Dr. Nelson Mane
My particular “Everyday Hero” set out to find the “person” inside the prison of autism that incarcerated my little boy. He conducted an extensive “Search and Rescue Mission” to help find my lost little boy. I couldn’t reach him, no matter how hard I tried. So, I was guarded, but hopeful. I thought, we’ll try again just one more time, and just keep on trying to find the key to unlock this prison cell. With that in mind, I will tell you a story of this personal search and rescue mission.
Everyday life in the world of Autism seems like the children are lost to the world…a world in which they are disconnected from our continents and existing on a deserted island of their own….a place where their loved ones cannot reach them or bond with them. These “ones” search and search to find their lost children…and are usually left hopeless, deserted, and discarded themselves. Not many will listen…not many will take the time to look (it’s just too unpleasant). They don’t understand it…so people ignore it, and hope it will go away. There are very few answers…just more and more questions…and it seems these questions are continually ignored. So, as you read along…lift anchor, take a boat to my island, take a little journey, follow me and experience my desperate quest to somehow, someway find my sweet little boy…the little boy that I always knew was in that dense forest. Even though I couldn’t see him, I knew he was in there somewhere. Experience the true elation of finally finding “The Rescuer”…the doctor that gave me the answers to all my questions. This is a most dedicated doctor who tirelessly worked (“whole soul”, and “whole heart”) to find my son. This is the person that I nominate to be my “Everyday Hero”. I will be grateful to him until my dying day.
As I look back it was really from my son’s birth that the overwhelming uneasiness started. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong. “Maybe I forgot …” I would think to myself. After all, it had been quite a few years since my last child was born. “I’m just being silly… maybe it’s a little post partum…” Still, I could not shake the feeling that something was wrong. There was such a feeling of disconnection, but for the life of me, I didn’t know why.
My gut is telling me that something is not right. Things don’t feel right…my baby’s little hand…the look in his eyes…his frightened cries…his frequent sicknesses. I would question, ponder, and I would read. But, I found no validation. Instead, from those that had greater knowledge than my own, I would get patronizing responses like: “all children are different”, “all babies hit their milestones…eventually…don’t worry…” and, “you’re stressing too much”.
These are the typical responses that I would receive from those that I trusted to give me answers to my many questions. But, my questions seemed silly to most, and seemed like I was an over-protective mother to say the least. So, the more questions I asked, the more I felt the fool…until I became mute. I tried to ignore my gut and all the questions that I had in my head and heart, but I couldn’t. My subconscious seemed to know this and I started to have nightmares and trouble sleeping at night. I longed to bond with my son, but didn’t know how; my heart ached because I so wanted to know his little person that was lost inside of him. The feeling became desperate as I felt with each passing day my little boy became more and more lost to me. It felt like he was sitting in a little boat all by himself with no oars…while I was on the shore. And slowly, deliberately, he was being carried farther and farther away from me with the currents.
After 8 years of struggling with many doctors, therapists, books, etc….with not a clue or glimmer of anything that even resembled an answer to my question, I finally found an answer. AND, I found someone finally…finally…that validated all of my concerns…every last one of them. Then, my friends, we started to move forward. We have found accomplishment and great success.
The moral to this story is this: “Always…always….listen to your Gut”. That is a saying that has been around forever….and what it literally means is….”Listen to your Heart of Hearts always…and Trust in it.” So, with concrete assurance, along with a starting point, there was only a brief pause at the foot of the steep incline, and then…Yes! We began to climb those tiny mountains with the vital help of an experienced climber, Dr. Nelson Mane’.
And then, it was as if my son was found and I felt that Dr. Mane’ had just delivered my son and placed him in my arms for the very first time. An overwhelming feeling came over me because I realized that even though I loved my son more than life itself, I had never truly bonded with him. I wanted to shout at the peak of the mountaintop…one that feels like Mt. Everest. It took just a little while to get here and pure elation has filled my heart! The milestones that have brought us to this peak have been as tiny mountains: small yet big, minute and yet all encompassing…
Please permit me to map out our great journey and list these tiny mountains in the order in which we have set our marker flags, and then we continued to go further and higher that I ever thought possible.
Levi, at age 8, could still not grip properly or control a pencil, crayon, scissors, fork or spoon. Now, he CAN! Now, he is thriving in his art work as well as with his penmanship. Eating a meal is a pure pleasure now and not a humiliation. Tiny Mountains indeed!
My son could never play games like other children his age, as he could not catch a ball, or bat, or run without tripping…Now, he CAN! And now, he’s playing baseball, smacking that ball from the 1st pitch, and running those bases with a smile of glee that fills the air. Tiny Mountains!
He could not read or spell phonetically at age 81/2. In order to get through a small paragraph, it was a painful torture with much frustration and tears. Now, he CAN! Reading…what a lovely thing to do now, as he cracks open his favorite books to enter into a fascinating world that he could never enter before. Tiny Mountains indeed!
Levi’s sensory input was so sensitive that the world was a very frightening place…one which he could not derive enjoyment from. Life was too loud, too bright. Clothes were too rough. Sand was too course…everything was just TOO much! Life was so very difficult that he would literally go into a fetal position, and suck his thumb as a desperate attempt to escape. Now, he can enjoy life as carefree as a little boy should. Life is “just right” now. No longer do we see him press his hands over his ears, squint his eyes in pain, or scream about the texture of his clothing. He doesn’t have to escape life any longer by sucking his thumb. He stopped that STIM (and many others), because “life”, and this world, is a beautiful and stimulating place for him NOW! Tiny Mountains indeed!
Finally, at the peak of the mountain, and the last leg of the journey…was “silent language”. You know the ones…. the words that you understand with only gestures and facial expressions…the words we hear with our hearts of understanding. My little boy never understood a smile. When someone would smile at him, he never knew how to smile back or to even mirror any facial expression, for that matter…much less understand what these expressions or gestures were. He never understood humor, double meanings, pragmatic language, etc. Now, he can give a bright smile when someone smiles at him, and he understands facial cues, gestures, and can react appropriately to them. His eyes are connected with a warm glow, and his smile sends me soaring! His laughing falls upon my ears as a magnificent symphony as I realize that he is truly “tickled” at jokes and humor! Tiny Mountains indeed!
Tiny Mountains …yes indeed! We are at the edge of something very grand! Truly, I feel that we are at a much brighter and better beginning instead of being at an end. We’re just getting started. The horizon is bright and breathtaking, and my heart swells as I gaze upon my little boy’s future now. By leaps and bounds, he is moving forward, and I will be grateful to my dying day to the unsung hero that found my little lost boy…the hero that found the person behind the face of my son’s ASD. Dr. Nelson Mane’ and his skillfully successful treatment of Hemispheric Integration Therapy has given me my little boy back. He is truly the best friend that my son Levi will ever have in his entire life.
Will there be more mountains to climb? I feel like we have already tackled the tallest one…the Everest. But, yes there are always mountains to climb. After climbing Everest though, there is such a sense of excitement and passion as there are many more mountains to climb. There’s the Himalayas, The Andies, The Rockies, etc… and there is no pause at the foot of any of these mountains. We will just keep on climbing to ever new and wondrous heights.
Submitted by: Kimberly Larochelle