By Sharon Chayra
Her book, Meet Jamie Now, details her experience
It was by all accounts a mundane moment in the life of a mom. During a stay in Santa Barbara, Calif., Krista Vance was getting ready to go out. She was milling in her closet trying to figure out what to wear when a voice from the other room made a simple inquiry asking her what she was doing. Vance assumed it was her eldest son, Jack, since her younger son, Jamie hadn’t spoken in years due to autism.
“I turned around and Jamie was there. I heard a voice say ‘What are you doing?’ Where was Jack?” Vance spoke of the moment that brought her to tears. “I flipped out. Oh my goodness, did you just talk?”
Autism has become part of modern day lexicon and it’s no surprise since 1 in 68 children in the United States will be diagnosed with some form on the autism spectrum in 2014. Manifestations vary and include non-verbal communication, social difficulties and repetitive behaviors. The increase in autism diagnosis and its root cause remain a topic of debate, but that matters little to families like the Vances for whom the condition wasn’t just a book of symptoms, but a reality of raising their beloved son Jamie.
“I looked at his body internally and what I could do to shift the chemical imbalance of his brain, Vance said. “I need the right people behind me to do this and I needed to find the right doctors.” It took the Vances four years of searching. “Through Autism Research Institute [I] found Dr. Gary Grossman, one of the specialists of chelation therapy.”
Chelation therapy remains a controversial treatment for autism. It has, however, been used in cases of medically diagnosed heavy metal poisoning. Some proponents of chelation therapy say autism is prompted by mercury exposure, it is believed that chelation removes mercury and other heavy metals from the system. While the topic is one of great debate, Krista Vance said it was not only appropriate but lifesaving in the case of Jamie.
It was Dr. Luc Maes who found the chelating agent that worked. “And that’s when we started on that particular chelating agent and that’s when we started seeing the changes in him. It had been three years since we heard him speak and it was amazing,” she said.
Today, Vance remains an ardent advocate of autism spectrum disorder and the options to treat it beyond those traditionally prescribed. She is careful to stay abreast of advances in medicine but has a perspective beyond that of an academic. She has lived life with an autistic child, now a young man who no longer suffers from it.
While she is busy with a family that includes two sets of twins in addition to Jack and Jamie, Vance finds the time to write about alternative therapies. Her articles have been published in “Well Being Journal,” “Organic Family Magazine” and “Alternative Medicine.” She is also a sought-after speaker, member of Autism Today and FEAT as well as supports the Autism Research Institute.
While Jamie’s transformation started with a simple inquiry after years of silence, Vance is keenly aware of the arduous journey and one she’d undertake again to save her child. A journey that continues and gives particular meaning to ordinary instances many of us take for granted.
The moment that really exemplified Jamie’s progress was when he and his brother Jack were going to a friend’s house to play. As they were walking out the door, Jamie paused. “Jamie turned around, looked me in the eyes and said ‘I love you.’” Never truer words were spoken.