Thursday, April 1, 2010

April is Autism Awareness Month

So April is Autism Awareness Month. It is always Autism Awareness Month in our house. And this reality will be more and more common for other families too, I am sad to say. Autism is the leading childhood disorder and the numbers continue to rise. The frustrating thing for many is that there are things you can do to dramatically help your child both medically and behaviorally. We support a biomedical approach 100% because it has worked for our child. The notion of putting healthy foods without fillers, preservatives, dyes, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, soy, and allergenic foods was not such a stretch for us to understand and agree to. It made sense once I learned more about true health and wellness. Food is our foundation, period. Then supplements can fill in the gaps and provide additional support. Understanding the underlying medical issues my son faces really helped in his recovery. Addressing yeast overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth, auto-immunity and inflammation all helped him "recover" and be able to communicate more effectively and reduced many of his Autistic symptoms. Treatments like Methyl B-12 injections, Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) and Respen-A have really been "wow" therapies for our son. As a result of what we have learned, our whole family is healthier and for that I am grateful. Autism is a journey, not just for the child affected but for the whole family. Each family approaches their response to Autism differently and I respect that. Here are some of the things we've learned along the way:

* Once you know one child with Autism, you know one child with Autism. Each are so different, in their challenges, strengths and weaknesses. Please do not lump them all together.
* It can bring you to places emotionally you never though possible, for the better and worse.
* It requires a lot of passion and a lot of humor to deal with some of the stuff you will inevitably deal with.
* I am a better person, parent and spouse because of it, or in spite of it.
* Always expect the unexpected and BE PREPARED. Snacks, changes of clothes, a weighted blanket and a brush for the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol were staples in our car for a looooong time.
* Don't question yourself when it comes to your child. Parent's intuition is real and many times, you ARE the only person who knows the ins and outs of your child. Believe in yourself.
* Don't let ANYONE push you around when it comes to your child. Don't take mediocre doctors, therapists or teachers. Your child deserves to be treated with respect and caring, period.
* Behaviors aren't just behavioral. Sometimes medical issues and sensory issues can be the root cause of many behavioral issues. Address those things and you can resolve the behaviors.
* Trust your child. Even nonverbal children will give you signs of a "bad fit" for therapists, etc. It can be scary trusting your child to a host of people who are supposed to be "helping". Look for cues and act on instincts. Our children are more susceptible to abuse because many cannot communicate well.
* Do what works for your family, period. Try things and see if your child responds.
* Never stop learning, questioning, fighting, your child is worth it!

So welcome April, welcome another month to make more people aware of Autism and my son's incredible journey with and recovery from Autism.

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