Little Girl Rises above Challenges of Autism, Inspires Parents to Open Therapy Center
posted by: Mile High Mamas
In 2005, Tommy and Amanda Shannon were blessed with a beautiful baby girl. They named her Lily and she was going to grow up to be anyone or anything she wanted to be. When Lily was three, their dreams of her learning to ride a bike, graduating from college and getting married were shattered when she was diagnosed with mild to moderate autism.
“Nothing can prepare you for hearing this devastating news,” said Amanda. “Doctors said that she may never talk or understand what we were saying. We were numb, we were lost, we were helpless.”
The doctors told the Shannon family that there was no cure and that they should not expect a cure to be found. They said that Lily would never be “normal” and that she may even have to be institutionalized at some point. “How does any parent hear this type of declaration about their child and not want to run screaming!?”
The Shannon’s did not know how or where to find resources, but they had to act quickly because they were told that there was a very small window of opportunity (before age five) to help Lily reach her potential. They jumped on the computer and began to research. “Google became our best friend,” recalls Tommy.
Wholistic and biomedical approaches to treatment seemed to be very promising; however, there was an equal amount of information saying that these types of treatments were a hoax. “The amount of conflicting information was overwhelming,” said Tommy. “We could not believe that there were not more credible ways of obtaining information about this disorder.”
They trusted their gut and started small with a simple change in diet. After only three days of no gluten and dairy, “she actually looked into my eyes,” said Amanda. For most parents, that may sound silly. For Amanda and Tommy, it had been more than a year since Lily had last looked into their eyes and connected with them. This small amount of progress gave them hope and so began a whirlwind year of appointments, counseling, researching and making food from scratch. “I was exhausted, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It was a difficult period for the family. We saw improvements and then regressions. Tommy and I knew we had to keep pressing forward, but it was definitely taking its toll on everyone.”
About a year after they began wholistic approaches to Lily’s treatment, she said “I love you” for the first time. Imagine your child not ever saying “I love you” until they are four years old. Amanda said “it was like liquid sunshine.” “We cried for hours – everything we were doing was making a difference and it made all the challenges worth it.”
Tommy and Amanda weren’t the only ones who were noticing Lily’s remarkable progress. Her doctors continually asked the Shannon’s what they were doing differently than other parents. It was at this point that doctors began to refer the Shannon’s to other parents for information and support.
In the midst of all the success and elation, came a tragedy. The Shannon’s learned that a distant relative had committed suicide after struggling to handle the diagnosis of Autism for two of her children. They knew at this point that they had to do something more than just be a reference for other families.
This is why they decided to open Proactive Wellness of the Rockies in Denver, a new integrative therapy center for children and their families who want to proactively confront developmental and emotional challenges, such as Autism, ADD/ADHD, Aspergers and other conditions.
“We have only included those treatments which showed the most remarkable improvements in Lily.” “We take a ‘wholistic’ approach by providing biomedical therapies (medical testing and treatments that assess both the biological and psychological processes of a child with autism) and holistic services to improve the overall health and well-being.”
“We understand what you’re going through, and we’re here to support you and your child. It gives us a purpose and deep gratification to be able to bring the smallest hope or relief to a parent who doesn’t know where to turn. We feel that helping others based on the challenges we’ve already faced brings even more meaning to the journey we’ve been on with our daughter. The journey has made us realize that we are all connected and that we have to work together as a family and community first, and then reach out nationally and globally to effect change and bring awareness of this disorder.”
To learn more about the treatments that have brought help and hope to the Shannon family, please visit www.proactivewellnessrockies.com or call 303.835.9130.
Photographer’s Choice / Getty Images