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2014 Photographer Index

2014_starry_chaz 2015_stefan_loyde

Todd Stefan
Stefan's Photography


When my stomachache turned up to be the news of pregnancy, my family and I felt as if we had won the lottery. It was the happiest moment of my life at the moment, and the nine months when I felt like I was on top of the world flew by quickly. Our handsome, smart Alexander was born in June.

For the first three years of his life and through all the checkups with the pediatrician, Alex was on top of the list for his age range. Alex understood and spoke three languages; Romanian, Spanish and English. I say spoke, because soon after his MMR shot we started "losing" Alex. His speech regressed and eventually stopped. He didn't play the same anymore and started avoiding others and us.

I did not want to even think that Alex had autism. It couldn't be me, not my child. When Alex was sent home from playschool and we were told that we might want to have him checked, I cried all day long. I denied it until I could deny no more.

Alex received his diagnosis of ASD the month his sister, Maya, was born. In the beginning we were directed to the school district's early program called Life Skills. Alex seemed to enjoy the routine and started getting closer to his teachers but we later realized that he was not making any progress. And for three years while both my husband and I worked full time, Alex continued to decline.

It was my daughter Maya who opened my eyes that something wasn't right anymore. She started asking for a brother or sister like her friends had. It broke my heart and it still does when I think about it. (My angel Maya is a very smart, wise, old soul. And today she has a very complex understanding of her special family, and always talks proudly about her brother to everyone.) So, I started doing a lot of research on the Internet, signed up with almost every support group I could find, and started reading. We started with speech therapy, OT, and the DAN approach. After two years of gluten free, casein free, B12 shots, glutathione, etc. with little to no results, we stopped the diet, though we keep processed foods to a minimum, and Red40 is called poison in my house.

Two years ago Alex went through a period of tantrums and violence. About six months into it I was crying/screaming at God in the middle of the night asking for a sign, because I felt I couldn't handle it much longer. The next morning my mother called with a phone number of an autism teacher from New York who was the friend of the "autism whisperer" in Bucharest. I call her the "autism whisperer" because children with autism are transformed when she is around. She is the founder of the Waldorf School for Children with Special Needs in Bucharest. After talking to her from here many hours, she agreed for us to come to Romania so that she could work with Alex during the summer break.

Needless to say, she fell in love with Alex and Alex with her. The first day we meet her, when she walked into our apartment we were renting, Alex went straight into her arms. I was shocked ,and so was she. They looked into each other's eyes as if saying, "I've been waiting for you." Alex does not like women and does not go to them, ever.

We did not return home after summer break. She convinced us to have Alex attend the Waldorf School for a year and see what would happen. During that year I saw Alex wake up again, smile, be happy, give me hugs and kisses, answer a "yes" question, and carry on a small simple conversation. I saw with my own eyes that there was hope, that one day I will have my Alex back and Maya will have her big brother.

Unfortunately we had to return to our other half of the family, as being apart was doing good, but also hurting us because we were so far apart. Currently we are working with a very wonderful, talented autism advocate to make sure Alex receives everything possible to enable him to learn and make progress.

My dream is to start a Waldorf school where we live, and help more children along with my own. (There is a Waldorf school for a child with special needs in California, but moving is not an easy option in our situation.)

Anca, mother of Alex
Sultan, WA