Parents of children on the autism spectrum find themselves taking on the job of detective, seeking out the therapies and experts that can help their children reach their full potential. As Jacqueline Laurita has discovered in the year since her 3-year-old son Nicholas was diagnosed, there is no one-size-fits-all answer: Each child responds differently to any given treatment.
In her newest blog for Parenting magazine’s website, Jacqueline says, “Really, what I wanted was for someone to hand me a map highlighted with the path I needed to take. If I followed it perfectly, there would be sunshine and rainbows at the end, and Nicholas would be recovered.”
But since no such map exists, Jacqueline and her husband, Chris, have had to do their own research and find the answers that work for their son.
The two that seem to have made the greatest difference are diet and music therapy. Nicholas is on a gluten- and casein-free diet, which has been shown to improve symptoms in autistic children.
The family also started working with a music therapist, Jenn Goodman, after Jacqueline noticed that Nicholas was keenly interested in kids’ music shows on TV. “She interacts with Nicholas by singing and playing the guitar, and he responds by filling in words,” she explains. “It’s incredible to watch.”
But for every helpful suggestion or study that helps the Lauritas on their path, there are a dozen wrong turns and dead ends. Some advice they’ve gotten is, shall we say, waaay outside the box (one woman told Jacqueline that camel’s milk could cure autism). “Sometimes it can feel like a frustrating – and even desperate – exercise in trial and error,” she says.
Still, hearing other parents’ success stories fills the Real Housewife with hope. She cites one mom whose nonverbal son finally began speaking at age 5. Nicholas can say a few words now, but he isn’t yet at the point where he can carry on a conversation. “I don’t live for the day that he speaks,” says Jacqueline. “I live for the day that he speaks to me.”
So the detective work goes on as the Lauritas work toward this and other goals. Jacqueline feels as though she’s “in a race against time” because, in the world of autism, early intervention is crucial. But she won’t stop running – not as long as her son needs her.
[Photo: via Twitter]
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