God Gives Us All We Can Handle

By: Denese Rodgers

“I stopped my whole life when Ava Grace was diagnosed with autism.” Trina Ward refused to believe that genetics had dealt this hand to her beautiful child. She chose instead to be proactive in the recovery of her daughter. “I had been asking my doctors since she was 9 months old, because she was a real handful. She looked right through you, and was out of control like a spinning top. I wasn’t concerned about who to blame at that time, I was just laser focused my daughter’s recovery.”

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is that group of developmental disorders that range from Autism to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD).

Ava was finally diagnosed in October of 2001, Trina sighed, “It was a terrible and bittersweet confirmation. I now had proof – that I was not a horrible mom and she was not a bad child. But my child had autism. We took her to Emory’s Autism Research Center and to the Children’s Habilitation Center of Atlanta where her diagnosis was further confirmed.

On the way to Ava’s initial test appointment Trina’s husband, Neal said “After this appointment, I never want to hear the word “Autism,” again. During Ava Grace’s testing phase, her parents watched through a two way mirror, agonizing for their child. “It was gut-wrenching to see her fail basic test after test.” Neal turned to Trina, “You start researching everything immediately. We are not going to stop until we get her out of this.”

After research, massive prayer, and the wise counsel of a new friend with an autistic son, the Wards chose to treat their daughter’s autism as a biomedical illness instead of a chance genetic occurrence. They began with a strict gluten free/casein (milk) free and periodically yeast-free diet and lifestyle. Jacquelyn McCandless, MD, authored the book, “Children with Starving Brains,” which explains that many autistic children have an inability to digest wheat or milk. Those indigestible proteins enter the bloodstream and then act as opioids on the brain – which may be why autistic children appear spaced out or blank.1

Trina, and Neal didn’t try to phase in the modifications, “We just did it. I went in and cleaned out my kitchen in one weekend to begin a gluten and casein free lifestyle. And we started ABA – Lovaas Applied Behavioral Analysis 40 hours per week. We worked to detoxify her system and rebuild her immune system.”

Trina remembers, “My heart broke for her, and the loneliness and isolation was extremely hard on me. I was never suicidal, but I often thought my heart had reached it’s limit of ache, hurt and indescribable pain; that God could just stop my heart and bring me home early. I could be okay with that. It turned out that He only gave me as much as I could handle. He turned my nightmare into a beautiful message of faith and hope and never ending love.”


Today, Ava Grace is a healthy, happy 18 year old. Trina beamed, “She leads a healthy, happy, full life, and is completely recovered from this vaccine injury known as autism. She is a senior in high school. She has a beautiful, blessed life, surrounded by wonderful friends. Her amazing family includes a precious younger sister (who drives her crazy, and is her biggest fan). Neal and I never gave up, and we never looked back.”

We have a wonderful life with highs and lows, mountains and valleys. We never stop praying and always have faith in God. We hope by sharing our journey we can help another family or child to keep their faith.”

1 McCandless, MD, “Children with Starving Brains, A Medical Treatment Guide for Autism Spectrum Disorder,” 2nd Ed., 2003 Bramble Books, Chapter, Causation Models