The youngest of three children, Joey was a typically developing little boy. By six months he could say “mama” and “papa”, he was walking by the time he turned one, and he was playful and engaging. However, at age 18 months, he was “struck by the autism bomb.”
“Autism bomb” is a term used by some experts to refer to the sudden, dramatic loss of speech, and environmental withdrawal, that occurs between 18-24 months of age in approximately 30% of children with autism.
Joey stopped speaking, making eye contact, and responding to his name. He simply withdrew into his own world. His family was alarmed at the dramatic change, searching for resources to help him re-engage in the world. He began receiving Early Intervention Services, and was later placed in a Special Education Preschool.
Joey was always a picky eater, but at approximately three years of age he became much more selective. He stopped eating solid foods, and, weeks later, began rejecting liquids as well. Joey’s parents stopped sending him to preschool because, due to inadequate nutrition, he would often return listless, barely able to hold his head up. He developed anemia, and his mom was forced to feed him by syringe several times a day. Though the school was adamant that Joey return to class, his parents felt it best that he stay home, where Mom could cater to his needs.
Joey’s parents contacted Student Advocacy for help. A designated advocate attorney explained the law to them: Because of his young age, Joey was not compelled to attend preschool, and could receive services at home. The advocate attorney also explained that other, perhaps better, options existed. She had the parents request a meeting with the Committee of Preschool Special Education (CPSE), and persuaded the team to have Joey evaluated by a feeding specialist. The evaluation showed that Joey’s eating disorder was due to autism-related sensory issues. Hence, the CPSE recommended that a feeding specialist consult with the parents on a regular basis, and with the teacher and service providers at school, to teach them how to address the problem.
Student Advocacy’s efforts had an enormous impact on Joey’s development. Joey returned to school, his eating improved, he’s learning to communicate, and re-engaging with the world around him. His parents are thrilled with the changes they see, and are grateful for Student Advocacy’s support.