Thursday, January 9, 2014


After a long and crazy hiatus, I'm back! Since returning home from California last May, I lost internet access. Hence the reason for not keeping up on the blog. My only access now is through my phone and let me tell you, typing a blog post up on a tiny screen where auto-correct rules, is not an easy feat!

I am going to try a new idea and type this up on Patrick's laptop, then send it to my phone over bluetooth. If this works out, I will be blogging regularly again. If not, I will keep looking for other options. Until I get the kinks all straightened out, please bear with me.

A LOT has happened since I've been away so I will take a few posts to catch up.

California and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

40 hyperbaric dives is what is recommended for those diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. So that was the plan. But because I really wanted to make sure that this was done in a way that Liam would feel comfortable and safe, it took 20 of those sessions to get him to wear the mask for the entire 60 minute session, which gave us half the benefit.There is a lot to each session. First you have to become familiar with the large, cold, metal tank. Then convince your child to climb through a small opening that resembles a submarine hatch. After you get past those overwhelming sensory experiences you then face bright lights shining through the small 'submarine' windows, hoses, tubes, gauges and very loud noises. Once the tank starts to pressurize you then have to continually remind your child to clear their ears. Since Liam isn't verbal he would have a tough time understanding what I meant so we praticed many times before our first 'full' dive. (Yum Organic Lollipops were great because the sucking naturally cleared his ears.)Once you get past all of that you start with getting the mask on that the oxygen is pumped through.We started out with the hose that pumps oxygen in to the mask held by me near his face.After a few sessions he let me hold it under his nose for the majority of the session. Then we spent the next few with the hose plugged in to the mask and the mask held up to his face.

Next was to get the mask on his face. That was quite the hurdle. Especially as it has to be sealed for him to get the full benefit which requires a rubber strap that goes completely around his head. There were a few anxious sessions where we wouldn't finish the whole session. Other times we would start with the hose, then move to the mask held up, then all the way on, then the hose to end. And this happened in varying orders throughout the first 20 sessions.
My goal was to get Liam through the sessions comfortably, with the least amount of stress and anxiety possible. We are always wanting to do whatever we can to improve his qulity of life overall, but we will not risk the trust he has towards us to follow someone else's schedule, or even our own. Everything we do is tailored to Liam's level of comfort. Fortunately, most providers are willing to work with us on this and allow us to tailor each protocol to him. Although there have been a few that find it to be a waste of time and insist we do as they want. Needless to say those are the providers that we thank for their time and move on.

By session 21 Liam climbed in to the chamber on his own.

I followed behind him and sat down. As the hyperbaric technician went to hand me the mask, Liam reached for it. Taking that as a cue that he was ready to wear it I put the mask on him, had the tech double check the seal and started the session. Liam laughed and smiled, stood up, sat on my lap, drew some pictures and played peek-a-boo with the techs outside and his doctor whom just happened to stop by that day.

Of course we hoped and prayed for improvements. But we never EXPECTED anything. And because there weren't those pre-conceived ideas of what he would 'be like' after treatment, we were able to see and celebrate each improvement, big and small, along the way.

What we have seen:

Better eye contact

Less anxiety in crowds

Sensory issues with lights, sounds and foods decreased

Bowel issues improved by 95%

Putting more words together including speaking his first unprompted phrase to someone other than his parents.

Desire to play with friends

Improved social interaction overall

Taking turns when playing simple RDI games

Improved fine and gross motor skills

These are amazing gains that we are THRILLED to see! His quality of life has improved considerably because of them. Which is always the ultimate goal.What's truly amazing to me is that these improvements are after only half of the recommended sessions for autism. (Since the first twenty sessions were done in segments, without the mask on, at full pressure, etc. Only the second half of the treatments were considered complete.)

We head back in the spring for Liam's second round of HBOT and look forward to what that will bring. Big, small or nothing at all. We will always be working towards anything that could possibly improve our sweet sons quality of life.

Happy New Years!

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