What Happened With…?

I am very curious about what happened with some of the interventions that were used 30 years ago to help children with autism. Were they successful? Are they still being used? I did not get a chance to try them because of my son’s level of functioning and I would like to know what happened. If you have any answers for me, please leave a comment on this blog or e-mail me.

I’ve gotten an answer about what happened with facilitated communication. That was a process in which the person with autism communicated by typing. The autistic person did not type independently.  The person  with autism was aided by a person (facilitator) who supported  their arm over the keyboard. There was always a question about whether the facilitator was supporting the arm or guiding the arm. Was the autistic person actually answering or was the facilitator? If a different facilitator was used, would the answers change, as it sometimes did?

I tried to be PJ’s facilitator by supporting his arm while he typed. I found that he would rather type without me supporting his arm. He would type words or phrases that we put on flash cards, but I was never able to get him to type his own thoughts or feelings. He did not really have a desire to communicate and still doesn’t. He soon lost interest in typing as he did with other activities that I tried to interest him in.

The week of  June 12, the Detroit Free Press presented a week long story about facilitated communication gone wrong. According to the story, the process had been discredited over a decade ago and should not have still been used. It created a nightmare for the family involved and I have heard of other such outcomes. If you know of any times that it was proven successful, please let me know.

What happened with Auditory Integration Training (AIT)? This was a process by which headphones and individualized sounds were supposed to help adjust the brain waves of the person with autism.  It required a series of tests and treatments with the autistic person before it could be implemented.  I looked into it, but it would have required a couple of months away from home, not to mention the expense it would have entailed. Does anyone know of it being used successfully?  I did find that PJ likes headphones with music, sounds, or nothing at all. He constantly wears his headphones.

What happened with all the people on the lower end of the autism spectrum (such as my son) who were mainstreamed? Did it turn out to be successful? Where are the people now? What happened with the gluten free diets? Did it turn out to be a long term success? Are these people living independently in the community?

What happened with residential options for adults with autism? What kind of choices do parents have? From my experience, parents have to come up with their own solutions, which is why PJ is still living with me. When I was a member of advocacy committees back in the 80s, we tried to put some options in place that don’t seem to be available now.

What happened with respite? Have we lost some of our respite options? Do parents take advantage of this service? With the increase in the autism diagnosis, I hope that there is enough available. I’ve only survived autism because of getting respite when I needed a break.  Sometimes, just knowing that a break was coming gave me the energy to hold out until then.

I know I’ve asked a lot of questions. I hope some of you have answers for me. I would like to know what has changed in 30 years.   What interventions that I was not able to try proved to be a success?

Until next time; May the Love of God enfold you; May the Power of  God protect you.

Claudreen Jackson

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