Until the age of two, Emmett was a typical child, maybe even a little bit precocious. He was speaking in 2-3 word sentences, and was an active, good-natured kid. Then, in the space of about six weeks, he stopped talking. He would become fixated on things, like the pattern in the carpet. He was unable to sleep through the night.
“Everything seemed to happen all at once,” said Emmett’s father Randy. Emmett was evaluated by several physicians and autism specialists with an array of tests. The opinions on Emmett’s future varied. “But those who knew Emmett best always gave us a poor prognosis.”
“Autism seemed to just be coming into the national consciousness then, and we tried all the new miracle cures,” Randy said. “We got him into Fraser for the ‘traditional’ autism treatments. We also tried the Lovaas method. We sent him to asthma and allergy specialists, and got rid of our pets and plants. We went gluten-free and casein-free.”
“We stopped short of taking him to Mexico to have him swim with the dolphins,” Randy said. Randy and his wife Valerie hoped that Emmett would be able to care for himself and go to school with some help. But as Emmett got older, his behaviors were making life increasingly difficult, even dangerous. “He had broken a window and cut himself. He also raced to jump into water whenever he saw it,” Randy said.
Valerie added that “Emmett was not safe alone, so either Randy or I had to stay up all night with him, every night. We both had full-time jobs and two other children, and couldn’t continue much longer with our current arrangements.”
Finding housing options for children Emmett’s age wasn’t easy, but a spot opened in a Fraser home. Now an adult, Emmett lives at Fraser 10th Avenue House and enjoys going to school and being active.
“They provide the structure and help that he needs,” Valerie said. “He can dress himself, hang up his coat and backpack, take his plates to the kitchen after dinner…all the things we didn’t know he would ever be able to do.”
“The transition was awful, but almost from the beginning, he saw the new house as home.” Randy said. “The staff at Fraser have been very caring, and Emmett clearly adores them. When he’s at our house and gets tired, he wants to go home to 10th Avenue.”
“I feel grateful every day that we were able to find Fraser for Emmett,” Valerie said.