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Andrew2Andrew1

Andrew Festa

Andrew’s Story

Andrew was the sunshine of his parents’ life from the day he was born. He met all developmental milestones early or on time. His path to autism was a little unusual with very subtle signs present as he approached his first birthday. He did begin having severe gastrointestinal issues at that time, but they were dismissed by doctors. At age two he began to receive speech and occupational therapies, but no one mentioned autism. He always seemed too social to have autism in his parents’ minds, although they failed to realize that social deficits were there all along. At two and a half, strong symptoms of autism emerged—self-stimulatory behavior and repetitive speech. Andrew’s mom Kristen, a registered nurse, suspected autism and felt he met the criteria at that time. A week before his third birthday his diagnosis was confirmed, and his parents plunged head first into fighting to get Andrew what he needed. Andrew’s Dad Brian focused on getting Andrew appropriate services in school, which turned out to be the family’s biggest battle—one that they are still fighting 2 years later. Kristen, who also has a degree in molecular biology, spent every free moment researching and learning about the medical aspects of autism. Her motto became to leave no stone unturned. Some very simple interventions brought Andrew remarkable gains. When gluten and dairy was removed from Andrew’s diet, he had a “speech explosion” (per his speech-language pathologist) and Kristen and Brian knew that if they addressed his medical issues, they could improve his functioning and quality of life. Through the grace of God they learned of the research being done by Dr. Richard Frye, a pediatric neurologist at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, regarding mitochondrial dysfunction in autism and autoimmune issues with folate transport into the brain. Testing confirmed that Andrew had the same issues described by Dr. Frye, and with the help of wonderful local physicians Andrew has improved considerably with treatments recommended by Dr. Frye in his papers. The family has come a long way, but Andrew is still significantly impacted by autism. Kristen and Brian want to take Andrew to be personally evaluated by Dr. Frye and to get his opinion on what further steps they should take to improve his mitochondrial function and autoimmune issues. Unfortunately, getting a special needs child to Arkansas from Connecticut is no easy feat, nor is it affordable. Andrew’s parents feel so blessed to have learned about Ady’s Army, and that they are willing to help them with the cost of plane tickets and a hotel room so that Andrew can see Dr. Frye this coming January. Autism takes a tremendous toll on families—mentally, physically and financially—and Andrew’s family is incredibly grateful for any help they receive to leave no stone unturned in Andrew’s recovery.

 

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Started On: 06/06/2016
Finished On: 09/13/2016
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