"At 23 years old I had sustained a broken back and numerous other injuries as the result of a car crash. I was ejected from the vehicle – and though severely injured, I did recover over time. As a result of the back injury, my neurosurgeon and orthopedic surgeon both suggested that I refrain from having children since I was left with a sizable bone fragment that was pressing into my spinal cord...
They told me I would never be able to run again, that my bladder would probably never function fully, and that eventually my legs would become weak, my gait disturbed.
For a few months – I accepted their diagnosis, and concentrated on being ever so careful not to fall, not to jar my spine in any way, and I learned to live with excruciating pain since I was very averse to pain medication.
One day I woke up and decided that I would not accept the outcome they had confirmed!
I went for a power walk and a week later I went for a run. I paid dearly with pain and with a kidney infection due to the swelling in my spinal cord. But I was proud of myself and repeated the run 2 times a week for the next several months. I returned to the gym, a place I had loved to spend my time prior to the accident. I had been training very hard to be a competitive athlete and it was being back in the gym that helped me to regain my strength both physically and emotionally.
I continued to have bladder and kidney infections and I found myself relying on a plethora of antibiotics to get well. Little did I realize the damage I was doing to my immune system. Having been told by numerous doctors that having children could jeopardize my health, I had accepted that fate and did not allow myself to ever dream of having babies.
At 34 I became pregnant. Fear-struck, I went to see my pastor as I was terrified that the weight of the baby over the course of 9 months would permanently damage my spinal cord as the surgeons had warned 11 years prior.
My pastor was stern with me because he knew why I was there. He knew I needed for him to give me an out – an out that was unthinkable! What he said to me that day changed everything ... I learned the word FAITH! He told me that God blesses a woman’s womb with a child and that he had blessed me. He said that if God could create the universe, the stars, the earth, and man, that he could surely handle my pregnancy and protect me during the process.
He told me to trust God and realize that I was going to experience a miracle!
He was right. I gave birth to a very healthy 7lb baby boy. The pregnancy was rough. I was hospitalized for 3 days with a severe kidney infection. The birth process was also very high-risk with a great deal of complications for me. Shortly after Chayce was born I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. This was most likely due to the strenuous pregnancy and the kidney infection.
Chayce was perfect! He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my entire life. His senses were extraordinary – his hearing and sense of touch were incredible. I thought “he must be a genius” as he turned his head to the sound of my voice and would burst out sobbing if I coughed or sneezed. He would run his tiny fingers up and down the side of my ribs when I nursed him. I was in awe of his abilities.
At one month old, Chayce began having extremely high fevers. 106 degrees became as common as the coinciding trips to the ER to have him checked. My child was always sick. He suffered immensely and we could not determine why. Every month without fail, Chayce was sick.
At 18 months old Chayce was diagnosed as having autism by his pediatrician. I was angry with the doctor. I disagreed and told him he was wrong. I left with my child and never went back to that practice.
I was wrong and he was right ... but it took me two more years to acknowledge that my child had autism.
As a medical device executive, my focus had been in pediatrics for 10 years at that time. I began to research immune system issues and biological issues related to autism spectrum disorder. I recognized that in order for Chayce to have a good quality of life and to mitigate his autism behaviors, we would need to treat his immune system.
For Chayce, treating his immune system and giving him concentrated energy and focus as to his special needs in the areas of sensory overload, I found ways to help him to overcome his challenges. Fortunately for our family, my mother was our full-time nanny and she also had a Master’s Degree in psychology. With our combined efforts of medical and educational interventions, Chayce is very high functioning today. He still suffers with the high fevers and other comorbidities to autism. Nocturnal seizure disorder, GI Issues, allergies, weakness, muscle wasting, lack of coordination, and brain inflammation are his medical issues. Anxiety disorder, ADD, and OCD are things that challenge him every day.
Chayce is the happiest, kindest, most generous and thoughtful child.
I also have a daughter named Falynne who is equally precious and such a blessing to me … so full of life, love and talent! She, too, was born on the autism spectrum with special needs and some developmental challenges, though not as severe as Chayce’s. Falynne suffered from anxiety, significant stuttering, developmental delay, and delay in being able to walk. She also developed issues with her pituitary gland that required strenuous medical intervention.
I clearly defied the odds and the doctors by having two beautiful children!
Today, Falynne helps me with Chayce – encouraging him and lifting him up every day. She also advocates for thousands of children with autism by sharing her incredible talents as a savant. She dances, sings, and has a performance backed by a team of incredible volunteers who help to raise thousands of dollars for people with autism who need assistance. Falynne and her team from Red Hot Productions are known throughout Nevada, and across the United States for their autism advocacy and their amazing show!
Autism signed me on as an advocate. There is a saying in medicine “see one, do one, teach one”.
I leaned so much and we made such tremendous progress with both of my children by treating their immune systems and respecting their special needs and challenges – it was without hesitation that I wanted to help other parents to navigate autism with their children. Early intervention is critical to helping children with autism overcome the majority of their challenges.
In 2010, I accepted a role as Executive Director for the Autism Coalition of Nevada. I wanted to help people who were affected by autism and my friend Ralph Toddre, Founder of ACON, offered me the perfect opportunity to not only help him, but help the autism community throughout Nevada. For the last seven years I have worked hard for Nevada and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it!
I also accepted a board position for the UC Davis MIND Institute in 2011. I am very passionate about brain tissue research and scientific research related to autism spectrum disorder. Recently, I became President and Board Chairwoman for the Autism Coalition of Nevada – a responsibility I am very proud to carry out.
I am so appreciative of the many partnership organizations which ACON works closely with that provide services, treatment and programs for children with autism. Because they are so great with their efforts – ACON can focus on legislative initiatives, legal advocacy, and most importantly, scientific research. We also support families and individuals throughout Nevada who need financial assistance with medical care, diagnosis, assistive technology and respite care."
** about our guest author ...
Michelle Scott-Lewing has 25yrs of experience as Executive VP for Medical Energy, INC., a medical laser device manufacturing company. She is a clinical expert in the specialties of Urology, Gynecology, Ear, Nose & Throat, and Pediatric & Adult Neurosurgery.
Michelle is President of the Autism Coalition of Nevada (ACON) and Founder of the Autism Coalition of America. She has devoted the last 15yrs to researching autism.
In 2012, she named the brain tissue research program at the University of California at Davis MIND Institute called BEARS, which stands for "Brain Endowment for Autism Research Sciences." Michelle is an active board member to the UC Davis MIND Institute's MIND Advisory Council (MAC).
In 2016, Michelle was appointed to the "Child Health Institute" as an Advisory Board member by Dr. Anthony Slonim, President & CEO of Renown Health and Dr. Thomas Schwenk, Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of NV, Reno.
She has recently become a new resident of Henderson, NV where she will reside with her husband David and their two children ~ Chayce & Falynne
~ Lavish Three ~