Autism Reality

Autism Spectrum Disorder and ABA – Living With Autism





Lexi Cota’s tutor, Sara English, coaxes her to repeat an “mmm” sound for a spoon of frosting.
(Journal Photo by Lauren Carroll)

The Winston-Salem Journal has done some excellent work on autism with this article and video Living With Autism. The article, interactive graphic and video do an excellent job of presenting the realities of life for an autitsic child and her family. It is done with a positive, but realistic, presentation of the challenges facing autistic children. And it cuts to the chase in telling parents of autistic children what they need to know. ABA based early intervention is critically important for your child’s future. These pieces also present very well the challenges faced by parents in trying to educate their children including the inadequacies of the formal education system in helping educate autistic children.

The Gordons suspected that Ross had autism when he was 6 months old, said Kristi Gordon, his mother. He never responded to people or toys, and could spend hours spinning things.

The diagnosis was confirmed a year later.

“No matter how much we thought it, it still kind of crushed us,” she said.

Others, like the Cotas, watch their seemingly typical child change into someone they don’t recognize. When she was a year old, Lexi was a charming, typical toddler, one who loved to pop out from behind doorways and say “hi!” Then, when she was about 16 months old, she began to change. She became at turns silent and withdrawn or unruly, running around and flapping her arms wildly. She was diagnosed with autism a few weeks before her third birthday.

No matter when they get the diagnosis, the message that goes with it is the same: Get help now.

Many experts say that children who are placed into therapy as soon as possible have the best chance of eventually living a relatively independent life in which they will be able to have a job, even if their social mannerisms are unconventional.

“When you see them young, and 11/2, 2 and 3, you have no way of knowing which child will respond well to intervention and which won’t. The idea is you provide intervention and treatment when they’re young,” said Dr. Kurt Klinepeter, an associate professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the medical director of Amos Cottage. Amos Cottage is affiliated with Wake Forest and offers services for children with developmental problems.

It’s difficult to tell how many children have other conditions that co-exist with the autism. About 30 percent of autistic children will have IQ scores in the normal range. Those children will have the best chance at eventually living independently, with jobs and typical lives – not just because they score well, but also because they have to be on the higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum to be able to take an IQ test at all, Klinepeter said.

The other 70 percent aren’t necessarily mentally retarded, he said. They could be more affected by the communication and social aspects of the disorder, which would make it nearly impossible to correctly administer an IQ test.

Children who are suspected of having autism usually end up at the county’s early-intervention program, either through a referral from a doctor or day-care worker, or because the parent is concerned enough to want an evaluation.

If the child is autistic, the county is in charge of providing therapy until the child turns 3, through the Children’s Development Service Agencies. Children can receive a combination of speech, occupational and physical therapies. Some also receive therapy through the ABC of NC center. It is paid for by Children’s Development Service Agencies.

Many parents want their children to receive Applied Behavior Analysis. The National Institute of Mental Health, the leading federal agency for research on mental and behavioral disorders, said that ABA has “become widely accepted as an effective treatment” in its booklet about autism. ABA is the only treatment specifically mentioned in the booklet.

http://tinyurl.com/2h5uqz

http://extras.journalnow.com/multimedia/2007/autism/autism2.wmv

http://extras.journalnow.com/multimedia/2007/autism/autism.html

May 29, 2007 Posted by | aba, Applied Behavior Analysis, autism spectrum disorders, early intervention, education | Leave a comment

Real Autism Awareness – Early Intervention is Vital

As my son ages, he is now 11, I continue to fight for improved health, education and residential care for him and autistic persons on all points of the spectrum. In doing so I have not lost sight of the critical importance of early intervention for improving the life prospects of autistic children. I am not, and never will be, one of those who believes that in order to accept, love and find joy in my son I must accept and find joy in his autism.

To parents of newly diagnosed autistic children I say over and over again – do NOT listen to the sometimes irrational voices that tell you to accept and embrace your child’s autism. Autism is by definition a disorder, a condition which brings with it many deficits in thought, communication, and behavior. True there are some savants and there are many high functioning autistic persons who have social deficits and some communication limitations. But there are also many lower functioning autistic persons for whom the reality IS life in residential or institutional care. It can be a life threatening and dangerous condition.

Love your child as he or she is, complete with his or her autism. But do not mistake your child for his or her autism. Fight to improve your child’s lot in life no matter how many hand wringing, joy of autism advocates tell you that you are suppressing and rejecting your child. They will not be there to help your child when he bites himself repeatedly, when she wanders out the front door only to be found hours later, or when you are sick, elderly, infirm or deceased. They are interested in their agenda not in your child.

The most important way to help improve your child’s abilities is to get as much behavioral intervention as intensively and as early as you can. ABA based intensive intervention meets the evidence based standards of federal, state, provincial, professional and academic autism organizations across Canada and the United States. To date it is the ONLY intervention that meets those high standards.

I am not alone in counseling new parents to seek as much early intervention for their autistic child as possible. There are many others. The following letter from the Journal-Standard really struck me because it was from the mother and father of an 18 year old young autistic man who also urge parents to seek early intervention for their autistic children.

J-S LETTER: Early intervention vital in autism awareness

Published: Saturday, April 14, 2007 9:44 PM CDT
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April is Autism Awareness Month. As parents of an 18-year-old son with autism, we are pleased that unlike 15 years ago, when our son was first diagnosed, the term “autism” brings thoughts other than from the movie “Rainman.” But there’s still a long way to go! Today, one in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism. That is more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS, combined! This epidemic needs to be addressed by all areas of society. We have a whole generation of children that have become “lost in autism.”

The following is an excerpt from http://www.autismspeaks.org. Please familiarize yourself with autism and its characteristics:

“Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person’s lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Autism impairs a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.

Autism Spectrum Disorders can usually be reliably diagnosed by age 3. Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviors in their child or their child’s failure to reach appropriate developmental milestones. Some parents describe a child that seemed different from birth, while others describe a child who was developing normally and then lost skills. Pediatricians may initially dismiss signs of autism, thinking a child will “catch up,” and may advise parents to “wait and see.” New research shows that when parents suspect something is wrong with their child, they are usually correct. If you have concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait: speak to your pediatrician about getting your child screened for autism.

If your child is diagnosed with autism, early intervention is critical to gain maximum benefit from existing therapies. Although parents may have concerns about labeling a toddler as “autistic,” the earlier the diagnosis is made, the earlier interventions can begin. Currently, there are no effective means to prevent autism, no fully effective treatments, and no cure. Research indicates, however, that early intervention in an appropriate educational setting for at least two years during the preschool years can result in significant improvements for many young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. As soon as autism is diagnosed, early intervention instruction should begin. Effective programs focus on developing communication, social, and cognitive skills.”

For further information about autism, please go to http://www.autismspeaks.org. Also, on their Website is a very informative 13-minute segment entitled, “Autism Every Day.” It gives an accurate portrayal of what life is like for an individual with autism, as well as how it affects the family.

Steve and Marie Bernhard

Freeport

http://www.journalstandard.com/articles/2007/04/15/opinion/opinion95.txt

April 15, 2007 Posted by | aba, applied behavioral analysis, autism awareness, autism disorder, autism speaks, early intervention, Journal Standard | 1 Comment

Aubrey’s Journey: Emerging from autism

If you do a google blog search on autism you will find many blog sites hosted by high functioning autistic persons who view autism in a positive light and characterize efforts by parents and advocates for autism cures and treatments as oppression, breaches of their human rights. There are other autistic persons, such as some who appeared before the Canadian Senate, who are supportive of efforts to assist autistic children and adults in overcoming some of the deficits associated with their autism. The Albany Democrat-Herald reports the story of Aubrey, a young lady with Aspergers’ Syndrome who benefited from early intervention and left many of her autism deficits behind. Aubrey’s mother, D.L. Clarke, has written a book about her daughter’s story and hosts a web site where parents and other interested persons can learn more:

http://www.aubreysjourney.com/


Emerging from autism

When Aubrey was born in 1992, she looked and acted like all other babies.

But as she grew older, she began walking on her tiptoes, she pitched tantrums and she screamed when her hands got dirty. She did not want to play with other children, and she was terrified of swings and teeter-totters.

Yet, Aubrey was intelligent and often appeared normal in unfamiliar situations.

Physicians assured Clarke that her daughter was normal. Clarke knew differently in her gut, but she did not want to accept the fact that her daughter might not be “perfect.”

In a book released Jan. 15 targeted to parents of children with behavior problems, Clarke discusses ways to seek a diagnosis for various disorders in children, and she explains how to keep hope alive and not to give up in dealing with situations no one seems to understand.

It was not until Aubrey was 3 years old that an early intervention team from the Linn-Benton-Lincoln ESD used the word autism to describe Aubrey’s behavior.

“That diagnosis opened a door of support that we didn’t have before,” Clarke said. “Gradually we found out she had Asperger’s Syndrome and not full-blown autism.”

Since then, through counseling, therapy and family encouragement, Aubrey has left many of her symptoms behind.

“She’s not cured, but she’s learned to cope and adapt,” she said. “Part of what helped is I encouraged her to get involved in activities. I treated her the same way as my other two children, and told her I expected her to learn and be independent.”

Aubrey is now 14 and a freshman in high school. She has entered talent shows, been part of a singing group and a dance team. She tutors elementary students at a Boys & Girls Club, and she wants to go to college and eventually have a family.

“I can’t imagine the consequences if I hadn’t kept on pushing,” Clarke said.

Signed copies can be ordered through her Web site: aubreysjourney.com.

http://www.dhonline.com/articles/2007/02/02/news/local/3loc08_autism.txt

February 3, 2007 Posted by | Aspergers' Syndrome, Aubrey's Journey, autism disorder, autism education, D. L. Clarke, early intervention, treatment | 1 Comment