Amazing MomsMoms on the Move is a glance into the lives of inspiring moms everywhere, highlighting the balance of family, career and life and issues that affect parents and children. Created and hosted by Linda Swain, it features real and celebrity moms who share their incredible life situations that they handle successfully.
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Jennifer WestphalFind out how this mom helped her son emerge from severe autism!
Playing board game with family.
Linda: Kyle you’re the judge.
Jennifer: We always laugh about how great it is that we get to enjoy him as a teenager with attitude where we never thought that was possible.
Because nine years ago Jennifer Westphal was at a loss of how to help her son Kyle who was born with severe autism.
Jennifer: Nine years ago nobody could tell us a thing. Kyle was 41/2 when we finally figured what was going on with him. He spent most of the day in the cushions of our couch. He would spin sticks all day long. He spent a lot of time under blankets. He had very limited language he had no eye contact. He never expressed feelings.
Linda: How did the other kids react to Kyle’s behaviors?
Jennifer: Well, Annie was very frustrated. Imagine I would find him in her room and he would be ripping apart her dolls, he would stay next to kids he would be screaming he did not interact with them, Linda. And then you start torturing yourself because you think its something your doing or not doing it was awful.
Jennifer: I felt like the worst mother in the world. My husband and I were arguing constantly about what’s wrong with this kid. You think I must not be loving him enough.
But Jennifer loved Kyle enough to spend every waking minute trying new therapies and working with him one on one along with her husband, Jeff and trained therapists. Gradually, over 4 years, Kyle was cured.
Jeff: I used to say “I love you Kyle” and never expect and answer and one day he said “I love you too Dad.”
Jennifer: We helped Kyle emerge from his autism by running a program called Sunrise. We had a room for quiet, no distractions nothing on the walls. What we do is we move into the child's world and eventually you can grab their hand and gently pull them back into your world. We added in swim therapy. I also introduced a gluten free diet and home schooling.
Jennifer found home schooling worked best for all of her family and Kyle was able to join his brother and sister at Open Connections.
Linda and Jennifer walking at school: This is a mainstream home schooling resource center so Kyle is now able to attend here.
Jennifer: He can really progress through his education at a pace that works for him.
And with Kyle’s success, Jennifer created Kyle’s Tree house, a non-profit organization to help all people touched by autism to make effective choices.
Jennifer: I spent a lot of time working with parents after we finished Kyle's program they were feeling lost and confused and I felt why don't I develop a website where the parents can come and get real information.
Linda: So the answer is don't stop trying to find new ways to help your child succeed.
Jennifer: Absolutely. Parents really have to be that advocate. Try a different therapy. There’s almost 40 some treatments on our site. Each little step that Kyle takes is such a miracle for us.
Kyle: I won!
Jennifer: Once you deal with it it just seems to float away like an island breaking away.
Jennifer to Kyle: You are the most courageous and special kid I have ever known. I think pucky just got a double love hugs.