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By Paul Paterra, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, December 6, 2010

Tammi Bogan had tired of negative reactions toward her son, Seth, who is autistic.

Now she is telling his story — and that of her family — in a small book, “Remember the Hot Dog Bun.”

“Everything that was ever said to my son was negative,” said Bogan, of Fredericktown in Washington County. “It was disheartening, depressing. I just said, ‘I’m so sick of this. He’s a really cool kid. He’s just amazing the way he is.’ “

The book details Bogan’s journey through the world of autism and her quest to redefine the labels placed on Seth, who is 4. He started out as her foster son, and she and her husband, Bill, adopted him in 2008.

Seth started living with the Bogans two days after his birth, and Tammi quickly realized something wasn’t quite right.

“Seth was born addicted to drugs and alcohol,” Bogan said. “I took home this baby who was basically going through withdrawal. Not knowing that, I continued to listen to the crying and the throwing up and the shaking.”

Bogan said the baby was not affectionate and leaned toward violence, thrashing even as an infant.

“Every doctor we took him to didn’t seem to know what was going on,” Bogan said. “He went through MRIs and CAT scans, every test you could possibly imagine. They were still trying to figure out why he was so lethargic and why he was always screaming.”

Bogan said Seth’s birth mother eventually admitted to using “just about everything” during her pregnancy, including crack, heroin, marijuana and alcohol.

Many doctor visits followed. Therapists and representatives from youth service agencies were constant visitors to their home. The young boy took many medications.

“On top of everything else, he’s very allergic to everything,” Bogan said. “So he’s on a gluten-free, soy-free, milk-free diet.”

After years of watching Seth eat hot dogs sans buns, Bogan found a bun that was gluten-free. When Seth ate a hot dog on a bun for the first time, it was a turning point. And thus, the title of the book.

 

Tammi and Seth 

“At that moment when I saw him trying that bun, I realized we just take everything for granted,” Bogan said. “Just to see him be able to eat a hot dog on a bun, you have to step back and say, ‘I’m thankful for every little thing.’ Him eating a hot dog bun made me bawl my eyes out and write a book.”

Sharon Greene, senior director of Northwestern Human Services Autism Schools, said most people don’t know much about autism, and the initial diagnosis can frustrate parents.

“There’s a saying, ‘If you meet a child with autism, you’ve met a child with autism.’ Everybody is so different,” she said. “Everybody wants to find a cure. Kids with autism are so smart. That’s where the frustration comes in.”

Greene said a book like Bogan’s can be a helpful tool, especially for parents in similar situations.

“It helps them go through those stages of grieving,” Greene said. “With so many parents, when their child is diagnosed, they don’t know where to turn. There’s so many services out there, they don’t know where to go do.”

“Remember the Hot Dog Bun” was published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises and is available through bookstores nationwide.

Bogan hopes the book helps others.

“Don’t judge people’s children when you see them out,” Bogan said. “A lot of these children you think are bad are really misread or misunderstood because they haven’t had the help or intervention they need. … They have special gifts; you just have to find them.”

Bogan said Seth has progressed. The boy who doctors said would never walk or talk does both very well. He now sits on Bogan’s lap and she reads to him. He knows the “yellow” book is about him.

The journey she’s traveled has been trying at times, but Bogan said it’s one she wouldn’t hesitate to take again.

“I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” she said. “He has defied everyone and mystified them. He ended up proving them wrong.

“I knew it was in there. He just needed someone to help him. … God meant for him to be with me, and we’re going to make the best of it.”

Source:  http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_712426.html



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