Happy weekend! I hope you had a great week with the boys. I continue to love seeing the great relationships that are being formed. This week was especially nice for many of you now that some behaviors are getting back under control!
This week we began talking about therapies. We got through OT, Speech and began the Behavioral therapies. Let's talk a little further about this (okay, I'll write and you read!)
One thing you HAVE to know is just how important therapies are. The term "Early Intervention" is being pressed (big time!) by the autism guru's. There are studies that tell us the earlier we start intervention through therapies, the better off those kids will be. They will be able to gain more knowledge and skills to assist them later in life.
Early Intervention has become SO important to this population that a lot of states are now funding it! I have a friend who is an occupational therapist and her job is to make home visits with a team to little two and three year old kids who are not in school yet and to help train the child's parent how to better help them at home. In-home interventions are often available for families with a young child. There are also clinics and centers that can be visited as well.
Sometimes people consider early intervention through therapies "curing" autism (Jenny McCarthy). My personal take is that it does not cure autism (because some kids benefit SO much from early intervention!), but rather the interventions (therapies) come at just the perfect time and end up helping that child to be able to control and work through some of the deficits that they experience by having autism. Basically, autism will always be there- early intervention through therapies just has the ability to make the child higher functioning.
Does this mean that our boys never received early interventions? No! They most certainly did! But those interventions may work more for some kids than others and our boys may be where they are because of those interventions! Also, you will learn in the next few weeks that these therapies can cost THOUSANDS of dollars for the families. Not every family can afford to spend that amount of money. Many families can also be so deep in grief that their child has been diagnosed that those therapies are not sought out. Many families may not know that these interventions even exist!
There are so many other kinds of therapies out there that I have not listed. These are just some of the most popular therapies that families and schools will often use or recommend. What I tend to see is that therapies are chosen based on a student's need (Student has difficulty speaking? The parents will seek out speech!) along with what therapy is currently popular. Lately I have been hearing a lot more about vision therapy. It's kind of like it's the latest trend in therapies. One of our peer's parents actually specializes in vision therapy locally.
It's important for you guys to understand that just because a therapy is popular does not mean that it always works or that it has the scientific proof behind it. I am not speaking directly toward vision therapy, I have not done a lot of research on it. But there are a lot of other therapies and therapy centers out there that will claim to have amazing results even though there has been no scientific proof.
You see, the numbers in autism are growing. Businesses realize this and want to "jump on the autism bandwagon", so to speak. They also realize that parents will do anything, and I mean anything, to help their child. So if you were a parent of a child with autism and your chiropractor said "Hey, I have a great new way to help cure kids with autism", there is a large chance you would say yes. There may not be any scientific proof that it works, but you are willing to try anything.
This is a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because these parents may find a great way to help kids with autism. As you know, every child with autism is different (One kid with autism is one kid with autism!) therefore a particular therapy might be great and work for one kid, but might have absolutely no effect on another kid. These new therapies might be bad because people are making a lot of money off of parents who are vulnerable and willing to try anything.
Does this mean that parents should not put their kids in therapies? Or that we should not support therapies? No! There are some amazing therapies out there with a lot of scientific background! I just want you to be aware that autism has the ability to make people money and that can be used in a dishonest way. Scientific proof is very important and being aware and skeptical is an okay thing.
As a teacher, sometimes it is my job to help guide and recommend parents toward opportunities to help their children. Therefore, I need to stay informed on what is out there and I need to research and speak with people involved before I make recommendations. You all are becoming "experts" in the area of autism. Someday your opinion may matter to someone in need. So be careful what you recommend and be aware of this whole therapy situation!
Oh LINKS... there is just SO much to this huge puzzle of autism. So many sad sad factors and so many things that we do not know. So many things are also out of our control as humans. I always try my best to give you the latest and most important information about autism, but honestly, this could be a year-long class and I still would not be able to cover everything! My hope is always that I will help to spark a passion in you about autism and that you will continue to learn and seek out information as the years go on and LINKS is a piece of your past.
I have copied and pasted the list below for you to continue to look up and learn about some of the other therapies out there. Don't forget to check the homework tab to see what you need to do with this information!
- Sensory Overload
- Constructive Play
A few final things:
1. We will not meet this coming week (because of Mid-Winter Break) so none of your homework is due until February 25th. I WILL need two "Weekly Attendance" forms turned in that day for the two weeks.
2. Parent/Student/Teacher conferences are coming up quickly! If you remember correctly, as a fundraiser LINKS sell pizza during this time. I will need you to sign up as able. I know some of the girls have basketball games those nights. Are you able to come and help after? Let me know. I will have a schedule to sign up next week. The first conference date is Wednesday 2/25. The second date is Monday 3/2.
3. I still have information sheets about the extra credit childcare for March 10. Come and get one from me if you want more information.
Whew! I think that's it! Have a wonderful weekend!