All parents have the same dream for their children: to live a life filled with meaning and joy. But instead of soaring, we often see our kids "crash-landing" with meltdowns. We parents of special needs kids have had to "land at a different airport" so to speak. With the complications of Autism, a new route must be planned. Your new journey will include various therapies that will teach your child new ways of living life.
I recently read the book, "Josiah's Fire" by Tahni Cullen. Her son had non-verbal Autism. After he received a tool to help him communicate, he started blossoming with his new-found expression. The deep spiritual knowledge he shares with his mom, Tahni, will inspire and astound you! With one tool, Josiah's life positively changed and this affected his family and community in a powerful way.
Once you have a clear diagnosis, you need to ask questions. You could ask, "What types of therapies should I seek for my child?" Some of these therapies will be provided by the school (if it affects their ability to learn), some will be provided by agencies and some by medical professionals. Sean received Sensory Integration Therapy through an agency that was contracted through the school district. Some therapies may not be covered at all, and you will need to pray about whether you should go that route. I always suggest you consult with doctors, experts in Autism and your friends with special needs kids. They can provide a wealth of information. Also, contact some of the Autism specialists listed on the Resource page. There is help!
Here are some of the therapies that may help your child:
Occupational Therapy (small motor)
Physical Therapy (large/gross motor)
Sensory Integration Therapy
Auditory Processing Therapy
Visual Processing Therapy
Social Skills Training
ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) for behavior
Yoga (for anxiety)
There are alternative therapies, such as Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Ketogenic Diets. I personally know two moms who have each tried one of those therapies. But I can't give a recommendation or a thumbs-down as I'm not sure enough research has confirmed their results. I believe the traditional therapies should be your first priority. Again, continue to talk with the Autism professionals and other parents along your journey.
It can sometimes feel real lonely on this journey. We are so busy with our kids' school issues, medical and behavioral issues and trying to keep the peace at home, that we rarely have time to connect with other parents. So pick up the phone or go online to connect in the meantime. But don't let yourself get isolated. That's when depression can set in. We need to stay healthy to help our kids! Review the free download I gave you online when you signed up for Sparkling Hope called "Spiritual Secrets for Health". (See sign-up box at the top of this page.) It gives you some great ideas on how to manage your stress and obtain the peace-filled life.
And a last thought on behavior. Oftentimes the school will suggest consequences to manage your child's behavior. I would contend that the most important item to discuss with the school is the precedent occurrence. What happened just before the behavior? Most of these kids have communication difficulties. Instead of verbalizing their problems, they simply act out in frustration. One school dealt with Sean's behavior by depriving him of recess. This is so absurd that I still have difficulty containing my anger when I think back on this. Behavior is a huge clue as to what's going wrong. Your job is to be a detective and find out. Perhaps the child acts out every time the children applaud in class. Or perhaps there's a problem every time the air conditioning starts to blow in the class. Or perhaps the constant movement and sounds on the playground is too overwhelming to the child's senses. As soon as you discover the precedent occurrence, you will know how to eliminate the stress for your child. The minute Sean's classroom aid would see anxiety developing in Sean, he would know to take him to the playground for ten minutes of swinging. (Cross-brain activities like swinging and walking calm down the brain.) After he worked off his anxiety, they could then walk the track and gently talk about what caused the frustration. Once you have an answer, you can incorporate it into your child's IEP.
You may feel like you are "lost in the clouds" or your child is always experiencing a "crash-landing". But keep traveling your journey until you find your answers. Once you have a better understanding of your child's diagnosis and therapies are implemented, your child will eventually learn to soar, and you will be filled with overflowing joy!