I would say up until he was 18 months, Hunter was normal at one point. He was a happy, silly, and active little boy, who's full of life.
Before he was 18 months, we had a lot of connections. When I smile at him, he would smile back. I would ask him questions, and he would answer them. I would say, "If your handsome raise your hands!" He would jump up and raise both hands. I would say, "Hip Hip!" and he would say, "hooray!" Hunter would run to me and give me hugs and kisses and would even say ''I love you."
He knew all of the nursery rhymes and we would sing together. He knew his ABC's and 123's, his colors, shapes, and he knew all the parts of his body. He ran, jumped, and skipped. He played and even laughed to some jokes.
He knew all of the facial expressions: happy, sad, mad, surprised, and so on. He knew how to point, wave, and blow flying kisses. If you asked him how old he was, he would point out his index finger and say "one!"
All of the sudden I was noticing some tremendous changes. Little by little everything he was able to do, all off his unbeliveable skills were disappearing. The sounds I was used to hearing died down. The volunteer hugs and kisses just suddenly stopped.
I suddenly didn't hear anymore of the laughing, giggling, and the word "more". I must tell you Hunter used the word "more" about 100 times a day. More of this, more of that, more m&ms, more tickling, and etc. All of that just disappeard with sudden silent.
I remember specifically one morning, we were in the playroom. For the first time I saw him put a doll in the microwave. That moment I just thought he was just being silly. Afterwards, he grabbed a car and placed it on his head. I said to him, "We are having a silly day aren't we?" He did not respond. Normally when he would hear the word "silly," he would giggle. None of that happened. Then I said it again, and again, and again. I did not get a resonse what so ever. Then I thought he didn't hear me so I went closer to him. Normally when I get too close to his face, he would touch my face with both hands and would give me eye contact. I waited but it didn't happen. Then I thought he was just maybe not having a good day.
The next day at breakfast, the abnormal things were repeating. Normally when I put the food in front of him, he would just start eating right away and sometimes even count his food. It didn't happen. Instead he just sat there with his head down. I had to prompt him to eat, which I never had to do.
At lunch time, it was even worse. He was not using his fork. When I asked him to use it, he didn't know how to. I was confused! For the first time he was throwing food all over the floor. That moment I became frustrated and yelled at him. When I yell, he would normally look at me with a pouty face and tears would run down his cheeks, then would become emotional. I was waiting for that, needless to say it didn't happen. He showed no feelings.
That afternnon at playtime, I decided to just observe him, and boy what an observation that was. He was lining things up: cars, blocks, playfood, etc. I then saw him smelling just about everything he got ahold of. He also started putting things in his mouth. I thought to myself that everything he was doing was very odd. These are things I never saw him do.
All throughout that week, I was discovering the odd things Hunter would do. At one point I saw him staring at the fan, so I was thinking he enjoys movement. He covered his ears from loud noises. I also saw him turning the lights on and off so I figured he likes repeated things. That week I also saw an obsession on him. He carried a box of tissues. He would take out the tissue, smell it, and put it back in the box. He would repeat it over and over again.
The most bothersome of all that was truly hard to handle and most difficult to deal with was the tantrums. At this point I told myself I was done observing because I saw it all. After seeing all the tantrums and other changes, I finally came to a realization that there is something wrong and something to be conerned about. I realized this is not about being funny, silly, or cute anymore. This is extremely serious!
That night after everyone went to to bed, I sat in the family room alone thinking of the issues. I had millions of questions shuffled in my brain. As always I asked God for some signs on what to do. Surprisingly I saw the lap top on top of the coffee table. I grabbed it and started to google, hoping and praying for some answers.
I was most concerned of the tantrums so I looked it up first. Somewhere along the paragraphs the word autism popped up. Next I looked up obsessions, again the word autism popped up. I continued to look up all of the issues Hunter was having. Needless to say there's that popular word "autism" that keeps showing up. So then I had no choice but to define autism.
I was anxious to know what it really meant. After learning the definition I froze! Knowing that my son is not normal and possibly going through a life changing process, it gave me goose bumps and my body went into shock. I was sick to my stomach and I felt as if I was electricuted-- The worst feeling ever!
After that I turned off the computer and just sat there staring at the wall and whispered to myself.. "Hunter has autism." It was 3:30am. I wanted to tell my husband so badly about what I had discovered. I went into our bedroom and tried to wake him up. He woke up, looked at me and asked "What's wrong?" I said "I figured out what's wrong, Hunter has autism!" He replied, "Okay, we'll take him to his allergist tomorrow," and went back to sleep.
I looked at him and said to myself, "Seriously?!" I knew I wasn't going to get anything from him so then I left the bedroom and went in the family room. At that point I just kept telling myself how I couldn't believe I diagnosed my son with autism.
Right there and then it suddenly hit me! I felt sad and all I could do is cry. I was thinking back to the moment when I was yelling at my son and losing my patience on him and even thinking he was weird, not realizing everything he was doing was beyond his control. That moment I went into his bedroom and just watched him sleeping peacfully, thinking to myself, "My poor little guy." he was struggling and I had no idea. I then laid next to him and whispered in his ear, "I am so sorry baby for yelling at you and for thinking you're weird, I didn't know, I promise daddy and I will get you some help." And we did just that.
From that day on we did nothing but tackle. We tackled the readings, reasearch, and watched YouTube videos of kids with autism, and talked to people with the same issues like us. Along the way, I came across a program called "Early Steps." What an amazing program! Early steps helped us go through what we realized would be a life long journey. They gave Hunter an early intervention, providing him speech, occupational, social, and behavioral therapies. They introduced us to various organizations and support groups to help us stay strong, educated, focus , and to not give up.
God answers everyone's prayers. When I was pregnant I asked him for the complete package. I was even specific! I said I wanted for Hunter to have 10 fingers, 10 toes, 2 legs, 2 arms, a complete face, a great immune system, and a perfect heart. He granted our wishes! He gave everything I asked for to Hunter and we were grateful! Only if I knew what autism was back then, I would have not left out "brain!"
Hunter was 3 years old when he was medically diagnosed with autism. On top of autism, Hunter was also diagnosed with language delay, sensory intergartion, and ADHD. (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
Hunter is now 7 years old and attends a special needs program at Cypress Springs Elementary school. The teacher and assistants are phenomenal! To help Hunter advance he also receives speech therapy with Florida Speech outside school. Although the gains from his teachers and therapists are minimal, we truly appreciate the hardwork and the attempts. Hunter is a very smart boy! The reason he doesn't excel and learn like the average child is because he can't stay focused. he certainly have alot of potentials, he just need to get out of his own world and experience our world.
Even though Hunter shows progress each year, he still needs a lot of help in many areas. He is experiencing some extreme challenges everyday. He struggles with daily routine, speech, social behavior, lots of sensory issues, bathroom use, and he lacks understanding on various things. The tics which he developed from the medications bothers him a lot and trigger crying, screaming, and whining. It is heart breaking to watch his episodes and not being able to do anything about it.
Just by looking at Hunter you would not know he has autism. But believe me, it's there! All of it is inside of him. He is trapped in his own world and can't get it out.
We have tried just about everything in therapy treatment for Hunter. We tried speech, occupational therapy, ABA , social skill classes, horseback riding, gluten free diets, watertherapy, vitamin supplements, essential oils, early interventions, carbohydrate diet, psychiatrist/psychologist sessions, and even homepathic remedies. These therapy treatments helped a little bit but nothing that made a noticeable change in Hunter's life.
My husband and I worry about Hunter every single day! We worry about his future. We worry if he will ever be independent, if he will ever speak, if he will ever get married, have family. Most of all, we worry who will care for him if we die.
Hunter deserves to have a normal life with independence. We want to give him the best possible life he can have. As parents we will do what ever it takes. We will go out of our way to achieve even the impossible.
We heard about stem cell treatment for autism. Immediatly we did some research, hoping this could be the answer to our prayers. After researching the possiblities of stem cell treatment and reading about succesful stories that showed improvements, we are so excited for the possibilities. We can't stop but think how this could turn Hunter's life around.
Everything we found out about stem cell treatment is nothing but positive. It is a life changing news. Stem cell treatment will heal the nervouse system, heal immune system, and reverse the effects of autism. The fact that the treatment has 0% rejection and has no side effects, we are not thinking twice. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our son. We truly believe stem cell treatment will heal Hunter's daily struggle and help take away his discomfort in his body. Stem cell treatment gives us a lot of hope and Hunter a chance of a normal life.
Finding out about the stem cell treatment for autism was the most exciting news ever! We heard a lot of successful stories but very few that were not. Everyone's body is different. It may or may not work for Hunter, but it's a chance we are willing to take for our son. all we can do is hope and pray. We do not expect a 100% outcome, but whatever percentage we get from it will be great, it will be an improvement. After the treatment, this is what we hope to see happen for Hunter: We want to know his likes and dislikes, We want him to be able to express himself, have normal playdates, have fun with friends, speak and have conversations, dress and undress himself, brush teeth by himself, take shower by himself, sit in church for one hour, go to gatherings without getting anxious, and be able to sit still to watch TV and go to the movie theater.
Hunter has been accepted to the Stem Cell Insitute in Central America . We chose Panama, as it is the best stem cell treatment center in the world. We will be traveling on July2- July 10th, 2017. The teatment will consisit of IV injections of expanded allogenic mesenchymal stem cells. I'm yet not sure about the exact amount of stem cells Hunter will be receiving daily, but I know it's in the millions.
Our son's one week stem cell treatment will cost $17,500. The airfare is not icluded, which will be an additional $2,500 for all of us. Unfortunately the insurance will not help cover the cost.
Asking people for financial help is the most difficult thing to do. We are not the kind of family that would ask or borrow money from anyone. However, we will do anything possible for our son, Hunter. We are asking for any amount, big or small amount, we will appreciate every cents. Any help we can get will be a blessings to our family.
We would like to thank you in advance for any help you can offer, whether you are contributing money, prayers, or simply sharing Hunter's story, we will appreciate it very much! By doing this, you will be making a huge difference in our son's life. Thank you so, so much from the bottom of our hearts! God bless you!
PTPT, putting the pieces together
is my favorite support group and I feel its the best in Orlando. This is an informal support group for parents of children and adults with special needs. Please check it out, they meet the 2nd Saturday of each month. The meeting consist of informative topics, special guest speakers, workshops and delicious hot brunch, all for free! The members are kind, friendly, and caring, they will make you feel that you are not alone. Come join and meet these amazing people.
Again , Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! Very Much! And please share our son's story to everyone you kmow.
Melinda and Jason Zurey
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