Sunday, July 30, 2006

therapy soup

One of the most challenging aspects of choosing the path we should take on the road to Autism Remediation was weeding through the million and one (or so it seemed) treatment options available. There was no way I could read about everything available all at once, so I took it one step at a time, starting with what I already knew and was comfortable with (Homeopathy), while reading and learning about diet modifications (because that made sense to me and was reportedly enormously helpful for a lot of families). While starting down those roads (which I'll post about seperately, soon), I read about the two most popular (in this area) therapies for Autism Intervention -- ABA and Son-Rise.

ABA was everywhere or so it seemed. I read glowing reports about it on parent's websites and blogs. So I went into reading about it with a very open, optomistic mind. It didn't take long for that to vanish. Everything I read sounded vaguely familiar, and about a week after I started my reading, it dawned on me why -- it was almost identical to how I train dogs! You give them a signal to do a task, you reward them for making an effort then show them how to do it correctly, you repeat until they get it right, making the prerequisites for the rewards higher as you go along, until you have the behavior you want on cue. Makes for very nice, obedient little dogs. Great dog training method! But I didn't want an obedient SON. I want a free-thinking son, with his own ideas and the ability to question what he is told and search for the truth, to think outside the box, to express creativity and be able to function seemlessly in a dynamic world. I just could not see how ABA could offer that hope. Even the name was off-putting to me -- BEHAVIOR modification. I didn't want to modify Jacob's behavior. I wanted to rewire his brain. If his brain functioned more typically, then he would behave more typically. Didn't that make more sense?

I looked at Son-Rise next, which may have had some merit, but I was so put off by the religious undertones (and sometimes overt overtones) that I didn't make it far with my reading. As far as I'm concerned, everyone has a right to believe whatever they want to believe, but they don't have the right to force it down my throat, and I felt that choking feeling when I read the Son-Rise information (and even more so when I read stories of parent's individual experiences with it).

So I was a little less open-minded when I picked up Stanley Greenspan's bookabout his Floortime method. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he did not talk about behavior modification (hooray!), and nothing in his book reminded me of dog training. But it seemed to swing too far to the other extreme. In some ways it was similar to what we had already discovered -- if we wanted to be a part of Jacob's world, we needed to get down on his level and join in on his activities. But it just didn't seem like enough. We were already DOING the sorts of things he suggested, and I didn't see how that could possibly cause the sorts of dramatic change in his neural pathways that we needed to truly remediate Autism. Certainly it was a better approach for us than ABA, but just not enough.

I was discouraged, and decided to focus my efforts on trying to find therapists for Sensory Integration and Language, since both seemed to be a bigger problem than Autism deficits at that point in time. I also discovered Cranio-Sacral Therapy along the way (which I'll also talk about in a seperate post).

We toyed with getting a DAN! doctor, a thought that we occasionally toy with still, but it was just a matter of using our resources on what we thought would benefit Jacob most. As an unvaccinated child, who had been autistic from birth, we found it unlikely that it was a mercury problem causing Jacob's autism. Add in the fact that there is known Autism in my family anyway (not that I knew before I had Jacob! But it sure came out after his diangosis!), and the fact that both The Map Man and I are fairly certain that he (The Map Man) is on the Autism Spectrum himself, it seems pretty likely to us that we're talking about genetics rather than environmental factors in our particular case. So we shyed away from the biomedical approach.

It was almost another year before I found out about RDI (long after I stopped trying to find a remediation program -- a family member told me about it, as she had just started using it with her Autistic son). I'm not sure how I missed it in my original searchings -- maybe I just got disgusted and gave up on Autism Therapies before I would have naturally come across it. But from the moment I started reading about it, I was jumping up and down and yelling "YES! THIS IS IT!!!!" I was right.

But first, more about the other things we tried, and how we came to get Jacob's official diagnosis. Posted by Picasa


At 3:27 PM, Blogger K.C.'sMommy said...

Hi, I just stopped by the blog, "This Mom" and found your blog! My name is Tina and I have a son who is 5 years old and Autistic. That is one cute little guy you have there:)
Just wanted to introduce myself, have a great day!


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