DIY Autism Treatment

Intro | Neurological | Bio-Medical | Behavioral | Educational | Instinctive | Introspective | Recommendation

I do not believe that autism therapy must be expensive, disruptive and reliant on expensive professionals. In fact, I believe that parents could take charge of their own children's therapy and use the familiar environment of their home to their advantage. In addition, parents are probably the ones who know their own children best.

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1. Provide a Spartan Therapy Room

This is based on my ideal autistic room - a place with no distractions so that the child is forced to focus on the task at hand.

  • Set aside a small room with enough space for rough and tumble play.
  • Board up all the windows.
  • Remove all furniture.
  • Paint the walls and floor with a uniform soft color (such as light brown or lily white). No patterns, shapes or lines.
  • Keep the new furniture simple (perhaps a small table, cushions for seating, a cupboard for storing toys, sleeping mattress).
  • No television, computers, photos, artwork and other distractions
  • A full length mirror on one side of the room for self awareness training exercises

Ideally...

  • Constantly play soft calming music in the room, such as Baroque Music.
  • Have an attached toilet attached so that the child has not have to leave the room at all.
  • Ensure that all furniture, cushions and other background objects have the same color as the room.
  • Soundproof all walls, windows and doors to avoid any distractions from the outside world.
  • Use only non-flickering lights such as halogen lamps. The child may see the distracting flicker in normal florescent lighting.
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The child will live, learn, eat, sleep and perform his bodily functions all in the same room. To enhance self awareness, I recommend the following:

  • Completely cover one or two sides of the wall with a mirror that is at least as tall as yourself.
  • When you enter the room, dress in a single color to represent the "other". This color must contrast with the room color.
  • Dress the child in a different, single, bright color to represent the "self". This color must be different from what you are wearing and the room's color.
  • Keep the color of the clothes the same every day until the child is used to it. Then you can experiment with switching colors to generalize the concept.
  • Always conduct all your activities facing the room mirror so that the child can see himself interacting with you all the time.
  • Always describe verbally what the child is doing at the current moment. (e.g. Tom is putting the spoon in his mouth.)

 

2. Go on a GFCF Diet: I have read about many autistic children improving tremendously with a casein and gluten free diet. Casein is found in milk and gluten in wheat, oat, rye, and barley. Avoid foods and drinks containing these items. I recommend that all parents try this as it is relatively cheap and unlikely to cause harm.

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3. Take multivitamins: Many autistics have vitamin or mineral deficiencies that impede their functioning. GFCF multivitamins will help to address most of these issues. Use plain pills; there is no need for expensive formulations containing herbal extracts. Crush these pills before feeding with some fresh fruit juice if the child has poor digestion. Whenever possible, look for pills containing Magnesium, Dimethylglycine (DMG), Folic Acid plus Vitamins B6, B12 and C.

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4. Use the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS): This will save you a lot of communication frustration. To save money, we can make our own version: download clipart from Google Images, print these clipart from PowerPoint, cut them out and then laminate these pieces.

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5. Do detailed medical testing: If you can afford it, consider testing your child for medical problems. Yeast infection in the gut, heavy metal poisoning, allergies to commonly encountered materials and mineral/vitamin deficiencies are often associated with autism. If a medical problem does exist, at least we can help treat it and reduce the child's suffering. If the test results are fine, then we can eliminate some of treatment possibilities.

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6. Apply the Miller Method: The theory used by this well-established method comes closest to my own personal theory and experience of autism. You can build your own therapy facilities based on the pictures in the books if you cannot afford to send your child to their therapy center.
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7. Apply Art Therapy: I believe that art can help many autistics accept life on Planet Earth. For those who are keen to explore deeper, consider learning about Waldorf Education.

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What to avoid

  • Expensive Therapies

Many parents have bankrupted themselves paying for very expensive therapies which give diminishing returns and no long term gains. I heard from a few parents told me if they stop such a therapy for 2 weeks, their child is back to square one again. Sometimes, it is best to accept the idea that there is only so much that money can do for your child. Get over your therapy addiction and spend within your means so that you can keep your sanity for the long journey ahead.

  • Expensive Toys

The sophisticated toys sold today confine children to limited behaviors (e.g. push a button to do this, another button to do that and nothing else). Such limitations tend to decrease rather than increase creativity. It is better to choose simple toys like Lego or Play-Doh that create many possibilities for play.

Avoid the temptation to use such items to distract the autistic child as they will create many long term problems.

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