Connor was diagnosed at three years old with severe, self-injurious, non-verbal, aggressive autism. He was considered at one of the most severe and lowest functioning levels on the spectrum. He was a beautiful blue eyed boy with eyes full of intelligence and fear. He had all the behaviors that come with severe autism. He couldn't be still or sit to eat a meal. He had severe meltdowns four or five times a day that could last anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour and a half. During these episodes he beat himself in the head with his fists and when we intervened, we got the brunt of the blows. He would stick his fist or his head through drywall, glass windows, windshields, aquariums or whatever hard object there was. As he got older and bigger, he would have black eyes much of the time. He also bit his hands until they had thickened into deep bloody wounds. He slept about two hours a night and was always up and down, turning lights on and closing doors.
He loved school and did his best there, but several teachers were injured in his episodes, and we were called often due to his behavior. This was worse as he got into high school years and was hard to contain.
In April 2016 we had our first major breakthrough as a small group of parents with Non-Verbal children had discovered a method of typing using an I Pad. It’s called Facilitated Communication. When he started typing, Connor, Jeannie and I worked hard under the FC trainer. After 17 years of silence he was for the first time able to communicate. His first typed words were “Just mad rough autism”. Later in that first session he would go on to type, “boys find the sports cool, boys like nice friends, nothing I understand”. Finally, when asked if he had any closing thoughts he typed, “Bloody hands gone at last”.
We worked on his typing with Morgan Tyner with Accepts Incorporated and will forever be grateful to her sacrifice of time and talent. It was still very hard for him to engage or sit still long enough to get much out, but things were improving. He could communicate basic things such as if he was in pain and where, he started expressing how sorry he was for his behaviors and started teaching us about autism. “My body does what I don’t want it to do and doesn’t do what I want it too.” He typed. He was also able to tell us that the meltdowns were a result of the frustration of not being able to express himself. We had always presumed Connor was smart and we started to find out how smart as his typing improved.
In November of 2017 Connor was still struggling with violent outbursts of self injurious behavior, on a particular night he came after Jeannie. She got out of the way, and he put his fist through a wooden door as she pulled the door shut. People diagnosed with autism will go into “fight or flight” mode when they’re overly stressed. This creates an almost supernatural strength. Jeannie was going to call the police this night. I had been talking about a group home for Connor. Things were falling apart and we were really struggling. Years of praying, fasting, speaking over Connor, therapies of all kinds and though things had improved significantly nothing had stopped the self-injurious, aggressive beatings.
Jeannie did an Internet search. She put in “autism healed my son stopped hitting himself”. That is word for word. She spent two hours watching videos of people like Connor who were no longer symptomatic, many completely healed of autism. They were all testimonies of healing through a specific diet called GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome.) Jeannie looked at me and said we're doing this! I rolled my eyes and said something cynical, but we started the next day. The Pantry was emptied as Jeannie started learning how to do GAPS diet. Two days later Connor had typed, “Wising up with how to eat”. He also typed that he could think more clearly. At seven weeks Connor slept eight hours that night and has ever since. He had never slept through an entire night for 19 years before. From there he started to improve dramatically. His meltdowns became farther apart, and he began to be able to transition and participate in many activities that he never could before. At 8 months in we were able to remove a lock that had been on our gate to keep him from wandering. He was able to type much more. As he could type and express his feelings, there was much less anxiety.
Connor has been on GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet) for five and a half years as of this writing. A year ago he took a standardized intake test to begin working with a new speech therapist. From this test his diagnosis went from Autism to six different visual processing, auditory processing and articulation disorders. He is working with a therapist who uses the principles of Neuroplasticity (The ability of the brain to heal itself). The goal is Connor gaining the ability to verbally express himself. He is beginning to speak and can read what he types clearly as he is typing.
Connor wants to be a Preacher. He loves God and has an extraordinary capacity for spiritual things. He rides bikes, cooks, keeps his room clean, does his own laundry and has household chores. As far as the movement of his body and transitioning, he is no longer affected by the classic symptoms of autism. As I write this he is laughing and happy with five stitches in his chin from a bike accident. He went to the ER and presented like anyone else would and got his stitches. This is amazing. We are confident in Connor's increasing ability to speak and he’s going to do amazing things with his life.
Connor started typing at Seventeen. GAPS diet at 19. There is a general misconception that Autism can’t be cured….that after a certain age there isn’t hope for progress, only decline. Our experience and thousands around the world have proven otherwise. We have personally worked with a young woman whose behaviors were similar to Connor’s. She started GAPS and has also had dramatic improvement. We believe there is hope and healing for everyone. Jeannie has become a Certified Coach for GAPS under the doctor that created it. There is hope for dramatic healing. We are dedicated to bringing families hope that there is healing and the life more abundant that we are promised.