There is a war being raged upon the minds of our children. The casualty rate is alarming. This enemy sneaks in, silently, taking total control, without notice. The effects of its presence are swiftly onset and frighteningly obvious. It hides so well, no one can determine its base, from where it conducts its internal sabotage. It steals words, abilities, dreams, hope. It engulfs families and destroys them, without remorse. No warning. No way to recuperate all that was lost. The name of this enemy...AUTISM.
You may think my description of Autism is a bit dramatic, but it's nothing compared to what my family and millions of other families experienced first hand when Autism inundated our lives. This is not an explanation of Autism like other websites. This my personal perspective and a general clinical description of signs and symtoms. I want to share the emotions involved in watching my child go from a completely neuro-typical and physically healthy a baby, to a non responsive little body, breathing, but not truly living. It is not all negative. There are cases of progression, success, recovery. My daughter is considered one of those exceptional cases.
Yet the fact that autism exists at all, that innocent children, by the millions world-wide, have to fight so hard to merely 'be', to simply sleep, eat, walk, talk, is a horrific devastation. There is one thing autism did not steal from me or my daughter, RESOLVE.
Shortly after autism claimed my Monica, I decided, it would not keep her. I prayed continually for wisdom and any other characteristic, she and I would ever need, to conquer this silent enemy and to get my baby back!
It has been my deep desire and constant prayer, to see a decline in cases of autism since my daughter was diagnosed in 1998, but sadly, it is much more common today. In a report released in March of 2013, the CDC suggests that 1 in every 50 children in the United States has a form of Autism compared to the 2012 report which showed 1 in 88. Autism is just one of the neurological disorders in the Pervasive Developmental Disability (PDD) umbrella, which is now being replaced by grouping them together as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). PDD includes Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Rhett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.
ASD mostly affects communication, development, social and motor skills, which cause negative behaviors and inappropriate responses compared to neuro-typical peers. In multiple cases, the child also has one or more auto-immune disorders, gastro-intestinal issues, seizures and even worse physical ailments.
Today, research for the cause and a cure is aggressive. Treatment and recovery are possible, my daughter is living proof. Due to the nature of the disability and the varying levels of severity, many forms of intervention and therapies are available to address the symptoms. ASD is more prevalent in boys than in girls, but is otherwise non-discriminant.
While I have my belief based on the circumstances that preceded autism's onset in Monica, however, because of the nature of Hand in Hand Autism Resources mission, I cannot promote any specific autism cause theory. The most tragic of all facts is that there is no conclusive study that has proven the cause, therefore making it literally impossible to prevent.
To learn more about ASD, please visit any of the informational links on our Resource page. The below are description summaries of the effected areas of development in persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and some of the things I did to help my daughter. They are for informational purposes only. I am not a licensed therapist, psychologist or physician. I am only sharing creative ideas that I added to all of the traditional therapies my child received. These all helped my daughter progress and aided her in reconditioning her senses and her recovery.
Communication - Inability to speak, form words at the appropriate chronological age and/or loss of speech. Inability to communicate using receptive and expressive language. Many alternative's to verbal communication are available. Some examples are; Dynovox or computerized vocal assistance, the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) which my daughter used for years coupled with Universal Sign Language and simultaneous intense speech therapy. Speech therapy methods and plans vary, so consult a local speech therapist to have your child assessed and to have an individual plan created for him/her.
Sensory Deficiencies/Dysfunction - Child does not tolerate certain sounds, textures, visual stimuli and/or seeks out certain sensory stimuli inappropriately or obsessively. An example, my daughter used to roll herself up tightly in rugs, blankets anything she could wrap around her. She could not tolerate wearing clothing and even less, socks and shoes. I tried so many sensory therapies. What I found she responded to and eventually what retrained her senses were the following;
Brushing therapy - Occupational and Physical Therapists can provide this therapy. It is specialized and detailed. I was trained by my daughter's therapists to administer this therapy at home and broadened it's use. I added nightly massage to her feet, weekly pedicures and used the brushing/compression method various times per week in addition to what her therapists were doing.
One thing I did for sound and sight was to bring her to the movies. Overwhelming right? I spoke with the manager of the theater and explained my goal for my daughter. He agreed not to charge me to get in until we reached a 45 minute marker of her being able to tolerate the stimulation. I of course took her to the first showing of the day out of respect for others. My daughter was a violent fit thrower and it took a long time to help her calm down.The first time I do not think we made it past 3 minutes. Initially, she wore earplugs, earmuffs, sun glasses and still covered her ears and eyes often. It took us a little over a year for her to sit through the whole movie. It took me years to be able to finally take away the earplugs which she wore until she was 13. Today, one of her favorite things to do is go to the movies! I was EXTREMELY difficult, but the consistency and diligence of both of us, has given her back sensory appropriate hearing and sight. I not only did this for sensory issues, but also for social issues. She can now tolerate, and enjoys, going anywhere, to any mall, musical theater production, circus, you get the point.
Motor Skills -
Related Autoimmune Illnesses -