July 26, 2023 | By Rebecca Jablon
Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:
It is our honor and pleasure to bring to you the story of a young boy’s journey into the uncertain and terrifying world of being diagnosed with Autoimmune Encephalitis from the heart of a mother. A mother who thru faith, resilience, determination and, above all, love found help across the miles and a fierce desire to assist others and raise awareness!
Whether you are a parent or grandparent to a child who has been thrown into the world of autoimmune encephalitis, or into the world of rare disabilities ( or a physician, therapist, special education teacher, or social worker…) I was moved to publish my story “To Add a Miracle” to provide you with further insight and strength. I wrote with absolute candor and honesty, sprinkled with a bit of humor, in an attempt to accurately portray the emotional rollercoaster that we have experienced.
Our son, Yehuda’s, steep fall into the world of autoimmune encephalitis began just days after the holiday of Hanukkah, the Holiday of Miracles, four- years ago, at the age of five. He was born just days before the Holiday of Hanukkah. As I approached the Hanukkah season this year and Yehuda’s ninth birthday, I suddenly felt a strong drive to sit down. And to write. And to write more. Perhaps this is not a coincidence.
At the beginning of our journey/ FALL into the unknown, the International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society stood as one of the lights illuminating our absolute confusion and darkness. The brave volunteers, often facing current or past struggles of their own, held out lights of information, direction, medical advice, and most importantly glimmers of hope, for a family struggling far away in Israel, where knowledge of autoimmune encephalitis in the medical world is even more limited. At the time, I was able to connect with only one mother living here in Israel, who was able to hold my hand and guide me on our journey. I gathered additional armor and strength from the mothers whom I could reach out to through the AE website. I was ready to grab onto anything and anyone who understood. I was desperate. Who or What had overnight stolen our son’s words, skills, and identity?
How can a mother accept an unknown or rare diagnosis?
How can she grapple with an experimental and even further unknown treatment plan?
How can a mother not throw up her hands in total despair when top neurologists eventually throw up their hands?
How can she survive when she screams out, yet no one can answer,
“What suddenly happened to my five- year old son?”
While many books have been written highlighting the challenges of raising a child with disabilities, as you all are painfully aware, autoimmune encephalitis is a recently discovered and often misunderstood illness with a shocking onset. My writing of To Add a Miracle was fueled by my intense desire to spread awareness and hope, to strengthen mothers, fathers, and families, as they bravely journey toward recovery or increased acceptance and strength.
I will never forget when my then five-year-old Yehuda desperately called out to me as I left his bedroom one night, marking the beginning of our descent into the unknown,
“Imma (Hebrew for Mother), my brain is broken. If I die, will you…”
Total confusion, darkness, and piles of despair. I wish that at the sudden onset of Yehuda’s illness, I had known about, and did not have to wait to discover the collective voices of the International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society, to call out to me, and to hear my cries… to help me to not feel totally alone in my struggles.
It is my hope and prayer that my book will provide you with an additional dose of strength in order to navigate the bumpy ride, that is our lives with special needs children. It is my dream to be able to continue to help other parents, using all of the tools, both medical and sometimes emotional, that I have gathered upon our journey with Yehuda. As I describe in the book, there is nothing that gives me more comfort than seeing another child and family progress and advance, even if that particular treatment did not advance Yehuda.
Someone recently asked me, “So what do you mean by adding a miracle?” Please order and delve into my book to find out. There is no quick answer.
Thank you to all of the administrators and volunteers of the International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society, for allowing me to take part in their holy work in my attempt to spread awareness of autoimmune encephalitis, through the writing of my book.
To Add A Miracle details with raw honesty, sprinkled with moments of humor and laughter, the dark and light shadows of the Jablon family’s journey; the story also highlights the tremendous strength of Yehuda’s siblings and selected “messengers of miracles” along the way.
With no filters, the story tells the author’s emotional journey as a mother in distress, facing piles of despair, culminating in a greater acceptance of the unacceptable, and a powerful recognition of the miracles that Yehuda has added to her family’s life.
While many books have been written highlighting the challenges of raising a child with disabilities, autoimmune encephalitis is a recently discovered and often misunderstood illness with a shocking onset.
The writing of To Add A Miracle was fueled by the author’s intense desire to spread awareness and hope, to strengthen mothers, fathers, families, and medical practitioners, as they bravely journey toward recovery or increased acceptance and strength.
Rebecca Jablon, the author of To Add A Miracle, tells the story of her sudden and dramatic fall into the world of autoimmune encephalitis, and resulting diagnosis of autism for her son, Yehuda.
- How can a mother accept an unknown or rare diagnosis?
- How can she grapple with an experimental and even further unknown treatment plan?
- How can a mother not throw up her hands in total despair when top neurologists eventually throw up their hands?
- How can she survive when she screams out, yet no one can answer, “What suddenly happened, overnight, to my five-year-old son?!!”
No stranger to the world of rare illnesses, Yehuda’s sudden overnight descent into the unknown rocked the author’s family. Who or What had stolen her son’s words, skills, and identity?
Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives!
On June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.
Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org
International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE.
For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store! This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.