Some of you arrived at this page because your child has received an official diagnosis of autism. Others of you just know that something is wrong and you are on a waiting list to determine whether or not your child is on the autism spectrum. This page has been written for all of you. While you wait to learn the diagnosis or as you begin to come to terms with a new diagnosis, there are many easy, harmless, and fun things that you can do to support your child who has autism or may have autism.
Where Do I Start?
Many parents write to us and ask, "What do I do first?" I suggest beginning by reading through the most popular autism therapy fact sheets and overviews. Not all of these have been proven in scientific studies to work, but many parents have found these to be beneficial for their child. As you read through these therapy options, see if they make sense for your family. Some require a lot of resources and some do not.
Most parents can make small (and large) changes in their home that can be very helpful for a child with autism. For example, you can use pictures on the refrigerator to let your child know what to expect throughout the day (visual schedule). You can engage the whole family to create days full of movement, hugs, smells, and sounds (sensory integration). You can also carve out time to talk to your child about what to expect in the world around him by creating personalized social stories. If your child cannot yet speak, you may be able to create a picture exchange communication system to support communication and improve behavior.
Many parents of children with autism use vitamin therapy. Surveys have shown that the most popular are: vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, essential fatty acids, and vitamin A. Read through our referenced fact sheets and decide if these supplements are right for your child. You may also read our descriptions of evidence-based medicine (EBM) and complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) to help you determine what is right for your child.
Most experts agree that all children with autism should receive speech and language therapy. Speech therapists can help your child with feeding problems and may be licensed as Floortime specialists. In the United States, speech therapy will likely be provided by the government. If your child is younger than three years old, contact the early intervention services in your state. The quantity and quality of services offered can vary widely from state to state. Here is a list of state contact information. If your child is older than three years old, contact your school district to receive services. Health insurance may also pay for private speech therapy and you can find private speech therapists in the Healing Thresholds directory.
Most children with autism benefit from the use of applied behavior analysis (ABA), which may include discrete trial training. Unfortunately, many parents cannot afford ABA therapy and those that can afford it have trouble finding an ABA therapist. If you can afford ABA therapy and choose to use ABA therapy, please look in our directory for a therapist in your area. You may also consider signing up for a virtual parent training program in ABA.
The Healing Thresholds directory can also be used to find many other types of therapists. Occupational therapists provide sensory integration therapy, will help you plan sensory activities, can show you how to use a weighted vest, and more. Nutritionists can help to guide you through a gluten-free diet, casein-free diet, or any of the other diets often used for children with autism. Psychotherapists can provide cognitive behavioral therapy that may help you and your child manage anxiety, aggressive behavior, self-injurious behavior, and more. Current research suggests that neurofeedback may also help children to manage anxiety and behavior. You can find practitioners who offer neurofeedback in our directory.
How Do I Create a Therapy Plan that is Right for My Child?
At Healing Thresholds, we do not endorse any one type of therapy. We believe that a therapy plan should be specific to the child and evolve with the child. Consequently, we created Healing Thresholds to help you create and maintain the best therapy plan for your child.
Once you have taken some of these basic steps, then you are in a better position to create a detailed and evolving therapy plan that is specific to your child. Healing Threshold's free autism therapy eBrief was created to help you do just this. Once you subscribe, you will receive weekly email summaries of current autism therapy research and descriptions of autism therapy programs that are available around the world. You can quickly skim these summaries for ideas for your child.
Each research summary has a link to the scientific abstract of the research paper. You may find it helpful to bring the scientific abstracts to any discussions with your child’s physician, therapist, teacher, or nutritionist.
We also suggest that you look through the Healing Thresholds directory. Many different types of wonderful therapy can bring joy and peace to a child with autism and a family coping with autism. Our directory is growing weekly. Type in your zip code and see what opportunities are available in your area.
Many people with autism also suffer from anxiety and many therapies can be helpful for that anxiety. For example, massage may be very helpful to your child (and for you!). Some families have had good experiences with chiropractors. Other families love to spend a day at a stable grooming horses and riding while the child with autism receives hippotherapy.
At Healing Thresholds, we believe firmly in the potential of each child and the potential of each parent to make a beautiful journey while holding the hand of their child with special needs. Welcome to your journey and welcome to Healing Thresholds.