Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jeremy Jacobi

Robin wants to share her story about her son with autism. This item was emailed to this blog--AR

Hi, my name is Robin and I have a son with Asperger's Syndrome, a high functioning form or autism. Don't let the high functioning part mislead you, though. Jeremy has been through a lot in his meager 20 years. From the beginning, Jeremy had to overcome surprising obstacles. Jeremy was plagued with ear infections from as early as two months old. I took him to the doctor as often as he was sick; but it got to the point where his pediatrician started just calling in a script for Jeremy instead of actually examining him. I noticed that his speech was delayed and when he began to speak, he used his own vocabulary that described what something did instead of the actual name of the item. For instance, a pot was referred to as a cooker. This only reiterated to me that my son was very smart but had some kind of deficit.

When Jeremy was about 2 years old, I took him in to see his doctor about his speech delay and other mannerisms I noticed. His doctor told me that boys often mature slower than girls and that I shouldn't worry. Then, when the next 18 mos. really didn't bring any improvement in his speech or his behaviors, his doctor said that some children need more time to learn social/language skills. I was a young mother, and after all, he was the expert, right? I should just trust him and hope for the best. Well, I did what I could until Jeremy entered kindergarten and his teacher noticed that Jeremy would face the opposite way of the class when she would walk around the classroom. Eventually, the school nurse, who was a friend of the family, checked his hearing (with actual instruments) and found that he was 90% deaf. Jeremy was then referred to an ENT specialist who told me that in his 30 years he had never seen so much scarring in the ears of a child his age (at that time he was five). Jeremy had tubes placed and a bilateral adenoidectomy. Amazingly, Jeremy's hearing was restored completely. We were so relieved. Jeremy missed out on learning social/language skills in his formative years and now he would be able to catch up with his peers. Or so we thought.

When he was still having problems attending, still making noises, and having strange mannerisms, I knew there was something else going on. I suggested that maybe he could have some autistic tendencies- but once again, I was told to leave his diagnosis and treatment to 'the experts'. So at age 5, Jeremy was diagnosed with ADD and put on ritalin. When the ritalin didn't help, they tried dexadrine, immipramine, cylert etc., he ran the gamut. None of these meds seemed to help, and as Jeremy got older he experienced more side effects. Eventually, he came full circle (after being misdiagnosed with ADD, ADHD (he was never hyperactive), Tourette's Syndrome and so on) to being placed back on ritalin. This time, Jeremy pulled out a whole section of his hair on the right side of his head until he was bald. That's when I took him off the ritalin completely, and his hair eventually grew back. I then learned about the work that Dr. Judith miles was doing at the University of Missouri and decided to get Jeremy evaluated. Upon entering 10th grade at Hickman High School at age 16, Jeremy was finally diagnosed with Autism and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) by Dr. Julie Donnelly. Jeremy was very restless at that time and wanted the attention and approval of his father, who was in denial about Jeremy's condition. He decided to move to St.Peters, MO, where his father lives to try to foster a relationship with him and help his father understand how autism has effected his life. Because my ex-husband didn't give any credence to Jeremy's condition, Jeremy didn't get the help he needed in St. Peters until I contacted the school and made them aware of Jeremy's IEP (individual education plan). The school year was still difficult for Jeremy because his father didn't want Jeremy taking any meds, and of course, Jeremy had difficulty with impulsive and obsessive behaviors. In one instance, the kids went to the auditorium where the seating was like a cinema with each chair having an arm on each side. Well, Jeremy has the need to delineate his spacial boundaries, so he put his arms on both arm rests and happened to be touching a young lady's arm next to him. She told the principal that Jeremy was sexually harassing her. This claim was ridiculous and illconceived. Fortunately, the principal was able to defuse a possibly volatile situation. Jeremy decided that he was best supported and loved by family, friends and the community here in Columbia. Jeremy attended his senior year here, in Columbia, MO at Hickman High School, where he graduated in June of '06.

Now, Jeremy works for BCFR (Boone County Family Resources) in a job skills/training program and receives life skills classes throughout the week. He spends time with a volunteer student from MU going to various places around town, catching a bite to eat, going to parks, the library, and downtown shops. He is also active with Judevine Center for Autism in a community inclusion program and attends social activities monthly. Jeremy is looking into a possible learning/job opportunity at the University of Missouri through the Thopmson Center for Autism and Neurological Disorders. At this time, he is doing volunteer work, but he's working towards a career in computer repair (hardware and troubleshooting software etc.) in the near future. Jeremy has many skills in diagnosing and fixing computers and wants to get his A+ certification in computer repair and maintenance to further his career goals. Jeremy is an intelligent, handsome, determined, and beautiful young man who has overcome the odds he has faced in life on many different levels. I'm proud of Jeremy's tenacity to trudge forward no matter what the circumstance, and I'm blessed to have him in my life. A once distant dream of seeing my son become independent and happy is now becoming a reality and I'm ever hopeful and excited about his bright future.

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