Autism Treatment for Children: Searching for Jonah's Miracle

After trying multiple medications and treatments for her son, one mother recalls her attempts to seek out a miracle for her child and autistic children everywhere.


| September 2014



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After struggling to find a well-suited treatment for her autistic child, one mother continues to search for her son's miracle.

Photo by Fotolia/Krasimira Nevenova

For parents with autistic children, trying to find proper treatment and medication for their child can be a difficult task. In Each Day I Like It Better: Autism, ECT, and the Treatment of Our Most Impaired Children (Vanderbilt University Press, 2014), author and mother of an autistic child, Amy S. F. Lutz, tells stories of her son, Jonah, as well as other children and parents struggling with autism and searching for help in the autistic community. In this excerpt from Chapter 1, “Jonah, 2009: The Debate on Cognitive Side Effects,” Lutz recounts her attempts to find a well-suited treatment for her 11-year-old autistic son, ultimately finding some hope and assurance in electroconvulsive therapy treatment.

Raising an Autistic Child

Crisis, I’ve discovered, is a relative term. 

When the care manager who coordinates the services my autistic ten-year-old son, Jonah, gets from the State of Pennsylvania asks me if I’m in crisis, I’m not sure how to answer.

Is it a crisis if your son has just attacked your tiny Thai au pair, even if he hits you or his father or his teacher or his aides every day? What if you’re afraid that your son’s aggression toward the au pair represents an expansion of his range of potential targets, so that now you won’t only have to anticipate Jonah coming after the adults in charge, but also strangers in Costco, or neighbors over for dinner? What if this isn’t an isolated incident, because Jonah also recently hit one of his sisters and your greatest fear of all is that, instead of ignoring the seven other young children who live in your house—kids who obviously irritate Jonah with their shrieking, their intrusions, their stubborn fearlessness—he may start unleashing his rage against his siblings and his cousins? Is that crisis? 

Apparently, at four-thirty on a Friday afternoon, insurance company managers have no patience for the nuances of crisis. Mine gives me the number of a psychiatric facility where I can take Jonah for an emergency evaluation.