I wrote something on my personal Facebook page the other day about how sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing, that sometimes things have ways of working themselves out. Too many times, parents are urged to do something about their child being autistic. Your kid stims, so you employ an ABA therapist to stop it. Your kid holds their pencil the wrong way, they’re too sensitive to certain fabrics and textures, and you put them through occupational therapy. They can’t speak at age 2, so you put them through speech therapy. I am not saying all of these are bad. I’m not. It just seems to me like people tend to go overboard. What four year old actually needs 40 hours of ABA coupled with both OT and speech with perhaps a dash of physical therapy added in as necessary? What are we trying to accomplish here? Are we aiming to help our kids navigate the world the best way they can or are we pushing them to be less autistic?
So many times, I see this therapy or that get the credit for a delayed developmental milestone. My daughter’s language improved and my parents want to credit the ABA, while I want to say, well, perhaps, but maybe it was our instinct to label everything in the house and treat her like a person who understands what we’re saying – in other words, presuming competence. I’ve heard other people talk about their success with gfcf diets and how that caused their child to start talking. I am not saying that it has no impact, because it might. But when are we going to get it into our heads that autism is a developmental disability and as such, our growth and development is delayed but not stagnant, and sometimes, it just happens naturally?
My son had the same level of speech issues as my daughter, but we didn’t put him through tons of speech therapy like we did with her. He managed to begin speaking on his own and while he has a few issues with language, he can speak well, express his thoughts and be understood by most. My kids are different and I’m not saying that I think that the same thing would have definitely happened with my daughter. What I am saying is that maybe we need to chill out just a bit, let them be kids, and don’t worry so much about doing every therapy there is.
Our goal should always be to do what is best to help our child succeed. That doesn’t need to be some extreme 45 hours a week therapy or intensive program. Sometimes, it’s just meeting them where they are, understanding what exactly they need to handle the world, and pushing for them to have the accommodations they need.
Most of all, if you can, ask them! My son will tell you that he can think better when he’s on medication and he’s less frustrated. My daughter is not very verbal but can absolutely let you know when something is bad. She used to have OT, but doesn’t anymore because it was too much. And that’s fine. The one thing that would have prevented the harmful, curable style “reprogramming your brain” therapy that I went through in childhood/my early teen years was if someone had said, “how do you feel about this?”
Think about your intentions.
Ask the autistic person in your life how it makes them feel.