Saturday, April 17, 2010

What I Wished I'd Known

I recently had a mom with a 3 year old boy who has autism and similar behaviors to Korbin what advice I would give myself if I were starting over again. She also has an older son with ADHD. Here's what I told her:

For your 3 year old I highly recommend an early intervention program. Call your local DHS office and ask for the person who handles Early Intervention. Find out the names of the facilities in your area. He needs an OT, Speech, PT evaluation, and full psycho-educational testing. If he qualifies for 2 or more therapies he can receive the services inside an early intervention center. They are like a day care where the kids can receive their therapies, socialize with other children, and get all the help they need in a supportive setting. It's all paid for my early intervention funding and will also give you the break you need to help him nights and weekends. Korbin went to Pathfinder Preschool in Jacksonville and I can't imagine where he would be now without them.

Korbin responded very well to a gluten and casein free diet. The first time we did it he was 3 and I didn't know that he was eating gluten and casein at school. If you do the diet it's really all or nothing. The books that explain it are Children With Starving Brains by Jacqueline McCandless. It's hard to read because it's so scientific, but will totally change yours and his lives. The other is Unraveling the Mystery of Autism by Karyn Seroussi. We went back to the diet, hardcore, this last October. I kept a food and behavior journal, made most of our food from scratch, and packed food for when we left the house. It isn't easy, but after about 3 months of hard work on my part, it's become second nature.

To understand both sons' sensory issues you'll need to read The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz. She really helps us understand why our kids do the things they do and then how to help them. I've read her books, been to her conference when she came to Little Rock, and have to thank her for the understanding I have of my sons'.

I wish we had started the diet sooner. I also wish we had laid down the law with him when he was little. With Korbin being the youngest, most challenged, and so darn cute we let him rule our lives. I realize now that I wasn't doing him any favors. In fact, I think that's a lot of what lead to the trouble now.

Get a good behavior therapist to work with you so you can help him. Never stop learning. It's OK to try alternative therapies, but don't do anything that can put your child in danger and watch for scams.

I guess the best advice that I can give you is to love him. Hate the autism, but love the child. Every behavior has a meaning. If you just stop to see the world from his perspective you'll see the reason for his actions. They're not always easy to see, but they are there. And even though our special kids don't always hug and kiss us, they still love us. You are his link to the rest of the world and he appreciates you more than he can say.

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