This is the story of Sarah, an autistic mentally retarded child, who lands in an emergency care home at age five after medical evaluations determine her to be also a sexually abused child.
It is also the story of Sandra, my wife, who trained as a ‘Professional Parent’ and was willing to take this “wild child” into her home.
The story continues through Sarah’s struggles and the family’s challenges of raising and caring for Sara – the particular challenges of autism coupled with attachment disorder and mental retardation, sometimes humorous but always touching the heart.
Sarah travelled with us around the world as President of ‘World Community Autism Program’ which was a charity we founded in 2001 while we were in South Africa.
Sarah always played a full part in our work. She was as much a part of WCAP as we were, talking to the families about her life and experiences with autism and the struggles she went through. Sarah was one of the first people to recover from autism using dietary intervention
” I first met Sandra and Sarah in 1997, when I travelled to America to find out more about these people who were already legends in the autism world. We asked her one day while we were coming back from Charlotte, NC from visiting a family with an autistic child: ‘do you want to stay in Morganton, or do you want to travel with Max and I and teach people about autism’, she said she wanted to come with us, and that is what happened.” Max
Sarah had been identified as significantly developmentally delayed at 20 months.
She had had a grand-mal seizure and had been resuscitated by emergency medical workers at the age of twenty-two months just after receiving her vaccination. Sarah had been in rehabilitation and special education for three years and had been diagnosed as epileptic, hypotonic and hyperactive at four years of age with severe delay disorder.
Evaluations at five years improved her clinical picture to include ‘possibly trainable’ when testing included an IQ score of 34. She was considered to be non-verbal although she was echolalic and could say her name.
At age 6 she was fostered and then adopted by Sandra. At the age of 11 and within weeks of starting a special diet program, she went through a remarkable recovery and by age 16 no longer showed the signs of autism or mental retardation when evuated by the Marcus Institute in Atlanta.
Sarah emerged from the conditions of autism to become an intelligent, positive and delightful person with a great sense of humor who loved life and was loved by many people. She loved swimming, eating out at restaurants, reading, travelling. She liked to watch the food and travel channels on TV as well as going out to the movies.
Sarah was attending college in London and engaged to be married, when she died suddenly during an epileptic seizure in 2007.
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