I know, I know, another post on Autism...yes, another pep-talk, bear with me people, it's been on my mind, so here it is...and let me clarify here, because I feel like I need to; I don't write these posts out of a "poor me, look at what I'm going through" nature. I write these posts in hopes to give hope to others seeking it. John and I had a good talk on this. We talked about if I would post posts like this if it wasn't autism, if it was something else, some other disability, trial, whatever. So I've been thinking about this all week before writing. And my answer is yes, I would write. At least I would like to think so; if there is hope to be given, and if I can maybe give it, then why not? That is why I write these posts.
Two weekends ago I got the amazing opportunity to attend a workshop focusing on treatment issues and Evidence-Base Practices for Children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders). I'm so grateful I went. What I've learned from going to these workshops is to take what I think sounds good or feels good, and leave what doesn't. Dr. Andrew Gardner was one of the presenters and his information really stuck out to me, so now you get to hear about it as well. One of the many things he does is researches the research done on Autism to see if it is valid, etc.
Where I am now on this journey is really a place of peace. I am not where I was a year ago. Sure like any mom, with any kid, I still worry about Race and his future, but I don't ask "why" anymore. Race has Autism, now what do we do? What do I do as a mom to make sure he's getting the tools he needs now and will need in his future to cope? How can I help him understand that he can be sooooo successful in life? That his brain and the way he thinks is AMAZING? How can I help him understand this?
So with that in mind, I went to this workshop. My experience in this past year in the "Autism World" has taught me so much. I have gotten to meet so many other parents who are searching for answers, who have questions, and are turning to anyone or anything that MIGHT have an answer for them with different types of treatments or interventions. I have seen in myself and other parents, the desperate need to believe in something that will CURE my kid or their kid, so he can be "normal", or something I can do to prevent my other kids from "getting" it....
Dr. Gardner talked about what true research entails, what treatments are out there that are established, emerging, and unestablished. You'd be surprised what types of treatments are unestablished (See the National Autism Center, Standards Report and Science American October 2010). It just reaffirmed in my mind, that I was going about things the wrong way. They might not ever find out what causes autism. Sure, we all have our OPINIONS about this, is it genetic, is it environmental, is it both, is it, is it, is it...?
The truth for me is this, and it is simple. Is what I'm doing for Race helping him? What do I feel in my heart when I am calm, when I am in the right place within myself? What does my motherly intuition and the spirit tell me to do? If it's not working, if I'm not feeling good about something, then we need to change something. Isn't this how it is for all mothers? Just on different levels? How do you explain this to other people? Because what might help my son, might not help the other family down the street cope...
The workshop focused a lot on ABA training as well. ABA is a scientific approach for improving socially important behaviors (Baer, Wolf, and Risley 1968). I am learning for me, and for Race and where he is on the spectrum, that not everything is needed for us; but ABA is great. ABA is good parenting. I realized after this training, that we do ABA at home with ALL our kids. Maybe not as structured or to the extreme as they were teaching, but we do it to an extent, and we know it has helped.
How fortunate we are today to have the information available to us about autism. I am so grateful for that. In Temple Grandin's book "Thinking in Pictures" she talks about where the world would be without the gifted minds and different ways of thinking that autism contributes to (that's not an exact quote, I loaned the book out).
Walt Disney said it best, "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
Race has autism, now what do we do? We keep moving forward.