Life with Donique- A Child with Autism
Donique is the second natural birth of premature twins. She was born 11 minutes after her sister and weighed 5 lbs 1 oz. Her development appeared normal, could speak a few words after age 1, however, approaching age 2 her sister was able to say much more than her. The comparison with her sister's advancement continued over a period and gave cause for concern however, doctors reassured me that she should not be compared, as the progression of growth and development in children are different and individualistic.

They both had ear infections with a fever at age 2 1/2 and got antibiotics. Donique did not respond to the antibiotic treatment. The antibiotics was changed by the doctor but no improvement. She was referred to an allergy specialist who gave a different type of antibiotic and allergy injections for about 3 months and still no improvement. She was again referred to an ENT Specialist who, although was told that she has taken several antibiotics in the past 3 month prescribed 2 others to be taken simultaneously for 2 weeks. The fever and ear infection continued and at times had to be rushed to the hospital when the fever got too high. After 2 weeks of treatment was finished, the ENT Specialist put her on a machine and told me that her eardrum was not vibrating and he needed to do surgery. After the surgery, the problem remained, high fever and ear infection. After visiting his office on the 3rd occasion he seemed a bit puzzled as it appeared the surgery and medication had failed. I questioned his ability to resolve the problems and advised him to seek further information on the matter. She had her shoe on the other foot, so he observed her walking funny and referred her to a neurosurgeon who looked at her and diagnosed her with Infantile Autism. He recommended that she attend the McCam Centre which started operation just 2 months before she was diagnosed.

At the centre there was a small parent support group, which was very helpful. Parents shared their experiences, which alleviated doubt and brought some relief to us.

As this was a new situation for me and concerning my child, I sought literature concerning Autism which indicated that Donique has enough behavioral pattern to convince me that this child was Autistic. The signs were: poor eye contact; very short attention span; appears to be deaf; nonverbal communication, routine, unable to adapt to changes quickly.

Since no one knew the cause of Autism, in July 1991, we took her to Miami Children's Hospital to ascertain if there were further damages to her body. Having conducted tests like EEG, MRI and Hearing, it was proven that these organs of her body were functioning satisfactorily.

It was observed that sounds with certain frequencies disturb her hearing which caused her to use her fingers to block her ears as a preventative measure of having to hear it. She was further taken to Montreal where she had hearing retrained and the problem was consequently resolved.

Her eating habits are peculiar and costly as the chosen items are quite few and expensive. Her intelligence appears unusual as she can spell majority of countries in the world e.g. Venezuela, Czechoslovakia and unable to spell simple words such as cat or girl. She does simple addition, displays typing skills and shows potential for electronics.

By Eulyn Lee (Mother)

  • 231 Old Hope Road
  • Hopelands
  • Kingston
  • Jamaica