After my oldest son was diagnosed in the spring of 1998 I had the opportunity of attending a lecture at a community college where the guest speaker was the author of Autism Treatment Guide, Elizabeth Gerlach. I purchased this book at the event for roughly ten dollars. It consists of one hundred thirty-one pages broken into sixteen chapters as well as an index and appendix.
The author has two sons, one is autistic with the other one having Attention Deficit Disorder. Autism Treatment Guide is the result of her research once her son was diagnosed. Listed at the end of each brief chapter are resources and suggested reading. The appendix includes thirteen websites that are not the best around in my opinion. She specifically does not endorse any one treatment, and encourages discussing all options with a doctor beforehand.
Autism Treatment Guide has an outline on Autism Defined and Diagnosis that discusses the tools used to observe the child and make the diagnosis. These include the CHAT (Checklist for Autism in Toddlers), Form E-2 from ARI (Autism Research Institute) and the DSM-IV, which is the American Psychiatric Associations Fourth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The CARS (Childhood Autism Rating Scale) is not mentioned, which is what I used when diagnosing my second son while observing behaviors not presented by the older son already diagnosed. As stated in Autism Treatment Guide, Autism is treatable. Autism is behaviorally defined. This section gives an overview of PDD and PDD-NOS. This simply means Pervasive Development Disorder Not otherwise specified. There are children that fall into this category and it depends on the score on the particular tests to see where the child fits in the spectrum.
There are many other disorders that have characteristics very similar to autism such as, Rett Syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, Fragile-X Syndrome, Asperger Syndrome and Williams Syndrome to name a few. The well known national organizations such as ASA (Autism Society Of America), CAN (Cure Autism Now) and NAAR (National Alliance for Autism Research) are listed with their addresses and phone numbers.
The next chapter heading is Tests, which I feel are not conducive in obtaining a diagnosis. For example both of my children were diagnosed through the School District, Speech therapist and then at the state level for the Regional Center System we have in California. Some of the extensive tests the author of Autism Treatment Guide lists are as follows:
Laboratory tests EEG, 24-hour urinalysis, CAT scan, MRI, Chromosomal analysis and blood-work up for uric acid, lactic acid and phenylalinine.
Biochemical tests Hair analysis, amino acid assay, fatty acid profile, immune competency testing, insulin levels, glucose-tolerance test, lactose-tolerance test, infectious assessment (for fungi or bacteria), urinalysis and enzyme studies
Both my children were assessed with speech and hearing tests with observations from a psychologist using the CARS and DSM-IV. All over the internet and in groups and meetings I hear of many families that go through these extensive and often expensive tests to check every thing into the cause of autism and the changes they want or need to implement. I would advise taking it slow and not placing the newly diagnosed child through a battery of unnecessary tests in the beginning.
Here is a run down of the chapters and a quick overview of what is covered:
Education Federal Law, IEP (Individual Education Plan), EI (Early Intervention) and behavior plans
Vitamin Therapy B6 and Magnesium Supplements as well as details on where to get them and what the benefits are.
Medications for Treating Autistic Symptoms The examples are broken down into classifications like ant-psychotics, anti-anxiety, beta blockers, sedatives and stimulants.
Dietary Interventions - foods may cause allergic reactions and behavior changes so this discusses taking junk foods and casein and gluten out of the diet with the organizations to assist in this endeavor.
Anti-Yeast Therapy - This discusses Candida complex
Auditory Integration Training this is intensive modulated music over a period of 10 20 days
Music Therapy Music is structured and facilitates socialization and play
Doman/Delacato Method this chapter does not apply to my family
Osteopathy/Cranopsacral Therapy this does not apply to our family
Sensory Integration Therapy includes indicators and activities to help in therapy
The Squeeze Machine originated by Temple Grandin
Holding Therapy (controversial in my opinion), some use this as a negative reinforcer.
The Son Rise Program - this is at the Option Institute, there is a book called Son Rise that explains this better
The resources offer a wide range of where to obtain these services and therapies. There is no personal experience offered in way of what the author has achieved with her own son within these treatments. In my opinion this is a good resource book to start with but certainly there are other aspects to these treatments and discussing with other parents before attempting any of these is the right step to make. I have pages marked and folded with my notations on when I called a company and received the materials I requested.
The resources are national and might not be available in your area and there is no section that mentions how to get these funded and what options to choose and how to get second opinions, etc. There are theories explored that mention some researchers but no idea of what organizations found this data. In the four years that I have owned my copy of Autism Treatment Guide I have learned more extensive avenues to explore but this still comes in handy when I want a clear, concise explanation with no biased opinion.
I would recommend this to all families that have a member that is diagnosed within the spectrum and to pick and choose your treatments wisely. I am always available via email as well as a member of many boards and groups dedicated to many aspects of autism.