NOW THAT MY CHILD HAS BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM/PDD, WHAT’S NEXT?
When your child is diagnosed, the most important next step is for you and professionals involved with your child to learn about the many methods of intervention used with individuals with PDD.
(*NOTE: Using EEG Biofeedback, Sensory Integration Training, Auditory Integration Training, and Sound Therapy techniques that are customized for each patient’s individual needs, The Attention & Achievement Center has produced significant improvements in the lives of patients with autism and autistic spectrum disorders.)
WHAT ABOUT MEDICATION FOR MY CHILD WITH AUTISM?
There aren’t any medications that can cure autism, nor any particular medication that is recommended for individuals with autism. Medications can be recommended to help with very specific target symptoms that are associated with autism. Some of these symptoms might include extreme difficulty attending to the pertinent aspects of the environment or aggression towards self or others.
WHAT IS THE BEST INTERVENTION FOR MY CHILD WITH AUTISM/PDD? CAN AUTISM BE CURED?
There is no cure for autism at present. There are many kinds of interventions suggested by people and professionals with different degrees of experience with autistic people. Be wary of any intervention that promises a cure or that suggests that the particular method advocated is the only effective approach.
There is data to indicate that the best intervention for autism/PDD is early intensive intervention that utilizes behavioral methods and speech and language therapy to remediate specific deficits.
WHAT IS THE PROGNOSIS FOR MY CHILD WITH AUTISM?
Clearly, it is impossible to make a generalization about how any individual child will grow and progress. All children continue to develop, despite delays or the presence of deviant behaviors. Information that we have currently about the progress of adults with autism is based on the care these individuals received twenty or thirty years ago.
Our knowledge base about what educational strategies are most effective with these children has increased tremendously over the last ten to twenty years. A child diagnosed with autism will receive much different intervention beginning at an earlier age than was possible many years ago. This means each child’s chances for remedying behavior are greater today than years ago.
WHY IS EARLY INTERVENTION FOR MY CHILD WITH AUTISM/PDD IMPORTANT?
Both scientific studies and practical experience have shown that the prognosis is greatly improved if a child is placed into an intense, highly structured educational program by age two or three. Autistic children perform stereotypical behaviors, such as rocking or twiddling a penny, because engaging in repetitive behaviors shuts off sounds and sights that cause confusion and/or pain. The problems are that if the child is allowed to shut out the world, his brain will not develop.
WHO SHOULD I TELL MY CHILD’S DIAGNOSIS OF AUTISM TO?
Any professional involved with your child (teachers, doctors, social workers, therapists) should know that your child has been diagnosed with PDD. In some cases, if your child is very mildly affected by PDD or Asperger’s it may not be necessary to tell others involved with your child (such as camp counselors, swimming coaches, etc.). However, in most cases, telling these people helps them understand your child better and interact more effectively with them.
HOW DO I HANDLE MY CHILD WITH AUTISM WHEN HE _____?
Because of problems with processing and integrating information, many children with autism often exhibit difficult behaviors. To be sure, this can be very challenging for parents and educators.
Various methods and techniques have proven successful towards the reduction of these problematic behaviors. Some of the most effective methods have relied upon the reduction of confusion in the life of the autistic child. This can be achieved through the implementation of consistent structures that children may rely upon to get them through each day.
Techniques using schedule boards that are reviewed and updated each morning have been very beneficial. Confusion also decreases with simple and consistent instructions for the completion of various tasks.
These proactive measures may help reduce the incidence of problematic behaviors. Very often children with autism will respond favorably to environments and tasks that have been designed to match their learning strengths.
AUTISM AFFECTS THE WHOLE FAMILY
In addition to working with the autistic child, a child and adolescent psychiatrist can help the family resolve stress – for example, a feeling among the siblings that they are being neglected in favor of the autistic child, or embarrassment about bringing their friends home. The child and adolescent psychiatrist can help parents with the emotional problems that may arise as a result of living with an autistic child, and also help them provide the best possible nurturing and learning environment for the child.
RESOURCES FOR THE PARENTS WITH CHILDREN WITH AUTISM/PDD
The parents of an autistic child bear a heavy burden. They are frustrated by the child’s inability to communicate, impulsiveness, emotional unresponsiveness, self-destructive behavior, and eating and toileting problems. Some parents find it difficult to accept the diagnosis and constantly look for other explanations.
Many cope well enough, but all can benefit from some guidance and services, including counseling or supportive psychotherapy. An important resource for parents is the Autism Society of America, a mutual aid group founded in 1965, which provides information and referral services and supports initiatives in research, education, and care.
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