Healthy Kids     K-12    

Autism Strikes!

Know when to insist on a diagnosis

Publisher's Note: In the November issue of Hudson Valley Parent magazine we featured a wonderful article by Joanne McFadden. She interviewed several parents who saved their children's lives through their persistence. Sullivan county mom Krista Brink-Hyzer is another mom who shares her experience in getting her third son Justin correctly diagnosed.
Sullivan county mom Krista Brink-Hyzer’s persistence and advocacy made a monumental difference in the lives of her three sons. Pediatric neurologists diagnosed her first two sons, now teenagers, with Autism Spectrum Disorders when they were toddlers. She read everything she could on the diagnoses and got her sons the intensive therapies they needed early on, which was key to the boys’ successes today.

When her third son, Justin, now four, went from being a “happy go lucky” baby to one who wouldn’t make eye contact, broke out in hives, vomited when she took him out and screamed when strangers came to the home, Brink-Hyzer knew something was wrong.

Know Autism's Warning Signs

Surprisingly, when she reported to her pediatrician during a visit that Justin was not talking, not laughing, and not doing other things that he should be, and she asked for a referral to have him evaluated by a pediatric neurologist, the doctor didn’t think much of it. She questioned why Brink-Hyzer was making such an issue over it.

On their next doctor’s visit when Justin was 18 months old, Brink-Hyzer pushed the issue again. The doctor said, “He is still so young, give it time.” This is the point where her mother instincts wouldn’t let her give up. After a 10-minute argument with the doctor, Brink-Hyzer walked out with a referral.

Her story doesn’t end here. After chatting distractedly with Brink-Hyzer, the pediatric neurologist told her that he thought Justin had a behavioral disorder, not autism.

Not satisfied, Brink-Hyzer worked through Early Intervention in Sullivan County to get Justin an evaluation with a pediatric developmentalist in the Capital District. This evaluation determined that Justin had classic autism.

As a firm believer in the power of early intervention for autistic children, the time it took to have her son properly diagnosed was frustrating and heart-breaking. “I knew in my heart of hearts that he needed to get in those programs as soon as possible because I watched my son slip away every day,” she said. “That six to nine months from when I had originally gone for that referral – that was lost time that I will never get back,” she added. Brink-Hyzer tells parents to “never settle” when they know what is best for their children.

Joanne McFadden has two daughters and lives in Charlton.