Is More Better?
A Commentary on Avoiding Craziness for Autism Parents
I understand that you are terrified and will do everything in your power to help your child. Really I do. You probably read somewhere that kids with autism should get 30 hours per week of “therapy.” Perhaps you heard a talk by a person who addressed your mothers' group about how important it is to try everything for your child. When you asked your son's pediatrician what services he should receive, he said, "Give it all a try, it can't hurt." Yes it can hurt. That is bad advice. That would be like telling someone with a broken Tibia in their lower leg to “give it all a try,” drink some herbal tea, see a crystal energy healer, go to a demonic exorcist, have chiropractic realignment of your spine, and, oh one more thing, get an X-ray, set the broken Tibia and splint and cast it. "And by the way here’s a prescription for a pain killer for a week until the bone starts to heal."
Guess what? There isn't a shred of evidence such a complex combination of largely ineffective and very losely related procedures are at all beneficial to children with autism. None, nada, acun, as in zero evidence at all. NONE! Some of these various “therapies” may actually conflict with one another, further confuse your child, increase his anxiety and delay skill development. Oh and by the way, it will drive you bonkers in the process.
The other most important thing is to remember is that your child with autism is a child like any other child, and should be an integral part of family life. Include your child with autism in everything that makes sense, and follow the recommended speech and behavior intervention methods throughout your daily life. Do not think of them as therapies that are only done when the therapists are present. Build your child’s interventions into normal daily routines. Take baby steps and don't expect miracles. But eventually, something akin to a miracle is likely to happen.
Ask your spouse, grandma or brother in law to look after Johnny for an hour. Meet your best friend at Starbucks. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly and sip your Latte' (actually I prefer white mocha with white chocolate and an extra shot of espresso). Have a raspberry and white chocolate scone (seriously yum) and stop being an autism mom for a few minutes. Tell each other silly stupid jokes and laugh until the tears run. You really need to have your tears run for a good reason some times. Afterward, go for a walk along the creek or around the park with your friend. Talk about something, anything, other than your child with autism.
In the evening after the kids are in bed, kick back and listen to your favorite music and spend 15 minutes at the end of every day pondering what really matters. Like for example, when was the last time you held the love of your life in your arms and told her or him you badly need some high quality intimate adult time with them? Then it's time to figure out a way to make it happen, like maybe a weekend away together. Autism craziness is too much work and will drive you nuts. You've got enough real issues on your hands. If this is all too hard, write me a note, I'll help.