Stories of our children
Since birth, my son David practically cried all the time. He only slept 6 hours a day in my arms. We discussed the situation with the doctors. Doctors claimed that everything was caused by abdominal pain. At fourteen months of his age, he was able to sleep for two hours in one block, we hoped he would get better. Davídek was not a happy baby who would have smiled at us, he did not show anything special, except crying. His sister suffered greatly, no one had the time for her. At that time I slept 5 hours a day at maximum. At fifteen months of his age, he began to walk, he watched English series for toddlers on the TV. He had fun alone. He counted, scattered and arranged things. But at seventeen months of his age, things got worse rapidly. He hated children's rhymes and games, he didn't use toys. His favourite things were two plastic rings. But I was wondering, why?! I was happy because he did not cry. Then we noticed that he was not looking at us at all. He still did not smile much, did not repeat, did not pointed. Than the summer came, Davídek ran around in the garden, ignored us and almost didn't sleep again. I knew - there was something wrong with David. He had his own world, completely different from ours. Then came the time of his eighteen-months check-up and the M-CHAT-R questionnaire. Thanks God. David was unmanageable and angry then. He stood for hours on the bridge over the expressway, looking down at cars, trucks, buses ... He said nothing, did not point to cars, did not wave. For days, months, every day... And I was there with him, desperate. And suddenly I realized that the summer holidays had been gone and we were still standing on the same bridge and I was completely broken. I still remember that feeling. I didn't want to believe it. High probability of autism spectrum disorder - what? But David's experienced pediatrician did not want to wait and forced me to act NOW. I didn't want to go anywhere for therapy, I didn't want to believe it!I wanted an check-up by a pedopsychiatrist first. I wanted to hear that he had no problem, that he was just less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for his age.
I have held our pediatrician with respect for many years. I did what he suggested. I called the CTA. Davídek was 19 months old when we first came to CTA. I didn't know what to think about the therapy. Therapy based on parent-child interaction? Behaviour to a child who does not perceive his parent? What? But our son showed us that it could work after the FIRST therapy. However, we still haven't had the worst behind us. David's fall lasted next seven long months. Special testing confirmed ASD symptoms. I accompanied Davídek to the testing, I saw what my son was able and was not able to do. I had NO DOUBT. When I did not spent hours on the bridge, I stood by the water barrel where my little boy was throwing small stones. When I wanted him to go home, he had tantrum. In spring 2020, Davídek improved, he started to react and respond when he heard his name, smiled, pointed by finger at his favourite fruit. My hope was here! Finally! Our journey has not been easy, it is a story of immense suffering, crying, fear and hope.
Controlled stimulation of the parents can change the development of the child's brain, I heard it during the first therapy. In fact, I was able to imagine it in real life for the first time when
I attended a seminar, where the other three mothers presented the success of their children thanks to OTA therapy. I was crying all the time. I finally understood. David is a toddler with ASD. But his brain can be affected! The first seven months of the therapy were not easy. But immediately after the first visit to the CTA, I had hope again. I'm happy we started our therapy in time. If we started therapy now, when David is three years old, he would lose the most important time (first 18 months).
Since August 2020 my son has been attending a private kindergarten three times a week for two hours. The difference between him and the other children is still visible indeed. The two hours, he spends in kindergarten, reflects his needs. He is turning three next month. David smiles every day, understands what I say, is interested in playing and communicating with children, knows rhymes, can read emotions and talks! Of course we haven't won yet. However, I believe we will succeed!
I am grateful to our pediatrician, who forced me to start solving the situation immediately, as well as Dr. Straussová and her CTA team for a MIRACLE.
Lukášek was the child we prayed for and he was born on the Christmas Eve. Until his 18th month, he looked like a healthy baby, but then we started to observe some differences - his speech did not develop, stereotypes emerged, as well as the problems with eating, he pointed only on lights and birds, outdoors he didn't answer when we called his name... The result of the M-CHAT-R screening, we completed within the 18 month examination by our pediatrician, was the missing shared attention. Lukášek didn't develop well. And before his 2nd birthday he experienced the regression. Lukášek forgot what he had learned before, he couldn't complete puzzles or even be calm, he was worried to go out, scattered his toys, stacked objects, ran here and there.
Immediately I thought on autism and I had a mental breakdown. I read books, watched videos and looked for help. When Lukášek was 26 months old, he underwent an assessment with the result of child autism. Our pedopsychiatrist referred us to the CTA in Prague. Within month we started the therapy led by O.T.A. therapist.
CTA led us through the two-years therapy and we could fully rely on them. We discussed with them all challenges we were facing during these hard times. After every visit to CTA, we were full of hope and optimism. We looked forward to every therapy session and left with the strong determination to fight the autism. Without the guidance from CTA as well as their support, we wouldn't be able to succeed and to reach the destination on the most challenging way of our lives!
Today, Lukášek is 5 years old, he visits the normal nursery without the help of his assistant, he talks, plays with other children, knows his emotions and he loves us. He overcame the clinical symptoms of autism. Now our problems consist only of residual phenomena and some slightly delayed development. We believe, if the CTA helped to us, they can help other families and their children too.
Marketka was born in August 2014. She was a beautiful, healthy baby. She knew words like mama, dada, nana, she knew animal noises and her motor skills were normal too. Around her first birthday everything suddenly changed - Marketa stopped showing any interest in the world around her. She didn't care for toys or animals, she wouldn't respond to her name. She was extremely sensitive to certain noises. It was impossible to go to the shop with her - Marketa would run furious around the place, knocking things off the shelves. At the age of 18 months there was a visible regression in her development. She wouldn't respond to her name or any sounds really, wouldn't look at people, not even me. She had stopped pointing at things, didn't know how to play with regular toys, wouldn't name objects... Every morning she would wake up and immediately start screaming - she dragged me out of bed, wanted me to go sit with her on the steps, where she would spin a red wooden circle. If I didn't do immediately what she wanted, she would lie down on the floor and throw a terrible tantrum.
When Dr Straussova first came to see us, Marketa was one and a half years old. Based on the M-CHAT/R, we learned that Marketa was high risk for autism spectrum disorder (she scored 14/20). But I wasn't ready to give up. On 1st March 2016 we started the open therapy. There were a lot of tasks and activities that we were supposed to complete as frequently as possible. Not even after the third visit I was convinced that the OTA method was working.
Slowly but surely, I was beginning to see some small changes. Marketa was learning how to play with toys, her tantrums seemed to be weaker and shorter. It was in January I really felt like there was a significant breakthrough. Marketa started to point at things to show us something or simply to communicate with us. She stopped ignoring her little brother and actually tried to play with him. She began to call herself Maka and found interest in looking at her own reflection in the mirror. She would actually listen to a story or even try to finish the ones she already knew. Then we enrolled Marketa in a private preschool - at first for 1 to
2 hours a day. Marketa started using more and more words, and by the age of 3, she was potty trained and could feed herself without any help. In the autumn, we managed to do our first shopping together without a tantrum. Around the same time, Marketa also started fully imitating actions - she was helping us cook, sweep the floor, etc. In October, we did a learning profile assessment for Marketa and the results made us very happy - at 38 months, Marketa's performance was consistent with the typical skills of a three year old - except for a number of points, namely non-verbal expression and graphomotor skills.
We continued to follow the open therapy techniques with Marketa, although it was no longer necessary to do it with such frequency and intensity as in the beginning. Our little girl kept progressing by leaps and bounds and as a result in July 2018 we could finally go on our first real family holiday to Italy - no tears, no tantrums! At the age of 4, Marketa started going to
a state preschool - there was no need for a teacher's aide for her, or any other special needs measures. She made new hobbies, and friends! As for myself, I could go back to work and finally, after years, have a coffee with friends, take the kids on a nice trip, take them cycling, skating, go to the cinema. All that without fear of crying or tantrums.
I am forever thankful for Dr Straussova and her OTA method, as well as for my family and their amazing perseverance. Thank you!
The story of being able to rejoice.
As soon as I put my head on my pillow, I almost fall asleep. Fatigue claims for a word. It doesn't matter that we sleep in a tent and people are still in the camp around him. I close my eyelids sweetly and ride back this day. Today we traveled four kilometers on a kayak in Sázava when Rudík had a kayak for himself, as did his wife, Vali and me. Just four real kayaks with which there are many wilder river descents than Sazava. But the road - before we got to this descents - it was long. The hardest obstacle was and still is the autism of my son Ruda. But we are no longer rookies. We succeeded in overcoming the upcoming autism with our daughter Vali by using the training with Romana Strauss (Vali no longer fulfills the criteria of the clinical picture of ASD, a common kindergarten and primary school, a regular schoolgirl from the age of 4). , we found a group of volunteers regularly working with Rudik, my college-educated wife gave up her career and started educating our son at home and various other "little things."
But the reward for us is kayaking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter, sleeping well at night and well-brewing during the day. And most importantly - internally satisfied. And what about us as parents? It's kind of like Buddhism: we live what's now and here and enjoy it. And things just happen on their own - we never know when. Actually - do you know the well-known success story? At the end of the 1960s, an American psychologist offered sweets to young children as part of a sociological survey as a reward. They could get either one candy right away or two candies - but not earlier than a quarter of an hour. You probably know the result. Children were followed up as they did in adulthood. Those children who were able to deny an immediate reward and wait for two candies were more successful in their productive life and more happier in life. For parents with children with ASD, this is equally true with a small variation - unfortunately, parents never know when they will experience success with their autistic children alias when they actually reach their two candies. But I know from my own experience that if you trust your child and you believe in yourself respectively what you do will undoubtedly happen. Today's kayaking trip confirmed it to me again. And what's the hardest thing about all this? Start with yourself, i.e., with us, parents. Because if you don't change yourself, you hardly want to change your children.
Dad of 10-year-old Rudolf (with low to medium-functional ASD; not speaking, difficult to understand speech and other forms of communication) and 7-year old Vali ("cured" autistic).