Monday, January 29, 2007

Autism on The View

Today's episode of The View was dedicated to Autism Spectrum Disorders. For those of you who know someone with an ASD, you know how debilitating it can be. I have worked with teens who are on the Autism Spectrum, and I cannot stress enough the importance of early intervention. Parents are the experts on their own children. If there's something in your gut telling you that something is not right with your child, be persistent. Unfortunately, doctors sometimes dismiss parents' concerns as undue worrying. But if your child is missing early developmental landmarks for speech and behavioral skills, it could indicate the presence of an ASD. Early behavioral and speech therapy for kids affected by an ASD are the best treatment options available. If diagnosed and treated early enough, children have a chance of better understanding the social world around them and engaging with it. Having parents with a boundless source of hope, patience, and energy, I think, is key to these kids' successes.

For those of you who are wondering what it's like to have an ASD, I highly recommend 2 books. The first, "Thinking in Pictures" is written by Temple Grandin, a remarkable woman who has gained great insight into her own struggle with autism by studying animal behavior. The second is a novel: Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time". While it is a work of fiction, the story is told from the point of view of a young boy with an ASD and gives a unique look at how someone with an ASD engages with the world around him. Funny and moving--it's a terrific read.

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