Saturday, December 17, 2011

You did it, Gabriel!

Where have I been??? To celebrate Gabriel graduation of course.
December 15th, 2011 will be date that my family will never forget, an important milestone in Gabriel's life and reason of pride in the family.

Some of you are readers here from years and now all about the tales, my worries, my frustration, the progress about Gabriel condition. But some of you are probably here for the first time, so I want to share our journey with you, as briefly as I can.

When Gabriel was born I was a college student and my husband was serving in the Navy. As any parent, we read all the books about parenting and children. We wanted to give Gabriel all the love, warmth and happiness that we could give. With time tho, we found out that it wasn't enough. Something was amiss but we could not put our finger on it.

By the time Gabriel was 3, his sister Michelle came along and we moved away from Italy and established ourselves in the United States of America. Gabriel lack of verbal communication was at the point very noticeable. I had a 6 months baby girl that called me "Mommy" more times in a day that Gabriel ever did in 3 years.

While the ghost of Autism was slowly but surely appearing in our life, we started seeking help from doctors, specialist and professionals. All of them kept telling us that Gabriel "seemed just a little slow" but generally fine, dismissing the possibility of him being autistic altogether.

At 4, Gabriel was tested by the Child Find. His IQ was only 85, had down probably 50 words total and was slipping away from us socially and emotionally. Those tests qualified him for PreKD in the public school, a free preschool program for kids with special needs that seemed to slightly help.

During the summer before he starts Kindergarten sorry goes terribly wrong. Tho he has always been a very picky eater, he stopped eating altogether and when he tried, the food won't stay down. He's loosing weight, sitting idle all day in the living room. No physical grow = No developmental grow. I think was the scariest time of my life and the doctors were useless. I sat down with him everyday, kept a diary with the food that he ingested, what he could keep down, what made him sick and finally understand: Gluten and dairy are a not go.

On September 2008, we started are gluten-free and dairy free diet and Gabriel health and his development made a 180 degree turn. His weight was going up, his smile was back, he was learning in school and at the end of the Kindergarten school year was even able to perform in the school recital, dancing and singing with all the other kindergartens. The road was still long, but progresses were made, his vocabulary was about 200 words now, 4 times the number where he started from.

On August 2009, Gabriel started First Grade and things went down hill fast. The school wasn't providing the services that Gabriel needed and the helped him so much during the past year. No speech therapy, no occupational therapy, his classroom doesn't have a teacher for a long time and when they finally get one, she's totally unprepared and not qualified to deal with Gabriel. Trouble started at 5.30 in the morning with my son crying and begging me not to send him to school 'cause everyone is mean to him. few hours later in the morning, the teacher calls hysterically to come and get Gabriel because "once again he yelled at me, doesn't listen to me and I don't know how to deal with him!"
Every time my son comes back from school it's always a new bruise, a new cut, a complaint from the teacher. His health take a turn for the worse after a visit from the police officer at the school that explain that bad people goes to jail. As his teacher always tells him that he's bad, Gabriel starts loosing sleeps over this.

After my countless attempts to communicate with school personnel without success, it's clear to me that I've done all I can and I need to find Gabriel another school. We had to seek help in the private sector and in January 2010, Gabriel is enrolled in ECAC
Stacy Berryman and her wonderful staff worked with Gabriel for a little less than a year and simply made a miracle. My boy is BACK.

Sempterber 2011, Staci informed me that Gabriel will be able to graduate from the school soon, so I started to look around for the best school for him. Since my daughter is now in Kindergarten, he expresses the desire to go in her same school, so I start from there and the result is a fight that is still today going on.

December 15th 2011, Gabriel is ready to graduate from ECAC. His behavioral problems are almost all gone, in the past 3 months he was tested again, this time scoring a perfect more special Education classrooms!!!!!! Although the fight with the school is still going and I'm preparing for a big match on January, nobody can convince me that this boy cannot accomplish anything he puts his mind to and no wonder....he takes after me!!!

I love you Gabriel and your smile means a lot more that any score test, but you did it dude!!!! You've shown every body that is possible if you believe!!!!

Enjoy a little video everyone, I proudly show you MY charming, silly, funny and autistic SON :)

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