Sunday, July 31, 2016

Consolation and Joy

Yesterday, Alex spent most of the evening relaxing on our back screened porch, lying in the hammock we had given Ed for Father’s Day. After a busy week filled with activity and a bit of anxiety, he probably just needed to unwind.

On Monday, we took him for his annual eye examination and were pleased by how well he cooperated. His optometrist does a great job of working with him to assess his vision, and the combination of reciting numbers and letters on the eye charts holds Alex’s interest, of course. When the first chart was put up on the wall, the assistant asked Alex if he could read any of the letters, and he said no. Thinking that he was looking in the wrong place, I pointed to the chart and questioned him myself. Again, and seemingly a little hurt that I didn’t believe his first response, he insisted that he couldn’t see any of the letters. The assistant then switched to the next larger size of letters, and Alex could easily read them aloud. He was telling the truth; his eyesight had simply gotten a little worse over the past year. With a new lens prescription, we picked out new frames nearly identical to the ones he’s been wearing for two years, and we were told the new glasses would arrive in about ten business days.

As a reward for being so pleasant at the eye doctor, we took him to our county fair that evening, which he really enjoyed. Watching him maneuver through crowds and handle all the sights, smells, sounds, and general confusion, we were pleased with how calm and content he remained the entire time we were there. In fact, observing the rather rude behavior of many other fair goers makes me think that they could also benefit from the lessons Alex has learned in behavioral therapy about using good manners and respecting personal space.

On Tuesday, Alex visited the dentist for the second time in a week because the regular six-month checkup last week revealed a cavity that needed filling. Because the sensation of numbness is a little overwhelming for him, we had practiced at home beforehand using the numbing cream and cotton swabs our dentist had given us last year and suggested we use prior to having a filling. Thanks to the expertise and kindness of our dentist and his assistant, Alex handled the drilling and filling amazingly well. In fact, he smiled right before the dentist began drilling and afterward told us that he liked going to the dentist “one hundred percent.” Of course, we are truly thankful to have understanding doctors who reassure Alex to gain his complete trust so that they can give him proper care.

On Wednesday, Alex’s peer companion came to spend the afternoon with him, and they seemed to enjoy each other’s company. As she kept him entertained, I tackled organizing his room. Filling a large trash bag with things he no longer needs, I realized how far he has come because I didn’t worry that he would have a meltdown if and when he discovers I’ve thrown away his random lists and odd souvenirs so that he can find his prized possessions without being distracted by clutter. That evening we took him shopping at various stores and were impressed by how well he now navigates through aisles (again better than most typical people), staying out of other people's way, and never bothering anything, just stooping or craning his neck to look at items that intrigue him.

On Thursday, Alex rolled with changes nicely when his music therapist suddenly had to cancel their session that afternoon because he was having car trouble. This was on top of his altered schedule of missing behavioral and recreational therapies last week because his behavioral therapist was on vacation. Nonetheless, Alex understood the situation and handled it well. That evening, we took him to a concert in our downtown park, something he’d been looking forward to all summer, seeing one of his favorite bands, the Spazmatics. Despite the crowds and loud music, Alex thoroughly enjoyed the 80’s music, swaying to the beat and even singing along to songs he knows.

On Friday, we were just heading out the door to go out to one of Alex’s favorite restaurants, Round the Clock in Chesterton, when our electricity suddenly went out, probably due to intense rain storms. Because we couldn’t shut our electric-powered garage door and we needed to keep an eye on our sump pump to make sure rain water didn’t seep into our basement, we decided to stay home until the power came back on. Between the disappointment of not going out to dinner and the unusual situation of being without electricity, Alex was a bit unnerved. However, he coped pretty well, trying to manage his anxiety by discussing his fears and frustrations.

When he told me he was bored because the Internet, cable, and power outage meant that he couldn’t use his iPad or watch television, I reminded him that he could read instead. As he fretted about whether he could still take a bath, I assured him that we could set up our crank-powered lantern to provide light in our windowless dark bathroom. At one point he went to use the bathroom and yelled, “It’s too dark in here!” Before I could jump up and get him a flashlight, I discovered that he had already gotten a flashlight himself. As he revealed various concerns through questions (“Will the power be off for a week?” “What if the electricity is off until midnight?’), I was able to reassure him and ease his anxiety by telling him this was only temporary and that we would be all right. A few years ago, a situation like this would have sent him into a meltdown, but he handled his fears admirably, using the coping skills he has learned in behavioral therapy.

After the power returned a couple of hours later, he seemed relieved to have things back to normal, insisting that we fix all the clocks to the correct time right away. Fortunately, he knows how to reset our trickiest clocks, leaving the easier ones for me. When he overheard Ed getting frustrated about a clock that is extremely difficult to reset, Alex showed good problem-solving skills, suggesting, “Just wait until midnight, unplug it, and plug it back in.” Not only has he learned ways to cope with frustrating situations, but he has also developed methods he can share with other people who are frustrated. Now that is real progress, and we are delighted with how well he currently copes in a variety of situations. We know that God is helping Alex overcome the obstacles of autism, especially his anxiety, and we are truly grateful for consolation that makes his life, and therefore ours, easier and better.

“When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Protecting Adults with Autism

The recent tragic killings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge have understandably put communities on edge, fearing for the lives of innocent citizens and those officers who willingly serve and protect them. Last week, a policeman in Miami, Florida, shot and wounded an unarmed man, Charles Kinsey. While some media reports are touting this incident as an example of excessive force by the police and/or racial tension because Mr. Kinsey, a black man, fully cooperated with the police orders, further details reveal another cause of this unfortunate incident: autism.
According to news reports [To read the NBC News report about this incident, please click here.], Charles Kinsey works as a behavioral therapist for a group home in Miami. When a young man with autism wandered from the group home, Mr. Kinsey went searching for him and found him holding a toy truck. Apparently, someone called the police, and confusion about the situation––specifically, the 911 caller indicated that someone had a gun––led the police to view the man with autism as a threat, putting them on high alert.
In the video filmed by a witness to the event, Mr. Kinsey can be seen lying on the ground with his hands in the air, fully cooperating with the police. In addition, he keeps explaining to the police that the other man sitting next to him is not armed and only has a toy truck in his hands. Moreover, he keeps trying to get the man with autism to cooperate with the police, repeatedly telling him to lie on his stomach, but the young man keeps screaming at him, “Shut up!” Mr. Kinsey also identifies himself as “a behavior tech at the group home” to the police as he tries to calm and protect his client, who is clearly agitated.
Responding to this incident, the National Autism Association issued a statement praising Mr. Kinsey for his valiant attempts to help the young man with autism. In addition, this statement [which can be viewed online here] explains some of the behaviors the young man displays that are common in autism. Specifically, they note elopement, wandering away from the group home; echolalia, verbally repeating something over and over; and stimming, engaging in calming behavior, such as rocking back and forth. They also note the inability to respond to verbal commands. All of these common behaviors in autism would come across as belligerence or defiance or perhaps mental illness to someone who is not aware of how people with autism might behave, especially in a crisis.
After assessing the situation, the officer intended to shoot the man with autism, thinking that he was a threat to Mr. Kinsey, but accidentally shot the caregiver instead. According to the president of the police association in Dade County, “In fearing for Mr. Kinsey’s life, the officer discharged his firearm trying to save Mr. Kinsey’s life, and he missed.” As an autism parent, what bothers me even more than the shooting of an innocent man who was trying desperately to help his client with autism is that the police were actually trying to shoot a young man with autism, viewing him as a credible danger.
The officer who wounded Mr. Kinsey explained his intentions: “I took this job to save lives and help people. I did what I had to do in a split second to accomplish that and hate to hear others paint me as something that I’m not.” I truly believe that the officer was attempting to protect Mr. Kinsey and any others whom he believed were endangered by the man with autism. However, as a parent of a young man with autism, I worry about how my son might act in a crisis and how his life might be in danger if his stereotypical autism behaviors were misinterpreted.
As the National Autism Association points out in their response to this incident, more training of police officers is needed to help them respond to and interact with people who have autism. With the increasing rates of autism, police officers are more likely to encounter adults with autism, especially those who have wandering tendencies. If police officers do not recognize typical autistic behaviors, they may misconstrue these actions as disobedience or threats. Consequently, the National Autism Association offers free resources [Please click here for these resources.] for first responders to create greater awareness and to help them protect people with autism.
While the shooting in Miami this past week was quite unfortunate, the outcome could have been even worse, had the shots met their intended target, an upset young man with autism. As parents raising adults with autism, we must emphasize to our children the need to cooperate with authorities, especially in a crisis situation. Moreover, we must help those first responders who may encounter our adult children recognize their unusual behaviors as coping mechanisms and not intentional threats to others. After all, we won’t always be around to protect our adult children with autism, and we will need those who have devoted their lives to helping others to protect our children when we cannot. In the meantime, we pray that God will watch over our children and provide divine protection to keep them safe from harm.
“For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go.” Psalm 91:11

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sights and Sounds

A few weeks ago, we took Alex to a concert in our downtown park, where he enjoyed the upbeat popular music the band played. Even though Alex has sound sensitivity, he never seemed to be bothered by the volume of the music, which was not uncomfortably loud. Near the end of the concert, when it began to get dark, they turned on the stage lights that began to flash various colors. Suddenly, Alex seemed a bit distressed temporarily and put his fingers in his ears, as if he were overwhelmed by sound, even though the volume had not changed. When we asked him if the music was too loud, he told us it wasn’t, and after a few moments with his fingers in his ears, he relaxed and took his fingers out of his ears, ready to enjoy the music again, assuring us that he wanted to stay for the rest of the concert. Clearly, he had a sensory overload and used coping skills to manage it successfully. However, why did he plug his ears for a visual assault on his senses?

On the Fourth of July, we took him to see the local fireworks display. A couple of years ago, we discovered a place where we could park and watch the fireworks from our car that was away from the crowds and noise and where we could leave quickly should Alex become overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. However, Alex loves fireworks displays, and we have never had to leave early because he deals with the bright lights and loud noises amazingly well. At one point in the show, a firework display had a sequence of very bright flashing lights yet made no sound as they shone, and Alex once again put his fingers in his ears. Perhaps he was anticipating the loud boom he thought they were ready to make, but I think there was another reason for plugging his ears. Concerned that he was overwhelmed, we offered to leave, but he assured us that he was all right and wanted to stay for the entire fireworks show. After a few seconds of plugging his ears, he adapted and enjoyed the rest of the fireworks.

A couple of days ago, Alex and I were watching a new television show called Greatest Hits in which singers and bands perform their hit songs from the ‘80’s and early 90’s. Even though these songs are before his time (as he always reminds us that he doesn’t remember them), he thoroughly enjoys these old tunes. Because Alex’s hearing is acute, we usually keep our television volume turned down fairly low so that it doesn’t bother him. Near the end of the show as one of the bands was performing, suddenly the stage lights came on and began flashing brightly. Knowing that the volume had not changed, I watched him to see how he would react to the flashing lights, and he put his fingers in his ears briefly. Of course, he could have left the room or turned off the television, but he wanted to watch the show, so he used his coping mechanism of putting his fingers in his ears for a few moments, knowing this sound blocking mechanism allows him to continue.

Curious as to why Alex blocks sound when his senses are assaulted visually, I began looking for some research. Most people would close their eyes if flashing lights bother them, but blocking sound seems to help him cope with the sensory overload. In my search, I found a recent online article in Spectrum entitled “Sight may mix with sound in autism brains,” written by Jessica Wright and published May 13, 2016. [To read this article, please click here.] This interesting article summarizes findings presented at the 2016 International Meeting for Autism Research in Baltimore and published in May in the journal Autism Research.

Using magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers tested children and teenagers who were typical and those who have autism to see where in the brain they processed visual and auditory stimuli. For visual tasks, the children were shown pictures of rectangles and dots and were told to indicate the position of the dot as high or low. For auditory tasks, they listened to tones and were to indicate whether the pitch of the sound was high or low. While both groups––those with autism and those with typical development––performed well on correctly identifying the positions and tones, the MRI indicated different processing in the brains of the children with autism.

Specifically, both groups scored in the mid-90 percentage range on identifying the position of the dot as low or high; however, the typical group scored slightly better (93%) than those with autism (83%) on identifying low and high tones. The researchers also noted that the MRI indicated that the visual cortex of the typical children shut down when they were engaged in the listening task. However, when listening to the sounds, the visual cortex became more active in the brains of the children with autism. This may account for the sensory overload children with autism often exhibit; their brains are taking in both visual and auditory stimuli instead of shutting out what they don’t need at the time.

These researchers suggests that children with autism may be using visual areas of the brain to process sound, perhaps to compensate for weaknesses in the brain areas that process sound. Typically, people with autism have strong visual skills, allowing them to create pictures in their minds easily. Alex often tells use that he can visualize words and numbers in his mind, which makes mentally calculating complicated math problems easy for him. On the other hand, there seems to be confusion for him between the visual and auditory stimuli, as evidenced by his attempts to block sounds when flashing lights overwhelm his visual field. Maybe he is experiencing a “sensory crossover” described in this research, but instead of seeing sound, he is hearing sights.

If, indeed, his brain processes stimuli differently, he has learned a coping skill to deal with overwhelming situations. Perhaps by blocking the sound briefly, he is able to focus on the visual and then add the sound when he is ready. As a primarily auditory learner, I know that I sometimes have to close my eyes to focus upon what I’m hearing, to block out the visual that distracts me so that I may concentrate on listening. Alex seems to be doing a similar technique, yet because his brain may work differently, he blocks sound instead of sight, which is his strongest modality for learning. Whatever the reason, I’m pleased that he has developed a method to help him adjust when he is dealing with a variety of sights and sounds so that his brain can handle all there is to see and hear and so that he can enjoy all life has to offer.

“Ears to hear and eyes to see––both are gifts from the Lord.” Proverbs 20:12

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Alex's Game Shows

Ever since he was a little boy. Alex has been a big fan of television game shows, and he has continued his love for these programs over the years. In fact, we make sure nothing interferes with his watching The Price Is Right or Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune every day. We keep his schedule between 10:00-11:00 A.M.,  3:30-4:00 P.M., and 6:30-7:00 P.M. free, so that he can watch his beloved game shows. In the event something comes up during these sacred times, we must appease him by promising to tape his shows on the DVR so that he can watch them later.

Apparently, Alex is not the only person who enjoys watching television game shows, as evidenced by the revival of the old game shows Match Game, The $10,000 Pyramid, To Tell the Truth, and Family Feud. These prime time shows with new hosts and current celebrities have found new popularity with audiences who enjoy watching the friendly competition. Of course, Alex is now glued to Sunday night television, delighted to watch an evening of new game shows.

In many ways, our daily life is a game show in which Alex is the host and I am the “lucky” contestant chosen to answer unusual questions to satisfy him. Fortunately, he has taught me the rules well so that I am usually a successful participant. However, to the average observer, our games appear to be a series of strange questions and answers, yet because Alex enjoys our repartee, I am a willing partner in his inquiries. Here are just a few of the games we play.

Name That Crumb­­––Alex brings me a morsel of food he has found from who knows where (the floor, the table, his teeth?) and asks me to identify what it is. Sometimes the answer is obvious, and I can confidently tell him the answer. Other times, I have no clue because the crumb has been chewed or become petrified, or it is so small I would need a microscope to properly identify it. Nonetheless, to satisfy my inquiring host, I confidently tell him what it is, convincing him that I do know what “treasure” he has brought me.

Let’s Make a Schedule––For some reason, Alex believes that I know everything (perhaps because of my success at Name That Crumb), so he thinks I am a human TV Guide who knows when every television show airs. Recently, he has begun asking me when various sporting events will be on tv and on what channel. Unlike Name that Crumb, I can’t fake answers because he will check my accuracy to make sure I tell him the truth. Why he doesn’t just do this in the first place is beyond me, other than I think he enjoys seeing the panic on my face when I don’t immediately know what channel the NASCAR race is on.

To Not Tell the Truth––Although Alex trusts me to tell him the truth, we play a game in which he doesn’t tell the truth, and he probably knows that I’m onto his deception. In this game, he comes running to tell me that he’s going to throw up and needs sugar. This game originated from my giving him a little bit of sugar when he has hiccups, and he has generalized the value of this cure to vomiting, too. Knowing how much I hate cleaning up vomit, he realizes that just saying that he will throw up motivates me to move quickly to fulfill his “needs.” Being the gullible one I am, I jump up and give him a little sugar. He wins this round.

Catch Game––Another game Alex plays to get me moving fast is the Catch Game in which he acts as though he has been searching for days for some beloved and necessary belonging that he has misplaced. After questioning him about where he might have left the missing objects and having him convince me that he has searched the places I have mentioned, I usually find the “prize” in one of those locations he claims he has already checked. Once I locate the object and present it to him, we are both winners of this game.

Family Confused––Not all of our games involve running around the house; some simply involve banter between the two of us. In Family Confused, I must explain to him that his notions about family members are incorrect. For example, anytime he hears a woman with a high-pitched voice speaking, he is convinced that my sister is nearby. “Is that Aunt Tammy?” he will ask hopefully. We will then explain to him that the person he hears is not his beloved aunt but someone who just sounds like her. Another area of confusion for him is figuring out the identities of my dad and my brother, whose voices sound alike to him. He will repeatedly ask us, “Is Uncle Freddy Grandpa?” We then have to explain to him that they are two separate people, just like he and his dad are. Even though we have gone over this with him many times, he still likes to have this conversation over and over.

To Tell the Temperature––The value of repetition is also involved in this game in which Alex hears something about the city of Phoenix, which makes him always remark excitedly, “It gets hot in Phoenix!” We will agree with his assertion, and then he will ask a question whose answer he already knows: “How hot does it get in Phoenix?” We will then tell him that it gets about 100 degrees. Our imprecise answer amuses him because he can then correct us by saying, “No, between 105 and 110 degrees EXACTLY!”

The 9999 Pyramid––Alex’s precision is a key factor in this game, as well. He studies anything with numbers but has a special fascination for odometers on cars and receipts from stores and restaurants. He will peruse receipts intently, noting the number of digits, and ask us, “What happens after 9999?” We tell him that they would either add a digit and go to 10,000 or start over at 1. He will mull this over for a while before determining what response works best.

Meal of Fortune––This game allows Alex to combine two of his favorite things in the whole world: food and numbers. Before eating a meal, he assesses the various foods before him and begins asking a series of questions. “Can you count meat?” “Can you count strawberries?” “Can you count potatoes?” As we assure him that all of these solid foods are distinct and that he can count each bite of them, he will then shift his focus. “Can you count Gatorade?” Can you count salad dressing?” “Can you count ketchup?” As we explain to him, that those items are not countable because they are liquid, he can then start eating and counting the solid foods in a game he can continue independently.

The Pace Is Right––In another game that usually combines numbers and food, Alex wants to assess how many days a particular item will last before we need to go to the store and buy more. The object of his concern is usually a particular favorite of his at the time: Welch’s sparkling grape juice, dill pickles, black olives, cookies. Currently, he feels the need to check on his orange Gatorade supply and the number of Italian sausages we have in the refrigerator. Once he is reassured that we have plenty, he is satisfied that our inventory is sufficient to meet his needs. In a similar game, he wants to know how many days of leftovers we have. For most people, leftovers are not something to celebrate, but for Alex, they mean a few days of tasty lunches, and he hopes that we have more than one day of leftovers for him to eat. Recently, Alex has expanded his Pace Is Right to checking on how much toilet paper is left on the roll in the bathroom. Because toilet paper rolls have gotten smaller and smaller over the years, Alex is concerned that he may run out at an inopportune time. My role in this game is to estimate how many days are left on a t.p. roll before it will need to be changed. Once I have given my final answer, Alex checks the progress of the roll to make sure I have told him accurately. Fortunately, I am really good at figuring out how much toilet paper we use, so he trusts my assessment, making us both winners at this game.

While many of these games Alex and I play stem from his OCD needs to organize details, I suspect that he also enjoys the conversations we have about topics he likes, such as numbers and food. Even though going through the same dialogue over and over could be tedious, I’m pleased that he wants to share information and that he has the verbal skills to engage in banter. I’m just hoping I don’t have to explain that whole “spay or neuter your pet” line with him anytime soon.

“But ask those who have been around, and they will tell you the truth.” Job 21:29

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Buyer Beware

Recently several “suggested posts” have been showing up in my Facebook news feed regarding new treatments for autism. Intrigued by their enthusiastic sales pitches, I have been checking out these “sponsored” advertisements and found them to be full of empty promises and false hope. After more than twenty years of doing autism research, I can recognize unscrupulous charlatans who prey upon the hopes of autism parents willing to do anything to help their beloved children. However, I wonder how many parents buy into these methods, supplements, and treatments in earnest efforts to make their children better, wasting their time and money and even potentially endangering their children’s health.

In evaluating the claims of these advertisements for autism miracle cures, parents should watch for the following red flags warning them to steer clear of these promoters. First, these new methods usually have some secrecy surrounding them. Magical supplements have “proprietary blends” of ingredients that could be worthless or even harmful. In addition, parents should be wary of vague claims. If, indeed, this treatment works, the advertiser should proudly tell what it does. Some of these ads attempt to boost the value by using jargon and vague statements. Perhaps they use loaded language because those claiming expertise in the field really have none. Finally, the obvious clue that should make parents skeptical is that these treatments are ridiculously expensive. In fact, some of them are shamefully expensive, to the point they hide the cost of the treatment until after they have made all of their sales pitches. Certainly, parents are willing to spend any amount of money to make their children with autism better, but these charlatans prey upon desperate parents in order to make money. To me, that is criminal.

Because of quackery that exists in the treatment of autism, some people are quick to dismiss any kinds of alternative therapies that may benefit some children with autism. For example, I have read articles in the mainstream media that describe “what doesn’t work” and include among the so-called worthless interventions special diets and chelation. (These same types of articles also firmly state that there is absolutely no connection between autism and vaccinations. I disagree.) Not only are special diets and chelation deemed unhelpful in these articles, but these treatment methods are also described as “dangerous” to children with autism.

Of course, parents need to do research and consult with reputable medical professionals before trying alternative therapies. We were fortunate to have a medical doctor with extensive knowledge of nutrition who took a holistic approach to treating Alex. In addition, we did reliable testing before jumping into uncharted waters, and we only tried one new thing at a time so that we could discern the positive and negative effects of the therapy. When Alex was seven years old, we had him tested for food allergies, and after discovering that he, like many children with autism, had sensitivities to caseins found in milk products and glutens found in grains, we placed him on a gluten-free and casein-free diet, which he still maintains today. I believe that his cooperative adherence to this special diet has prevented him from having digestive issues that many people with autism suffer.

When Alex was nine years old, we had him take a heavy metals challenge test, which only required urine samples, and the results showed he had toxic metals in his system, something fairly common in children with autism. We knew that keeping arsenic, lead, mercury, and aluminum in his body was not healthy, and under the direction of his doctor, who had expertise in chelation therapy, we treated him for three years with a safe protocol to rid his body of these toxins. Alex’s doctor prescribed DMSA pills containing sulfur to bind with the toxic metals that removed them from his system. While special diets and chelation are not appropriate for all children with autism, we believe that testing indicated these methods were necessary for Alex to improve his health.

While the GFCF diet and chelation therapy worked for Alex, some other methods we have tried have not been as successful. For example, some children with autism benefit from taking fish oil Omega 3 supplements. When we have tried these supplements with Alex, he has had negative side effects, such as agitation, hyperactivity, and insomnia. Consequently, we felt these supplements did not work for him. In addition, we tried giving him vitamin A in the form of cod liver oil capsules along with the prescription medication urecholine after hearing that this therapy had been successful with other children. However, Alex did not show any improvement with this method, and we discontinued this treatment since he did not respond favorably, as other children did. Because children with autism have varied nutritional needs, some respond to certain therapies, while others do not. As Alex’s doctor frequently reminded us, so long as a treatment is not harmful, it is always worth trying.

When considering therapy methods, parents should also investigate less expensive and more convenient yet equally effective alternatives. For example, I researched Fast Forward, a computer-based therapy designed to improve children’s receptive language skills, which were a weakness for Alex. However, at the time, no local providers of this therapy existed, which meant traveling in addition to the great expense of the therapy itself. After more research, I found Earobics, a similar program that parents could purchase for home use at a very reasonable price. Believing that Alex could benefit from this lesser expensive program we could use at home, we tried Earobics and found this games-based computer program did indeed improve his receptive language skills.

Similarly, after reading about auditory integration therapy (AIT) and how it addressed hypersensitive hearing and sensory processing issues that Alex had, I was unable to find any therapists nearby who offered this method. In addition, for many parents AIT is cost-prohibitive. More research led me to the EASe disc, a CD parents can purchase for home use offering many of the benefits of AIT along with the convenience of doing the therapy in the comforts of home. For Alex, the EASe disc enabled him to overcome sound sensitivities that upset him, and now he is rarely bothered by loud noise. Unlike some people with autism who must wear earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones in public places to deal with overwhelming sounds, Alex can go to sporting events and concerts without earplugs or headphones, thankfully unfazed by the noise.

Although we found benefits to some alternative therapies, others did not work for Alex, and the successful therapies we found may not work for others. Parents need to do their research to find ways to help their children without putting them in danger and without spending ridiculous amounts of money on unproven methods. After reading through yet another Facebook ad claiming, “Our autism therapy works. Period,” I found the comments people made in response to this bold statement interesting, questioning the validity of the treatment. As one person wisely noted, “If there is ever a truly effective treatment for autism, it will hopefully be shouted from the rooftops and have folks lining up for it. I don’t think you would have to stumble on it via Facebook.” I totally agree. In the meantime, parents like me keep searching for ways to make our children with autism healthier, happier, and more independent. When I find something that works, I will be shouting it from the rooftops (or at least sharing it from my blog), hoping to help all of our children with autism be their best.

“And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.” Matthew 24:11