Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Autism- The Other White Meat

Friends and family members ask me what about Autism all the time. Total strangers ask me about Autism. That's a good thing. Raising awareness is something that I need to do.

Since this is Autism Awareness Month I will do my best to educate as many people as I can.

We often hear autism referred to as a spectrum disorder. There is a range of individual disorders that fall under the autism umbrella. One on end of the spectrum there is Asperger's Syndrome and on the other end is severe autism. People with Asperger's Syndrome are typically identified as "high-functioning" autistics.

Autism affects three areas of development: social interaction, communication, and behavior. All three areas are affected to some degree.

Autism doesn't affect any two people in exactly the same way. Even within a family that has more than one child affected, the manifestations of the disorder can be very different.

There is no cure for Autism, but there is treatment. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)is a science based treatment. There is an abundance of literature and other documentation to support its' use. ABA is a method to teach behaviors. Behavior is anything that can be seen and measured. Since our kids have problems with that area of development, ALL behaviors must be taught. That's something that parents of neurotypical children take for granted, we can't afford to.

ABA is not the magic bullet that makes Autism all better. There are no overnight successes. ABA is hard work for everyone. Everyone who cares for the person affected with Autism has to be with the programs and understand how they work and how to utilize them daily. Treatment for our kids is not limited to ABA therapy. There is physical therapy for those who require it. There is occupational therapy, speech therapy, RFI therapy, equine therapy, art therapy, music therapy, etc. Some choose to use a more medical approach with nutritional and detoxification supports.

What makes Autism unique is no professional, not a doctor, or a researcher, or clinician, can sit down with a family with a new Autism diagnosis and say, " At age 3, or 8, or 19 your child will be "here". There is no road map for us to navigate. Living with Autism is sort of like being left in the woods without a compass. You find your way the best way you can using the resources that are available.

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