My youngest son, Alex, has had many, many challenges in his life. He was diagnosed with mild ataxic cerebral palsy at the age of six months. Thankfully, we were able to dig up and use resources to help our newest born. This included speech and language therapy that meant that we had to shell out to the tune of $350 from our pockets three times every week.
While these resources are by no means easy to accumulate, we soon started seeing the benefits of our decision. Thanks to this early intervention, we now call him Mr. Chatty Cathy. We are sure that had he not had an early intervention, he may not have ever spoken.
Children with autism have a lot of trouble communicating. They often don’t start babbling at the age they’re supposed to and show a lot of delay in starting to talk. You start realizing this when all of the similar aged kids around you start talking but your child wont. Instead, your child starts engaging in repetitive behavior like staring at certain objects like their feet or other people.
Sally Rogers at the UC DAVIS MIND INSTITUTE in California conducted a small pilot study on early intervention of autism. The study showed that 5 out of 7 babies between the ages of 7 and 15 months who showed signs of autism were able to catch up with the developmental growth of other kids their age after an early intervention program.
Today, statistics show that 25 – 50% of autistic kids who receive early intervention can move into general education streams by Kindergarten. Additionally, several others move into general education by the next few grades. Many others need significantly less service provision in the future.
During his early years, one of the major challenges Alex had in his communication was an inability to hold concepts together in to a complete thought. This was one of the problems that we tried to deal with. For example, when pictures of a baseball bat, a football, a softball, a cash register and a pair of skates were shown to Alex, he had a difficult time understanding that that was a sporting goods store. Slowly, but gradually, we trained his mind to read these patterns and make conclusions. He’s still not great at this stuff, but the bottom line is that we’re happy he can talk and communicate with us. His life would be much more difficult without having this type of early intervention.
Subsequently, Alex’s doctor stated that Alex no longer qualified for cerebral palsy and we were elated. “Alex is not a CP kid”, he said. This was great news at the time.
Not many families are able to diagnose or afford early intervention. It would definitely be helpful if parents had a DIY kit on strategies to use for their kids. Our goal with Autism Today is to make resources available for everyone through early recognition, diagnosis and subsequent strategies for improvement of an autistic child.