Hello my name is Stephany and I want to share Jovan’s story. My son Jovan was diagnosed with autism at 1 year and eight months old. He was non-verbal and was unable to make eye contact. He was a picky eater and had very bad coordination problems and sensory issues.
As Jovan grew his autism issues became more severe. He started sleeping less than four hours per night. His self-injury problems worsened. I struggled to find help for Jovan. Our pediatrician was not helpful. Jovan was constantly sick and was prescribed repeated doses of antibiotics and steroids. With these medicines Jovan’s hand-flapping and head-banging became constant.
My husband and I didn’t know what to do at that point. I was consistently told that diet didn’t matter and that there was no proof that diet changes worked to solve any problems Jovan presented. Over and over again, I was put down for looking for ways to help my son. The conventional medicine therapies only wanted to drug up my son and told me diet didn’t matter.
At that time, Jovan was home-schooled. He was receiving ABA services which were teaching him to cope with everyday life. It was evident to my husband and I that Jovan was not feeling well. His constant headaches and weariness prevented him from walking for long periods of time and he could not handle home-schooling tasks nor playing outdoors, for long periods of time.
We started a gluten-free diet and then an MSG-free diet just to see if we could get Jovan to feel better. When Jovan turned five years old, we finally saw some differences from the minor diet changes we made.
We visited homeopathic doctors who suggested we juice as a family and stay away from sugar. Jovan started to show improvements, although we didn’t see significant changes. Jovan was still getting sick constantly and still hitting himself.
We later learned that our juices had to be only vegetable-based and not fruit-based since fruits contain sugar. We didn’t know any better what would work best for Jovan and we learned as we went along. But, having Jovan juice changed his palate and he was no longer a picky eater, which was a huge accomplishment for our family. It was such a positive change and would later help us with the ketogenic diet.
The following summer when Jovan turned 7 years old we had had a rough time with his healing process, still. We had chosen to take Jovan to the brain treatment center for MRT treatment and they told us we need to give Jovan sugar so he would have energy for the brain. We were told that course of treatment was helping kids with autism. We saw some improvements in his sleeping pattern and some days he seemed to have better eye contact. Through the course of this treatment over the next few months Jovan gained 30 pounds, which we were told was normal. He also got sick various times with high fevers, which led to a regression due to the antibiotics we had to give him. Again we found ourselves back at a depressing beginning, worried Jovan’s progress was demolished.
As time passed we found another doctor named Dr. Shawn Centers. He educated us about GAPS Diet, which focuses on removing foods that are difficult to digest and damaging to the gut flora.
We had Jovan tested for toxins and candida and we again started to see positive changes, but I had no idea what candida was and how it imbalances the gut.
My husband and I researched the gut. We asked Dr. Shawn Centers about good researchers at the AutismOne conference 2016. We viewed educational videos and found amazing and interesting scientific information. It started making sense to us! We wanted to learn more. We were very fortunate to be able to meet doctors and have them share with us their decades-long research experience that we hoped could help Jovan.
Under the supervision of our doctors, we started Jovan on Bravo. Right away, Jovan began to sleep all night and started losing weight. As time passed we saw that Jovan had a substantial amount of die-off from the Bravo since it was a strong probiotic. We later found out Jovan was highly intoxicated with metals, so we did a microbiome test on him that showed his gut was in really bad shape still due to the toxins not being excreted. Doctors helped us supervise Jovan’s protocol, which included the ketogenic diet, Bravo and supplements.
Finally, we felt all our time and research for Jovan was coming together. We started seeing significant changes in Jovan, and our son’s personality began to emerge.
At that time Jovan was enrolled in Dr. Suzanne Gohs’s clinic for ABA services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. I was told I would see significant changes in homeschooling and with his therapist. And we did! Jovan’s changes started quickly once we had his diet just right and tested his sugars levels and keton levels constantly. But it took time to get to that point.
Even now, we still struggle to get it right. We knew that if we continued to try to help heal our son and persevered through the challenges that we would conquer Jovan’s challenges and find solutions for him as we went along.
Our son is on the road to recovery. Educating ourselves was our biggest task. Changing our eating habits as a family was a monumental change that we needed to do for our son, and for us too. Every little change Jovan makes is huge difference in our lives. Jovan can cooperate and learn when he feels well. This has been our biggest struggle. People want cures but it is not magic and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Bravo and the ketogenic diet work together to help heal the gut and we are true believers that this has greatly helped our son. Jovan started the protocol in June 2016 and his self-injury has gone down 75% since we began the protocol for him. He can now fulfill long table times with the ABA therapist for longer periods of time.
We were not able to teach Jovan how to write due to his motor skills, however, he has successfully learned how to read and type. He now types at the clinic and is able to choose what he would like to read by communicating with his ABA therapist via typing. They are actually helping us communicate with him. Since Jovan started feeling better he started to function and learn. It starts with the gut. Lately Jovan has maintained a strong core, sleeps from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am every night without waking up, plays outside and catches a ball and has better motor skills, and he is very active. He goes to the clinic every day for four hours and then comes home to have ABA therapy for three hours in the evenings. He is able to stay focused and happy. He is repeating words with his speech therapist and trying to say words without getting upset.
The greatest victory is that Jovan does not pound his head as he previously did, his self-injuries have gone down and he no longer makes holes in the wall with his head.
We know we still have a lot of work ahead of us. We see Jovan changing and growing, which builds hope. We know one day he will be healthy as long we maintain his diet and we continue to be persistent.
Dr. Reinwald’s supplements have had a huge impact on detoxifying Jovan, which was one of the most important parts of Jovan's continued recovery. If it weren’t for the Bravo, our son would not have had the chance to progress and heal his gut.
Dr. Beillin has also played a huge role in helping target all of the areas that Jovan needed resolved.
ABA and therapy have helped Jovan start learning and catching up. The past month Jovan has been typing much more and now the therapists are showing my husband how to communicate with Jovan.
Please know that for nine years, we have not been able to communicate with Jovan as he is non-verbal and he only follows directions and uses his iPad for pictures.
One day about four weeks ago, when they were done typing, Jovan’s therapist asked how Jovan felt about communicating with his dad. Jovan, for the first time ever, was able to tell us how he felt and he said, “Today is the best day and I want to remember it forever.” That made my husband and I break down and cry. For the first time we were able to communicate with our son. We can finally start getting to know him for the first time in nine years.
After persistently and strictly following the protocol and the diet, we cannot begin to imagine how Jovan’s progress might grow in the next year since we saw such huge improvements over the past couple of months. Again, with persistence and faith we will continue to the road of recovery.