Monday, June 7, 2010

An Insider's View of the Fight Against Autism Spectrum Disorder

Five Things You Should Consider When You Find Out Your Child Has Autism

I often talk about Autism because so many of my clients with ASD respond so well to music therapy strategies. I have mentioned The Thoughtful House in Austin, TX as one of the places that tries to take a holistic approach to treating the symptoms of the disorder. Specialists at The Thoughtful House believe that some autism disorders may sometimes be related to the inability of the body to correctly process toxins and metals. New research is starting to corroborate this theory and establish a link between problems in the gut with processes in brain functioning. In my review of the research, work with clients and examination of practice treating the issues of diet and toxicity in children with autism, I have found that treatment can be helpful for some children, although it does not seem to be a cure-all for Autism.

The following guest post is from the perspective of a mother who has a son with autism. She has found the combined treatment of ABA therapy and bio-medical treatment for her son to be highly successful. I am very excited to introduce her as my first guest blogger! Anne Marie White has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from BYU-Idaho. She is currently working on a Master's degree in Speech and Language Pathology. Anne Marie lives in Texas with her husband and two boys, the oldest of which was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Delay - Not Otherwise Specified) two years ago. She has implemented intensive ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) and bio-medical therapy for her son ever since that time. In her own words, "I work hard to be the best mother I can be to my children by learning everything I can about Autism."

I asked Anne Marie to write a post from the perspective of someone who had to learn quickly about what she could do to help her son with Autism. Since I have mentioned the Thoughtful House before, I asked her to provide some insight for parents and others who might be just starting out finding what to do in the case of a child with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). As I read her thoughts, I could not help but feel her fierce determination and great love for her son. Here she is in her own words:

On December 15, 2008, my world as a mother changed forever. On that cold day, in a small room, I was told that my son had Pervasive Developmental Delay—Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). I was told that there was no hope that he would ever lead a normal life. They said that there was no cure and no one knew why 1 out of every 91 kids was being diagnosed with some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). They told me the best I could do was to start some Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech Language Pathology (SLP), and try any other therapies I might hear about. In their opinion, I would be wasting my money, and I should expect to have to take care of my son for the rest of his life.

Well, after that day I felt very alone, like I had no hope. I had no idea what I was going to do. So for the next 4 months I did nothing but grovel in self-pity. Then one day it felt like God woke me up with a slap in the face. I was sitting at home and I got a phone call telling me to turn on the TV and watch the show “The Doctors” on NBC. That day they were talking about Autism. They said that there are kids recovering and living a normal life. These kids were recovering through bio-medical treatment and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and other forms of therapy. Ever since that day, I have never stopped looking for the thing that will cure my son. My son is now making great eye contact, he plays with other kids, he now has many words, and he has almost completely recovered. I would like to share five things that I wish someone had told me at the start of this journey my family has been on:

1. DO NOT blame yourself or your spouse.
I blamed myself for four months and didn’t want to do anything. I kept asking myself what I had done wrong. Let me be clear, you have done NOTHING wrong; it is what it is. We all have trials in this life. It’s what we do with them that makes us who we are. Give yourself permission to wallow in self-pity for some time and then pick yourself up and get started healing your child. I lost four precious months that could have been used more effectively!

2. Take action while your child is young. Do not wait.
A mother knows deep down that there is something not right with her child. Do not block out those feelings. You have them for a reason. As much as you don’t want to hear it, you need to get your child diagnosed so you can move on and recover your child. It is important to know where your child stands on the autism spectrum so that you can learn how to help him or her. Every child is different and what works for one may not work for another. You must be your own detective and find out what works with your child. Young children are amazing and can overcome things that seem impossible. And believe me, some days it does seem impossible! Just keep going! Find out early, and then get started quickly, helping your child to recover.

3. Go to a “Defeat Autism Now” (DAN) Conference.
This was a life changing event in my life and now I go every year. You will meet leaders in the field of autism and you will learn how bio-medicals may change your child’s life. You will learn about the newest research in autism and meet other parents who know how you feel and can give you ideas. My first DAN conference not only gave me the hope I needed to go on, it gave me a direction to go in.

4. Find a DAN Doctor.
There are DAN doctors all over the country that are doing bio-medical treatment with children who have autism and some of these kids are recovering. When you find the doctor that works for you, listen to him and follow what he says. Do the diets and the vitamins because it is worth the hassle. My son has improved so much from our diet change and by adding the vitamins to help him get what he needs. Do not let anything stop you from finding the right doctor. We have to drive 7 hours to get to Austin to go to “Thoughtful House”, but it is worth every hour and penny spent. I am changing my son’s life and he is changing mine.

5. Start therapy NOW.
My son does speech therapy, OT, ABA, and many other forms of therapy. Do as many hours as you can. I know therapy is very expensive, but if you do it now, hopefully you will not have to do it forever. ABA has done amazing things for my son. Find out what works for your child and run with it. Bio-medicals can only do so much. We must also find a way to teach our children what they have missed while they were in the fog caused by the pollutants in their brains.
Finally, learn as much as you can about autism. I am not saying every child will recover, but children do recover. We, as parents, have to fight for our kids and give them the best chance at a normal life. I hope this helps someone else to begin or continue on this journey with Autism.

~Anne Marie Tague White

In full disclosure, I should say that Anne Marie is my sister. Thanks, Anne Marie for sharing your story and being passionate about helping your son! I know your words will add to the community and strengthen others in their fight!

1 comment:

  1. Laurianne HardmanJune 8, 2010 at 9:16 PM

    What a wonderful article. I am so glad you had her write something for your blog and I know her experience will help somebody else along the way. Awesome job Anne-Marie!


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