I have been hearing the words "autism recovery" for over 13 years now. Truth be told, when my son was initially diagnosed 11 years ago, I too latched on to these words and held on for dear life. I mean, who wouldn't? If your child received a diagnosis of autism and you later hear the possibility of recovering from it, wouldn't you grab this thin strand of hope and at least try? I did. If autism recovery was possible, then we would achieve it.
There were many "bandwagons" that I jumped on that promised change in behavior, improvements in sleeping and eating; even dramatic results in social interactions. In essence, I tried everything that I could financially afford in order to have my son recover from autism.
I tried homeopathic supplements, casein free-gluten free diet, yeast free diet, organic diet, behavior interventions, probiotics and thousands of hours of speech therapy, occupational therapy, aba therapy, floor time, social skills, etc.
In reality, you need to be extremely rich in order to try all the possible interventions that claim to have had children recover from autism. Biomedical treatment such as chelation, which is the process of removing toxic metals from the body and hyperbaric oxygen treatment are some examples of costly alternative medicine that most insurance companies do not pay for. What's more, there is continued controversy in the medical community whether such treatments truly make a difference, let alone reverse autism.
A recent study showed that chelation doesn't help kids with autism. You can read the article here. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/12/24/chelation-doesnt-help-kids-with-autism-study-says/.
Another article talks about 3 people who have actually died from chelation therapy.
In the absence of a medical explanation as to the cause of autism, and in desperation to finding a solution, parents are willing to try most anything to help their child.
While I respect every individual's opinion, this is my opinion on autism recovery.
We've all heard the saying "If you know one child with autism, you know ONE child with autism". While there are similarities across the autism spectrum, you cannot fit every child into one mould and give them all similar treatments. Every child with ASD is different and unique. Therefore, their interventions are also unique to fit their specific abilities and work on their difficulties. You can have a very high functioning autistic child with PDD or Asperger's and you can have a very severe case of an autistic child with no eye contact or verbal communication.
We cannot compare a child with severe autism to another child with Asperger and expect the same developmental results. It's impossible. However, what we can expect is each child to develop at their own pace, in their own manner and in their own environment that is best suited for them.
Early intervention and therapy session for an autistic child is critical to their development. Sometimes the changes are small and sometimes it's a huge step forward. But one thing is certain, they continue to learn and grow on a daily basis.
Speech therapy helped my son to create sentences and verbalize his needs. Occupational therapy helped my son with gross and fine motor skills. Floor time helped him to interact with other kids and play appropriately.
While he no longer has certain fixations as he did when he was 3, he does have others. He has matured and developed but he is not recovered from autism. Autism is part of who he is, just like his big brown eyes with long eye lashes.
It was by my own free will that I tried so many alternative solutions. While I initially appreciated the hope of a possible autism recovery so many years ago, I quickly faced my reality and became angry at many organizations that gave me false representations, inflated stories and a cloud of lies. I had feelings of depression and desperation after every attempt failed to produced any significant improvements.
It all seemed like a cruel joke to play on a parent and giving them this sense of possibility when in reality, nobody knows how a child will respond to any given therapy.
What were once words of hope, "autism recovery" have become words that I no longer entertain in my mind.
I see the improvements my son has made and this is through hard work and perseverance. He has reached the stars compared to what he was doing 5 years ago, even one year ago! I celebrate this every single day!
I will never give up on him and we will continue to work hard as we have been doing all these years. But our reality is that autism is part of who he is and it will be for life.
What are your thoughts on autism recovery?
According to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, 1 in 68 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder, based on health and education records. That figure represents a significant increase from previous prevalence estimates, released in 2012, which estimated that 1 in 88 have an ASD.
Autism is roughly five times more common in boys than girls, according to CDC estimates. One in 42 boys have been identified with autism, compared to 1 in 189 girls. Children born to older parents are also more likely to have an ASD.
According to the NIH, early indicators include: No babbling or pointing by age 1, no single words by 16 months, poor eye contact, little to no smiling or other social responses and more. (Click here for more information from NIH.) The CDC says, "Health care providers will often use a questionnaire or other screening instrument to gather information about a child’s development and behavior. Some screening instruments rely solely on parent observations, while others rely on a combination of parent and doctor observations. If screening instruments indicate the possibility of an ASD, a more comprehensive evaluation is usually indicated.”
According to the Child Mind Institute both genetic and environmental factors could contribute.
Autism is treated with therapy, education plans and medication. Doctors and scientists say that early identification and intervention for children with an ASD can help them thrive in academically and socially in the future. There are still studies being done to find better treatments and perhaps one day, even a cure. A paper in Cell, a scientific journal, discussed a study with more insight into what could cure autism. The study found that feeding rats with similar symptoms to autism a gut bacteria called B. fragilis lead to an improvement in their behavior. "They became less anxious, communicated more with other mice, and showed less repetitive behavior,” according to the Atlantic.
Even when multiple vaccines are given to a child on the same day, they are still not at risk of developing autism.
Studies have also shown that if a child with an ASD has an identical twin, the other will be affected anywhere from 36-95 percent of the time.
There is an 83% chance of co-occurrence for developmental disorders and a 10% chance for psychiatric disorders. These disorders include Bipolar Disorder, Fragile X syndrome and Down syndrome according to the CDC.
Children whose language skills regress before they turn 3 have been found to have a higher risk of developing epilepsy.
The CDC recommends children be screened when the are 9, 18 and 24-30 months.
LOOK: This Is What Autism Looks Like Study Shows Big Leap In Autism Prevalence Autism Is Not a Parenting Fail
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