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Li'l David's Autism Page

"David's story"

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This page is a constant work in progress. I update it each time A new fact or incident affecting David or our life with autism occurs. It is very long, as it is a journal of our experiences with our son and our fight to help him succeed.

This is David. He is 6  years old and is autistic.

Click photo above to go to the Li'l David picture page.
Edited with love on 04/09/2003

If you are just looking for links to autism resources click here


Is the most serious health problem facing mankind today.

You wonder, how can he say that? Well, think of this.

Thousands and thousands of mute, withdrawn, self injurious, sometimes violent children, with no fear of danger, no concept of right or wrong, no morals, no pity, no shame no way to communicate their needs other than acts of frustration and aggression. Each family irreversibly altered and hobbled by the constant stress and emotional and financial hardship.

We are talking many millions of  lives destroyed by this silent thief of children

Each of these children require full time care and supervision, specialized, very expensive school programs, a student/pupil ratio of 1:1 or 2:1. At an annual cost of about 125,000.00 per child.

This is just to teach them to communicate their basic needs.use the toilet appropriately and not undress or masturbate in public. This does not take into account the lost productivity due to absence and health problems brought on by the stress on the families of these children.

I believe that the recent epidemic in autism is due to an elevated instance of mercury and other heavy metal toxins that are introduced to every American child by government decree In the vaccines every child is required to take.

If you happen to be poor, and require public assistance, you get NOTHING until you fill your child up with these so-called vaccines. While our children are pounding their heads on the floor and screaming without cause or end, people who own the companies who make these "medicines" prosper and watch their stock options grow.

One well known American pharmaceutical company somehow managed to get on the board of the new "homeland surveillance" oops, sorry meant "security" office.

Strangely enough the homeland security bill has a clause in it limiting this companies liability from litigation should it be proven that "thimerisol" the mercury based preservative they have manufactured for 50 years, is shown to be the culprit in the recent rise in autism.

I am An American. I love my country. I am very, very afraid of my government right now.

This end run around our rights is something that needs to be shouted at the top of every hill, to every ear that will listen. How much longer til we all have a chip in our heads, tracking our every move, and thought, and deed? It looks like Big Brother is here. Just 20 years late.

I usually save this sort of rhetoric for my soapbox, but this is important enough to be made a permanent part of this page.


Thanks to the efforts of informed Americans, like Rep Dan Burton, This sneaky assault on our rights was discovered and undone!

We can by no means rest easy, as new legislation with the same goal in mind is before congress as I type this.


Contrary to popular belief, autism is not retardation or mental illness.
It is a developmental disorder that affects speech,
learning and social skills. The majority of autistics tend to be
physically perfect with no deformities.

...In other words, you can't tell by looking.

It is still largely misunderstood and often misdiagnosed.

For an overview of autism click here


My soapbox

"Put a Helmet on the retard, and sit him in the corner"

Here it is, April! Spring is in the air, the trees are turning green, and evil lives in the hearts of school administrators!

Oh man, where to has been a long time since my last update, I have been very ill, with a series of flus, and a bizarre spider bite that nearly cost me my right leg! It swelled to twice it's normal size, and was very frightening.

Well.....Lets start with David. In good news, We got him a 14 foot trampoline, and he is in love with it. It has been a godsend.

His 7th birthday is in a week. I was really hoping to have him out of diapers by now. Oh well, I'll keep trying.

In bad news, David had a two week period of elevated head-banging, that led to a situation I will discuss in this edition of the soapbox. Also, the fucked up evil school agency we deal with here, took us to due process, and unwisely, we agreed to let them do assessments. They hired some supposed psychologist, (not a doctor, a "psychologist!") who determinined that David is retarded. Wow. big surprise.

Seeing as how at the November meeting the (CENSORED!!!) rep from David's district stated in an I.E.P. that he was retarded.

I find it strange, that two PHd"s from a major university, another PHD from the regional center, not to mention every other doctor David has ever seen, has never mentioned his apparent retardation.

Well, since the school had what they felt they needed, this fabricated diagnosis of mental retardation, The mental midget society of this county (AKA the I.E.P. team) got together and wasted a bunch of paper and time writing a program they know we would never in a million years consider agreeing to.

Here we are, at war, unemployment up, people going hungry, and these morons are wasting mine and your tax dollars on this crap.

I realize the tone of this rant is harsh, even for me, but I am angered beyond description. This is a very bad way to have me for the parties involved. I have an exaggerated sense of justice, and I feel compelled to strike back by whatever legal means at my disposal.

If I were them, I would be afraid. VERY AFRAID. I will not rest til I have your money and your jobs. The next time you deal with a child, it will be asking his parents if they would like fries with their order.

I am especially disappointed in David's classroom teacher, as he managed to fool David's mother and myself that he was different, and had David's best interests at heart. Turns out, he is just another cog in the machine that exists only to shove these kids through the system, at the least possible cost. Frankly I thought you were different. I hate being wrong. I fear for your mortal soul.

Anyway......These shining examples of good education administration  want to stick a helmet on David! even though the headbanging has quieted down, they are insisting on it.

Mind you, this coincides with the new "retarded" I.E.P. they wrote, that takes away 86% of David's behaviour services.


Eighty six percent!!!!! and the request for the helmet is written in such a way, that they could stick a helmet on him in the morning, and leave it there til he comes home. In the words of the church lady.."Well..Isn't that SPECIAL!"

Ah, but wait! it gets better....turns out the (censored) that runs David's program, has a henpecked hubbie who works for the law firm that represents the district! Well, she used this clout to instigate an action in the local superiour court, to try to force us to put the helmet on him after we flatly refused it. This is a huge conflict of interest, and I plan on exposing it to everyone and anyone who will listen. In addition, this so-called lawyer, was very rude and combative with me on the phone, and was trying to provoke me for some reason. While I am a large burly sort of guy, quite capable of doing frightful amounts of physical damage to someone if I choose too, I have always let my mouth do my fighting, and would never resort to violence or illegal acts if angered.

Isn't it funny, that the head of David's program, would do this dirty thing, and when she had to be exposed to my wrath in person, called a security guard? I think she knows how wrong what she is doing is. I don't know what her problem is. Maybe mommy didn't love her enough, who knows, who cares. Get over it. I am gonna try to help you see the error of you ways, count on it.

So, after this call, I contacted the   (censored) and gave her an earful. I guess I scared her or something, cause they had a security guard at the meeting the next day! BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! That just slew me. These people are really pathetic. They also had the bald-headed special ed guy, (who near as I can tell, shaves his head to hide some really nasty male pattern baldness. I guess he has never heard of Rogaine.) in attendance, as an "advocate" for David Or more likely to intimidate me. What was he going to advocate? euthanasia? I must say, making him leave the meeting was very satisfying. he who laughs last, laughs best.

The meeting was a fiasco, needless to say. At one point, while making my point, with a rap on the table, the entire I.E.P. team stood up, and left, saying they would return when I was calmed down. I got the whole thing on tape. The judge will love it.

So, to bring this sad tale to a close, We blew them outa the water monday due to sloppy research on their part, and have to return to court next week, so we can finish them off. We did not sign their joke of an I.E.P. and David is not wearing their silly helmet. I have a question....How did you get his head size? I never authorized it.

Well,  MY lawyer is going to get real busy. Keep the word "Gesper" in mind.

You might want to look that up. I certainly have.

Dave's pissed. That is a real bad thing.

More ranting and raving later.

Thanks for coming.

Sincerely, David Richards.

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David's Story:

David was born April 18, 1996 at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, CA.

It was an average delivery.  David was a normal baby except that he did not react well to regular formula, and as an infant he would often become very stiff when he was held.

His speech and motor development seemed normal and even a little above average.  He held his head up within just a few days of his birth and rolled himself over long before most infants.  By 10 months he was walking well, and he had a 10-word/sound vocabulary by 14 months. He would perform simple tasks if asked , such as putting his diaper in the trash.

At about 15 months, David began to withdraw. He ceased to respond to his name, his speech disappeared entirely, and he began to display bizarre behaviors such as head banging.  As this got worse, we finally took our concerns to his doctor.

I personally believe that his condition may have been caused by immunizations.  The preservative "thimerasol" was used in the mmr vaccine, Thimerasol has mercury in it. Mercury poisoning and autism are symptomatically identical.

Merck Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of the mmr vaccine, has since discontinued use of thimerasol as a preservative. however, they went ahead and used up millions of units containing it after stopping it's addition to new batches. I believe they did this to avoid the appearance of liability or admission of wrong-doing.

He was given an immunization for Hepatitis B when he was just five days old. 

Just before he turned 2, David's doctor diagnosed him as clinically deaf and referred him for a hearing test.  We could yell out his name or bang pots and pans together behind him and he would not react, yet when we started one of his videos when he was out of the room, he would come running.  The hearing test confirmed that David could indeed hear.

As David turned 2, we knew he was not deaf, but he no longer had any speech.  At that point, we contacted Tri-Counties Regional Center, a State agency which provides services for the developmentally disabled.  Since there had been the initial diagnosis of deafness, the school district was brought in as well, whose assessment placed David at 9-10 months old developmentally. Regional Center doctors would only diagnose him as "developmentally disabled" and asked to see him again before he turned 3. 

Although the so-called "experts" would not commit to this diagnosis, his mother and I knew by that time that David was autistic.

David was accepted as a client by the Tri-Counties Regional Center and assigned to a fantastic caseworker, Karin, who put us in contact with an excellent occupational therapy clinic and a wonderful speech pathologist.  Between the ages of 2 and 3 years, David received 2.5 hours of speech and 1 hour of occupational therapy each week at no cost to us as part of the Early Intervention Program. Fortunately, children entering the Early Intervention Program today receive a much more intensive program (20 hours per week of behavioral services, speech, OT., etc.). As David received his earliest services, we were provided with resources that we never knew existed.

The local Autism Society was helpful as well.

We read and researched the disorder and found that it was not as hopeless as it initially seemed. We tried out treatments that had been successful for other autistic children, but with no success for David. With the megavitamin therapy, David would say a word here and there, but it made his diarrhea significantly worse.

We have hope that in time David will get better.  If not, that is fine.

Autistic can often live productive lives if we accept their differences without forcing them into a "normal" society that they just don't fit into.

While building this site, I have learned about autism from an autistic point of view. If you are interested in acceptance rather than dogged pursuit of a cure, or if you have tired of said pursuit, go to the "Don't Mourn for us" link. It may change your perspective on autism and related disorders.

Regardless of the outcome, I feel blessed to have David in my life. Most people who meet my special son are impressed by his total innocence.

As David's third birthday approached in the spring of 1999, doctors were no longer reluctant to diagnose his autism. David has started to show improvement in several areas.  David is now able to communicate with us using the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), and he knows half a dozen ASL signs which he uses to communicate his needs. David just turned five and is still a real handful. He still engages in some self-injurious behaviors such as head banging, although these are on the decrease as his communication skills increase. He usually bangs when he is frustrated or bored. It becomes a real problem during breaks from school since his sensory needs are not being met to the extent that he has become accustomed to.

He is still in diapers (provided by the Regional Center) and requires constant supervision.  We hear a word here and there, but getting him to say it again is impossible at this point -- except for his recent use of the word UP (or UP-uh).  He currently takes Klonipin and Benadryl to help him sleep.  David has no fear of danger or the unknown, and he will run away at any opportunity (this has also improved, however, since the in-home behavior intervention program).  Locks and alarms remain on every door and window in the house.

After the long and trying IEP process, he started a special education preschool after he turned three and loved the routine and structure. His teachers were impressed with his progress.

The IEP process required the services of an attorney, also provided to us at no expense, to insure that David was placed in the most appropriate classroom.  We are especially grateful to Cheryl for her input and support throughout that IEP process as we didn't have a clue what we were in for.

In the fall of 1999, David was placed in a different classroom due to relocation to another county.
It was a difficult transition for all of us. The Regional Center in the new county was not as accommodating at first, but they and the school district realized we knew what was best for David and in the end helped greatly.

The most important fact to remember when your child is diagnosed with a disability is that the people whom we entrust to provide services for our children have the added responsibility of denying those services in order to save money! If you are willing to accept two 20 min sessions of speech therapy per week, that is all your child will receive. 

In other words, you must put up a fight and be willing to retain an attorney if necessary. They will treat you as if you are being completely unreasonable when, in fact, the parents are the experts on their own child! Parents do not typically request services that are NOT needed. If you find out that your child is injuring school employees, then your child most likely needs a one-to-one behavioral aide. You have the right to request your child's school file. David's file was full of surprises. We found out that our sweet 4-year-old had given his teacher a fat lip, sprained the wrist of a classroom aide, and even loosened the tooth of yet another aide. Autistic children often have exceptional physical strength. The behavior plan proposed by the school system's specialists to address David's aggressiveness was simply to physically restrain him (outlawed over ten years ago in this state without parental consent)! 

Did they really think we'd sign that?

The 2000-2001 school year has been exceptionally trying. David's self-injurious behaviors had increased significantly and his communication skills were basically nonexistent. We have attended TWELVE IEP meetings in less than a year's time. At each IEP meeting, we requested much-needed services but were consistently denied. Fortunately, a newly-established parent advocate group stepped in on David's behalf and convinced someone in a high place that David's program was absolutely inadequate. Shortly thereafter, we were offered about half of what we had been asking for (including a 1:1 behavior aide in the classroom).

The newly acquired school services combined with the in-home behavior program provided by the Regional Center turned out to be an effective combination. David's self-injurious behaviors have decreased significantly so he is now better able to tolerate classroom instruction, speech therapy, etc. He now has a communication system that works for us (PECS and some sign language); however, we continue to work on speech and language. We feel that we have won a considerable battle in the tremendous war which lies ahead. In the meantime, we will continue to arm ourselves with knowledge of the special education law and keep close tabs on what goes on in the overall program. What works for some may not work for David, and we feel that we are the best judge of what works for him. Overall, he is a MUCH happier boy than he was several months ago, so all our fighting has been worthwhile!

Unfortunately, we were forced to leave the county where we had made so much progress, in July of 2001. We moved to a place where we had heard services were much better, and easier to come by.

This proved to be false. So, the fight continues, but on a new battleground, and with us better armed for the fight. We also found a very good private program here, but the cost is prohibitive.

In the very first contact we had with the new district, they attempted to take away all of David's services. They almost succeeded. We were tricked in to signing an iep during a meeting that we thought was only a admittance meeting. The staff concealed the bulk of the new iep they had written, and then handed it to us on our way out the door

After the new district talked to our old one, the changed their Tune, and gave us what we wanted.

David will continue his current iep, and will retain all of his services for this school year.

David's Favorite Things:

FOOD: His favorite foods are: Oranges, bananas, salty chips of any kind, lunchmeat, raisin bread, hamburger meat, Goldfish Crackers, fruit snacks, frozen egg rolls, French fries, chicken nuggets, pizza, Ling-Ling Potstickers with ginger sauce, Little Debbie's Pecan Pinwheels, and Top Ramen (chicken flavor), and Sloppy Joe's. Due to his intolerance of milk, he drinks a lot of vanilla flavored Soy-Yum from Trader Joe's.
He seems to enjoy his food more if it has hit the floor first.

SWINGING: David loves to swing. Day or night, hot or cold, it doesn't matter. He loves to swing.

COMPUTER: David has discovered the computer in a big way. Since he learned to manipulate the mouse, he has enjoyed clicking and seeing the results (this has resulted in quite a few lost and new shortcuts and icons). As of late, he has become very adept at using the computer and knows which icons start which programs.

His favorite thing is to click the mouse and turn the monitor on and off with his feet. He has become very insistent about these and will get between me and the monitor whenever I sit down to work on the computer. A few months ago, I built him his own computer and he has gotten very good with it. He loves the Sesame Street CD game and freeware children's paint programs such as Le Paint Petite and Child's Play. The first computer game he played was Crying, Screaming Baby (a Clickamajig game from Nickelodeon where the baby cries until he drags it a bottle, toy or pacifier). Recently he has learned to play the freeware game "elfbowling" and drives us nuts with it.

TV AND VIDEOS:   David loves Teletubbies, Barney , Blues Clues and Sesame Street. Also Face and Spot.  He gets very excited whenever these are on and will watch them (off and on) for hours. Lately, though, he seems to have lost some interest. by may of this year, David has become very adept with the vcr. He starts his own tapes, and lately has been watching them 

WATER:  Anytime David sees water he must play in it, which means we have to keep him out of the bathroom unsupervised. This is of great concern to us in the wake of several drowning deaths of autistic children nationwide. When David visits me, most of his time is spent in the backyard with the hose. :^)  In his new home, David has a large backyard, and two small pools in which to play. This makes him very happy, and tires him out so he sleeps better.

SCOOPING: He enjoys scooping dried beans, birdseed, or rice with a cup. Also he likes to dig and run sand through his fingers. recently he has begun to throw sand and dirt, so this behavior has become problematic. He also began to pour sand into all of his toys and wrecked several of them. Since we moved to his new home, there is not sand everywhere, so David has lost interest in this activity.

HAND SLAPPING: David enjoys having his hands slapped. If we move our hand back and forth in front of him, he will always hold up his so we can slap a hand back and forth on his. He has liked this as long as I can remember.

DRAWING: We purchased a Magnadoodle for him and he loves it. If you have an autistic child who loves to draw, you should get one.  If your child is like David, he will spend his time writing on it instead of the walls, furniture, pets, parents, etc. David loves to color, but is not real picky about the palettes he chooses for his art. At the time of this writing, David is on his fifth magnadoodle. He is very hard on them.

BALLOONS: David LOVES everything about balloons! He can gently bang his head on the balloons to fulfill a sensory need. We fill the balloons up with water for play in the bathtub. We realize there is a choking hazard involved with balloons so we are careful to watch him and pick up the pieces of the broken balloons. He has recently learned to pick up the broken balloon and place it in the trash can before asking for a new one.

DEEP PRESSURE: David craves deep pressure. He will get underneath his beanbag chair so we can put pressure on top of him, and he enjoys wrapping himself up in blankets these days. We also do joint compression with him when he seems to be distressed.

ORAL MOTOR ACTIVITIES: David's apraxia could quite possibly be the main culprit for his lack of speech. The only treatment we know of for the apraxia is oral motor activities. To desensitize and exercise his mouth, we have been using a NUK, battery-powered toothbrushes ($5 at Wal-Mart), Wiggle Pens with the pen removed (also provides a vibration/banging for his head), whistles (not TOO shrill), bubble for blowing, whistle which blows bubbles (we've covered the hole so it just blows the bubbles), and party blowers. He attempts to blow balloons but doesn't blow quite hard enough yet. He enjoys all of the oral motor activities as they also provide him with sensory input. Anyone with more fun suggestions, PLEASE send them! Since David has been doing these activities, we have noticed more and more vocalization.

JUMPING: The trampoline has been a great investment. He loves to jump (more pressure). Before the trampoline, David had lots of good times jumping on the beds.


David is an affectionate child, which is unusual among children with his condition. Many autistics are completely withdrawn, often ignoring their parents and siblings altogether.

Daily life is a challenge with David.  He is extremely active and does not appear to understand much of what is said to him, nor does he have any fear of danger or the unknown (his receptive language has improved greatly since receiving the in-home behavior services).  He is, however, extremely beautiful and special, and we love him just how he is.

I once read an article that compared being autistic and trying to understand society to walking into a play and finding you are the star, only you haven't read the script.  You don't know what to do or where to go.  Sounds tough, huh?  I would love to spend 20 minutes in his sweet little head just so I could relate.

I am determined to help him be a star in life, and I will never give up.

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Hello! I am Dave Richards.  David is my son.
He has changed my outlook on developmental disorders and the mentally challenged forever.  He is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

He has forced me to become an advocate for autism. If I can help you in anyway in your fight with the schools and public agencies. feel free to contact me at the email addresses below.

I hope this page is of some use to you if there is an autistic or PDD person in your life.  I have posted this site with the hope that people in similar situations will read it and know they are not alone and that others know what it is like to raise an autistic child.

Please reply to: or

I hope you enjoy these pages.  A lot of time and love went into them.

I created them with a motley crew of editors,

mostly Front page 98 ,  Coffee cup html editor++ , and a lot of Notepad.

Recently I have been using Linux and Netscape's composer for main editing
And kedit, Pico, and that evil torture device known as Vi for html tweaking.
If you would like to know more about Linux and open source software,
Check out "Dave's other pages" link on the home page.

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away."

Henry David Thoreau

How can you call yourselves "advocates for children" when all you advocate is taking away the very services that help the child to progress? That is like calling yourself a saint when all you do is sin!

David L. Richards

Back to the home page.

Thanks for coming!

Yours Truly: David Richards


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