saving my SONS
Fairlady|March 2020
When Ilana and Martin Gerschlowitz’s eldest son was diagnosed with autism, they were told he would never live a normal life. ‘Put him in a home and forget about him,’ one person advised. But Ilana refused to accept that nothing could be done.
MARION SCHER

When David was born in 2002 we were over the moon,’ says Ilana. Like any new parents, Ilana and Martin marvelled at his tiny toes and fingers, checking that all was well with their baby. ‘We couldn’t wait to take him home and start our life together as a family.’

David appeared to be the perfect baby, smiling and cooing, rolling over, sitting up and meeting all his milestones – for the first 10 months. ‘This was when our first round of doctors’ visits started,’ says Ilana, ‘originally with ear, nose and throat specialists who prescribed antibiotics for his recurring ear infections; followed by hospitalisation for diarrhoea and a high fever, which eventually led to an intravenous drip that had him fighting and screaming the entire time.’

Suddenly, from smiles, laughter and playing peek-a-boo, it was as if someone had flipped a switch, and their happy, engaged baby was gone.

It wasn’t until David was 18 months old that the couple started looking for answers. ‘I’ll never forget the first visit to an occupational therapist,’ says Ilana. ‘David ran around her therapy room in circles, refusing to touch any toys and without making eye contact with her. This was the first time we heard the word “autism” uttered, followed by the information that he was too young for her to make a diagnosis and that she wasn’t authorised to make such a pronouncement. Her advice was to come back in a few months’ time.

‘I walked out of there with a heavy heart. If only we’d received a proper diagnosis then, the outcome for David may have been very different. Now we know that if a diagnosis is made early enough, a child may well be able to make a complete recovery.’

SEEKING A DIAGNOSIS

This was the beginning of a long, frustrating journey that saw Ilana going from occupational therapists to psychologists, neurologists, speech therapists and paediatricians. ‘A flight to Bloemfontein to see a top neurologist left me even more frustrated,’ she says. ‘His advice was to put David onto Risperdal [a psychiatric medication] for his hyperactivity. “Push the dose; you can go up to 1mg,” he said.

Even though my gut told me it was wrong, we were ready to try anything – but it didn’t help.’ The doctor commented on David’s continuous bowel movements, but at the time there was little research to support the gut-brain connection that turned out to be a huge factor in the child’s condition, as the couple discovered later. In this field of medicine, knowledge is limited and many children are misdiagnosed.

‘Throughout these visits, everyone was afraid to utter that dreaded word – “autism”. All the while, friends and family were telling us: “He’ll grow out it; it’s a passing phase; my little Johnny didn’t speak/walk until he was…” The worst piece of advice was, “Put him in a home and forget about him.”’

FACING THE TRUTH

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FAIRLADYView All

How to Survive the Feast-Or Famine Cycle

It’s empowering to have more than one income stream, but there is a downside: it’s easy to splurge when money is plentiful, but what about the lean months? Three self-starters share their tips for keeping an even keel through good and bad.

6 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Kaley's Comet

Kaley Cuoco was so beguiling as Penny on The Big Bang Theory that she soon became one of the highest paid actors in television. With HBO’s comedic thriller series The Flight Attendant, she entered exciting, slightly sinister new territory – but it proved her range as an actress and cemented her broad-based appeal.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Let the Music Play

My dad died days before the global lockdown. While I was trapped within four walls, music and dancing gave me reason to smile again.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

How to Make Your Own Luck

Luck isn’t easy to measure or study, but those who have managed to do it discovered it’s not the work of fate – it’s a skill you can cultivate and improve. So, how do you go about it?

8 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Local Flavour

Stocking up your pantry? These artisanal foods are guaranteed to ignite the senses of home chefs everywhere. Meet the foodies behind two of South Africa’s tastiest brands.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

The Comfort of Ritual

Rituals imbue our lives with depth and meaning. And in times of uncertainty, they are even more important because they create a sense of grounding.

8 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Get Your Shine Back!

When the last of the summer heat is over, it’s important to take time to reverse any hair damage caused by sun and sea water.

5 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

The Rise of the Personal Shopper

It’s not a new concept, but the number of people who make a living from sourcing goods on behalf of clients is on the rise. We talked to three personal shoppers to find out what it takes.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Back to the Wild

Imagine camping in the Little Karoo… a billion stars above you, the ancient desert beneath, the insistent flapping of your canvas tent in the cold night air. Then banish all the rustic images this conjures up – because Dwyka Tented Lodge will confound all your expectations.

6 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

A Good (Mo) Hair Day

"Beauty Mokgwamme had other dreams, but circumstances took her exactly where she was meant to be."

3 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022
RELATED STORIES

Putting in a Pergola

This versatile open-air structure can define an outdoor room, provide light shade, and add privacy while enhancing the look of your home. Here's what to consider when adding one

10 mins read
This Old House Magazine
Summer 2022

DEVELOP THE HABIT OF Making Great Decisions

DAAJI challenges us to think about how we make decisions, and shows us how a regular meditation practice can lead us to knowing right from wrong, naturally and easily, by listening to the heart and allowing it to guide our choices.

5 mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
May 2022

DON'T FEAR THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE

"I don't know where we are...both my compasses are out." This was one of the last radio messages that US Navy Lt. Charles C. Taylor ever sent. He had been out on a routine training mission with his students, flying in a group of five planes over the ocean off the Eastern coast of Florida on December 5, 1945. They never returned. No trace of the men or any of their planes was ever found.

4 mins read
Muse Science Magazine for Kids
April 2022

The Oxymoronic Life of ESG ETFs

Passive funds with a do-good focus have become one of the hottest corners of finance

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 09, 2022

Anatomy of a Scandal

The Roush Review

1 min read
TV Guide Magazine
April 25 - May 08, 2022

WHAM BAM THANK YOU, MA'AM!

“WE HAD TWO WEEKS TO MAKE AN ALBUM!” ENGINEER AND PRODUCER KEN SCOTT RECALLS DAVID BOWIE ’S ASCENT FROM ONE-HIT BOY WONDER TO THE NAZZ OF GLAM AND THE ALBUM THAT MADE IT ALL HAPPEN: THE RISE AND FALL OF Z IGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS.

10+ mins read
Guitar Player
June 2022

The Male Gaze

Eye lifts are booming-and men are leading the charge.

2 mins read
Town & Country
May 2022

IT'S ACTUALLY ALL ABOUT ΤΗ Ε '80 s

Stranger Things star Natalia Dyer pays homage to the era that's secretly ruling fashion.

2 mins read
Cosmopolitan
Issue 03, 2022

Working Girls

Grace and Frankie may be ending, but the era of Jane Fonda–Lily Tomlin collaborations is in full swing.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
April 25-May 8, 2022

ELECTRO-HARMONIX BIG MUFF PI

CATEGORY: DISTORTION/FUZZ PEDAL

2 mins read
Guitar World
June 2022