ABA Therapy: Autism’s Answer??

By the time your child is diagnosed with Autism you’re already exhausted and anyone who knows will tell you the real work lies ahead of you. You know you need to get your child help and you need to get it quickly. You don’t have time to reinvent the wheel or to search out the cause of Autism. You need an intervention that has been proven scientifically effective, one that takes your child’s individual strengths and deficits into consideration. You need something that can quickly begin to build your child’s skills while at the same time diminish your child’s challenging behaviors. In short, you need a really good ABA therapy program.

ABA stands for Applied Behavioral Analysis which was first introduced in 1957 when Skinner wrote Verbal Behavior. In the ’80’s Lovaas first used ABA with children on the spectrum to see if the principals of ABA could have a long term affect on Autism. His results were astounding. In 1987 he published his findings, after 2 years of intensive ABA therapy 47% percent of the children in the study were largely indistinguishable from their neuro-typical peers, the rest of the group showed considerable improvement. Since that time there have been several studies that have replicated Lovaas’ initial study. It is for this reason that the scientific community has embraced ABA as the only treatment for Autism proven scientifically effective. Insurance companies, who for years claimed they did not have to pay for Autism Treatments because nothing had been proven effective, are now beginning to pay for ABA programs.

The science is important, crucial to getting an ABA program funded, but ask any parent who has a child in a quality ABA program what the benefits are and they will tell you simply, “I’m getting my child back!”

This week on Everyday Autism Miracles we are going to talk about ABA therapy, parent to parent. What is it really like? Is it worth it? What does it mean for the family and how can you get it? Tune in to hear host Shannon Penrod describe what she calls “The Autism Miracle in My Living Room.”

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Dietary Intervention for Autism

By Shannon Penrod

When your child isn’t meeting all of the their developmental markers it seems counter intuitive to take away their favorite foods, maybe even cruel.  It seems that way but it isn’t.  The truth is that food is sometimes part of the problem.  If your child was recently diagnosed with Autism, you may have been told there are some dietary interventions that prove very effective with some children.  You may also have been told that it doesn’t work for all kids, or even that it doesn’t work at all.  I can’t speak for all children, but as a parent I can tell you that my child started speaking again when we took milk and wheat in all forms out of his diet.  If that isn’t compelling enough, it also changed his behavior so greatly that I was able to walk down the sidewalk and hold his hand for the first time.  It was so clear in our son’s case that milk and wheat made his symptoms of Autism worse that we were highly motivated to keep it out of his diet.

I remember my mother saying to me, “Isn’t he ever going to get to eat ice cream?”  I looked at my chubby cheeked three year old and told her, “He can have ice cream, he just won’t be able to talk or communicate for days afterward.  Ice cream is great but I’m going to choose being able to talk over ice cream.”  My mother looked like I’d slapped her, but she really “got it”.  I’m sure kids who have peanut allergies wonder what it’s like to have a peanut butter sandwich or to eat our without fear of contamination, but who would choose peanuts over breathing? Or ice cream over speaking.  In our case it was a no brainer.  Unfortunately, it isn’t always as cut and dried with other kids.

There is one efficient way that I have found to predict if your child could benefit from one of the dietary interventions for Autism:  Look at what and how your child currently eats.  Is your child addicted to colorful candy?  They don’t want to eat meals they just want to snack on colorful sweets?  Chances are that your child could benefit from a version of the Feingold Diet.  Does your child live on crackers and milk, or mac and cheese and chicken nuggets?  They don’t want juice, but they crave milk?  Your child is a prime candidate to improve on the gluten free, casein diet.  Is your child in love with potatoes?  French fries for lunch, tater tots for dinner, mashed potatoes at restaurants and potato chips in the car? They don’t want water, but they love juice and crave fruit of all kinds? Odds are your child could benefit from at least a modified version of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.  Does it all sound scary and overwhelming to you?  You aren’t alone.

In this week’s show we are going to talk about dietary interventions, what to try, how to do it with very little fuss and what it can mean for your child and your family.  Have questions or want to tell how dietary intervention helped your child?  Call in during the live show on Friday at 2pm EST, 11am Pacific Time at 877.864.4869.

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My Child was Just Diagnosed with Autism. What do I do?

If  it hasn’t happened to you then chances are it has happened to a friend, a family member or a co-worker.  Autism is on the rise and more and more parents find themselves hearing the words, “You need to get your child tested for Autism.”  While it is terrible for parents to hear that, if their child does have Autism getting a proper diagnosis, as soon as possible can begin a world of improvement.  We know now that from the time a parent first has concerns about their child’s developement to the time that intervention takes place is too long.  It’s hell for the parents and it is wasted time for a child who needs help. 

For the next six weeks Everyday Autism Miracles is going to focus on what a parent or caregiver can do before during and right after Autism diagnosis to speed the process and to begin healing.  This week our topic is Diagnosis.  We will be talking at length with experts and parents about who to go to for diagnosis, what tests should be done and what the results mean.  We’re going to answer all the questions you have about PDDnos, Aspergers and Autism and what separates them.   We’ll give tips on what to do while waiting for your child to be tested and how start helping your child NOW.

Have questions?  Or want to tell your diagnosis story?  You can email Shannon at shannon@everydayautismmiracles.com or you can call in to the live show at 877.864.4869

Everyday Autism Miracles airs live every Friday at 2pm Eastern Standard Time, 1pm Central Time, Noon Mountain Time and 11am Pacific Time on Toginet Radio.  Free podcasts of the show can be downloaded at www.toginet.com/shows/everydayautismmiracles and on Itunes.

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Miracles Large and Small

by Shannon Penrod

Is there really such a thing as a small miracle?  All I know is when you have a child on the Autism Spectrum you have the opportunity to celebrate things that many people take for granted.  A child looking into your eyes and saying “Hello.” is a miracle that I will never, ever take for granted again.  The beauty and the power of it has the power to bring me to my knees in gratitude.  I am not alone.  There are a million or more parents around the world who understand the sheer beauty of such a miracle. We are the parents of children with Autism.  

Today on Everyday Autism Miracles we are celebrating all of the miracles in our lives and sharing our message of hope with the world.  Tune in to listen to the grateful messages from parents whose children are making great strides.  Better yet call in and tell us your message of hope at 877.864.4869! 

Everyday Autism Miracles, Fridays at 2pm EST, 11am Pacific time  www.toginet.com Listen to the free podcast on iTunes http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/everyday-autism-miracles/id356451530

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Asperger’s and Holidays

By Shannon Penrod

The other day I watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with my son.  This is a holiday tradition that I have loved since it came out in the mid sixties and I was thrilled that this year my son actually wanted to watch it.  This year he noticed something he never had before.  “Why does everyone want Rudolph to be like everyone else?” he asked me.  It’s a great question. 

“Because people get used to something being a certain way, and when it isn’t that way it makes them nervous.”  To which he replied, “They have Autism too?”  It reminded me that rigidity is a two way street.  I ask my child on a regular basis to work on his rigidity issues, but do I work on my own?  Even my tradition of watching Rudolph is a little bit of a rigidity issue.  It isn’t Christmas for me if I don’t get to watch it after the tree is up.

I started thinking about all the expectations I have around the holidays.  I have ideas about how I want it to go, how it ought to go, how it ideally should go.  This is never how it really goes.  Having a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder has taught me a lot about letting of loaded expectations.  Oh, I still have expectations, but they have changed, in order to be less rigid, so I can meet him at least halfway.

This week on Everyday Autism Miracles we’re going to talk frankly about the reality of holidays with Asperger’s Syndrome.  Joining us will be several of our interns, all college students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  We’ll talk about what the holidays are like for them, what they think are great gifts and how to stow your rigidity issues so you can enjoy your child and the holidays.  Join us and join the conversation on Friday at 2pm EST, 11am PST on Toginet Radio. www.toginet.com

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Toys for Kids on the Spectrum

By Shannon Penrod

‘Tis the season to talk about toys.  I don’t know what it’s like for parents who only have neurotypical kids, but in our house we make two lists; things my son wants and things we think will help him to learn and grow.  Then we try to meld the two lists together in a feat of budget desperation.  It’s not always perfect but we usually do okay.  I generally try to talk to other parents and see what has helped their kids, this is a great resource for toy ideas. 

I also watch what other kids have on play dates and what my son responds to.  A couple of years ago he went on a play date to a friend’s house and they had the Cranium game Hullabaloo.  I had been considering buying the one that came with a little console, my friend’s son had the DVD version and my son loved it.  For the first time ever he played with a friend instead of next to him.  I bought the game and years later it is still a favorite when friends come over. It builds listening skills, coordination, higher level thinking, sharing, space awareness and socialization skills.  And it’s fun, not bad for one little toy!

This week on Everyday Autism Miracles we are going to be talking about toys, toys, toys!  What’s good?  What’s educational?  What’s great for kids who put things in their mouths?  What’s a waste of money?   Can anyone tell me how to talk my son out of those battling hamsters? 

We have several different toy experts dropping by to offer their best suggestions and several of our interns will be offering up advice about what to get older kids on the spectrum.

If you have a toy that you want to recommend or tell parents to skip give us a call during the live show and share your story.  If you aren’t available for the live show but have a question or comment you can send it directly to me shannon@everydayautismmiracles.com.  The live show airs on www.toginet.com every Friday at 2pm EST, 1pm Central, Noon Mountain Time and 11am Pacific Standard time.

For more information on Everyday Autism Miracles visit www.toginet.com/shows/everydayautismmiracles  free podcasts of all of our shows are available there and on iTunes.  To call into the live show, dial 877.864.4869

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Getting Kids with Autism Ready for College

By Shannon Penrod

When the pediatrician looks at your child and says the word “Autism” thoughts of college don’t necessarily go away, but they frequently go on a back burner.  When you have to worry about kindergarten, college can seem like a long way off.  Dr. Sarita Freedman has written a wonderful book, Developing College Skills in Students with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, which helps us to prepare our children no matter what their age or where they are on the spectrum.

Dr. Sarita Freedman will join us on Everyday Autism Miracles this week to talk about all of the skills that our children need in order to get them ready for college and at what age we can start to build these skills.  She also has a great deal of information about how to advocate for your college age child in order to make their experience of college more successful.  For more information visit www.collegeonthespectrum.com

Joining us on this episode of Everyday Autism Miracles will be two of our Interns, both who are college students with ASD.  Biomed Mom Joanne Allor will also join us with new tips on interventions for our kids and tune in to hear how Jem is doing on his Methyl B12 shots!

The live show airs Fridays at 2pm Eastern time, 11am Pacific.  Call 877.864.4869 with questions and comments.

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