Don't limit the potential of our Autism Kids.

Children with Autism are individuals, not defined by others beliefs

Choose your beliefs wisely. Your beliefs will effect so much. They effects what you do, how you feel, how you effect others and how well your children learn and develop.

Often our beliefs are shaped by the others' belief's. These beliefs can be formed without much thought. Children with Autism are diagnosed, then parents are fed 'facts', and we assume they are true for our child.

The problem with identifying and diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is that we lose focus on helping our Autistic kids be the best version of themselves. People with Autism are individual people, with their likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses. If our children need help and support in a particular area, we help and support them. We don't follow a recipe made by others. We consider all the information and ideas that we can get our hands on, then choose our best approach.

We as a society have some automatic patterns of thinking. We judge Autistic kids for being stuck and having narrow thinking, but don't see the same trait in ourselves. So long as we think like everyone else, who will judge us for being inflexible? We will only be judged for being inflexible if we are different than everyone else, and refuse to conform.

Another such pattern of thinking is that there are diseases and cures. We think about cures because we have learned to think of curing or treating a disease with medicine. We don't think about returning to health and restoring normal functioning.

Why do we even have to choose either "Autism is incurable", or "Autism can be cured"?

What if we stopped arguing over a cure for autism, and just loved our children with Autism and helped them the be healthy and happy.

Do you believe that you can improve you child's health and happiness in a significant way? If so, do you think that would reduce their signs of Autism? Maybe you assume that you really can't make much difference to the development of you child with Autism?

On days when you feel healthier and happier, do your social skills improve? Can you concentrate better? Can you even comunicate more effectively?

There are many assumptions and beliefs applied to people with Autism. Many of us have taken these assumptions and beliefs as true.

Assumptions are often used in science to simplify equations and to study a complex system. The assumptions help, if they remain valid within the parameters tested, but what if the premises are not true for all situations? What if we take a different approach which makes the assumptions untrue?

A child is analysed, by taking into account a lot of information from parents, child care workers, early learning professionals, Occupational Therapists (OT), Speech Pathologist, Psychologists and Paediatricians. It makes people’s heads spin. At that point, people are looking at all the information to get a picture of the child. They determine their strengths and weakness. Then at some point, a diagnosis is made, everyone takes a sigh of relief and a deep breath. They can all relax because now the rules for ASD can be applied.

Assumptions are applied, and the ‘equation’ can be simplified, once there is a diagnosis. We can then apply what known about autism to our child.

Unfortunately, the predominant view in ASD involves un-scrutinised beliefs. The most impactful of these is “Autism is a lifelong permanent disorder”. This belief is taken as fact. Very few question this statement despite much evidence to the contrary. This belief was formed many years ago before science showed that the brain could grow new neurones and restructure.

The belief came from the world of psychology, where the tools used were ‘talking therapies’. Using the tools available to them, they were unable to reverse Autism significantly, therefore, in their view, it can’t be done. It’s wise to keep an open mind and seek new tools that may inspire new results.

The belief was formed before we knew that the gut produces a huge quantity of neurotransmitters that affect brain function. Now we even know that inflammation may be one of the biggest factors that influence the brain.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is considered to be a diagnosis. Based on specific criteria of behaviour and traits, a diagnosis is made. ASD diagnosis is, however, more of an application of a label that categorises the child’s behaviour and traits.

In my view, a diagnosis is a conclusion reached after undergoing scientific and medical evaluation of a patient using scientific methods such as diagnostic imaging and pathology. In the case of diagnosing ASD, no medical diagnostic work is carried out. This limits the ability to apply treatments and remedy’s to manage symptoms.

Once put into the category of ASD, a diagnosis based on available medical diagnostic tests should be carried out for the child. A diagnosis should involve a group of medical diagnostic tests (diagnostic pathology, imaging etc.). More than one diagnoses may be reached as a result of the testing. Each diagnosis would have a treatment, and a medical professional would devise a treatment plan based on the results of all testing.

Currently, the usual treatment of children with Autism involves occupational therapy, speech pathology, psychological therapies and other similar early interventions. These treatments are important in the development of the child, and professionals in these professions are developing advanced skills in their respective methods. I believe that these methods only address a portion of the required treatments.

Before I explain the most important belief change, I would like you to imagine that you have just woken up from a heavy night drinking with a hangover (or if you don’t drink, you have a virus and are quite ill, complete with a headache and brain fog). Imagine then that you had to attend a course learning new skills. Imagine how difficult it is to focus on the board for any length of time. Imagine how hard it is to remain engaged in the speakers talking. Imagine how hard it is to speak in a fluent way, whereby you sound intelligent. Then imagine after successfully getting through the day, you begin your drive home. Have a few near misses in the car. Realise that you haven’t bee concentrating, and wonder if you run a red light. When you pick up the kids from after-school care, the kids are excited to see you. They excitedly tell you stories about their day. After a few minutes, of stories and questions, you snap. You yell at the kids with an outburst like you haven’t done since you last felt ill.

Now imagine how hard it is for a child with Autism to learn from an OT. They feel like that consistently. How can they focus on learning or communicate effectively? Many kids with Autism have nutritional deficiencies, overload of toxins, chronic inflammation, mitochondrial issues, methylation issues etc. These need to be addressed. The child has to improve their health if they are going to be able to be happy, let alone learn what they have missed.

While we wait for a treatment for Autism, we should open our minds to a broader range of ideas to help.

I believe that support for ASD needs to be improved, incorporating the following:

  • Remove inflammatory food

  • Implement a clean, nutrient-dense diet

  • Each child treated as an individual based on their medical issues, behavioural issues and traits.

  • Empowering the parent with tools to help the child

  • Provide teachers with skills to help the child learn

  • Develop primitive reflexes

  • Treat noise sensitivities

  • Manage and treat visual processing issues

  • Improve fine and gross motor movements

  • Methods to improve speech

  • An integrative health practitioner who is skilled with childhood health issues.

It's important to address these core areas for many reasons. Here are a few basic examples:
  • A child with auditory processing issues will have weaknesses with communication and play.

  • A child with poor visual processing or Irlen Syndrome will have a hard time reading and copying from a board.

  • A child with un-integrated reflexes will have challenges with a variety of skills and behaviour.

Address the fundamental core skills and health issues to enhance the child’s ability to learn more complex skills. In our experience, we found that professionals supporting children with Autism spent a considerable amount of time teaching kids imaginative play. It seemed to be a priority to them. We were told that our son had little to no imagination because he didn’t engage in the textbook definition of imaginative play. He did, however, have a good imagination, but it was expressed inside his head, and playing by himself. He could tell us amazing stories about his play, that showed imagination, but since he was weak in auditory and visual processing, primitive reflexes and other health issues, he didn’t play according to the textbook. Since he couldn’t play in the ‘normal’ way, he was considered to have little to no imagination.

Below are some commonly accepted beliefs in the area of ASD. Under each belief, I’ve added comments from my perspective:

  • Kids on the spectrum can’t easily see things from another’s perspective.

    • When the child feels healthy, with a clear head, this symptom improves.

    • When a child feels safe and comfortable, without an overload of sensory input or other forms of overwhelm, the symptoms improve.

    • How well can we all see things from other perspectives? We can when we can relate others perspectives to our lives, but what if we can't relate others perspectives to our own lives? Autistic kids think differently and have different perspectives, so, therefore, they may seem not to see things from other perspectives. How well can we see from their perspectives? Should we be diagnosed with autism because we can't understand their perspective?
  • Kids on the spectrum have rigid beliefs and get stuck in their thinking.

    • Setting rigid beliefs helps give the child a sense of security. It simplifies their world and helps them keep safe.

    • Reducing the feeling of overwhelm, and finding ways of helping them feel safe reduces their reliance on rigid beliefs and rules.

    • Ironically simplifying the world by setting firm beliefs, rules and assumptions are common for anyone who is trying to simplify a system. It is very common in the field of ASD support. People often simplify the understanding of a child on the spectrum using firm beliefs and assumptions set by other people who have never met your child.

  • Autism is a permanent neurological disorder.

    • This adds much confusion to the field of ASD.

    • Autism can’t be cured, mainly because it’s not a disease. It is therefore strictly speaking permanent because by definition it Autism is a lifelong neurological disorder. Even if the child can function in society in a normal way, without any noticeable sign of Autism, they still have Autism.

    • The real, diagnosable health issues behind the symptoms of Autism can be treated.

So what do you believe? I hope you have an open mind, and choose your own beliefs. Once you've done that, be willing to change them.

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It's interesting that our child is branded with a lack of imagination tag for not playing like everyone else. Do they really lack imagination, or do they have different imagination the average kid?