[ By AdelC ]
As a parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or any related developmental delays, the best thing you can do is to start familiarising yourself with, and accumulating as much K-T-M as possible. The more you have, the better equipped you will be in helping your child along the way.
I personally knew nothing about Autism 14 years ago. Determined to learn everything I could about Austism before seeking help from others, I dove into the deep end of my very own ‘Autism Programme’, which was the first step towards a long journey of meaningful discovery.
When my eldest son started going through various assessments and therapies, I would diligently gather information from all professionals, doctors, educators, therapists and experienced parents. Along the way, I also started developing my own opinions, ideas and my personal ways of intervention.
His daily routine included school and therapy sessions outside, whilst also undergoing physical intervention, table and floor time privately with me. With all the knowledge that I have gained, I knew exactly what I wanted him to achieve along the way. My time was also spent learning everything I could about Biomed, Homeopathy, Gcmaf, Neurofeedback and Magnetic Resonance Therapy.
Knowledge is key – it is so important to not act on impulse and always get your facts right before putting your child through any treatment. As a parent, we always have to be accountable and not put the blame on others if a therapy or treatment did not produce the expected result we were hoping for. My advice: Study the facts. Take responsibility. Accept the outcome.
When your child has autism, you will have to be prepared for, and come into terms with the fact that your life will inevitably go into overdrive mode for the first few years. There are doctor’s appointments to arrange, therapists to visit, home plans to schedule, workshops to attend and countless schools to check out. On top of that, there are also books and websites to sift through, information to review, and before you know it your ‘me time’ will suddenly become ‘therapy time’.
Through my experience and learnings, I created my very own ‘intervention time’ with my son, which I obediently carried out almost every single day. I developed and taught my own version of receptive skills, communication skills, academic skills, survivor skills, social skills and play skills.
And yes, you will also need to work harder if quitting your full-time job is not an option. Planning is crucial – schedule your time wisely and do whatever you can to come out with a working list and stick to it, but make sure you are clear on your intervention style. Remember, an ineffective intervention style will create bigger challenges later!
Time is free, hence, make sure you do what you can with your child on a daily basis. If you are clueless, start by getting advice from others. I found that learning from your child’s therapist, educator or coach on what you need to do with your child when he’s not with them was also a big help. The silver lining is, through perseverance, you will definitely see some light at the end of the tunnel – hang in there.
Autism can be expensive and some of the main costs you will need to allow for include:
- Doctor visits
- Diagnostic testing
- Alternative treatments
- Special diets
- Schools with shadow aides
- Additional therapies
My personal advice is to learn as much about autism as you can, and plan what you can do yourself before giving in to the urge to outsource everything. If you have additional funds, you can go ahead and try out every intervention and therapy that you come across to see what works – I always tell parents there is no harm in trying them all if you have a healthy budget. But if you don’t, you will definitely need to be more strategic about how you allocate your funds.
For example, we all know how costly individual or private therapy is. So instead of engaging a group of therapists, consider getting proper training by a qualified consultant so you too, can be just as competent in doing the job for your child.
You may also want to try out other approaches such as Floortime, RDI or Sonrise programmes. Outline your own intervention programme for your child instead of relying on what others think. When it comes to alternative treatments, you will need to do ample research on your own and decide if you are financially ready for it.
Educating and improving the symptoms in our ASD kids is a marathon and not a sprint. Sure, it helps if finances are not an issue, but the reality for the majority of us is that we will have to make informed decisions and not rush into every therapy or treatment that is available in the market. So take your time to weigh what works for you and your situation. Be extra careful and not rush into every therapy or treatment that are available out there.