Joey Higgason

“Life is like an onion.  You peel away the layers and sometimes you weep.”  Carl Sandburg.

Both of my children were bubbly as babies.  In fact, we nicknamed our Joey, “Joey Tribiani” after the flirtatious character on the TV sitcom, Friends. He would look at you and smile as if to say Joey Tribiani’s famous line, “How you doin’?”  He developed normally, achieving milestones until his 18 month vaccinations.  With these he ran a high fever and was hospitalized on IV antibiotics.  We would later learn that our son had a severe immune deficiency that likely contributed to his decline.


Our little boy was gone.  We refer to the next year in our home as the “dark ages” as we achingly watched the bright flame of love, desire, and personality dim in our little Joey.  He went from calling me in the mornings to get him out of his crib, to completely silent and huddling in the corner of the crib when we would go in to get him out.

Finding Dr. Amy’s protocol was nothing short of a miracle for us.  I admit that I was overwhelmed at first.  It took me six months to be able to say “Nutrigenomics” correctly!  Dr. Amy’s phrase, “It is a marathon, not a sprint,” couldn’t be more true.  We were in Step One of the protocol almost seven months before moving on.  The amazing thing about this is that I did not have to understand “everything” when we started.  I only had to focus on each new step.

The nutrigenomics and biochemical tests served as our guide for unpeeling the layers of damage and they still serve this role today.  Peeling away the layers of virus, heavy metals, bacteria that accumulated to result in our son’s state of neurological inflammation is a process, not a quick fix.  Our gains have been slow and steady. We’ve had lots of ups and downs, twists and turns and I am sure we will have many more.

A year into the protocol our son was on his way back to us.  He started attending a typical preschool with an aide, verbally expressing his wants and needs, sleeping in a big boy bed, and potty training.  Gone were the days of the little boy who would scream violently if I did not drive the car in a straight line.

Today was the absolute icing on the cake. A year ago, if one of us his socks came off in bed, he would scream violently until we put it back on. He would never walk on grass, even with shoes on, until last summer. Today he took his own socks and shoes off to let the teachers paint his feet for a Father’s Day gift. Not only did he not cry, he did it voluntarily and was used as an example for the children who were scared to do it.

Joey has recently begun attending his “typical” preschool independently. In a meeting, Joey’s teacher reported that, “Joey is a very engaging boy.  He is quick to smile.  He has been observed to identify the emotions “happy, sad, surprised and angry,” when presented with photos or pictures of people.  Joey uses feeling words when prompted.  He has demonstrated empathy towards a peer during class.  He asked, “What happened?” as he handed a crying peer a tissue.  Joey demonstrates curiosity, asking many questions in class.  He demonstrates a sense of humor and looks to see if others share his understanding of the situation.”

I never dreamed that we would get to where we are and so, for me, this is a “recovery,” even though we still have the diagnosis. Joey evolves daily and I am constantly overjoyed by his progress. We can live our lives now as a family. I never thought I would see it this way and, if I could have a “do over” I still would not choose autism, but if we had to have autism, I see the meaning and the value in the path we have taken.

I am grateful to Dr. Amy, Erin, Joey’s therapists and teachers, and our family and friends. We have all worked tirelessly as a team to bring Joey where he is today. He is having a wonderful life. He is happy, playful and articulate. These are the moments I thought I would only live in dreams.

Hold on to your dreams…healing is possible.

Sam, Melissa, Emma, and Joey Higgason

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