Common Autism Recovery Mistakes and How to Avoid Them - Part 2
In Part 1 of this series, I focused on mistakes made in early childhood when you are just beginning your journey. In this article, I will focus on mistakes generally made during childhood.
4. He doesn’t understand, therefore, I cannot discipline my child.
This was the worst belief I ever held! The children seem so in their own world, and from one moment to the next, seem to not remember. I set many boundaries that I didn’t enforce. I adapted to him instead of setting limits for him.
I remember a psychologist telling me to just accept the fact that I would have no lamps or curtains in my home for a long time. And that was probably justified given the severity of the situation. But, what was missing was the advice to create a safe space, as in a Son Rise Playroom, which was an empty bedroom with nothing on the walls except a few high shelves with a few fun toys. No electronics, just a happy parent and a happy child.
Even in a safe space, there are rules and limits. A Thomas train is thrown at the wall? “It looks like you want to throw. I’ll put that train up for five minutes and give you this ball.” He’ll get the message.
Bottom line: every child needs limits. Create a safe space where you can interact positively and not say “No, stop it, don’t touch that, don’t do that” all day long. Put them in a situation where there is an opportunity for praise and not constant redirection, or worse yet, electronics all day to keep them occupied.
5. Therapists to the rescue
Once the need for early intervention is recognized, and people carrying bags of toys begin to arrive at your door daily, you may think that you are doing everything you can to help your child. Speech, OT, and Special Education are part of the solution, but only a small part. Furthermore, the hours they spend with your child are extremely limited compared to the total waking hours in a day or week.
Bottom line: You, and a small army of enthusiastic helpers that you choose, will be the ones to carry over all the teaching, on a moment-to-moment basis so that it is reinforced and learned. Our children need to be taught everything, and do not easily pick up skills on their own like typical children will from observing and watching other people, so a few hours of therapy a week is not going to accomplish what is necessary to succeed.
6. Physically moving a child when they are young
It makes me cringe now when I see it, but when a child is little, they are easily redirected by picking them up and moving them, or taking them by the wrist (because they don’t like to be taken by the hand) and moving them. They don’t want to go into their speech session, so they are picked up and brought in. Then, they don’t want to leave, so they are pulled by the wrist, out the door. Don’t want to make a scene!
Bottom line: your child will not be little forever, and someday, you won’t be able to pick them up and move them out of a situation, or be able to take them and move them away. Worse yet, they will grab you by the wrists to get you to move. Start young and work with them to respond to your verbal or picture direction. Medical treatment will help make this much easier.
7. Throwing money at a problem
Money is always an issue. It’s a fact of life. Those with limited resources sometimes use it as an excuse to do nothing at all. By contrast, those with plentiful resources think that by buying this toy and that toy and the next new toy will finally be the toy that makes the difference and their child will start interacting with them. All you end up with is a house full of toys (take my word for it) and a child who picks a few favorites, lines them up all day, and still ignores you.
Once a diagnosis is made, then the temptation is great to try any and every program immediately. Listening therapy, vision therapy, sensory camps a thousand miles away from home (I did it all) … but if your child is physically unwell, all of these treatments are not going to make much of a difference.
Bottom line: Spend money getting to a physician who will recognize and treat underlying physical illness, infection, and inflammation, and wait until your child feels better to implement all the great programs out there designed for rehabilitation and recovery of auditory and visual processing pathways. Those are all dynamic pathways in the brain, and inflammation will undo six months of vision therapy very quickly, or you may find a need for frequent “boosts” for listening programs. Inflammation of the brain and encephalitis need to be treated at the root cause. The only thing I would spend money on besides medical care is learning and implementing the Son-Rise Program at The Autism Treatment Center of America.
8. Failing to listen
There is such an overwhelming amount of information out there about autism. It takes discernment to separate the pearls of wisdom from the social media chatter. You know your child best, no doubt. However, after a while on the road to recovery, parents are so busy giving others advice that they are not open to receiving it.
Bottom line: if the same information keeps being presented to you again and again by various routes, and various people, it might be a gift for you from the universe, waiting to be unwrapped.