Marissa Levin & Information Experts
A CEO's Focus on Resilience, G

Introduction I am Founder and CEO of Information Experts, a multi-million dollar strategic communications firm I started 16 years ago. But more importantly, I am a mom who brought her son back from the brink of autism.

Background I have two healthy sons, ages 10 and 13. But this was not always the case. At my younger son's 15-month check-up, Jordan received seven vaccinations. That night, he ran a fever, which never happened before, but is still not an uncommon reaction.What transpired over the next several months is really hard to describe. But the child that went into that doctor’s office basically disappeared.

3. Personal issue

My son’s central nervous system and brain went haywire from one or more of the vaccines.  We noticed a slow regression in Jordan in many ways, as well as new behaviors that were major red flags. By the time I took him to be evaluated for developmental disabilities at age 2, he was exhibiting 10 out of 14 signs of Autism. He fully retreated into his own world. He developed extreme sensory processing disorder. He lost his language development. I was losing my child right before my eyes.

Following a very difficult diagnosis, I dedicated every waking moment to reclaiming my son - while I was raising another child, mourning the loss of my 8-week old nephew, and running a business in the post-9/11 economy. I entered into the world of Autistic treatment, and stayed there for three years. While many times it felt as if I were in a coal mine rooted in the pits of the Earth, I firmly believed it was merely a dark tunnel that would have a bright light at its end. I just could not and would not accept the possibility that this was his fate.

I enrolled him in aggressive occupational therapy and unconventional treatments 5 days a week. Most children go to therapy 2 days a week. When I insisted on a 5-day a week treatment plan, they resisted. I told them that I wasn’t concerned with how other families operated; that those families weren’t treating Jordan. I pushed aside every other need. I pushed aside my extended family, my clients, my friends. Some of my friendships suffered. I kept a very tight circle of supporters.

Nothing mattered except reclaiming his life. Most treatments weren't covered by insurance, so we took out a large home equity loan to pay for the treatment. It  became monopoly money. I would have sold my house to get him access to the resources he needed. The only value of that money was to cure my son. It was a bridge to a normal life for him.

Through our aggressive treatments, we essentially rebuilt his central nervous system and rewired his brain.  Throughout this journey, I journaled our experience. I wrote about my fears, frustrations, and my tremendous guilt over the fact that I had in fact inflicted Jordan with this condition. I documented Jordan’s treatments, progress, and setbacks. I had a goal to be sure he would be “cured” and ready for a mainstream classroom by Kindergarten in September 2006. In August 2006, Jordan “graduated” from his treatment program because he no longer had a need for any therapy. He was a regular, healthy, happy 5 year old, excited to start Kindergarten.

People told me along the way, as they watched his miraculous progress, that I should write a book – that I should share