Jake is 6 years old. I would say that I had a fairly normal pregnancy. I had no problems until I was about 36-37 weeks and I was experiencing high blood pressure and I was constantly dizzy and I just felt funny all over. I did gain a lot of weight, some 75 pounds. I never had pre-eclampsia or toxemia. I was 6 days late giving birth and in labor from start to finish for 25 and half hours. The doctor did use forceps to help my son out. He was perfectly normal, above normal I'd say. He was crying when he came out and then instantly stopped when he was handed to me. When the nurses were cleaning him up, he looked from my mom, to my sister, to my aunt, making eye contact with each one of them. All of this at less than 5 minutes old. I would say he developed normally. Sat up at 5 and a half months. Crawled at 8 and a half months and walked at 11 and a half months. He said mama at 14 weeks. He talked very early and even mimicked noises that I or my mom made at 7 weeks. He said hi at 9 weeks. He has always been a very cuddly child, always enjoyed being held. From the time he learned to walk until now, he has always enjoyed spinning in circles. Especially with his eyes closed! He has never really had a sense of gravity or where he is in space. He would walk straight off a couch, playground, or a cliff with no sense of the danger. Fearless. I always just chalked it up to him being such a boy. He was the first boy born into our family in 50 years, so no one in my family really knew how boys acted. He has always participated in imaginative play. He loves to "cook" food at his kitchen and he loves to pretend play with his Little People. He has always been the most affectionate, sweetest boy I have ever seen or heard of. He never had any of the alarming Autism symptoms like we hear of which are no eye contact, dislike being held, etc. Life continued on fairly normally until June 2006. I was carrying Jake upstairs to go to bed and the light was off in my room and I saw something flying around. I immediately assumed it was a bird and Jake and I walked into the bathroom that was close to my room while my mom (who was behind us) peaked into my room to see what it was. When I turned the light on and looked back into my room, I no longer saw anything flying around and wondered where the "bird" went. Then, I saw it on my curtain, just hanging there. It looked like a mouse so my mom and I then knew what it was. It was a bat. I called my dad who lives only a short distance away and he came with a fishing net, caught the bat, and let it go outside. We didn't even think of keeping the bat to be tested for Rabies. We made up a bed and slept downstairs that night. The next morning my mom called our local Health Department to ask if there was any kind of special cleaning we should do so that we could sleep in my room again. The director of our health department recommended that I and my son start the Rabies vaccines. We didn't know how long the bat had been in the house and I have a very vague memory of my son waking up the night before talking about a bird in the room. I just chalked it up to him dreaming, but now I wonder if the bat was in my room the night before. She told us that bat bites can be very small and not visible and that a person can be bitten and not even know it. Also, that saliva from an infected bat can drip into an open cut and can infect someone that way. The director of the health department told us that without the bat to test, we couldn't chance it. That day, my son and I started our rabies vaccines at our Emergency Room. This is where the story gets more bizarre. The same day we started the shots, we were having a yard sale. My son was sitting in an old baby pool that we were selling with a bunch of stuffed animals. We saw a bat swoop down and land right behind him at the back of the pool. It was broad daylight, and there were tons of people around. A neighbor helped us capture this bat and we put it in a bag. We called the health department immediately and they asked if the bat was dead. It wasn't. They said they can't kill the bat because it's a protected species. Are you kidding me? This bat could have potentially infected me, my son, and my family who was at the yard sale. So we put it in the freezer and they came to pick it up. My mom had helped capture it so she started the shots the day of our yard sale. I think it was about a day or two and we got the call that the bat was indeed rabid. It was very scary. Very thankful we started the shots, but also very scared of what was about to happen to my son. My son got the series of rabies vaccines from June to July. It was 7 total shots (including the immuniglobin that was given on the first day) over a period of 4 weeks. About 2 weeks after he finished his last shots (end of July, early August 2006) things changed for my whole family forever. His next to last shot, he had a reaction too. He had a fever of over 102 degrees F and he was impossible to wake. We took him to the ER and they said that it was definitely a reaction to the vaccine. Even writing this, it's like its all happening again and I am in tears. He stopped talking, completely. Stopped feeding himself, stopped holding his own drink cup. He would not eat or drink if I didn't do it for him. He had just started using the potty and that stopped as well. He could no longer be in social situations without freezing. Going to the mall was always one of his favorite things, now he hated it. He would cling to me like a child who was terrified, well he was terrified. He stopped walking part of the time; he would just go limp and fall to the floor. No one was allowed to come to our house; he would go into a complete meltdown and beg for them to leave. Same way if we went to anyone else's house. He would just sit by the door and cry, hysterically. It was awful to watch, my heart was breaking. If he wanted something, he would take my hand and take me to what he wanted. We had to teach him to clap his hands on his lap if the answer was yes or raise his hands in the air if the answer was no. It was our own sign language. We got a referral from Jake's pediatrician (Dr. Joseph Dameron of Winchester Pediatric Group in Winchester, VA) to go to Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center which is part of University of Virginia Children's Hospital. We got a cancellation appointment and got in fairly fast, September of 2006. Dr. Susan Anderson diagnosed him with Moderate to High-functioning Autism. We had been doing research prior to the appointment and we were pretty sure this is what we had. But to hear it, was awful. I held it together until the doctor went out of the room, then I lost it. I had a child with Autism. I didn't even know what that meant. I am a young mother, only 24, and a million thoughts went through my head. She gave his information on how to get him Occupational Therapy and also recommend and MRI and an EEG. A week after his appointment, he started talking again. Slowly, but his language started coming back. He would repeat himself a lot and he wouldn't always look up at me when I walked into the room. He did a lot of the side glancing and his eyes were kind of all over the place. Things got better and better slowly. My mom engaged with him one-on-one everyday when she got home from work. She was doing Floortime, although she didn't know it. He started occupational therapy in January of 2007 with an amazing therapist. She has truly been part of what has brought him back. We went back to Kluge in January of 2007 and his diagnosis was changed to only High-functioning Autism. She also noted that he has Sensory Processing disorder which is associated with Autism. After he started getting better, we cancelled the MRI and the EEG. We believed the risk of the anesthesia was higher than was necessary. Jake started going to Occupational Therapy once a week, I also enrolled him at The Little Gym which is a gym class for young children. The teachers there are amazing. We started considering what to do about preschool and started the testing process at our city schools. Early intervention/Child Find tested him just for speech and found that he was ineligible for services and denied him for an IEP. A second go at it, with the doctor's diagnosis and his OT's recommendations, they did more invasive testing and he was approved for an IEP. He is attending Robinson Preschool here in Winchester, VA where we live. It is a special education preschool but Jake is lucky to be in a program here called Kaleidoscope where there are 5 a-typical children and 5 typical children. So he is getting the best of both worlds. He attends 3 days a week for 4 hours a day and gets 30 minutes of OT at school as well. We were never warned of any risks of the rabies vaccines. We were only told the risk of anaphylactic shock. Unlike some of the other Rabies vaccines, we received RabAvert and there is no thimerosal in it. My mom had emailed David Kirby a little bit of our story and he forwarded it around and he said that knows that most rabies vaccines have mercury in them. After we researched, we found that ours did not. Rabies vaccines have documented cases of brain inflammation; unfortunately we did not get an MRI when he was at his worst so we don't have proof of that. We were not given a package insert but then again we aren't for his childhood vaccines either. Obviously, I would never have chosen to not vaccinate him for the rabies vaccine, I just feel like it really opened my eyes to the choices that I have on the other vaccines. We did have the MRI in April of 2007 and the EEG in February/March of 2007 and the MRI was perfectly normal and the EEG only showed some slowing of background waves. We may have another EEG soon. After the story has been out about Hannah, I want to have Jake tested for a mitochondrial disorder because Hannah's story sounds a lot like my son's. A neurologist that we saw (whose name I won't share without his permission because of the controversy of vaccines and Autism) actually said that he believed that Jake had a pre-disposition for Autism and that the Rabies vaccine was the trigger. I believer that. I do not blame the vaccines entirely, and I do not believe that vaccines cause Autism all on their own. I think there are many factors. There are too many shots given all at once and way to close together. If this had not happened to us I would probably be getting Jake his shots for kindergarten next year and this may be happening to him on his way to kindergarten. I am religiously apposed to vaccines, and I do not know when, if at al I will vaccinate him again. And even thin, I will not vaccinate for silly things like Chicken Pox, and the flu. These are normal childhood illnesses that we all had and we are all fine. Jake is now 5 years old and is what I would say mostly "recovered." My mom is responsible for a lot of his recovery as she has never given up. I have been trying to finish my degree and that has been difficult. Jake is on a low-dose of Zoloft that has really helped with the obsessive behaviors and his anxiety level. He will attend a regular school next year for Kindergarten and will be in a mainstream classroom hopefully with an aide. There are some issues that still remain. He has just recently potty trained, and even still, he is not completely there yet. He still has some inappropriate behaviors such as odd noises, strange facial expressions, and he talks very loud. In December of 2007 we saw a developmental optometrist/vision therapist (Dr. Tod Davis in Gainesville, VA) who prescribed him prism glasses. They help a lot with his coordination and his strange eye movements. His teacher at school and his OT as well as me and my mom are blown away with his improvements. He now talks in paragraphs and his language is above normal for his age I think. He also has what I would call a savant talent. He can draw amazing pictures, way beyond age appropriate. People look at me and say "he has Autism?" Most people can't tell until they really get to know him. He has a very mild version. The only explanation that I can come up with is that he had a pre-disposition to Autism (possibly and underlying Mitochondrial disorder) and that the Rabies vaccine triggered it. I strongly believe that he had brain inflammation from the vaccines that caused all of his issues. I think our story is unique because this happened to my son later than when most children regress into Autism. Also, I have never come across anything to do with Rabies vaccine and Autism. From 1994-2004, only 95 children between 1-5 had received a rabies vaccine.
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1/4/09 at 6:39pm