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Autism

Autism: It's Made Me a Better Parent 

Walt Deriso and his wife adopted their first son when he was 5 days old. Two years later, their son was diagnosed with autism. The journey he and his family have been on has not only made him a better parent, but also made him a better person. Watch

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Autism: Welcome to My World!


In February of 2009 we were told, "Your child has autism.” And if you’ve ever heard those same words, “Welcome to My World.”


This new world can be so overwhelming and terrifying but it doesn't have to be that way. There is so much information out there on the web, in books, from other people, both good and bad. The thing about autism I have learned is that every child is different, every family is different, and every treatment is different. What has worked for some may not work for others; what worked for our family may not work for yours.


The fact is, there is no cure for autism and in all honesty, all your child wants from you is what any child—with or without a learning disorder—wants. And what most children want is for his/her parents to do what they can with what they have, keep your family intact, love them, and celebrate every victory, no matter how small.


Our son has been receiving Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech Therapy since he was 21 months old. Until recently he has been non-verbal, only uttering vowel sounds and the occasional consonant. But since we began ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) using a VB (Verbal Behavior) Approach, we are getting more and more communication and have finally heard the words, “Mommy,” “Daddy,” and “Anayna” (for his sister Alaina). He is mimicking songs he hears, copying characters actions on the TV, and completing two-step commands, such as, “Get the ball and bring it to mommy.” That’s a huge step in the right direction.


I can't say we’ve tried everything because we haven't. We just can't afford to try everything. And personally, I am not ready to try things that do not have the data to show that it works. The exception of that rule was trying the Gluten Free/Casein Free (GFCF) Diet. And though we didn't see any difference in his behavior, we did learn he is intolerant to dairy and nuts. Trying GFCF was not a financial burden on our family and if it worked, great; if it didn't, no harm was done.


The tricky thing with autism is that since children are typically diagnosed at a younger age, their brains are absorbing information and learning all the time. How do I know if that expensive treatment that I am trying is working or if it’s just something he would’ve started doing anyway? Maybe it's because my son and I are still relatively new to this world of autism (only having been part of it this past year) that I am not willing to take chances on "alternative" treatments or therapies?


I heard that some these experimental treatments and therapies have done wonders for some people with autism out there. But I’ve also noticed those success stories are few and far between. Because I have heard so many families talk about the things they tried that didn't work, I have just enough reservation to hold off and stick with the things that have factual data behind them.


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