Treating Autism and Other Spectrum Disorders

Austim, Asperger’s, ADD, ADHD.  Those are the ones we best know, but the ASD or PDD list is long and scary.  Today, I want to talk about autism and Asperger’s because that’s my world.  I’m not a medical professional, and I’m not going to throw lots of stats and studies at you.  I’m an expert in Michael, and I’ve done a ton of research, because I learned very early on, if I wasn’t responsible for my son’s treatment, it wasn’t going to happen.

Here’s the big question of today.  Does living with autism have to be a lifelong issue?

Yes.  And no.

Frustrating, right?  When we think of autism, we’re usually thinking of the kids that are non-verbal, rock and flail, and have OCD like tendencies.  I’ve come to learn that that’s not autism.  Those are side effects of autism.  And as a side note, I think scientists are still debating the difference between autism and Asperger’s.  As of right now, if a kid is verbal in the early years, they call it Asperger’s instead of autism (what Michael was labeled with this past spring), but scientists are still studying and trying to decipher the differences in brain wiring between the two, resulting in Asperger’s often being reclassified on the spectrum list.  The two diagnoses have been used interchangeably depending on how high-functioning the subject is.

The greatest resource I ever found in understanding and treating Michael was a book by Dr. Kenneth Bock and Cameron Stauth titled Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies: The Groundbreaking Program for the 4-A Disorders.  There is a treasure trove of simply explained technical knowledge in there with which every parent of a special needs kid should be familiar.

Dr. Bock likes to explain it this way.  Genetics load the gun.  Environmental factors pull the trigger.  We see articles now almost every day blaming spectrum disorders on everything from vaccines to cell phones to red dye.  You want to know what I think?  I blame it all.  Our population as a whole seems to be producing a generation of kids with some pretty delicate genes, brains that have sensitive wiring and predilections to poor function.  We throw them into this cesspool of unnatural, toxic (and genetically modified!) food, water that’s been treated with who knows what, poor and unbalanced diets, injections of crazy massive diseases into the body, homes that are filled with cell phones and wireless network waves bombarding the bodies and brains, and then we get surprised that the facts state 1 in 50 children will get autism.  Look at the Amish.  I think they have about 3 cases of autism.  Ever.  Something to be noted there in my humble opinion.  Our bodies were just not designed to function under these conditions.

Autism ultimately is a way of thinking.  The brain literally becomes hard wired towards static intelligence.  Please read The RDI Book: Forging New Pathways for Autism, Asperger’s, and PDD with the Relationship Development Intervention Program by Steven Gutstein.  This is why spectrum kids love routine and have trouble with surprises and transitions.  Their brains physically cannot handle it.  They look spoiled to the untrained eye, but to them, if event A does not produce event B every single time, they do not know how to adapt, their minds break down, and now we have a child screaming on the floor because they have no coping skills. The universe as they know it just disappeared and they are terrified.  The flapping, rocking, and OCD is just the window dressing of an overstimulated mind.

So does autism have to be a permanent disorder?  Again, yes and no.  Brain wiring will be what it is, it’s the way people come to us.  Certain connections will be poor, certain connections will be hyperactive, and that’s that.  However, if we can put those brains in a healthy, unencumbered environment, where sensory processing disorders have been calmed, and body systems are healthy and not putting undo strain on the brain, those brains can learn and grow new neurological pathways.  Dynamic intelligence can be developed, and these children can go on to function in society and even bring the gifts that their unique minds can offer.  Obviously the younger a patient can be caught and treated, the more hope there is to free a mind during its formative years, but even older children and adults can benefit and drastically improve from the right kind of help.

I’ll share Michael’s healing journey here another time, but I have to say this one thing about it.  God was so good in the way autism happened to us.   No one told me my child was autistic, and I didn’t have to start with that whole mountain at once.  Michael’s autism was regressive, not classic (only about 1% of autism today is classic), and because he grew up in a fairly healthy home that was already mindful of the creepy list posted above, his regression was slow and limited.  We were able to watch and see how certain factors affected him because he didn’t have too many to deal with.  His case was treated from day 1 as trying to get him healthy as a whole because we didn’t have a disorder name at the time, and I think that was his salvation.

Pray for your children’s healing.  And please don’t feel guilty that their issues are your doing.  I too, have given my children things that I thought would benefit them only to discover later that they were harmful.  We as parents do the best we can in the moment with the information we have, and we just have to put the rest into God’s hands.  None of this has surprised Him, and if we let Him, He’ll turn it into something beautiful and for His glory.

Hang tough.  Just do one moment at a time, and let God pick up your burden.

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