of our house! I was hoping it would get a 'little' better as they get older. I can dream, can't I?

The best of everything in your new home!

Anonymous said...

I could stand here and argue semantics all day long. Every girl needs a hobby.

Ahem, if I may, a small correction, Bill. And please don't call me stupid. K thanks.

How about, when referring to what you believe to be the source of your child's autism, you say, "It's her gut, stupid" when you walk into your pediatrician's office. Or put it on a T-shirt, whatever works for you.

To say it's the gut, rather than her gut, or his gut, or their guts, sort of cuts out other causes.

LIVSPARENTS said...

K, I'm not calling the source of my child's autism her gastrointestinal issues. I AM saying that a possible SYMPTOM of autism are GI issues. Doctors should not simply dismiss these issues as part of the spectrum, or to treat them with the gut prescription du jour. Part of the research into autism should be focused on comorbids like GI issues.
Just because Wakefield's theory of MMR causing the GI issues have been mostly discredited, it doesn't mean that GI issues related to autism don't exist.
As far as the stupid comment goes, do you know how the name Otto relates to this subject? Research Academy Award winners about 20 years ago for one funny routine on this subject...

Anonymous said...

Just because Wakefield's theory of MMR causing the GI issues have been mostly discredited, it doesn't mean that GI issues related to autism don't exist.

In some autistic kids, gut issues may exist, this is true.
However, since these issues also exist in many typical kids, it sort of becomes a moot point.
Kind of like looking at an autistic teenager and saying, "Look! That autistic teenager has acne!" and deciding that the acne is a comorbidity of autism. Or seeing an autistic toddler with eczema, which is actually very common in toddlers, and deciding that it is a comorbidity of autism, as well.

For me personally, this just doesn't hold water. Sorry.

speechmom said...

Hi, I am a speech pathologist and a mom. I dont think anyone should speak ill of your decision about not doing ABA. People.... this is a personal choice. I personally have worked alongside ABA Teams hired privately ($$$) but have never crossed over. Even parents who felt strongly that ABA was right knew that it teaches skills but communication needs to be more natural. Caitlin sounds like a happy child and I applaud you for making her happiness your number one priority. I have seen children "broken of their spirits" and that is sad bc children should be children. Have a wonderful birthday Caitlin!!! Pat yourself for a job well done!!!! Speechmom.blogspot.com

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