Author: Lynn Vigo, MSW, LICSW

Treatments Used With Individuals With Autism

Alphabet Soup: ABA. DTT. PRT. RDI. DIR.

These are just a few of the acronyms for a growing number of treatments used with individuals with autism.  If you recently received a diagnosis for your child you may have searched the internet and found a bewildering array of possibilities. Even if it has been years since your child’s diagnosis, you probably hear about new treatments and wonder if you should give them a try. Read full post »

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff- How to Decide on Treatments and Therapies for Your Child

As a parent, you have likely read books or heard stories of children who “recovered” from autism or made significant gains using a particular treatment. These anecdotal (based on personal observation, rather than scientific investigation) reports can be both a blessing and a curse as they inspire hope, but may also lead to disappointment when they fail to provide the hoped for results. We don’t yet know the cause(s) of autism; therefore, there is no definitive treatment protocol. What seems to work for one child may not work for another.

With 1 in 110 children diagnosed today, autism is in the news more and more. You may have seen recent news coverage on several articles in the Journal of Pediatrics that looked at studies of the efficacy (effectiveness) of treatments for autism and concluded that that there was little to no evidence that the treatments evaluated were effective for children with autism. But the brief news blast didn’t report the entire summary of the studies. Bryan King, MD, psychiatrist and director of Seattle Children’s Autism Center, points out that “The absence of evidence does not mean that treatments don’t work. I believe the lack of evidence points out the need for more information.”

Read full post »

Communicating with Providers: Tips on Describing Behavior

I often hear my colleague, nurse Jason Russo, on the phone asking, “Can you describe what his meltdown looks like?” He spends much of his day fielding calls from parents about a child’s behavior, answering questions about new medications, and acting as a liaison between medical or mental health providers and parents. 

Think about all the words we use to describe our kids’ challenging behaviors: hyper, agitated, distracted, out-of-control. Yet, just as each child with autism is unique, so is the meaning of the terms we use. Read full post »

Is Autism a Mental Health Diagnosis?

Today is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which raises the question: Is autism a mental health diagnosis?

When my daughter was diagnosed a dozen years ago, her developmental pediatrician referred to it as a neurodevelopmental disorder. Later I heard it described as “neurobiological”. Yet I was told there is no medical test for autism and that it was diagnosed based on observation of behavior. Still later, I read about autism as a psychiatric disorder and many of the therapies I researched were based in psychology. Read full post »