By Marcia Hinds – Ryan’s Mom
Initially, it was hard to tell which interventions were working. How can you tell if a medication is working when your child has limited verbal ability and prefers his own inner world to the one where everyone else lives? Improvements in speech take time and the results are not immediately apparent. It takes at least three years for most typical kids to acquire speech and even longer for those with “autism”. Behaviors changed gradually, despite my insistence that change needed to be immediate and profound. It didn’t matter that I wanted him better before lunch!
It is not just one thing that makes a kid better. It is a combination of things and sometimes when a child is improving so slowly, you don’t even see the changes. It is kind of like when they are growing taller. It’s impossible to realize your kid grew two inches when you are looking for that growth on a daily basis. It is only after you make that mark on the wall and measure their height that you can clearly see they have grown taller.
But, I never missed it when Ryan did something wrong!
Ryan’s bizarre behaviors often overshadowed the fact that we truly were making progress. I didn’t notice his improvement in speech because I was too busy noticing his tantrums in the mall. What I also didn’t realize is after our children start to recover, they usually pick up developmentally right where they stalled out. If a child was two when typical development stopped, they resume their development at age two. Two-year old behavior doesn’t look so good in a seven-year old body. All children must go through the same developmental stages, no matter what their chronological age. For parents of older children, the Terrible Two’s in an eighteen-year old body can be frightening.
Sometimes, parents mistakenly perceive the start of development and improvement as new behavior problems. What appears to be a new behavior issue can actually be a good sign. You may think your child is acting worse and that the medical protocol doesn’t work. You believe your child is regressing. All those thoughts went through my head, but that wasn’t what actually happened. Remember, this mantra and say it over and over again whenever your kid starts backsliding, “Regression often comes before progression.” A twelve-year-old who is two developmentally is much harder to deal with than a zoned out kid who doesn’t care about anything.
When Ryan started to wake up and develop again after treating his immune system medically, we still had to use focused rehab to teach him all he didn’t know. ABA, compliance training, and consistent parental guidance were needed to teach consequences for inappropriate behavior. Discipline for Ryan at age five was similar to discipline for a typical two-year old. You have to meet your child at the age they are developmentally.
NOTE FROM MARCIA HINDS – Ryan’s mom:
Ryan became an aerospace engineer, because he received proper medical treatment combined with behavioral, and educational interventions.
To preview my book, “I Know You’re In There – winning our war against autism” click on http://a.co/a5GWrpM