Saturday, July 21, 2007

Blog Review: Facing Autism in New Brunswick

I was searching around in Digg, looking for bloggers who are commenting about autism. I found Facing Autism in New Brunswick. I was struck by a recent post about the changing autism research paradigm. This post tells us that,

The new paradigm views autism as both preventable and treatable by a combination of behavioral and biomedical approaches and autistic children as recoverable.
This matches what Isabel and I have found. No, we are not researchers. We are practitioners. Our practice is one where we work with children who have developmental problems (developmental disability as well as developmental delay).

Across the whole spectrum from autism to ADHD to auditory processing disorders to dyslexia, we find that these children have a tendency to be extremely sensitive to environmental factors. This sensitivity seems to cause a certain array of functional shut-down. This shut-down prevents normal development.

When we clean up the environmental factors (we refer to these as the real "environmental toxins") to which the child is sensitive, the child re-engages the world. At this point we have to get the child to perform a series of exercises which builds (or re-builds) those brain capabilities that have been lost because of the shut-down.

The re-engaging the world happens in the first few weeks of working with us. The task of developing those brain capabilities takes months. As part of developing those capabilities, the child can now learn the socialization and content pieces that have been missed (while they were stuck).

We are very excited to see that the academic research community is starting to adjust its paradigm to be more realistic. Autism-spectrum disorders, and the other developmental problems with which we work, are not a problem of neurology or behavior. They are a problem of development.

The 'real' research questions should be about why the developmental process is stuck or sluggish. And, what happens when we re-engage the child?

Facing Autism in New Brunswick is a blog that is full of juicy, meaty posts which highlight these concepts. I suggest reading Autism Newsflash - Neurodiversity and Autism Deficits and Autism Is Not the Essence of Conor which show the range of thoughts and concepts this commited dad has in his family and his blog.

Rodger C Bailey, MS
Rodger dot Bailey at GoToFocus dot Com
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