As a parent of a child on the Autistic Spectrum, I’ve had numerous conversations that started something like this:
Me: “Oh, you have a child on the Autistic spectrum too?”
Acquaintance: “Yes, what have you tried to help your child?”
Me: “I’ve tried Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Hippotherapy, Therapuetic Riding, Digital Auditory Aerobics, iLs,” and so on. “What have you tried?”
Receiving a diagnosis of “Autism” isn’t like being diagnosed with a broken arm, for example. If someone has a broken arm, we know exactly how to treat it. With Autism, it’s a completely different story. We don’t really know what, if anything, will help. We do know that recent research indicates that early intervention with children on the Autism Spectrum can yield incredibly positive results.
You may be thinking “Ok, but exactly which interventions?”
That’s the tricky part.
We don’t know exactly which therapies to recommend. Some therapies have emerged as helpful, largely in part to documented research that proves positive results. Occupational Therapy is routinely recommended and has been proven to help those on the Autism Spectrum. Speech Therapy also has been documented to helpful, if it’s needed. ABA therapy has also been shown to be a solid, helpful therapy. Play Therapy can be helpful too. But there are other therapeutic approaches, and they can be very expensive. My fellow parents traveling the ASD journey know how many thousands we have spent “trying” therapies.
There is a saying in the Autism community “If you’ve met a child with Autism, you’ve met ONE child with Autism,” meaning, each child with Autism is affected differently. Occupational Therapy on horseback, called Hippotherapy, may have worked wonders with my child, but your child may not obtain the same result. That’s the reason most of us say we’ve “tried” this and that therapy.
Here’s a list of every therapy I know about that my friends and I have tried with our ASD children, and I’m sure there’s plenty I’m missing:
Occupational Therapy http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/benefits-of-occupational-therapy-for-autism
Applied Behavioral Therapy (ABA) http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/applied-behavior-analysis-aba
Speech Therapy http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/benefits-speech-therapy-autism
Therapuetic Riding http://www.freedomride.com/programs/therapeuticriding.html
Play Therapy http://www.a4pt.org/?page=WhyPlayTherapy
Learn To Learn http://www.learntolearn.com/
Vision Therapy http://visualhealthlearning.com/
Social Skills Group http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/community-connections/social-skills-and-autism
Digital Auditory Aerobics http://holistichealthchicago.com/ait.html
Gluten/Casein Free Diets (GFC) http://www.autismspeaks.org/node/112986
Hypobaric Chamber http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AutismNews/story?id=7070353
Fast 4Word https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T6QpYUtVt0
Music Therapy http://www.joyfulmusictherapy.net/about-us.php
Marital Arts (with an instructor who is an expert with both martial arts and ASD) For example: http://www.dragonflyasd.org/
The Salt Room http://www.saltroomorlando.com/about-salt-therapy.html
And more (i.e. therapeutic swimming, therapeutic gymnastics, etc.)
So, how do you know what will be best for your child? What I recommend is connecting with other parents who are a bit further down the road than you. Talk with them, listen to their experiences, ask questions and take notes. Support for the parents and caregivers of ASD children is critical. Some places to obtain parental/caregiver support: 1. Parent Support Groups through your child’s school, 2. parent support groups through local chapters of Autism groups, i.e. Greater Orlando Autism Society in Orlando, Florida, 3. Parent Support through local therapy clinics, and 4. If no face to face parent groups are available, try online support through Autism Speaks, CARD (Center for Autism Research and Development), Autism Support Network, etc.
I encourage you to maintain high expectations for your child, and be patient with him or her as (s)he develops at his or her own pace.
Let me leave you with hope and positive quote from Dr. Temple Grandin (if you don’t know who she is, look her up. Her books, website and public appearances about Autism are incredibly helpful.)
“The most important thing people did for me was to expose me to new things.”
Dr. Temple Grandin
About The Author:
Laura Peddie-Bravo, LMHC, NCC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida, and a Nationally Certified Counselor. Laura is the parent of three amazing children, one who has ASD. She has extensive experience with the Autism community in Orlando, FL as both a parent and professional. You are welcome to distribute this article as long as you keep the author’s information intact. For more information, or to schedule a complimentary phone call, please phone Laura Peddie-Bravo, LMHC, NCC at (407) 222-6239.