The Duncan Banner

Local News

April 22, 2011

Silent pain screams loudly

Mom of child with autism hopes to help others

DUNCAN — Screaming, running and hitting, but no language uttered from 2-year-old Ellis told Meredith Albin her son was not progressing as he should. She and husband Jay, already had children, so they knew what they were seeing was uncommon - at least to them.

After many doctor visits and attempts to seek treatment, Meredith took charge and began researching on her own. She became consumed with needing to know why her once bright, sunny child was screaming in pain and not able to communicate.

Trips to neurologists in Austin, Texas, and New York, were only the beginning. Special diets were introduced to deal with the gastrointestinal issues Ellis was experiencing. “This child’s been through the ringer. We’ve been told he may never talk,” she said. They were even told he might have to be institutionalized.

Ellis was diagnosed with regressive autism.

But Meredith was determined not to give up on her son.

“Thank goodness I had a medical background,” she said. And the Albins have been more fortunate than many parents who are told their child has autism. As Meredith explained, her husband’s job in the oil/gas industry has allowed her to be a full-time mom to their four children.

“It was frightening. When I went to a doctor, a general practitioner, who was not trained to deal with children who have autism, and not get answers,” she said. “Ellis only regressed in language.”

Eventually, Albin made the trip to the Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, but was told it could be a year before he could be seen. For her, it was unacceptable.

“As a mother, you start panicking,” she said.

She said the pain of watching her child get progressively worse was too much. Until she discovered the Thoughtful House in Austin, where they deal with a wide range of children in the autistic spectrum.

Then she discovered a place in the metro region near Edmond. Daily trips to take Ellis up there became the norm for Meredith. But while Ellis was in therapy, she had to find something to fill her six hours of time. It was then she started going to the Edmond Public Library. She already had a bachelor of nursing degree and is an RN, she said.

“I locked myself in a cubicle and spent hours on my laptop,” she said.

And all of it centered around her son and autism.

She began taking online courses through the University of North Texas to seek her master’s degree, she said. She also found an abundance of resources and an Oklahoma autism network of parental support groups. For 2 1/2 years, Meredith traveled with Ellis to Edmond.

Ellis was transitioned into the Duncan Public School system in February, Meredith said.

For Meredith though, she has a goal to help other parents of autistic children, who live right here in Duncan.

“I want to be able to have a business and offer scholarships to others who need help. We’ve had the luxury of resources, but others do not,” she said.

There was also the problem of health insurance. Oklahoma is not one of the 26 states with mandated coverage for children diagnosed with autism. A law being introduced by a state representative could change that. It’s known as Nick’s Law.

“Each child presents autism differently,” Albin said.

And while Ellis is in school, there will always be therapy. He’s like any other child, sometimes feeding off the emotions and surroundings in his world, just as many others. He also is constantly on the go and can dart fast and unlock doors.

“He doesn’t sense fear. But, he’s doing incredibly well. He’s talking in full sentences,” she said. It’s just not all the time like other children. She said one of the successes in dealing with autistic children is early intervention.

“It’s still such a big unknown. But at least autism is being talked about openly,” she said. “Six months into it, after his diagnoses, a typical day meant GI issues, no language and screaming and crying. His energy levels were high. As a parent, you felt, what am I doing wrong. Now I know I didn’t cause any of it.”

Meredith hopes to soon have her credits and be credentialed to offer therapy for other autistic children.

“This therapy is not offered in rural communities. It’s needed,” she said.

April is National Autism Awareness month.

Text Only
Local News
  • 4-20 bestinshow - carshow.jpg Gawkers and gearheads gather for car show on Main Street

    A fairly accurate timeline of the internal combustion engine was represented at the 7th Annual Cruisin’ the Chisolm Trail car show this weekend in dowtown Duncan.

    April 20, 2014 10 Photos

  • 4-20dragsterphoto.jpg Car show had a big bang this year

    Nothing at the previous car shows ever went kablooey quite like the featured vehicle at Cruisin’ the Chisolm Trail’s opening night on Friday.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Inaugural prayer breakfast in Duncan patterned after National Day of Prayer

    A new tradition will begin in Duncan on May 1 -- an annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

    April 20, 2014

  • The Well Outreach plans mentoring program for kids at risk

    The Well Outreach, Inc., will unveil its plans for an in-school mentoring program it will launch this fall during a Tuesday night meeting at its 913 W. Main Street storefront.

    April 20, 2014

  • Bench murder trial to be returned to August docket

    Although the first-degree murder trial for Miles Bench has been set to begin Monday, District Attorney Jason Hicks said the trial is unlikely to begin before August.

    April 20, 2014

  • Bench found competent, trial to start Monday

    A jury took 50 minutes on Thursday to find Miles Sterling Bench competent to stand trial for first-degree murder  and District Judge Joe Enos scheduled the trial to begin Monday.
    Bench, 23, of, Velma, is accused of the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry of Velma. She was killed in June 2012 in the Teepee Totem convenience store in Velma where Bench was employed.

    April 18, 2014

  • 4-18 Miller and Decathlon 0016.jpg Miller pumps up decathlon students

    Dr. Ché Miller, who helped bridge a funding gap needed to send the Duncan High School Decathlon Team to the national competition in Hawaii, gave the team a pep talk on Thursday.
    Miller, recently recognized as the Man of the Year by the Duncan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the students they are about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and advised them to absorb as much of the experience as they can.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Churches prepare for Easter Sunday

    Churches throughout Duncan and Stephens County are preparing to celebrate Easter this Sunday, the day Christians celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
    Today is known as Good Friday to mark the day Christ was crucified on a cross.

    April 18, 2014

  • 4-18 lauren-ellis mug.jpg Ellis named new CEO of regional United Way

    Lauren Ellis, who’s led the United Way of Stephens County for more than two years, has been named the new chief executive officer of the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma.
    Her new job will be based in Lawton but Ellis said she will remain in Duncan and commute.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jurors to decide Bench competency issue today

    Jurors will hear final arguments on Thursday and then be asked to determine whether  23-year-old Miles Sterling Bench is mentally competent to stand trial for first-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry nearly two years ago.

    April 17, 2014