Finding What Works Dealing With Autism
When dealing with autism, just as in most other disorders, you will be faced with a number of treatment options for yourself or your child. These include treatments that are educational, behavioral, biomedical, nutritional, and sensory. Unfortunately, for patients who are not affluent or who do not have good medical insurance, the cost of these treatments can be pricier than what they can afford. One way to ensure that you or your child receives the best possible treatment for autism is to carefully monitor the effects a treatment has over time. By finding out which treatments work and which do not, you can stop paying for the ineffective methods and put more of your money into those which are creating a positive difference.
First, evaluate the abilities of the autistic individual before treatment begins. To do this, many services and organizations, including the Autism Research Institute, provide a checklist of evaluation points that focus on behavior and illnesses associated with autism. Autistic individuals tend to have increasing functionality as they mature, so remember that some of the positive effects in his or her life are simply due to the natural growth process. However, after two months fill out the checklist once again and compare it to the first. Are there any sharp positive increases in behavior characteristics? If so, this is more likely due to the treatment.
It is important to begin only one treatment method at a time. If you try everything at once instead, good and bad effects may cancel one another out, or even if the effect is totally positive, you will not know which treatment method is causing it and which are not doing anything. Of course, past studies can help you choose which methods to use, but because autism is an extremely complicated and individual disorder, these studies are not always helpful. Also, some treatments are so new that the studies done are only on short-term effects, which is usually unhelpful. Instead, it is a process of trial and error. Two months is a good amount of time to study the differences within an autistic individual trying a new treatment. After two months, if you do not see positive improvement, you can discontinue your use of that particular method and better invest your money in treatment options that work.
Remember that you do not always have to wait two months to make choices about whether to continue or discontinue a treatment method. If the side effects of a medication, for example, are interfering with the patient's life in an unbearable way, then you should discontinue the treatment. You can also make continual treatments based on immediate good reactions-just remember to continually monitor the various methods. Autistic individuals grow and mature just like everyone else, so treatments may stop working after time. Before trying anything new, consult your doctor to make sure you are being as safe and healthy as possible.
Doctors And Diagnosing Autism
When a doctor first suggests that your child has autism, your immediate reaction might be disbelief and the urge to seek a second, third, or even fourth opinion. Because autism is so different in every child, it is a tricky disorder to diagnose. However, there are a few key ways in which doctors can efficiently identify autism in children, and if your infant or toddler is showing any of these signs of autism, you should visit your pediatrician immediately to express your concerns.
Autism occurs at a young age, rather than being a disorder an older child might develop. It is usually detected before the age of three, and many times much earlier. The first signs or autism are usually delays or regression in speech communication. Another early sign is abnormal behavior in group play situations and other social situations. The first step to diagnosing autism is a thorough physical examination as well as a review of family history by a specialist. Although your regular pediatrician will be able to spot unusual behavior, you'll want your child to be examined by a professional who specializes in autism and other similar diseases to make sure your child is properly diagnosed.
The next step includes hearing tests. Sine language and social skill delays could be due to inadequate auditory sensations. There are two types of auditory tests, one of which records the tones a child can hear and the other of which requires sedation and measures the brain response to certain tones. Of course, the first method is preferred, since it does not require any use of a sedative. After auditory testing, your doctor may encourage testing your child for Fragile X syndrome, which often times goes hand in hand with autism. Metabolism can also be evaluated. To do this, your doctor will need a blood or urine sample to analyze DNA.
An MRI or CAT scan can also be helpful in diagnosing autism. The important thing is to work with doctors you trust. Second opinions can be very helpful, but when your child has been diagnosed, stick with one doctor so that treatment is uniform and so that your child will get used to this person. Autism is difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat, so remember that you should begin to learn as much as possible about the disorder as soon as your doctor identifies it. If you have yet to speak with your doctor about abnormal behavior in your child, do so immediately. By detecting autism early, you give your child a better chance at becoming a high-functioning individual with much more opportunities in life.
Bad Apples On The Family Tree
The news that a child in the family is autistic is most often met with a number of reactions. While all family members, even extended, would be supportive in an ideal world, the sad truth is that many are disgusted or disappointed. Does a family member scold the autistic child often? Does he or she look at your autistic child unfairly? Does this family member insist on treating your autistic child the same way he or she treats all the other children in your family, even when it is inappropriate? These are signs that this relative is not receptive to either your autistic child or the situation. This may often be the case when discovering a child is autistic, so as a parent, be aware and prepared for this to happen.
Often, unreceptive relatives simply do not understand what autism is or what it means for your child and your immediate family. Though many see autism as a mental retardation, many autistic children and adults are highly intelligent; they are just unable to communicate this in the same ways that others would. Try explaining what autism means to this family member, and have him or her spend some time with you and your autistic child. Allow them to see the effects of autism and the methods you can use to cope.
If the family member continues to be unsupportive or refuses your explanation, ask why this family member is so unreceptive to the situation. Are they scared of hurting the child? Are they worried about the added responsibility when spending time with the child? Perhaps they feel guilty or are embarrassed. If you can pinpoint why a family member is unreceptive, you can better address the issue and hopefully help him or her overcome their original perceptions.
Perhaps no amount of talking or spending time together will help this family member overcome their prejudice. If this person has stubbornly made up his or her mind, you will never be able to show him or her how beautiful your son or daughter is-autism and all. If this is the case, eliminating this person from your life may be difficult, but it will also rid you and your child of this family member's negative energy and personality. In this developing situation, you need the best positive support available. Remember that other family members have been supportive; that your children are adjusting well and are a source of strength for you. Strengthen your support network by participating in parent support groups for autistic children. And remember that you can surround yourself with those who do accept and love your child-family or not.
Busting The Autism Stereotypes
As with anyone with a physical or mental disorder, autistic people deal with a wide range of reactions from others, from full support to uncaring ignorance. Unfortunately, even those who support autistic family members, co-workers, and friends may not understand autism very well. This leads to stereotypes, which can result in hatred, embarrassment, or other unhappy situations. By becoming educated about autism, you can help others in your community cope with this disorder.
It is most important to note that not all autistic people are the same. Other diseases and disorders have their own sets of rules, but autism is such a complex medical condition, that everyone reacts differently to it. Autistic people are usually rated on a functional scale, with high-functioning people being able to hold jobs and low-functioning people needing 24-hour-a-day care. Symptoms include behavioral challenges, uncontrollable movements, speech and communication difficulties, and emotional inadequacies. Some show all symptoms, while other show few, and still others may have most under control to the point where you cannot tell they have autism at all.
Because every person is different, no one thing can be said about autism and be true overall. However, most autistic people have trouble communicating emotions. This does not mean that an autistic person does not feel. He or she simply cannot express this feeling. It also does not mean strong relationship bonds are not possible. On the contrary, many autistic people are happily married and in love. Forming relationships is more difficult for most, but can be accomplished over time.
Many people believe that being autistic coincides with being a genius in some aspect. While it is true that some autistic individuals have extraordinary math, music, and art skills, this number is nowhere near the majority-in fact, relatively few autistic people function outside of the normal range in any skill. This stereotype is perpetuated in the movies and on television, because the story of a talented person fighting disadvantages (such as autism) makes a good plot. However, this is not the norm, so nothing more than the best they can personally do should be expected from an autistic person. However, it is important to note that autism is not a form of mental retardation. Some autistic people are mentally retarded as well, but most are not and should not be treated as such.
In the end, the most important lesson to take away from your studies on autism is one of tolerance. You will probably need to be patient when dealing with autistic people, but by understanding a little more about the disorder, perhaps this will be easier. Learn what you can and spread the knowledge to those you know to help create a more tolerant setting for autistic individuals in your community.
Self Injury How To Stop This Dangerous Practice
Many wonder why anyone would practice self-injury, as it is painful and dangerous. However, with autistic children, self-injury occurs more often than not. There are several theories as to why this practice can be prevalent in autistic children, and there are some methods you can use to help ease this distressing practice.
Because autistic children are unable to communicate through language the way that others can, they often feel frustrated at not being understood or at not getting what they need or want. Thus, autistic children may commit self-injury, by banging their heads or biting themselves (among other tactics), to release some of that frustration that cannot be communicated through words. Also, self-injury is a way of getting attention. An autistic child's frustration goes hand-in-hand with wanting attention. For instance, by scratching oneself until one bleeds, the autistic child will immediately get someone's attention, and this person will work to understand what the child wants or needs.
This theory of frustration and attention has been the sole thinking for quite some time. Recently, however, studies have shown that self-injury can have a biochemical component that relieves some of the pain and frustration one feels by releasing endorphins, or "happy hormones," into one's system. The endorphins also provide a release for the autistic child, allowing him or her to temporarily forget about his or her frustration and pain. Furthermore, it is believed that if one practices self-injury enough, the endorphins will begin to help mask any pain associated with such behavior, making it an addictive action.
While some professionals say that ignoring the autistic child's self-injurious behavior is an acceptable method of treating such practice, this can obviously be very difficult. Others have suggested that communication therapy and drugs may help an autistic child by providing him or her with another method of communication. There are drugs that will help stem the addictive behavior of releasing endorphins into the system, and thus help stop such behavior. There are also nutritional solutions available; vitamin B6 and calcium have been said to help many families with an autistic child.
For the family members involved, communication training to learn how to communicate with an autistic child is also extremely important. Because normal adults, and even children and teenagers, are so accustomed to communicating through easily recognizable words or body language, they have to learn that communicating with an autistic child requires a completely different process. By looking for solutions for both the family and the autistic child involved in self-injurious behavior, one may be able to overcome this distressing practice.
Dealing With Asperger Syndrome
Asperger Syndrome is a relatively mild form of autism that effects people in different ways than regular autism. Because it usually does not affect language, many people with Asperger Syndrome go undiagnosed. This is the one form of autism that is usually not caught at an early age and is instead a disorder that develops later in life. Asperger Syndrome, however, can be a very difficult condition to have, so as soon as you suspect yourself or your child of having communication and social behavior problems, see your family doctor.
Many famous and successful people were diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Historians even suggest that Einstein and Mozart each suffered from this disorder. It is important to note that no form of autism is a form of mental retardation. In fact, most people with Asperger Syndrome are very intelligent. Asperger Syndrome does not dictate mental ability, but rather makes it difficult for people to communicate in social settings, much in the same way a typical autistic child has trouble with behavior in groups. When this disorder goes undiagnosed, children do not get the help they need, leading to problems in school such as bullying. Most children are relieved to find out they have Asperger Syndrome instead of just thinking they are less of a person. By getting diagnosed, not only can you or your child put a name to the problems, but it is then also possible to get treated to improve your overall situation.
Some symptoms to watch out for if you suspect Asperger Syndrome are some of the same symptoms that people with full-blown autism experience. This includes social confusion, first and foremost. Many people with Asperger Syndrome find it very difficult to deal with transition or change, wanting everything to stay the same. A quickly changing environment is especially confusing. People with Asperger Syndrome also may say rude or inappropriate things when they don't mean to do so, and may not be able to understand others' thought processes. Another common trait they share with autistic individuals is fixation, although people with Asperger Syndrome usually have more control over their fixations, which take the form of highly focused interests. If you suspect yourself or a loved one of this disorder, these are just a few of the signs for which you should be watching. You doctor should be able to answer further questions and provide both reading material and treatment for this disorder.
Dietary Concerns Glutton And Casein
Autism is a disorder that must be treated with a variety of methods since there is no effective way to completely cure it. One of the ways you can help keep the symptoms of autism under control is by studying diet. Parents of children with autism have reported that by controlling diet, they see a significant difference in their child's behavior. Two of the main dietary concerns are glutton and casein.
Glutton is a substance found in many common food products, with wheat, rye, and oaks being the main culprits. Casein is found in dairy products, such as milk. If you or your child with autism eats many foods with these products in them, such as breads or cheeses, you may be able to better control autistic behavior by decreasing consumption of such foods.
The difficulty in digesting both glutton and casein comes from an inability to digestively handle the peptides in these substances. Since they are not broken down as in a normal body, these extra peptides are absorbed into the blood stream. Elevated levels of peptides disrupt major brain functions, contributing to the effects of autism. By cutting foods containing glutton and casein out of you or your child's diet, you can help the body with the process of breaking down the peptides present in the body. To see if you or your child has a high absorption rate of these peptides, your doctor can administer a simple urine test.
Speak to a nutritionist or doctor before making any major changes in your diet. When you decide to cut glutton and casein from your diet, do not attempt to do this all at once. Cutting anything from your diet suddenly is unhealthy, and your body could go into withdrawal. Instead, slowly begin reducing the amounts of breads, grains, and milk products until you are eating none. You doctor can provide you with a complete list of all the foods containing glutton and casein if you truly want to cut them all from your diet. However, it may be necessary to get the nutrients that you find in glutton and casein products in another way, such as with dietary supplements. Again, your doctor can help in this decision. Overall, maintaining a balanced diet is the healthiest thing to do. Leaving glutton and casein products out of your or your child's diet may help control autistic behavior, so it is an option that should be considered, but eating a healthy diet altogether is the best way to keep you and your family healthy.
A Gift Of Sight Visual Perception Treatment For Autistic Children
Autism effects every child differently, so it is difficult to find the exact treatments your child needs to cope with his or her symptoms. One thing that effects some autistic children (though, not all) is problems with visual perception. By using some standardized methods to help improve visual perception, you can give your child the ability to see the world more clearly, making learning and comprehension easier and possibly curbing some behavior problems as well.
Autistic children mainly have problems with sensory overload and distortion. These are some of the same problems many people not suffering from the disorder develop, and so many treatment options have become available. Individuals with autism often find, however, that the sensory overload of the world due to light, colors, contrast, shapes, and patterns, is too much to handle, causing them to act out or shut down in general. This is sometimes a genetic condition that is simply enhanced by the autism, so if the child's parents have trouble with reading or have been otherwise treated for visual perceptive problems, there is a good chance that the child needs help as well.
The Irene Method is one effective way to treat visual perception disorders. This method uses color to create a more harmonized world. You may have heard of these methods if anyone has ever suggested using a color filter over the page when reading to be able to read better and more quickly. This method is proven to work, and if your autistic child is at the maturity level of reading, you may want to try these color filters to see if there is a difference in speed and comprehension. However, it is more likely that your autistic child will benefit from color filters during the entire day, not just when reading. Special glasses have been made using colored lenses to conquer this problem. Not every child responds the same way to every color, so it is a process of trial and error to find out which color is the one blocking the harmful light. You can also choose to use colored light bulbs in your home to help autistic individuals with their visual perception problems.
This method mainly helps children in 4 areas: depth perception, social interaction, learning, and physical well being. The colors help the child determine how far he or she is from an object, and the world becomes more three-dimensional, helping depth perception. Social interaction also improves because the child feels as though he or she is in a calmer world and can more clearly see and interpret facial expressions. The colors make it possible to learn, especially when reading, and overall, the child will feel better, because it helps reduce headaches and dizziness. By testing this technique and others to help visual perception problems, you can help your child better cope with the world and his or her autism.
When Lying Isn T A Problem Theory Of Mind Difficulties
There are many symptoms that an individual with autism may experience; however, one of the most frustrating and hard to understand is what has recently been named Theory of Mind. Within the last few decades, this problem has been more thoroughly discussed and studied, but it is still largely a mystery. Because of Theory of Mind problems, social interactions are even more strenuous for autistic individuals.
Theory of Mind causes these social behavior difficulties in almost every aspect, from playgroups as children to the social world as adults. The concept behind Theory of Mind is that autistic people fail to recognize that other people in the world have different ways of looking at things. Although an autistic person may not be egocentric, he or she probably inherently assumes that everyone thinks, feels, and knows the same things he or she thinks, feels, and knows. Most autistic people have an inability to lie, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but is clearly unnatural. They don't even consider lying an option because they assume everyone knows the truth as they know it.
Because autistic individuals have an inability to lie, they also do not realize that other people do so. In fact, it is a rude awakening for autistic people to find out that others lie or are bad in general. This is especially unnerving when first experienced in the business world, and many autistic individuals do not know how to cope with this. Because they believe that everyone sees the world as they do, it is difficult for them to put themselves in others' shoes. Of course, this can be taught, but it is unfortunately a hard process that those with autism have to constantly remember to do.
Even children have trouble with Theory of Mind-they find it difficult to play games with other children that require keeping a secret. They also often must be reminded of sharing and releasing aggression in ways that are not harmful. Some of an autistic person's frustration may stem from this inability to understand why another is not reacting in a situation in the "correct" way. Autistic children also have a hard time understanding why people don't know certain facts-if they know it, so should everyone else.
Theory of Mind still needs to be studied in order to be able to better understand and treat this symptom of autism. Currently, the best teaching method is continuous social interaction, along with role-playing and other games that require autistic children to see things from many angles. Until modern medicine finds a better answer to Theory of Mind problems, the best thing to do is be patient with autistic individuals and be willing to explain your thought process to them.
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