Watertown-- Children are gifts and parents that are blessed to have children universally want the same thing, to be told the child they are expecting is healthy. No one wants to hear the dreaded news that there is something wrong with the unborn fetus. While some birth defects are detected early during a routine ultrasound or through amniocentesis, other defects are not easily detected.
Birth defects such as chromosome abnormalities, as well as organ and spinal abnormalities are easier to detect. This is why Autism can be so daunting and often frightening for parents because the earliest detection for autism is at 14 months. “Autism Speaks” defines autism as, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development.”
There are various characteristics some more extreme than in other children, depending upon the child. This includes repetitive behavior, interacting socially, communicating on a verbal and non-verbal level. More specifically this includes: Asperger syndrome, PDD, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Rett syndrome. Physical health signs are also gastrointestinal disturbance and problems sleeping.
ABC50 spoke with Margueerite K. Feistel- Founder and President of Benchmark Family Services, an early learning center that specializes in not only pre-school or day care. Benchmark equally does evaluations for disabilities such as autism, early intervention services and pediatric therapy.
Ms. Feistel explained the different types of treatments a child can receive for autism. The types are ESDM, applied behavioral analysis, floor time (or otherwise known as the DIR model), pivotal response therapy, and verbal behavior therapy. Ms. Feistel stated that there is a time and a place for every type of therapy. However, there is one that Benchmark prefers according to Ms. Feistel, “It is more relationship based whereas the ABA model is stinted and is more about memorization.”
Ms. Feistel explained that the ABA model was nothing more than repeating the same discrete trial training methodology; meaning one would break tasks into its smallest components and work on those components. Whereas the DIR model focuses more on relationship building, thus changing the behavior that way. At Benchmark Family Services, they have had the most success using the developmental, individual-difference, relationship-based model. According to an interview we had with Clinical Psychologist Grace MacDowell- specializing in Neuropsychology and Autism stated that, “I am not only a specialist in this field, I married and gave birth to it. My husband and 3 out of 6 children have autism. For all those parents out there that are worried, there is hope. A child with autism can lead very successful lives.”