Treating Autism: One Child's Story
An autistic child's mom tells WebMD about the strides her son made in the Early Achievement program.
"You know, I had only had the diagnosis for a month, and the information
was so overwhelming -- those things that say 'autism is forever' -- it was
overwhelming and scary. I threw the books down, I was overwhelmed -- but this
parent training was a hand-holding through this first scary time of 'What is
right? What is real? What do I need to focus on right now?' I can't imagine
where I would have been without that support. For me it was huge.
"At the time Gabe was just a little guy, he had a lot of anxiety, he was
still anxious. I got to observe him through the two-way mirror. I was there all
the time with my nose stuck to the glass, watching how they spoke to him, what
they did, and I learned so much from that. He was in a communication workout
atmosphere where every minute he was working. They were trying to get him to
communicate in so many ways, in ways that did not feel like work for him. He
did not like work at all. Every day he did this one-on-one with a teacher,
every day working on demands. That was his least favorite time, but he got
through it because he knew he wasn't going to sit there forever. Shortly the
bell would ring and he would get to check his schedule and go somewhere else.
So he sat through it knowing it would end soon, knowing he could make it.
"I didn't think there was any way he was going to be able to do this,
but it was such a natural setting. At first he did not know how to play with
toys. He would just kind of wander in the little play area and didn't know what
to play with -- he didn't understand what play was. Six months later he was
engaging in play with other children.
"Those six months my father describes as a light switch being turned on.
He went from little scripted sentences to speaking in three- and four-word
sentences. Originally I kept a list of everything he could say -- he only got
up to 30 things. But after a few months, I had to abandon the list because he
had an explosion of language. And I believe it was the program making a
difference. We didn't do anything else. We did not have time to save money for
private therapies. A speech therapist would come to the house a couple of times
a month, because it was free, and I appreciated it, I was grateful to get even
that, but that was pretty much all we were doing.