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Dealing with the Emotional, Physical, and Financial Burdens of Autism

Of course, while you're working with your child to lay down those new pathways, you are going to have some long days ahead. Children with autism are more dependent on their parents, especially in the early years. They often need more help with dressing, hygiene, and toileting skills than typical children. Because their language is delayed, parents may need to help them communicate. All of these demands on a parent's time and energy can feel overwhelming, and it can sometimes feel like there's no relief in sight.

Just remember that the early years are tough with all children, and while you may have a longer row to hoe than most, better times do lie ahead. Most children with autism do learn basic self-help skills, and the day will come when they won't need you to do everything for them.

Alleviate the Stress by Actively Pursuing the Right Interventions
It's scary to have to question your own child's potential, but the best way to relieve your fears is to take action with productive interventions.

The first step is to be informed. Talk to people you trust – parents who've been there, experts in the field, doctors you have a relationship with, and so on. There are a lot of fly-by-night procedures that prey on distraught parents who will do anything for their child. Make sure that the interventions you're using are scientifically sound and well documented. Make sure they've been tested with many children with autism and that they've been replicated by other experts and clinics. Also, make sure you understand their limitations – some interventions only work on a small number of symptoms or on a small subgroup of children with autism. If you're going to spend time and money for interventions, be informed about the degree and extent of the change they may bring about.

When to Be Wary
There's plenty of evidence showing that children with autism do better when parents are actively involved in the intervention and when programs are coordinated. Find programs that encourage you to be involved – you should be learning all the procedures and coordinating your child's program across every environment. You can't do that if you're being shut out. If a treatment provider tells you that you can't watch the sessions or that your child does better when you're not there, this is a RED FLAG. It may be reasonable for a therapist to request a few sessions alone to bond with the child, but more than that just doesn't make sense, and the therapist needs to communicate fully with you so that you know exactly what's going on at all times.

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From Overcoming Autism by Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D. and Claire LaZebnik. Copyright © 2004. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here or on the book cover. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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