Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Love Song to My Former Life

Autistics can't absorb minerals - supplement them.
WAIT! Don't over-supplement.
Autism is cured/helped/mitigated by taking doses of fish oil.
Be careful of heavy metals in fish oil. Better not use it.
Make sure he gets his vitamins.
Cut back on dairy; it makes Autistics crazed like squirrels on Starbucks. (Okay, that was my paraphrase.)
Try milk substitutes, like soy milk.
Don't use soy! It's worse than catnip for Autistic cats. (Kids. Whatever.)
Watch out for glutens. (AAAAUUUGH!! Attack of the killer bagel!!!)
Dare I say it - vaccinations? (Too late! He got his. Probably I'm a criminal or something as a result.)

Autism is connected to the digestive system.
Autism is neurological.
Autism is physical.
Autism can be improved by stimulating certain parts of the body, like the "pointer" toe for language centers.
There IS no "autism". (There is only Zuul?)
Feldenkrais! (Gesundheit!)


So these are all the things I was told just in the past two days.

It is a very VERY good thing that I am a) stubborn like a mofo and b) have had some experience in this field because let me tell you, if I were a parent fresh off the diagnosis train faced with all the conflicting info out there, my head would explode. Then we could add

Autism causes insanity!

and also

Autism creates fatal explosive inter-cranial pressure! (Wait till THAT one circles the interwebz, o boy!)

So let me stop here and say that both Jeff, the psych therapist (who was also one of the people who did the initial evals) and Bethany, the speech therapist, were lovely people, and connected very well with James. This is not particularly hard to do, since he pretty much likes everyone, and isn't one of those kids that freaks the hell out when he's pushed out of his comfort zone (Bethany was able to pick him up and snuggle him with nothing but grins in response after intentionally frustrating him to see what kind of verbalizations he would make, and Jeff had him laughing like a loon). However, it was nice to see his easy-going nature confirmed.

Both therapists used the first session mainly as a getting-to-know you time, although Jeff less so because he had already met Jamesy. Both agree that he is super-intelligent, and super-stubborn (we're calling it "inner-directed"). Both want to up their therapy from once to twice a week. (The state mandates that they start at once.) Both are encouraging, upbeat, and clearly charmed by the curly-headed rascal they are charged with helping. Both came armed with various toys, plunked themselves down on the living room floor with them, let Jamesy come to them and choose things, did lots of mimicry as they played, and were willing to let him stop to draw, which is one of his favorite things.

Overall, no complaints (besides my general unhappiness with having to do any of this in the first place, obviously). However...

... Bethany has an autistic daughter, age 6. Because Bethany has had some success with various dietary modifications, and claims that her daughter (who stopped talking at age 2) has now begun speaking again due to her Feldenkrais involvement, she is chock full o' what I am now going to call "Things You Should Absolutely Positively Do For Your Autistic Kid Unless You Shouldn't, In Which Case Nevermind But Please Take All My Advice Anyway" (instead of calling it "the usual bullshit", which while more apt, is less descriptive.)

Now if you've done any reading at ALL about autism (or seen a news report, or spoken to anyone anyplace anytime ever), you will know that no one knows what it even IS (there is no single, coherent definition), much less what causes it, or how to cure it. Certainly, some children have benefited from each of the various approaches, which I have no doubt were the brainchildren of some frustrated parents grasping for something, ANYTHING to help their kid. But if there were a therapy which worked every time, guaranteed - or even MOST of the time - people would be lined up from here to the moon to get in on it. So while I am not necessarily dismissing ANY of the approaches mentioned - or any of the 40 gadzillion I will no doubt hear in the future - I would like to take a moment to be grateful that I was in the field long enough to know to take what I hear with a grain of salt. (ACK! NO SALT!)

And meanwhile, we have so far been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the interactions with Jamesy and his therapists - and that, in the end, is all that matters.

[And before you ask, Mo... MS, CCC-SLP, TSHH. Iz gud?]

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