The book that gave us a path through the ASD maze

By Alive & Well

In late 2007, my middle son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the so-called ‘high functioning’ end.

These days I think they would simply say High Functioning Autism. The diagnosis was a confirmation of our suspicions after almost two years of talking to different specialists, trying to understand his withdrawn play and difficulties with conversations. And in many ways it came as a relief – we had an explanation.

A lot of the blog posts I write will relate to the experiences we have had helping him to develop and thrive. It has been an exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating, enriching, isolating and intensely communal few years, but the most important thing is that he is healthy and happy, and all of us are better people for it.

by Jonathan LevyAfter he was diagnosed, like many parents we were overwhelmed. We didn’t know where to start with all of the information and treatments available (or not, as the case often is in Australia), and spent countless hours trying to navigate the often conflicting advice we were given by doctors, therapists, experts, specialists, support groups and other parents, not to mention the vortex that is Google. We believed that he would lead a rich, fulfilling life, but it was clear that our little boy had many challenges.

One day, as I pored over the shelves of my local bookstore yet again, I discovered a book that gave us that hope. ‘What You Can Do Right Now to Help Your Child with Autism’ was written by Jonathan Levy, a former teacher at the extraordinary Autism Treatment Center of America (ATCA).

The ATCA runs a unique treatment program called The Son-Rise Program which advocates a loving, accepting approach to helping children with Autism, and Jonathan’s book was like a quick ‘start-up’ guide.

Immediate results

We started applying some of the Son-Rise techniques straight away, and we saw an immediate change in our son. It seemed to bring out the best in him – and us.

These days, three years after his diagnosis, he is no longer the fragile, fearful little boy who couldn’t bring himself to leave the house, not even to go into his own backyard. He is a happy, increasingly confident 8 year old who knows his own mind and grows stronger every day.

That book set our family on the road to success and eventually lead us to:

  1. the ATCA to learn how to help him grow and develop
  2. the comprehensive nutritional program that healed him physically, and
  3. the HANDLE Institute for some simple neuro-developmental exercises that have encouraged his brain to be plastic in order to learn critical skills and overcome sensory challenges.

Our experience taught me many things, from the importance of truly unconditional love, to the body’s ability to heal itself, and the power of ‘food as medicine’. It helped my whole family overcome a range of niggling health issues – including my oldest son’s reading difficulties, my youngest son’s asthma and my own lifelong struggle with eczema – and made me and my husband better parents. It also inspired me to build on my scientific background and study a Masters of Wellness so I can help others find answers too.

Of course, every child – including children with Autism – is different, and different children respond to different things. I would never suggest that the things that worked for my son would work for every child with Autism. My only hope is that, in sharing our story, I can provide help and hope to other parents as they work their way through the ASD maze, and inspire people to strive for their own wellbeing along the way.

How can I help?

Do you know a parent whose child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder? If so, please let them know about this blog and let them know they can contact me. I’m more than happy to chat to anyone who’d like to talk to a parent who’s ‘been there’, and would love to hear any comments at any time.