In this powerfully inspiring episode of hope, I interview Ilana Gerschlowitz, autism mom and Founding Director of The Star Academy which provides educational instruction to children with autism in South Africa.
In 2004, her oldest son David was diagnosed with autism at the age of 20 months and ten years later, her youngest son Aaron was also diagnosed with autism.
Ilana tells how her son David had perfect development until he was 15 months and then developed a high fever and was hospitalized for Rotavirus for 3 days. When he was discharged, David no longer made eye contact and he became unreachable. He started flapping his hands, stopped responding to his name, lined up his toys, and he vanished into his own world.
The developmental specialist who diagnosed David with autism told Ilana that he would never go to school, he would never speak, he would never toilet-train, he would be like a vegetable, he would never hold down a job, and that she should take out an insurance policy and seek psychological counseling for herself.
Devastated but refusing to believe that autism had to be a lifelong disability, Ilana immersed herself in research to find solutions.
Ilana eventually found the right doctors to partner up with and started working on diet and nutrition. Treating his gut flora, eliminating food allergies, supporting his immune system, supplementing with vitamins and minerals, identifying bacterial or fungal infections have all helped to alleviate many of the symptoms. Enrolling him in the ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) program was an absolute game-changer as well.
David now at 17 has become very much an independent, functional human being who runs his own deli making sandwiches and pizza, though he still relies on an app to communicate. David still wrestles with symptoms of autism but Ilana never gives up hope that she’ll find the ultimate cure.
Ilana tells parents, “It is never too late to start the right treatments no matter how old your child is.”
When her youngest son Aaron was also diagnosed with autism, Ilana was devastated again but she put on her boxing gloves and went to fight. Aaron went through the treatment protocol as well as ABA and he is now 7 years old, completely recovered from autism, and in mainstream school. Early intervention was key for recovery for Aaron.
Ilana encourages parents to never ever give up and to remember that what seems impossible at times can really become possible and that with the right treatment, the sky is the limit.
Tune in to this episode and you will be inspired!
The podcast episode is now live! You can listen to the episode here: