A New Speech Program For Kids With Autism, And Other Therapies

Back when my son, Max, was a baby, my husband and I were game to try anything to help him: He had brain damage from a stroke at birth. The doctors hadn’t given us much hope for his future. Our motto was, “If it could help and it won’t hurt, let’s do it.” So we took him for hyperbaric oxygen treatment sessions, said to help spark dormant areas of the brain. My husband or I would lie down with Max in this giant, clear claustrophobic tube as pure oxygen shot into it. We did craniosacral therapy in which a therapist massaged various parts of Max’s head. We tried MEDEK. We infused his food with various forms of brain-nurturing Omega-3s.

We were so panicked.

At 8, Max is doing pretty well for himself. He has what’s considered mild cerebral palsy. He walks well, he’s bright, and he is one of the most charming kids I’ve ever known (I realize I’m not the most objective source). He has challenges articulating words and using his hands, along with cognitive delays. He gets all of the traditional therapy—physical, occupational, and speech. We’ve gotten admittedly more laid back about trying new stuff with him, though we are considering returnig to aqua therapy to help strengthen his core (a common challenge for children with cerebral palsy). I recently learned about something called “manual therapy,” which involves massage and other hands-on techniques. I’m taking him in for a session, and we’ll see.

Parents’ September issue has a feature (page 38!) about a promising new program to help boost communication skills for toddlers with autism. It’s called More Than Words, and a study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found it to be effective for some kids. It’s designed for kids under 5, and aims to help improve social skills, back-and-forth interactions and language comprehension. The Parents feature also mentions the ROCK method, which sounds good for any child with communication challenges: R Repeat what you say and do • O Offer chances for him to respond • C Cue your child to take his turn • K Keep it going and keep it fun.

What sort of therapies have you been into lately? Tried anything alternative?


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  1. by MarfMom

    On August 7, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    We’ve used the ROCK method for M, though I didn’t know that’s what it was called. It’s done very well for him, combined with other therapies. Once he started talking, ROCK has helped encourage him in using more 3-4 word sentences.

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