Wednesday, May 25, 2016

HardeRayne's Autism One Debut

Left to Right: Craig Smith, Terra Smith, Mia is on the cover, and Al Hardy at Autism One, 2016
To mark Terra's birthday, her Young Living anniversary, and Autism One, Hope Comes in Pieces paperback is on sale for $15.00. This is a great book for couples whose kids are newly diagnosed with autism,

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Choice Versus No Choice

Mia Smith, age 6, was born into a physical world that causes her pain and hinders her behavioral and cognitive development.  She was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder before her 2nd  birthday.  Some of the initial healthcare Mia received made matters worse though it was seen as therapeutic at the time. 
Mia’s mother, Terra Smith, Puzzle Master and Chief Recovery Officer, works with doctors, therapists, and insurance companies to piece together all the care required for Mia’s recovery.  The tab, thus far, is over $5M dollars.  Mia’s father, Craig Smith, puts in the work hours to make sure the family has a home, food, and clothes.  Terra's Essential Oils business is starting to grow into a consistent income.
One of the primary puzzle pieces Terra deals with is vaccinations.  Forces of “choice versus no choice” amass on opposite sides of this issue, each attracting advocates who fire policy opinions at the other.  Terra discovers that posting an online comment seeking or offering
Hope Comes in Pieces
help elicits a stream of insults and accusations that she doesn’t care about Mia or children like her.  The Smith family gets ten to twenty emails per year, letters from the state, as well as inquiries from insurance companies about Mia’s lack of immunizations. 

Since I co-authored a book on this subject with Terra Smith entitled “Hope Comes In Pieces”, some may see this article as promoting my own business interests.  As long as there is an understanding of how that business interest developed, it’s a fair criticism. 

To my knowledge, none of my three children were adversely affected by immunizations.  My wife and I kept to the requirements and recommendations with few exceptions.  Becoming part of the writing process for Terra’s book gave me another perspective on the immunization issue.  It took one conversation with Terra to understand that Mia’s vaccine story really pivots on two questions– should Mia have been vaccinated after she was born sick? Should her vaccination regimen of twenty-four shots before age two have continued, though she had several infections with fevers? All of this was done under that care of physicians and specialists.

Helping Terra insert those two questions into the contemporary controversy surrounding vaccines and autism may influence this conversation.  That’s how my “business” interest came about– to help a family tell their story because it may prompt a pause in a loud and polarizing argument. I also wanted to partner with them to find other entrepreneurial ways to pay for Mia’s care.

 Guidance from the Center For Disease Control (CDC) points to various “contraindications and precautions” in which vaccines may present a risk if administered.  It even advises parents to consider not giving an inoculation under certain circumstances.  Mia was born Oct 2009 after a difficult pregnancy.  Craig and Terra barely had time for a photo with her before she was placed into special care.  Mia was officially sick at birth. She had jaundice, low oxygen levels of mid-80 percent, and displayed her first allergy after receiving formula.  She received Hepatitis B, treatments, and antibiotics during that twelve-day hospital stay. 

Mia continued to be sick. She suffered from recurring fevers and rashes, nine cases of pneumonia, viral infections, allergic reactions to apple juice, antibiotics, and acid reflux medication.  Her cognitive and behavioral development regressed.  Yet, her vaccinations continued to be administered as recommended.  From the time she was born in 2009 to October 2011, Mia received at least twenty-four immunizations all during a time in which she was sick,with fevers, and under the care of Neo-natal Intensive Care physicians or a pediatrician. 

In contrast, my daughter received twenty-one immunizations over eleven years.  Even after 24 years of military service including a career in healthcare, six doses of the Anthrax vaccines, and other additional vaccines necessary for deployments, I received only ten more immunizations than Mia.

No doubt, some readers may assert that this article still doesn’t support even an anecdotal connection between vaccines and autism.  Okay, but that’s not really the point.  In my opinion, the current path of that argument may not be helpful because it seems to detract from these questions.  Should Mia have been vaccinated initially? Should her vaccination regimen of 24 shots before age two have continued?  To state it differently, does this particular child need to be vaccinated with this vaccine at this particular moment?  Is there a manner of testing a particular child or do we just commit the child to a morbidity risk table and call it good?  Actually, these are the recurring conversations Terra and I had when determining how to develop the chapters that describe Mia’s vaccine story.   

Terra thanks and credits God as responsible for helping Mia progress from an ill child who did not speak or walk, who fell into tantrums for hours, who had problems switching a block from her right hand to her left hand, who broke-out in rashes of which could never be resolved, who suffered nine bouts of pneumonia, who didn’t respond to her name, and rarely went outside. 

Mia still works her way through many challenges but she is much better today. Terra continues to advocate for special needs children and their parents.  She guides them toward resources for grants and biomedical testing which helps parent understand conditions that may be present alongside autism. Her best advice to moms– “Trust your mother’s intuition.  Find a pediatrician who gives weight to your concerns and observations.”  

Thanks to John Newton at La Voz Latina for originally publishing this article in a manner that  let me retain all rights.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Early Intervention, A Blessing for Your Child: Dialogue with Leah Seyoum-Tesfa, RN -Founder and President, REACH Families

“When it comes to autism and other disabilities, parents can have a hard time overcoming a sense of self-shame and social stigma.  This greatly hinders parents in finding proper treatment for their children.”  Leah Seyoum-Tesfa is a Registered Nurse and Founder of REACH Families of Dallas Texas.  REACH Families supports about 80 families throughout the U.S. with autism education and guidance in English, Amharic, and Tigrinya.  The non-profit organization helps parents connect to resources, provides parent education on various topics related to raising children with special needs and empowers parents by teaching advocacy skills. Also, the organization works with the East African communities to bring autism awareness to ensure early identification and intervention for children with developmental disability. Leah’s twin boys were diagnosed with autism just before they turned 3. They will celebrate their 18th birthday in 2016.

 Leah is of Eritrean heritage but grew up in Ethiopia.  Her family emigrated from their original nation of citizenship, Ethiopia, to Rome Italy in 1980 because of Ethiopia’s conflicts, famine, and military coups.  Leah’s family finally settled in Dallas, Texas, United States when she was sixteen years old. 

Private school in Ethiopia had provided Leah with a reference point to build English skills though she was far from proficient.  After graduating from Skyline High School, she attended Texas Women’s University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Nursing Degree.  Additionally, she:
  • had completed a certification program and worked as a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner, Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • holds a certificate for Leadership Education in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

She met and married neurologist, Ganana Tesfa, MD while working at Parkland Memorial Hospital.  Parkland is best known for treating President John F. Kennedy after he was shot by a sniper.

“Even as a healthcare provider, I did not have adequate information on how to care and support my boys when they were diagnosed with autism. I struggled to find resources and appropriate support outside of the school system.  Reach Families came from this desire to provide help that really wasn’t available for me.”

Several things motivated her into getting Reach Families up and running.  This was especially so for the horrible incident in which a parent took the life of their special needs child.  Leah believes that many parents show signs of clearly being mentally overwhelmed when initially given the diagnosis of autism. Caring for a child with autism can also be physically overwhelming  “I felt that lack of support for a mother to help her understand, cope with, and manage her child’s conditions may have been contributing factors in this case. In the immigrant populations, there may have been the additional weight of stigma, guilt or sense of being punished because her child may have been born with or had developed a disability.  Social pressure can reinforce a sense of harsh self-judgement as well.

“Over time, I found out that cases of autism are both under reported and under treated in the East African immigrant communities.  My perception is that parents tend to isolate themselves because of a stigma they may perceive with having a child with a disability.  So, I started going out to churches to break through those perceptions.  I encouraged families to seek help and talk about the needs of their children.  The organization continues to assist families by accompanying them to schools and social agencies to access resources and support needed for themselves as well as their children.  Our message was and still is, Come to us, we can help.  We do not see a stigma or punishment; we see a precious child and family in need.

“The organization  advocates for early intervention as well.  Educate yourself on the developmental milestones and monitor your child’s development.  If you see your child is not meeting the developmental milestones or if your mother’s intuition tells you something is wrong tell your child’s health care provider. Saying something isn’t wishing bad things on your child.  Early intervention is very important in possibly rewiring the brain, changing the developmental trajectory and improving the outcome for your child. I encourage families to continue pray to God if that is what they wish to do.  I strongly believe in prayers and that God uses people to answer our prayers. Early intervention might be the answer to your prayers and a blessing to your child. Get services as soon as possible.”

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Southern Scene in Savannah

Southern Scene, a regional TV Show in Savannah, GA, has offered and interview based a submission Terra and I submitted back in early October.

Here is a portion of the letter:
Hope Comes in Pieces is a great example of how business relationships have shifted over the years and how they will occur in the future.
  • Terra Smith and I worked on the project for a year, only meeting in person last week for the first time
  • She was referred to me by a previous client, whom I have never met either
A celebrity endorsement, a strong central figure with an emerging and captivating story, a local tie-in with op-eds in regional and Spanish language papers, the future of business relationships - this sounds like a great story.  I would love to speak with you about it.

Persistence, respect for a producer's time demands, and patience were factors in landing the interview. We had some very helpful local advocates as well.

We are working on an interview for Terra with one of the Indiana Stations.  Look for other announcements as the new company stands up in 2016.

Al Hardy
President, HardeRayne 
Media Content, Healthy Living, Advocacy

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Join the Autism Telesummit - We kick off on January 15th!


I’m so excited to extend an invitation to you for the FREE Autism Recovery Telesummit.

Event: Autism Recovery Telesummit:

Why Listen-In on the Telesummit?
  1.  Top Global Autism Experts Offer Recovery Strategies
  2. Top Autism Recovery Experts Give Strategies To Improve Communication With and
    Health For Your Autistic Child
Telesummit Focus:
★ How your child can speak, comprehend, communicate more
★ Change tantrums, screaming and self-stimulation into sweetness and smiles
★ Create positive changes in the brain
★ Discover why diet is so important and hear diet choices that work
★ Make eye contact and say, “I love you, Mama”
★ Get lifelong support for your child and family
★ Hear RECOVERY STRATEGIES THAT WORK from everyday moms
★ And so much more!
We kick off on January 15th!
My colleague, Luminara Serdar is hosting this incredible event.  She is deeply passionate about returning health and a more typical lifestyle to your child, with the hope that they are one day off the autism spectrum.


Terra Smith

P.S. Know anyone who needs support with their child with autism? Please forward this invitation to friends, family, teachers and therapists today!