< My Thoughts > The severity of a child’s behavior, the amount of support, the temperament of the child and parents all contribute to the family becoming isolated or seeking help. Help can come from Programs, Therapies, & other Interventions.
Even if your child hasn’t been diagnosed yet, s/he may be eligible for Early Intervention Services. The IDEA Law says that children under the age of 3 years old who are at-risk for having developmental delays may be eligible for services.
Some programs are expensive, so understand your child well enough to know what things may work and what may not. While you are waiting, try to discover who your child is behind the autism. There is danger in believing that ‘one-program-fits-all’ because each child is so different in their abilities and their challenges. That’s just a reality.
When trying to get to know the child behind the autism, understand that s/he may be showing symptoms of more than one problem, challenge, or disorder. Misdiagnosis can result in your child receiving unnecessary or inappropriate services. Over diagnosis can also have negative consequences. Some tests provide overlapping information and that’s okay because clinicians will know how to sort everything out. Guard against becoming convinced that a program is going to ‘fix’ your child’s autism.
Before looking for a program… Prioritize your child’s
‘needs’… Prioritize your ‘wants’
In other words…
What is the most concerning
or destructive thing going on
right now in your child’s world?
Much of the diagnostic information will come from parents. So once again, be sure that you know your child well enough to give insightful but honest responses to all inquiries. If your child is in school, they will have critical input. Videotaping (most smart phones have apps) can show what you may have difficulty expressing in words. You are looking for a way to ease the current situation. This may take time and diligence.
Prioritize. Is your child repeatedly doing weird things? Is s/he refusing to eat to the point where it is life threatening? Is s/he biting you, screaming and kicking in walls? Are you seeing tantrumming, meltdowns, and self-abuse? Is s/he a danger to his or herself or others? Then your child is asking for help the only way they are able to.
Here are some of them described by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention – Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/treatment.html
- Early Intervention Services; these services are provided through your state & may provide testing or evaluation for your child. This may be your first step.
- Treatments; some different types of treatments are Behavior/Communication; Dietary; Medication; Complementary & Alternative Medicine.
- Behavior & Communication; Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Developmental Individual Differences Relation-Based-Approach (aka DIR/Floortime), Treatment & Education of Autistic & related Communication-handicapped Children (TEAACH), Occupational Therapy (OT), Sensory Integration Therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Speech Therapy, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).
- Dietary Approaches; many of these treatments are unproven. But, a medical doctor may recommend biomedical intervention after testing your child for food allergies, gastrointestinal problems, and/or nutritional deficiencies.
- Medication; there are no specific medications for ASD, only medications to treat related symptoms such as energy levels, inability to focus, depression, and/or seizures. Most often these are costly substance controlled drugs which need extremely careful monitoring for dosage and side effects.
- Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAMs); these are treatments outside those typically recommended by the medical profession and without rigorous scientific research. Such as – auditory integration therapy, facilitated communication, gluten/casein-free diets, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, probiotics, acupuncture, vitamin supplements, chelation therapy, immunoglobulin infusions, animal therapy, massage therapy, creative therapy (art & music) etc.
< My Thoughts > Parents, before posting more information on all of these choices, let me offer my sincerest wishes that you first get to know your child. Getting to know your child will help you bring balance, peace, and harmony to the life of your child, yourself, and the rest of your family by choosing the best intervention.
Clarify and prioritize what concerns you the most. Some of you will have mild concerns, while others are living in a state of high situational stress and hyper-vigilance because of your child’s actions. Both need to be addressed. These are not phases which will pass; these are serious concerns which can be dealt with through intervention. The sooner the better but not before you check things out thoroughly.