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Everything Works

I’m reading a book that justifies my theory that “everything works when you work for it” with Autism. It’s called Overcoming Autism written by the cofounder of the Autism Research Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

She says:

“everything you do will make a difference. There’s a lot you can do for your child, more than you may be aware of right now . . . There are no miracles. It would be nice if a nonverbal kid suddenly started talking in sentences, if a self-injurious kid suddenly decided he preferred playing the piano to hitting himself in the head, and if a withdrawn boy suddenly realized that it’s fun to play with other kids. Of course, none of that’s going to happen.

“The good news, though, is that if you remove “suddenly” from the previous paragraph, it’s a completely different story, because we have seen all these things happen. They just didn’t happen suddenly or out of the blue – they were the result of hard work.”

Now that we’ve been combining a variety of approaches to Holden, it seems like he’s making a lot of progress. Everyone from his teachers to his therapists are really encouraged by the amount of progression he’s exhibiting. His task persistence is still low, but it’s getting better. His language and sentence structure is getting more complex, he is jabbering less. His temper tantrums are shorter and I’m getting better and figuring out why they’re happening and helping him avoid them. And he’s interacting socially far more than I’ve ever seen.

So here’s what we’re trying right now (in addition to Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, GF/GAPS diet, and my in-home ABA sessions.

Drum Therapy

We listen to Shamanic drumming music every morning and dinner time. Those two times are the typically the hardest times of the day for Holds. Our OT recommended we get drumming music because it’s beat is similar to the beat of a heart. And it helps kids with Autism regulate their nervous system. It helps calm them down. We listen to it in the morning as we show him his schedule, make breakfast and get dressed. And then either at dinner time or before bedtime, he likes to hear it again. Drum therapy just basically reduced stress and tension – which is good for all of us.

Picture Schedules

I bought a laminating machine a couple weeks ago and have been a laminating queen. I searched Mr. Google for all the activities and places and things we do throughout the day to help Holden know what his day looks like. He used to have meltdowns every day when I’d try to explain where we were going. People with autism have a hard time with concepts they can’t see. This has cut down on tantrums SIGNIFICANTLY. He does so much better when he can see what’s coming.

He’s such a literal kid that the first time I used our lunch picture, he saw what his actual lunch was and said “no, want this lunch” – it took a few times before he started accepting these were symbolic and the reality doesn’t have to be exact. πŸ™‚

Essential Oils

I never thought I would use essential oils, but I sort of love them right now. I only have a few. We use Cedarwood and Lavender mostly. Lavender is calming and soothing to the nervous system, but also an antisceptic, anti-inflammatory, and bunch of other things, which is why they call it the Mother of all Oils. We put lavender on Holden’s pillowcase and rub it on his feet at night or any time I can calm him.

I used Cedarwood on the back of his head on the top of his spine. It’s supposed to help open up his limbic system and help his concentration and focus.

Cell Phone Timer

Several therapists recommend a timer for behavior problems. 90% of Holden’s tantrums are around transitions. He has a hard time, even with a picture schedule, transitioning from one activity/place to another. I used to count, give him warnings, say he has 5 minutes left, etc. but this method has been the most effective. I tell him how many minutes he can play for, then show him the timer and let him push the start button. So far, it’s the best thing ever. I just need to remember to use it!

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4 thoughts on “Everything Works

  1. Amber, awesome techniques. I am considering trying a few myself. Like I told you before: You were made to be Holden's Mom. Are you going to be around next week. I need to bring by your green bowl. Let me know what day works.Kate

  2. Okay, so either it’s been a LONG time since I’ve read your blog or…, no, it’s just been that long. I had no idea that Holden is autistic. Holy wow. I’m only starting to understand what that means in general, and as a parent. (we’re looking into Asperger’s with our daughter) Sounds like I need to go back and catch up on all your posts! πŸ™‚ The techniques you’ve described sound awesome and like we could really benefit from them. I’m definitely intrigued by the drumming therapy. And I actually have some essential oils, I just don’t know how to use them. Thanks for the insight. My head starts swimming when I hear about all this — I’m definitely still in denial. But it helps to hear/read people talking about it. So thanks.

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