The purpose of biomedical treatment is better health, so that the patient can achieve the goals set by the other professionals. The bedrock of autism recovery lies in the traditional therapies, including Applied Behavioral Analysis, Speech and Language, Physical and Occupational interventions.
At The Child Development Center, we have watched thousands of children who undergo a myriad of treatments, and spoken to the parents who part with their valuable resources of money and time. These are some observations that may help other professionals achieve their goals in a more effective manner.
“Just ignore those negative behaviors.” It depends on the specifics. Sure, an annoying stim or persistent request may diminish over time. But, try overlooking a child who has gotten out of the car seat and is pulling Mom’s hair. Also, advice delivered by providers who only spend 45 minutes is not the same thing as living with a problem 24/7. The child needs to be admonished, placed at arm’s length, admonished, and repeat until they get it. Biting, pinching, punching is never cute or harmless, and must be extinguished at the earliest age.
“Try to reduce the echolalia or scripting.” Let’s get this straight – you’ve been telling the kid to speak for 2 (or more) years, and now your telling them not to speak? That’s too confusing. Scripting is only possible because the intelligent child CAN memorize long paragraphs.
Also, if age appropriate expressive language is supposed to contain, say, 1000 phrases, and the recovering child only has 300, they will probably repeat the same phrase 3 or more times just to take up the space. The content doesn’t really need to make sense.
It’s SPEECH therapy, mostly, not Speech and Language. I have yet to meet a child who is really confused by multiple languages. Spanglish is fine. It’s all communication.”I think that he has speech apraxia.” Or, “I don’t think he has speech apraxia.” Or, “I don’t think that he’s really autistic.” If a person wants to speak but can’t, it’s speech apraxia. If they also exhibit repetitive behaviors and social isolation, it’s ASD.
“He’s falling behind in academics.” Consider the developmental stage. Is the child talking, talking to his toys, taking to other children, playing with other kids? They probably know their letters, numbers, and colors, anyway. However, socialization is paramount.
“She needs more focus and attention, with less hyperactivity and distractibility.” The behavior is mostly due to immaturity. Patience and persistence pays. Watch it… someone is going to want to prescribe stimulant drugs. Administering potent medications to a toddler rarely produces the desired effect.
“He’s anxious.” Given that a child has difficulty connecting, that would be an appropriate response. As they improve, children will observe others at play so that they learn the correct responses. Watch it… someone is going to give antipsychotic drugs. Administering potent medications to a toddler rarely produces the desired effect.
“I can’t help this child… he’s too affected.”
Doesn’t that mean, “You need to hire a better therapist?
Sometimes, setting goals, such as, “The child will put the correct shape into the cup 3 out of 5 times,” is appropriate. Others, such as not wandering, joining circle-time, or answering to their name, should be 100%, if the child is to succeed in a neurotypical classroom.
“Mom or Dad is not doing the right thing.” The parent is not the therapist, so part of a professional’s job is to devise a solution, not criticize.
Autism recovery is molded by hard-working, highly trained professional therapists. The newly emerging epidemic of ASD has created the need to re-think solutions.
Ultimately, we are all trying to achieve the same goals of getting children on the right path.