Let’s start out with a basic definition of Autism….my definition! Autism can be considered the mismanagement of incoming information and stimuli. The more mismanaged the information and stimuli, the more severe we consider the individual with Autism.
Let me illustrate this point with a word picture. Imagine someone with too many alcoholic beverages “on board.” We can easily recognize by how he responds to incoming information (stimuli) such as his language, how he walks (or how he drives) that he is drunk! Of course, the more alcohol on board, the more distorted his response to the environment and the more “severe” or “toxic” we consider the individual. If we remove the source of the alcohol, we can expect some degree of recovery. Similarly, with autistic children, if we remove the sources of the mismanagement of incoming stimuli and information, we can expect a certain amount of improvement.
Autistic children do not respond normally to the many activities of daily living…such as sleeping, waking, eating, lights, sounds, ability to understand and speak language, and mood regulation, to name a few. For example, my son Josh, in the early days of his diagnosis would walk on hot gravel in bare feet! Apparently the nerve endings in his feet were indeed picking up heat and “sharp” but his brain was not able to initiate the correct response (to get off and “cry”).
It’s as if their “hard drive” is no longer making sense of input coming in from the body’s senses. This is why we have to approach the child with autism as a medical concern and not merely behaviorally. We have to fix the hard drive to enable our “software engineers” (you know, the speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, etc) to have much more success. Case in point, if you were a therapist, would you prefer to work with a child who has been up all night (because of altered sleep cycles) or a child who had a great nights sleep? Unless you love massive amounts of pain, you will pick the child who slept well.
Biomedical interventions allow us to restore the natural rhythms that include sleeping, eating, normal bowel movements, and a body that is free of pain. Once this restoration is accomplished, we will have a child really ready to take on the challenge of catching up!
This process of recovery includes many steps such dietary interventions, treatment of infections, management of allergies, management of inflammation, and regulation of perceived needs and rituals. That’s just a few of the many possible therapeutic interventions!
I encourage you to read as much as you can about this process of recovery, and a good place to start is Healing and Preventing Autism written by myself and Jenny McCarthy. This will give you a good basic understanding to Autism and many of the medical issues can be addressed and the improvement of autistic behaviors that follow.
And that is my approach to Autism.