My very own ‘Autism South Africa Doctor’

My very own ‘Autism South Africa Doctor’ – Dr Rodney Unterslak

I was living in Johannesburg South Africa when I met my very own ‘Autism South Africa Doctor’ – Dr Rodney Unterslak. David had just been diagnosed with autism and I had no idea how I’d find treatments for him living in South Africa. How would I manage to access and provide David with everything he needed when it seemed that every Autism South Africa treatment option, I came across, would not yield results and resulted in yet another dead end. Should I look for USA treatments was a question that often entered my mind? Looking back I’m glad I did look beyond our borders for expertise and help.

It was March 2007 and we were anxiously waiting for more test kits to arrive from the United States. Autism USA treatments were available but there weren’t really Autism South Africa treatments that I felt confident could help David. Testing David’s blood, urine and stool was required at regular intervals in order to direct treatment. Autism USA treatments included these tests but Autism South Africa treatments didn’t include these laboratory tests laid out in the American laboratory brochure I studied when deciding which lab tests to conduct for David. Once the test kits finally arrived from the USA, we had to familiarise ourselves with how to do the sample collection. This involved drawing David’s blood and sending the samples to the laboratories in Johannesburg. There were some laboratory tests we could rely on here in South Africa for certain Autism South Africa treatments I eventually decided to try for David. However, also conducting tests in the USA was clearly important. Sending samples to the United States required careful planning. The worst part was waiting for the US laboratories to analyse the samples and release the test results to our American doctor. In the beginning, there was no Autism South Africa doctor I could rely on to interpret the results of David’s laboratory tests. This was the case until I met Dr Unterslak.

Friends and family often asked me about Dr Unterslak, our Autism South Africa doctor. He was very supportive and his encouragement and assurance got me through.

Overcoming distance – getting help from our Autism South Africa Doctor

Being able to rely on a local doctor was very useful. When we imported supplements for David from the US we’d need to consider customs and shipping details. Some pharmacies in the US can only ship to certain states within America and this proved challenging. We’d have to ask favours of people who knew someone who knew someone else who was coming to South Africa and could bring us the medications. My Autism South Africa doctor, Dr Unterslak ,would write the prescriptions we needed for certain treatments for David.
Once the items had arrived at our door despite all the odds, we had to work out how to administer them. This all took time, which was something David didn’t have on his side. Early diagnosis and treatment are pivotal to recovery. The window of opportunity stays open for only a very brief moment: by the time you stop to look back and take stock, years have passed and the window is closing. Over time I began to rely on our Autism South Africa doctor, who facilitated the process and helped me get everything I’d need from the US to get David onto the road to healing.

In a desperate attempt to save David, we did everything possible to fast-track all the details involved in planning and following a medical treatment regime at this stage, also directed by my Autism South Africa doctor. At the same time, of course, we continued to create and reinvent David’s education and rehabilitation on a constant basis. I remember the encouragement and support, Dr Unterslak, provided us. His support and constant reassurance earned him the label of my ‘Autism South Africa doctor’.

The deafening sound of silence

How I longed to hear my son’s voice! This longing became a pain that was indescribable. Knowing he was incapable of communicating with us followed me around like a shadow. I was determined to find the key to unlock his voice. I cried a lot and relied on the support of my Autism South Africa doctor to get reassurance and support when I felt fearful about the future. I developed a deep, unbearable desire to hear David speak. I was going crazy inside my head, heartbroken and tormented by the situation. I prayed and prayed and wept and prayed some more. I bargained with G-d to make me ill instead, or to take my life in return for David’s voice. I remember Dr Unterslak, my Autism South Africa doctor, reminding me continuously to hold onto hope and faith for a best outcome for David.

I wanted David to tell me what he wanted to eat and which movie he wanted to watch on TV. I wondered about his favourite colour or if he loved me. How could we be robbed of hearing his sweet little voice commenting on the aeroplane that flew over or the dog barking in the park? Why this had happened to my child was a question I’d regularly ask myself, wondering how we were going to turn this around.

There has to be a way… solutions suggested by my Autism South Africa doctor

How can any parent be expected to accept that their child won’t be able to communicate? It’s unthinkable and unimaginable to suggest to any parent that their child will remain without communication for life. Had I been incorrectly led to believe that David would never speak and would remain incapable of this basic skill all his life? Surely, we’d find a way: after all, David was a human being and deserved a voice. It would be unjust to expect that David should be robbed of this basic human right – communication. There was no way I was going to stand by and let autism keep his voice locked away forever. There was a lot at stake and I wasn’t prepared to lose. Dr Unterslak, earned his title, as my Autism South Africa doctor, as he prescribed a number of supplements and anti-inflammatories that did help David gain more language fluency. However, the progress was slow and just never fast enough.

We planned and redesigned our strategy for David daily, checking in on the day’s plan of action, with my Autism South Africa doctor, who’d crawled into my heart and who’d become our mentor and guiding light.

I am forever grateful to my Autism South Africa doctor, Dr Rodney Unterslak, for being there for us every step of the way and for his encouragement and support.

Please note – the information in this post is not intended as medical advice.

Saving My Sons – A Journey with Autism