Image by Myles Tan

Autism

13-year-old Isaiah, from his mother

“New shoes. No tears. For the first time ever.”

My only son, Isaiah, is 13 years old. He’s tall, gentle, hard-working and has non-verbal autism. Over the years, we have tried many different kinds of interventions, some more helpful than others. Floortime, Mendability, Rapid Prompting Method, Spiral Praxis, and vitamin supplementation have been beneficial. He has attended a Floortime school specifically for children with autism spectrum disorders full-time for the past six years. His class ratio has never been more than 2 students to 1 teacher. We are blessed to have family who have given us extensive financial support to try any therapy we wanted.

 

But even with all the interventions money could buy, we did not have a solution for the panic and despair he would go through each time he outgrew a pair of shoes. He never wanted new shoes, he wanted his old shoes. So every several months, our whole family would have to endure the ordeal of changing to a new pair of shoes. Once we even bought three pairs of the same shoe in sequential sizes. The clerk gently said to us “You know, you don’t have to buy three of the same pair.” Yeah, we knew, we were doing it on purpose.

 

Isaiah would also get very upset if one of his toys or DVDs broke. We tried to have on hand three of all of his favorite toys, books and DVDs. If something broke and we did not have a replacement ready, it was guaranteed he would get upset. Sometimes, that would develop into repeated questioning. And sometimes, in worst cases, that would develop into insomnia. The worst one of those situations I can remember was three days of repeated questioning about a broken toy, the same question every 5 minutes, ALL DAY. He would finally stop asking when he fell asleep, but would only sleep (due to exhaustion, I think) for around three hours, and then be up again, asking the same question every 5 minutes the next day.  Although it was hard on my husband and I, I imagine it was likely much harder on him.  How would it feel to be so obsessed with thinking about something so much that you couldn’t even sleep for needing to think about it? My son is known for his gentle disposition and sweet smile, but his obsessions were a terror to all of us, including himself.

Two years ago, my uncle told me about a specific probiotic his lab had developed. He said I might be interested in results of some mice study results that were related to Isaiah’s situation. Did I want to try giving some to Isaiah? It couldn’t hurt, I thought. It would be great if he were able to respond to his environment in the same way some of those lab mice did. So, we gave it a shot.

Within fifteen minutes of the first dose, I was stunned as he asked me a question using words he had never used before, and when I responded, he responded back! I thought surely one dose could not make that big of a difference, so I just wrote it off as progress possibly owing to all the many therapies we had piled into his schedule all these years. But we continued giving him some PS128 every day. And over the next two months, little changes began to happen: his sentence variation increased, he was willing to wear different types of clothing, he would occasionally want to be around people more, and he was able to tolerate a full cleaning at the dentist for the first time in his life. Then one day (July 18, 2014 to be exact), Isaiah put on a pair of new sandals. With a smile. And wore them all day at summer camp.

 

New shoes. No tears.  For the first time ever.  We had been doing nearly all the other therapies for many years and his fear of new shoes still haunted us. Now I knew, this change could only be attributed to PS128.  

 

As of today, Isaiah has been taking PS128 daily for over a year. Since then, he has slowly started to let things go: he finally let me wear “new” glasses I had bought from a changed prescription two years ago, he’s ok if curtains in our house are not a specific way, he’s fine if I don’t always wear a certain hat when he demands it. And although he does still engage in repeated questioning for replacement items, it’s usually only a few times a day. I was once so afraid of the insomnia that might come waiting for a replacement item that I nearly always paid for overnight shipping. Today, I ordered him another replacement item but felt confident enough that he would be able to tolerate a wait and chose standard shipping.

 

Thank you, PS128, for changing all these little things that have added up to so much positive change for our lives!