Early Treament For Autism

A USA Today article reports on a child with autism who was first profiled at age two and updates what is like at age six. When the author first met the parents they were worried that their son, Nathan, would be “infantile” his whole life, describing out he would often shout when frustrated, would bang toys together and did not seem to respond to his parents or his environment. The author points out that it is “a story too seldom told. It's the story of a child with autism who gets the help he needs and makes thrilling gains — but is neither cured of his autism nor revealed to be an autistic ‘savant,’ wowing the world with musical, mathematical or artistic genius.”

While Nathan is a model of treatment because he was diagnosed at a young age, his parents emphasize that we often don’t hear enough about kids like him. Nathan is mildly to moderately autistic but is considered “high functioning.” He is only in special education classes half the day, and the rest of time is in mainstream classes, although there is an aide in the room.

His parents emphasize that they were very fortunate to have diagnosed him at such an early age and to have been able to afford specialized pre-school treatments and therapies which don’t exit in many areas.

However, the lesson for teacher and parents is that autism is not a hopeless case nor will it necessarily lead to a genius in math or some other subject. Nathan’s parents describe how recently while hiking they saw another boy fall down, and that Nathan went up to him and asked if he was ok, which shows a firm sense of reality and knowing how interact with others, something many with autism have trouble doing.

Stories like Nathan shouldn’t have to be newsworthy, but unfortunately in autism they are. A kid who develops and gets therapy and is able to now hold short conversations is not sensational, shocking, or dramatic. But it is solid progress that should give hope to parents and teachers of autistic children.
Much like many other medical conditions, cancer or heart disease, early detection and treatment are always best.

Aaron Seligman