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May 15th, 2010 by Dr. Phil

Hope for Families with Autism

autismDid you see the series we recently broadcast called “Fighting for Your Child”? If so, you saw some shocking surveillance video of an autistic teen being dragged out of his classroom and placed in a dark room. As you can imagine, his father was devastated when the boy came home with bruises. And because the teen is non-verbal, the dad went to extra lengths to investigate what was going on. 

On Friday’s show, you’ll see stories of other parents who stop at nothing to get the best treatment for their autistic children. I applaud their diligence, and I know how painfully difficult life can be for these families as they search for resources for these precious children. 

Because April is National Autism Awareness Month, Dr. Frank Lawlis has been gracious enough to offer his new e-book The Autism Answer at no cost this entire month. This is a book of inspiration, information and action plans for parents of autistic children. In the book, he answers many questions that need answering in a big way. Yes, he writes, such a life comes with great challenges and soul-searching, but it can still be fulfilling and, at times, enriching in a way few other parents can understand. Click here to download The Autism Answer.

Autism is an issue we all need to understand. What was once a relatively unknown condition 30 years ago, now affects at least one in 150 children in the United States, which means if you don’t know someone with autism, you will soon. That’s why I heartily recommend The Autism Answer to everyone. I also recommend parents of autistic children to join Frank’s online Autism Answer community. On his Web site, he is constantly passing on new information regarding all the therapies, from sensory training to brain healing, that can help autistic children succeed at their goals in life. And he has a place for parents to socially network — to share their thoughts, questions and concerns with other parents.

“Each day,” Frank writes, “we understand a little bit more about autism.” Although there is no question we have a long way to go, as Frank points out, we now at least have a direction of where to go. And when it comes to this battle, that’s a very, very good thing to hear.

Below are some nationally recognized autism sites for your consideration. Please note that we provide these links for informational purposes only and do not endorse any of these organizations or Web sites.

HollyRod Foundation
Special Needs Network
Autism Speaks
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
C.A.R.D. (Center for Autism and Related Disorders)
Autism Society Of America
Autism Research Institute

Dr. Jim Sears, pediatrician and co-host of the hit show The Doctors, blogged about the debate over vaccines and autism. Read his thoughts here.

39 Responses to “Hope for Families with Autism”

  1. rachel hunt says:

    I just watched your episode on “fihgting for your child part 2″. I currently am a one to one teaching assistant for a 6 year old autistic child and I have been in the front lines in fighting for this child. With the current economic difficulties that the nation is facing we; the parents, service specialists and myself have been faced with the lay off of myself, in June, in the school district we are in. I am not writing this to you for myself but for the child that I am working with. I feel that this is a problem that not only is in our district, butis a problem all over the country. We are doing what ever we can do to keep myself on as the assistant to this child as he is going to be going to a new school with everything new to him along with a new baby brother that he will soon be confronted with. All of this is a concern to myself along with the parents because it is so difficult to find someone who will work with children with special needs and truely enjoy all that it encompasses. I have gone as far as teaching myself to write left handed, as I am a right handed person and he left. We have also gotten this child to be fully potty trained, which with any child is a challenge, but it is more difficult for special needs children. We are concerned for these new changes that are about to come into his life, concidering that with any autistic child, routine and consistency is needed in thier lives to keep the success ongoing. We fear that all he has acomplished in the past several months will be lost due to this serious change and very hard to gain back. This is a problem that we face due to budget cuts in our district. I want it to be known that anyone out there that is faced with autisim on a daily basis, there is a fear that this could happen to your child or the child of someone that you may know. I feel that these problems should be heard and put out there for all to know because there are a vast amount of educational professionals and paraprofessionals in our country that face being layed off due to the economic crissis. It should be a fear of all parents that have these special and wonderful children. Maybe with our fight we can be a help to others facing the same delema. I only hope and pray that this fight that we are in will end up for the best for the child.

  2. BETHANY says:

    i feel sorry for this family no child dererves to be hurt i know what its like to have an autistic child because i have a 4 year old nephew who is autistic and its a 24 seven job to keep track of him hes just the same as everone else i read to him and tell him stories and we play games and we use plash cards with him hes just like everyother little 4 year old boy people just need to have patience with a child that is autistic of you dont have patience you wont get anywhere.

  3. GREAT shows Dr. Phil and Stellar of Dr. Lawlis to offer his Ebook: “The Autism Answer” free to download, during APRIL, “National Autism Awareness Month.”

    Holly and Rod of HollyRod Foundation http://www.hollyrod.org/ were on your son, Jay’s, show THE DOCTORS today. Link below is THE DOCTORS show on Autism today that Holly and Rod et al were on.

    http://www.thedoctorstv.com/main/show_page/449

    Holly is on twitter http://twitter.com/hollyrpeete Too, Holly is presently on Celebrity Apprentice of Donald Trump’s on TV on Sundays http://twitter.com/CelebApprentice and the charity Holly is sponsoring on Celebrity Apprentice is for Autism. There’s a Twitter and Facebook community too for #Autism if you just search for #Autism (w/number sign in front or w/o) while on Twitter in search box etc. I believe too if you check out THE DOCTORS on twitter @TheDoctors that they gave a facebook link as per Autism show today.

    I watched THE DOCTORS show on Autism during my Tour de’ THE DOCTORS on my recumbent bike (w/side of hand weights) this a.m. I think I saw on Dr. Phil Website that part 2 of your Autism Show “FIGHTING FOR YOUR CHILD” is today for anyone who wants to exercise during Tour de’ DR. PHIL … definitely a must see show to learn more about Autism. About what we all can do to give dignity and make life and school system etc. user friendly for special persons with autism. Once again, to those on show, support staff and you, Dr. Phil, THANK YOU.

  4. Bobbi Jo Adragna says:

    The first and foremost responsibility of a parent with a special needs child is to protect that child. It makes every difference in the world to be a visible, involved entity in the education setting and anywhere else the child participates in activities where the parents are not always present. I have a 12 yr old daughter with the dual diagnosis of MR and PDD(an autism spectrum diagnosis). She has always had a communication/speech delay and my biggest fear was that she would be harmed or treated harshly and unable to let me know. I have always gotten to know her aides and teachers @ school thoroughly. I have always questioned anything that made me the least bit uncomfortable or I was even minorly unsure of. The school staff need to know that they will never get away with anything untoward with your child without having to deal with the “mad woman of Borneo” (as my husband calls me when mama tiger comes out). I have to add I have been extremely luck with the schools and staff that have dealt with my daughter with very few exceptions. When those rare occasions occurred
    that I was upset or concerned, I also have been lucky enough to be both educated enough and in touch with the right support services to be able to handle the situation quickly and in a positive manner. I would never allow the type of resraint that had been discussed on the show. I have allowed them to do “Hands Down” when she was smaller and I have allowed a small dose of Abilify, to help control her behaviors. When she needed to leave the public school for a private school setting, I again allowed it, and it has been a wonderful move for her. You just have to check out the private schools, their methods, and how open they are to your involvement and to visits, etc. Believe me if they are
    not 100% sure of their staff and their methods and capabilities, they won’t want the parents in there observing.

  5. Tim Smith says:

    Our child is diagnosed with PDD-NOS and MR. She has been restrained 16 times in a seven month period. She was injured several times during the restraints. On one occasion she came home crying. She told us that the teacher pushed her head on the bathroom floor. Her forehead was red and had a goose egg. We asked the principal to investigate. Several days later, Protective Services came to our house to investigate me for abuse. This is a trend that districts use to stop parental advocacy. I researched this on the internet and I’m not alone. My question for you is : What do you do when school personnel are the bullies ? This subject should be addressed. It’s not just students bullying other students.

  6. Taffie Brown says:

    My three year old son was recently diagnosed with autism and I am very concerned about the services he recieves from school. I am also concerned about the therapies he will recieve it seems to me that every doctor I speak with about him wants to prescribe some kind of medication and send him on. It upsets me as a parent because I do not believe that a doctor should visit with my child for twenty minutes then prescribe him a narcotic.

  7. Laura Amenda says:

    As a parent of a 17 year old on the spectrum, I feel compelled to offer hope for those with younger children. I have seen my son (and others) grow from unmanageable children to wonderful teenagers. I only caught part of today’s show but want to caution families that are thinking of moving for services. We moved 1/2 way across the country for a wonderful program that was discontinued a year after we moved. I don’t know if it was ABA therapies, occupational therapies, diets, supplements, school programs, prayer, determination, or a combination of it all that worked, but we have a success story. It is possible!!

  8. Denise Dear says:

    Wonderful show today on autism. I’m a parent of twin sons’ diagnosed on the autism spectrum 22yrs. ago. At that time little was know about austism, and there were limited opportunities for parents to receive help. Things do get better as they are introduced to the same opportunities as a child not diagnosed. Today, my sons’ are on the verge of graduating from college as math and art majors. I learned as a single parent of three with twins with special needs to treat them all the same. Currently, I’m a preschool teacher working with children with special needs particularly autism. I have be able to communicate to parents the experiences I have as a parent of special need children, and assure them that it gets a little easier if we equip them with the necessary skills to manage their lives.

  9. Ann T says:

    Hey Dr.Phil I just watched your episode on Autism.I am a parent with a child who is Autistic and it is very Challenging but we are the best advocate for our children.My son was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD,PDD mild touretts,and a few others,And I did not stop I got my son every help he could ever get to help him.

  10. Denise says:

    As the Mother and Aunt of two Autistic children I am fully aware of the challenges faceing parents of Autistic children. My son, now 11, was diagnosed with Aspberger’s only 4 years ago. We have faced many challenges in dealing with not only the Autisum but with his ADHD, anger management issues, emotional issues, control issues and OCD issues. So I know how hard it is to be a mother looking for answers and resources for my child. Here is my advice.
    1. Get your Doctor involved if they refuse find one who will
    2. There is a possibility your child will qualify for SSI since Autisum is a perminate disorder. Check with your local Social Security Office
    3. Talk to your childs school. Your child is intitled to an IEP. Check with your local school district to find out your rights as a parent and your childs rights to education. DO NOT let them tell you there are no programs available in the district. BY FEDERAL law they have to provide education for your special needs child(ren).
    4. Check into local councling or psycitrist help. Your child may qualify for skills training, mentors, or even respit care to give you and your family a break once in a while to focus on you. There may also be other programs or groups in your area that can help you.
    5. Get a subscription to an Autisum Magazine. I suggest Autisum Digest.
    6. Do NOT blame yourself for your childs disorder. They are still unaware what causes Autisum and no one can point the blame on ONE SINGLE thing that causes it.
    7. Love your child and yourself. Your child can not help the way they are and they need to be reasured that even though they are difftent they are capeable of amazing things.
    8. Involve your whole family if possible. Even children who do not have Autisum. If they understand that their sibling is diffrent and are taught at an early age that it is OK to be diffrent then they will be more accepting of not only their sibling but of others as well.

    Autisum is an unknown disorder with a HUGE spectrum of symptoms and secondary issues. But with a little research, understanding and love you CAN make it work.

  11. Suzette Villalobos says:

    I have a 3 year old ASD son who was diagnosed at 18 months. Along with autism he also has a genetic disorder and a brain abnormality. Him being hurt by someone else has been my biggest fear since we found out. I am so happy to see Dr. Phil doing these specials. With 1 in 91 children being diagnosed its a must to get the word out there. Everyday is a struggle for my family and my two older children but we are making it work. Through the many great organizations there are out there, and awesome advocates like Jenny McCarthy and Holly Robinson Peete who are really putting the word out there and bringing out all the things that can help our children. My son has went from a 6 month old mentality a year and half ago to a 22 month old mentality. He is now doing so great and has come so far. I continue to be an advocate for autism. I also have been so lucky to get my son in to a great early intervention program here in our local district and was also proud to see a fellow teacher on Dr.Phils part 2 show from our school district who is also my older sons current teacher. Mr. Bowen is an awesome teacher and had no clue he was such an advocate for families also. I look forward to many more of these specials. Thank you Dr. Phil for being another great advocate for other ASD families.

  12. kimberly markum says:

    I have a 8 y.o. with autism that I home-school. While I know it is not possible for everybody to do this I know it was best for us and I highly recommend it for anyone who can find a way to make it happen. A lot of people did not support my decision, but after our public school tried to force a behavior plan on him that I did not agree with and asked me to sign a contract saying I would allow the public school system to use adversives on my child I did not feel I had a choice. Once I started home-schooling I realized it was what I should have been doing all along! I had the normal doubts about my ability and certainly felt the financial hardship of having to quit my job, but I got a workable part time job, downsized our budget and basically learned to live on a financial shoestring. I also read a lot of books on homeschooling, teaching special needs,and methods of dealing with autism [I like Dr. Greenspan]. Most importantly I prayed A LOT! Once I got into it I saw almost immediate results in behavior. At school he had almost daily meltdowns and a several violent outbursts. At home we structured our time very loosely and I was able to incorporate learning time into play time making it a very relaxed natural experience for him. His self confidence began to soar and he just became a very happy kid. We believe nobody is successful in life no matter what they accomplish if they do not have self esteem and happiness. We incorporated a lot of social outings and play dates into our program to enrich his socialization. In our home-school program we can balance the basic living skills with the academics also which is something the school cannot do. For example while we learn about math he is also learning how to count his money to see if he has enough to buy that toy he wants at wal-mart. Today his lessons are a little more structured than they were at first. He is learning to read and do simple addition and subtraction problems on his own. I don’t know for sure if he is accademically above where he would have been if we left him in public school. While I feel he probably is, I do know he enjoys learning now and he has a positive and happy outlook on life. I also know that by the time he is an adult he will be able to read at a funcional level and have the skills needed to deal with his everyday life. Nobody will know whether he attained these skills at 5 or 10 or 15 for that matter.
    He will have avoided the comparison to the “normal” child and the humiliation that goes along with thinking you don’t measure up. He will have had the advantage of a happy childhood where self esteem was nurtured and everything possible was done to help him grow into a well rounded individual. I on the other hand will have had the opportunity to be a part of that process and have enjoyed more quality time with my child than I ever dreamed. Again I know it is not possible for everyone but please consider home-schooling as an option if at all possible. Your life will be eternally blessed. I know mine was.

  13. Donna Shackelford says:

    I am the proud mother of the most wonderful,thoughtful 16 year old who was diagnosed at 3 with autism. He is a sophomore in high school where is mainstreamed, which I am extremely proud of considering he was non-verbal when he was diagnosed. We now have to tell him to please be quiet, but in the back of my mind I am so happy for having to say that to him. My husband and I have been married for 19 years and my greatest piece of advice would be to remember that you and your spouse are on the same team. You both want what’s best for your child, your spouse is not the enemy. Love your child, enjoy them, pray for them. It is alot of hard work, but the rewards will be worth it.

  14. Lorri Smith says:

    I could not even finish watching today’s show about Fighting for Your Child because I was completely appalled at the way these children are being treated. I am a mother of a 5 year old that was recently diagnosed profoundly autistic. He is considered minimally verbal and to think that when he starts school next year that they might treat him this way. We trust these people to help us teach our special needs children and they are causing them harm. How can these people get away with it is my question. One questionable bruise and the school is all over calling DHS and now as parents we have to be terrified of the people responsible for the safety of our children for almost 7 hours a day. Aren’t we suppose to be able to trust them, no wonder homeschooling is on the rise for special needs children…

  15. renee says:

    referring to the show on autism as my son is 5 yrs old and he still speech delayed and has a eating problem and i have had a hard time getting him to be potty trained, he entered an early intervention class at 3yrs old and then when he turned 4yrs old he entered a preshool program he was still going to the early intervention and we had to stop it because he was crying everyday continusly and not wanting to be in there so now i am a little concerned because when i asked him why he was crying he really couldnt explain why and he is not diagnosed with autism, he was diagnosed MR,VERY MILD from what the phychiatrist said also a speech therapist said his speech was severly delayed he is about 2 yrs behind. anyway im wondering if something went on in the class, because he loves his preschool class and he is so liked by everyone in there and has made a big improvment . I still need to get him potty trained and I still need to work on his eating but I know its harder to get this in order when my son is delayed. I love your show Dr.phil and I watch it all the time thank you so much for all your advice.

  16. Sharon Frank says:

    As wide spread as autism is I believe Aspergers is also as prevalent and just as destructive to families. I would like to see this brought to the forefront as it is a new diagnosis and there is not much families can do to help the children affected with it that may have not gotten the diagnosis in childhood and are now struggling to live in the adult world. This too can be devastating to all concerned.

  17. Sandra says:

    Autism—Meeting the Challenges of a Puzzling Disorder

    This article was made public August 1995- Awake magazine- Although lengthy it is very educational and offers much valuable information

    CHRISTOPHER was a handsome, well-behaved little boy who stopped responding to his name at 18 months of age. At first, it seemed as if he were deaf, yet he always noticed the rustle of a candy wrapper.
    In time, other puzzling behaviors also manifested themselves. Rather than playing with his toys in the usual ways, he would just spin their wheels over and over again. He developed an unusual interest in liquids, pouring them out at every opportunity. This, along with his love for climbing, led to many precarious situations and to a great deal of anxiety for his mother.
    Most troubling of all, he was oblivious to people, often appearing to look right through them as though they weren’t there. By the time he was two years old, he had stopped speaking altogether. He spent much of his time rocking himself back and forth, and he began having violent temper tantrums, often for reasons that were incomprehensible to his parents. Bewildered, they began searching for answers.
    What was the matter with Christopher? Was he spoiled, neglected, mentally retarded, or schizophrenic? No, Christopher is one of at least 360,000 people in the United States who have autism. This puzzling disorder occurs in 4 or 5 out of every 10,000 children worldwide, posing a lifetime of challenges.

    What Is Autism?
    Autism is a disorder of the brain in which social behavior, communication skills, and thinking ability fail to develop normally. It affects the way sensory input is processed, causing people with autism to overreact to some sensations (sights, sounds, smells, and so forth) and underreact to others. The impairments of autism produce an assortment of unusual behavioral traits. Symptoms, which usually appear before the age of three, can vary greatly from child to child. Consider the following examples.
    Imagine reaching out with love to your own beautiful child and getting no response. This often happens when a child has autism. Instead of interacting with people, most children with autism prefer to be alone. They may dislike being cuddled, avoid eye contact, and use people as they would tools—showing little awareness of others’ feelings. In severe cases some do not seem to make any distinction between family members and strangers. They appear to live in a world of their own, oblivious to the people and events around them. The term “autism,” from the Greek word au‧tos′ meaning “self,” refers to this self-absorbing quality.
    In contrast with their indifference to people, children with autism may become preoccupied with a particular object or activity, pursuing it for several hours at a time in a bizarre, repetitive manner. For example, instead of pretending that toy cars are real ones, they may line the cars up in neat, straight rows or may endlessly spin their wheels. They display repetitiveness in other ways also. Many are intolerant of change in their daily routines, insisting on doing things exactly the same way every time.
    Children with autism may also respond in strange ways to the events and situations that they encounter. Their responses can be baffling, since most of them are unable to describe what they are experiencing. Nearly half are mute; often those who can speak use words in unusual ways. Rather than answer a question by saying yes, they may simply repeat the question (a phenomenon called echolalia). Some use expressions that seem strangely out of place and that can only be understood by those familiar with their “code.” For instance, one child used the phrase “it’s all dark outside” as his term for “window.” Many also have difficulty using gestures and may scream or throw a tantrum to signal a need.

    Obtaining Appropriate Treatment
    During the ’40’s, ’50’s, and ’60’s, autism was considered by many professionals to be an emotional withdrawal in an otherwise normal child. Parents, especially mothers, were saddled with most of the blame for their child’s problems. In the ’60’s, evidence began to accumulate that strongly suggested that autism results from subtle forms of brain damage (although it is still unknown precisely what these are). This led to a shift of emphasis in the treatment of autism from psychotherapy to education. Special teaching techniques were developed, which have proved effective in reducing problem behaviors and in teaching needed skills. As a result of these and other advances, many with autism have made fine progress, and with adequate assistance and support, some are able to hold jobs and lead semi-independent lives.
    However, obtaining appropriate treatment for a child with autism can be a struggle. For a variety of reasons, autism may go unrecognized or improperly diagnosed for months or, in some cases, even years. Educational programs designed for other disabilities may not adequately address the special needs of children with autism. Thus, when trying to obtain needed services for their child, many parents find themselves repeatedly venturing into the unfamiliar world of physicians, educators, and social agencies.

    Daily Life
    Unlike most youngsters, children with autism do not readily absorb information from their surroundings. Teaching them the basic skills needed at home or in the community is a challenging and slow step-by-step process. The day’s routine can keep a parent rushing from task to task; assisting with dressing, feeding, and toileting; redirecting disruptive or inappropriate behaviors; and cleaning up after accidents. “Until [my son] was ten years old,” one parent recalls, “I was just trying to make it through each day.”
    Adding to the strain is the child’s need for constant supervision. “Tommy has to be watched constantly,” says his mother, Rita, “because he has little sense of danger.” Since many autistic children also have irregular sleep patterns, the vigil often extends into the night. Florence, whose son Christopher was described at the outset of this article, comments, “I slept with one eye open.”
    As the children grow older, some of these demands diminish while others may intensify. Even when progress is made, almost all those with autism continue to require some level of supervision throughout their lives. Since residence facilities suitable for adults with autism are scarce, parents of autistic children face the prospect of either providing lifelong care at home or, if this becomes impossible, placing their grown children in institutions.

    Facing the Public
    “Now that Joey is 18,” Rosemarie observes, “the hardest thing for us is taking him out in public. Like most autistic children, he’s normal in appearance, but because of his behavior, people stare, laugh, and make comments. Sometimes he’ll stop right in the middle of the street and begin writing in the air with his finger. If he hears loud noises, like car horns or people coughing, he’ll get very agitated and yell out, ‘No! no! no!’ It really puts us on edge because it can happen at any time.” Another parent adds: “It’s a difficult thing to explain to people. When you say, ‘He’s autistic,’ the term doesn’t mean anything to them.”
    Because of these difficulties, the primary-care parent (usually the mother) can easily become isolated. “I’m basically a shy person and don’t like being a public spectacle,” says Mary Ann. “So I would take Jimmy to the playground at times when people usually weren’t there, like early in the morning or at mealtimes.” (Compare Psalm 22:6, 7.) For other parents the challenge is getting out at all. Sheila remarks: “At times I felt like a prisoner in my own home.”

    Keeping the Family Together
    In Children With Autism, Michael D. Powers writes: “The single most important thing for a child with autism . . . is that her family stay together.” This is a formidable challenge. The difficulties of raising a child with autism are superimposed on an unimaginable emotional trauma. Intense, painful, frightening feelings rise up that can inhibit communication between marriage partners. At a time when both need extra love and support, neither may have much to give. Despite these extraordinary pressures, thousands of couples have met this challenge successfully.
    The book After the Tears, by Robin Simons, draws the following three suggestions from the experiences of such successful couples. First, find a way “to examine even the most painful feelings, and to share them.” Second, reexamine household roles and arrangements, making adjustments so that the work load is reasonably shared. Third, schedule regular times to do things together, just the two of you. Dr. Powers further states: “In setting your priorities, dividing your time, balancing everyone’s needs, and deciding just how much you can take, never allow your child’s needs or your devotion to her to jeopardize your family life.”—Compare Philippians 1:10; 4:5.
    Although the effects of autism are profound, individuals affected by it can receive help. An important factor is early recognition, leading to appropriate treatment. Efforts can then be directed into productive channels. The family will not be needlessly consumed if good communication and balanced use of resources exist. (Compare Proverbs 15:22.) The understanding of relatives and friends and their active assistance give parents much-needed support. People’s awareness of autism, as well as their acceptance of individuals with autism in the community, prevents them from thoughtlessly adding to the burdens of these families. Thus all of us can play a role in meeting the challenges of autism.—Compare 1 Thessalonians 5:14

  18. Sandra says:

    ……..How Others Can Help

    Maintain Contact: Initially a family may be so overwhelmed that they are unable to share their feelings with others. With patience, discernment, and persistence, reach out to them. When they are ready to talk about it, listen without pressuring.
    Be Slow to Offer Advice: Since children with autism may appear to be spoiled and merely in need of more-effective discipline, parents often find themselves receiving well-meaning but uninformed advice from others. Such ‘simple solutions’ can be crushing to struggling parents, leaving them feeling that nobody understands.
    Include the Family in Activities: Families having children with autism often feel excluded from the social and recreational activities enjoyed by other families. Invite them to have association with your family. If there are needs requiring special consideration, try to accommodate them. Even if the family cannot accept a particular invitation, they will appreciate that you invited them.
    Offer to Watch the Child: One of the family’s greatest needs is to get a break from the unrelenting demands of autism. Start by offering to watch the child for just a few minutes at a time. Eventually you may be able to allow the family to go out for an evening or even to get away for a weekend. Such breaks go a long way in helping families to renew their energy.
    More important than the specific services the family receives is the sense of being loved and valued by others. In short, the best thing you can do for a family with an autistic child is to continue to be their friend.

  19. Russell Vlaanderen. says:

    Russell Say. I think that Autism for boys or girls is not good at all but however e-
    ven if boys or girls do have it then the familys must take either boy or a girl to a-
    doctor office at anytime. Sincerley Your. Russell Vlaanderen.———————

  20. Joni Brown says:

    Hi Dr. Phil…it’s Joni…Jesi’s grami from OK…on behalf of my family,and all families of Special Needs kids, I can not begin to thank you enough for exposing the “treatments” received by far too many kids suffering a diagnosis of autism.

    The root word of “discipline” is “disciple”,meaning “to teach”. What are we teaching our children when we put them in pine coffins,lock them in basements,and/or send them home with bruises and scratches? What possible benefit is this “discipline?!” It is appalling to say the least that any child should suffer such treatment,most especially when they are the innocent victims of a condition becoming far more prevalent each day.

    I have great empathy for the parents,struggling with this added resposibility,as well as for the teachers who must deal with so many burdens in addition to attempting to teach the 3 R’s…Is it fair? Of course not. What is FAIR? What does that mean,really? It should not be a question of “fairness”. It is a question of what is “RIGHT”…What is “right” is to understand that our children..each and every one of them…each day,month..year…are our nation’s “crop”. The most important componant/product produced in our society,yet they receive the least amount of our consideration and/or tax dollars.

    It is nortorious that we send these precious,innocent little bodies off to basic strangers,to mold,to train,to “prepare”..for an independent life,so they too may contribute to the next “crop” cycle of life…and yet, we refuse to offer the kids or the teachers, the proper tools…the training they themselves need…the pay incentive to keep the good people there,doing what many believe is their calling. What greater responsibility and privilege is there than to “imprint” a young mind? This is truly where “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…”

    It does indeed need to be a group effort…parents must do all they can…learn all they can…our schools should not have to beg for the money to operate, not in this society. Insurance reform is extemely important as well, to allow for the therapies that most families are unable to afford. It is a matter of priority…and urgency….there is a small window to intervene where that intervention is most effective.But under no circumstance should it be ignored..or allowed that the ones in charge have the discretion to use the tactics described on the show April 23rd. Let it be known…NOW…they are on notice to find alternative means to deal with these kids. I’ve seen the wildest stallions…the meanest dogs…calmed by a gentle hand and voice. Let’s try that with our kids…The ripple effect is felt forEVER…it is a “recipe”…it is “follow the leader”…So be a Leader…and change a Destiny…
    I leave you with my motto….” If you do but one good thing in your life…do it for a child…”

  21. Brenda says:

    I have a son with Autism. he is 12. hes been thru the bullying and such. 4 yrs ago I took him out of school and began teaching him at home. The nice thing is he has the chance to learn HIS way. to learn VISUALLY AS WELL with hands on learning.
    I live in NY where the services are supposed to be great and they are..WHEN you get them, there are long waiting list and few workers-the pay is poor and the budget cuts are causing more issues.my son now excells in sports (hes now pitching on little league!!)and music I wont limit what he CAN do .. He does struggle with math and spelling and is not at his grade level but he tries.he was once non verbal and Ive spent so much time working with him, we didnt get a diagnosis until he was 5! The pediatrician just kept saying i worried too much…he is my 6th child and I knew right away he was different,they didnt listen. .He also has sensory issues and auditory processing delays. and yes when there is a child on the spectrum it effects the WHOLE family. I am a single parent-his Father has had absolutely nothing to do with him.
    It is a 24 7 job and beyond his meltdowns and frustrations and lack of understanding some things,his lack of being able to put his feelings into words.. the most frustrating thing to me is NOT him..but the people who just dont get it. Ive had a friend say if i had a child like that id place him somewhere and live life.. or arent you afraid he can hurt someone………..will he ever live alone.
    my answer is the states should have alot more funding for the therapies needed to help autism and the disorders that come with it.My son went from falling when he ran to now being very athlectic and i used guitar hero to teach him hand eye coordination.it took a while and he was very angry but he kept trying………PARENTS my advice to you is dont give up and if you cant get your child to therapy DO IT yourself!!!!! keep trying- something will click.theres a very smart person in there.

  22. Dear Dr Phil;

    Thank you for the show.
    I was watching the show on Autism aired on Friday April 23 and shedding tears non-stop as i could relate to the parents featured on the show; it was very sad but very true as our own son Robert suffers a lot; being severely autistic and non-verbal; you can read his story/our story on his web site. He has lost 10 years of his life not having any therapy as we lost the waiver money in a very sad way. Not only he has severe autism he also is a heart-transplant patient; he is only 12 and it is a miracle he is here with us; he had to have a new heart to survive a very serious heart defect at birth; he was 2 weeks old when he had the heart.
    We need help for our precious beautiful son.
    With much gratitude;
    Shohreh & Robert

  23. Home says:

    The initiative taken for the concern is very serious and need an attention of every one. This is the concern which exists in the society and needs to be eliminated from the society as soon as
    possible.
    Home

  24. Sarah Bryant says:

    Dr Phil,

    I enjoy watching your show very much. I always try to listen carefully to the advice you give others and hope I may be able to use it if I ever find myself in that particular situation. Your way with words, be it “witty” or firm, go a long way in meaning and I think many other people besides me value all that you say.

    With that being said, I would like to make a comment that has really bothered me about the show on autism. I just read your blog above and counted at least three times you used the term “autistic children.” During your show, you were very repetitive with that phrase and “special needs children.”

    These children may have autism, mental retardation, learning disabilities, or down syndrome, but is it fair to them to identify them by their disability? When someone is speaking of a child or an adult that may have any type of disability, they should use what is called “Person First Language” which means you always put the person FIRST and then the disability last. It may take some practice because I still hear a lot of parents with children who have special needs same it the opposite of what should be said, but it sounds so much more personal to that person and it does not identify them by what their disability is. So my point is to give them back what they owned to begin with: their first name.

    Thank you,
    Sarah Bryant

  25. Joyce Long says:

    Before I became disabled recently I worked with adults with developmental disabilities and what a pleasure it was… We had one young man who was autistic and it was such a sad situation with him. I guess back when he was diagnosed not much was known about Autism and he didnt begin to get any type of help until he was in his 20’s.. He was sheltered at home all those years, his mom doing the only thing she knew how to do. Back then and I am sure there still is some, there was a lot of embarrasment and the father of this child didnt want him to be seen in public…So it wasnt until after the father passed that the mother began to seek help for her son. And he was non verbal but boy was he smart. He could do any goal we gave in just minutes…And he loved to swing, he could spend hrs at the park swinging. When we took the group on a field trip if there was a swing that was where he would spend his time. I also worked with all types of disabilities, we had some that had Downs, PTBI and others. It was the greatest pleasure of my life to be able to be with these guys for 7 years. They were the greatest and each one such a treasure. I sure do miss each and every one of them and wish I could still be there.

  26. Anne says:

    I am so glad that there are people trying to get the truth out about Autism. I was diagnosed with Autism at age 17. This was after I had a wonderful Special Education Teacher in school that helped me to be a high functoning autistic person.

    I work as a special ed aide in the school system. I have had the oportunity to work with Autistic children. If given the right help at an early age these children will be able to live somewhat normal lives.

    I don’t agree with the throry that vacines cause autism. If that where the case then more children would have it. I also don’t believe that autism can be cured. If that were the case then my mom would have had me cured a longtime ago.

    I think that people should get the facts before jumping to conclusions.

  27. Cheryl says:

    Dear Dr. Phil:
    Well this is my first blog ever, I think, and it has taken me a couple of days of trying to find where to write my flippin comments. I used to be a fairly literate person and now I feel like I don’t have the time to keep up with the world around me and technology (Facebook, Tweeting, Blogging, etc) and news itself is fleeting by me. I am a mother of a very beautiful child who is almost 7 now. He looks just like me at that age, my little mini me, if I may say so a handsome fella. He is my pride and joy, like most moms. Normally when speaking about my child I would use his name, but since this goes out to who knows where/who I will not. My son has dual diagnosis with Downs syndrome and Autism. With both of these come many many many physical issues as well as your share of mental. I could sooooo relate to those women on your show the other day. I didn’t see the whole show, I caught part and boy did I cry. I just wanted to thank you for putting some information out there because awareness is very important, and then the more people who realize how many of us have children like this and we are STILL misinformed and misguided continually by the “professionals and educators” then maybe then we can teach each other and learn together and not just try to be the “first one to print a book and get it out there” because we are an easily targeted market, so desperate to find our way. In the very same breath, I will freely admit to buying online Areva Martin’s book you suggested and I also downloaded Dr. Lawlis’ book for free and I thank you and him. I don’t mean to sound like a hypocrit, I am hoping since Areva went to Harvard I can count on her being a smart, analytical woman, and a mother of a child with autism, well than she has walked a mile in our shoes, and the fact that she seemed so passionate and is such an active advocate, I know her book won’t be full of uneducated crap. She has a platform to stand on. You could see her coming out of her chair and piping up at the unacceptable viewpoints being spewed out there. YOU GO GIRL! Finally someone talking about autism with love and brains and kahones. I love her already. I have only made it to chapter 2. I will put Dr. Lawlis on the backburner (only so many hours in the day, never enough). I just hope his isn’t more “snakeoil”. Well, I wanted to say so much more, but I have to go get my lovely son now. Oh, thank you to Sandra (above) for reprinting that article. That was wonderful and yes very informative. I think I will try to print it (big task for me to figure that one out too, lol) so I can give it to those who are always asking me what is autism.

  28. Sandra says:

    Cheryl :) Glad you found it helpful

  29. Cheryl says:

    It’s me Cheryl again, a quick note, i wish there were ONE website where all of us parents of autistic children could write and from there, the professionals and scientists trying to study autism could read what we write and then use that info constructively to use the grant monies etc. in a useful way instead of willy nilly, they would better be able to appropriate it and maybe down the road we could help them provide better answers and info to help those down the road. WE are the keepers of the knowledge right now, and we need to share with each other to help our children and for everyone in the long run…and this is only the first wave…it IS going to be a long run. Love and peace, Cheryl

  30. kate says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    I am sorry I missed your program. My concern is for the safety of my son and his housemates who are in a group home where a teenager with autism has been admitted. I understood that specially designed homes should be provided for autistic persons. This is the second time an autistic teenager has been admitted against our wishes. What can we do to make owners understand this is not a good fit? We have witnessed scenes where 3 staff are required to restrain this individual and our boys are abandoned in their chairs or on the commode for up to 45 minutes. Are there regulations or resources that would help us?
    kate

  31. kate says:

    Dr. Phil,
    I forgot to mention that our boys are non verbal and fragile paraplegics. They are upset with the loud outbursts.
    kate

  32. Martha Jennings says:

    Thank you Dr.Phil for your show on Autism and restraints.
    I have 4 children. All 4 have Bipolar and my 12 year old daughter is Autistic. She is only on a 36-48 month level. However, she is 5′8″ and weighs 179 lbs. We thought we had her meds stable….then puberty hit! I feel most of the time like I am fighting a losing battle. You see I was diagnosed Bipolar in 2003. I am unmedicated. Right now I do not have a job because I had to take off to much medical leave. I went through several surgeries last year. Now I don’t have insurance and very little money. Most of the time I just try to make it through the next few minutes. I love my children dearly. I just feel like someone else could do more for them than me. I am their biggest advocate in school though. I spend alot of time there. I drop anything if there is a problem. I appreciate and am more than willing to listen to any advice. Thank you so much. Martha

  33. catherine says:

    hey dr phil. as a mother of a 9 year old with autism. I find she is an inspiration. To watch her learn the most simple of things that we take for granted and to fight through life harder then others. Instead of feelin sorry for these ppl we should be inspired by their fight to get through everyday life and learn from them.it might make us better ppl.

  34. catherine says:

    my question is are we as a society really takin the right steps for the safety and their rights for these wonderful ppl to really contribute, be safe, and be part of the community as a whole or are we teachin them the simple parts of life so they can merely exist?

  35. Linda says:

    I have not seen this, but I have been wondering does people with “autism spectrum disorders” always move with bad coordination or can for exampe a dance have something like that?

  36. TG says:

    Hi Dr. Phil (and others),

    My name is TG and I’m autistic.

    I’m pretty sure I was born that way.

    I do not “have autism”. People First language does not apply in my situation because I, like many other autistic persons, consider it to be an innate trait; it is part of me. I didn’t acquire autism via a vaccine injury, bad parenting, or any other quack theory du jour. I don’t consider it to be a disease. It simply is.

    My father is also on the autism spectrum. So are my two children. It affects all of us differently.

    The abuse depicted on your show was absolutely horrifying. Unfortunately, it isn’t anything I haven’t heard before. I grew up in the time before Asperger’s Syndrome was an official diagnosis, so I flew under the radar for most of my school years, but I’ve heard horrible accounts from the younger generation of autistic adults (let me just reiterate.. yes, autistic adults can and do speak for themselves) and I fear for my children. Honestly, I don’t ask why many ASD parents choose to homeschool; I ask why not.

    I hope one day you’ll do a show about autistic people, especially adults on the spectrum. Many of us are successful, functional members of society. We don’t all live in group homes; in fact, many of us are married. Many of us have children of our own. Parents of autistic kids today are often greeted with images of despair; they need to see that we’re out there.

    All aspects of autism awareness are important. Thank you for bringing them to the forefront.

  37. Camille Rogers says:

    My step-son Will has Aspergers Syndrome. When he was young, that diagnosis was not identified and it was difficult to find the right educational tools and resources to help him. He has a website in which he shares insights that may be valuable for others to get a glimpse of what it is like from the inside out. http://www.thestonkingsteps.com/

  38. HILDA FONT says:

    DEAR DR. PHIL, TONIGHT I HAD A DISTERBING CONVERSATION WITH MY DAUGHTER WHO HAS A THIRTEEN YEAR OLD BOY (MY GRANDSON) NAMED NICO. MY NICO IS AUTISTIC, ADHD, ADD, ASPER SYNDROM. HE IS NOW BEGINING TO BECOME VERY PHYSICAL TOWARD MY DAUGHTER. TRYING TO BITE, PUNCHING, THROWING CHAIRS, PUSHING HER WHEN HE DOSE’NT GET HIS WAY MY GRANDSON IS A BIG BOY BY FRAME AND VERY STRONG. DR. PHIL MY DAUGHTER IS THE BEST MOTHER IN THE CARE SHE GIVES MY GRANDSON. SHE IS PHINOMINAL AT DIFFUSING A SITUATION WITH HIM. SHE SAYS TO ME “MOMMY I FEE IM LOOSING CONTROL” I FEEL SHE NEEDS SOME TYPE OF GROUP THERAPY OR EVEN BETTER ME DICAL ADVICE. THIS IS MY BOY DR. PHIL, PLEASE HELP ME. LOVE U
    P.S. I NEVER MISS YOUR SHOW. THIS IS NOT A PLUG IT IS A PLEA

  39. Begum says:

    it has impacted his cvtingioe functioning, I guess college is not an option for him. his son wants to join the military but Dad says no way the military will take him. He’s worrying about long-term care, because he does not believe his son can be self-sufficient. that was a hard blow and depressing. I keep looking for the crystal ball. I got excited the other day because my son said “I love you” … SPONTANEOUSLY! But at almost 32 months we’re not really having real conversations like I am with his twin brother. I say “who were easter bunny’s helpers” and although he knows their names he answers “carrot.” I used to obsess over language and now I obsess over reasoning ability. this past week I’ve been trying to figure out how come nobody talks about what the milestones are that lead to reasoning ability. do you think language and reasoning are synonomous? I don’t think I do anymore. Sorry for the ramble. But sometimes I do think this: that (a) there are too many links between autism and motor issues, and my son has the latter for sure (and I think since I’ve focused on those there have been collateral improvements in other areas, by the way); (b) the eides say that both spd and autism involve problems with long-distance connections, I think it must be those fast-spiking interneurons; (c) it does seem sometimes like my son although sweet and affectionate, has these kind of jumping random associations between things rather than … I can’t describe what I want to, but appropriate categorization comes to mind. It also makes me wonder … what would he have been like WITHOUT the intervention? How easy would it have been for me to LET him tune out? would he have seemed more autistic? Long before the dx, I was doing all the heavy lifting in his development. It was like I was doing floortime and didn’t even know it. I’m sorry this is more of a ramble even than usual. someday I’ll get it together to start my own blog. Maybe one of us should start a website devoted to PDD-NOS. (ps — did I tell you about the blurb I read that they used to dx kids like mine anyway with a combo of adhd and something related to motor?)

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