In recognition of autism awareness month, PBS NewsHour is airing a series of special reports starting on Monday, April 18th. The initial segment is available online now and I have to say that I am impressed. I normally don't like these sorts of reports but, if this first segment is any indication, PBS is actually putting together something worth watching this time.
If you don't have a child or family member with autism yourself or you are unfamiliar with the sorts of families who pursue what is typically called biomedical treatments for autism, this is worth watching. PBS has done a good job of capturing the "yes but" attitude that many of us have, even in the face of the medical establishment telling us otherwise. We don't accept the "that's just autism" answer that we get to many questions.
My children don't sleep well - that's just autism. No, you try establishing good bedtime routines and try things like melatonin. My children have unformed bowel movements and their stomachs are bloated - many kids with autism have that. No, you go looking for GI problems and try elimination diets and supplements like probiotics to help.
I could go on but I think you get the point. If you want to help your child with autism, you sometimes have to be willing to go that extra mile and keep pushing even when conventional medicine comes up short. Not every child with autism needs this extra help but it has been my experience that many do. I know that my children have benefited greatly from the non-conventional treatments that we have used.
But then again there is a very real cost for going this route that PBS covers as well. I am not only talking about the financial cost but the emotional, social, and other tolls on family life. Things change when treating autism becomes one of the focal points of your life.
I hope the rest of the series is as good as the first episode.