When my daughter was first diagnosed with autism, I didn’t even know what my options were. There are so many different approaches to dealing with troublesome symptoms associated with autism! It’s hard to know where to start and who to trust.
That’s why I created Your Autism Game Plan: To empower parents and caregivers with information and confidence so they can ask the right questions and see progress fast.
We live in the Chicago area, so I thought I’d share some local resources that we found particularly helpful as part of our game plan. But first, here’s a brief overview of different therapies and treatments or interventions for children with autism.
- Occupational therapy: addresses gross and fine motor control, modulating sensory issues, adaptive coping, sensorimotor development, social-emotional development, daily living skills, and play, with the goal of getting the child to function independently in terms of daily activities.
- Social work: addresses social-emotional skills, like interacting with others and perspective-taking.
- Speech therapy: addresses speech and language skills, as well as other communication skills including non-verbal communication like facial expressions, body language, and hand gestures. Also addresses oral-motor issues and feeding therapy.
- Physical therapy: addresses physical movement, helping with both gross motor and fine motor skills, core strength, peripheral strength and movement, and coordination, posture, crawling and walking.
- Developmental therapy: addresses cognitive, social, motor, and functional skills.
- Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA): uses systematic and data-driven interventions to change certain behaviors.
- Floortime: a relationship-based therapy in which the child’s interests guide the therapist’s interventions.
- Craniosacral therapy: addresses the functioning of the craniosacral system—which is comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.
Autism Treatments and Interventions
- Gluten-, Dairy-, and Soy-free diets: help manage inflammation of the brain, commonly found in children with autism. Many children with autism have food sensitivities.
- Vitamins/Supplements: my favorites for children with autism are zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B12.
- Chiropractic neurology: finds and treats different dysfunctions in the nervous system with various non-invasive tests and treatments.
- Neurofeedback: engages and reads brain waves, with the goal of retraining them.
- Medication: certain medications (like Paxil, Focalin, risperidone, or guanfacine) can help reduce troublesome symptoms while you find and address root causes.
- Chelation: pulls toxic heavy metals (like mercury, cadmium, lead, and aluminum) out of the body.
- Primitive reflex integration: exercises to help integrate reflexes from infancy that would have disappeared earlier in typical development.
Resources in the Chicago Area
Most of these are in and around the western suburbs of Chicago, which is where I live with my husband and children. I trust them because I’ve used them myself!
- Hummingbird Pediatric Therapies. A one-stop shop for many “traditional” therapies, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and developmental therapy. They also host social language play groups, which give children with autism a chance to put therapy into practice by interacting with their peers. This practice is also woman-owned.
- NewLine Behavioral Solutions. A woman-owned practice providing home-based ABA therapy, as well as ABA training for parents.
- Neurologic Wellness Institute. The home of Dr. George, a renowned chiropractic neurologist. They also offer neurofeedback and primitive reflex integration.
- Restorative Neurofeedback. Another independent neurofeedback provider.
- Nest Family Therapy. A woman-owned practice providing child and family therapy, including social work.
- Balanced Bodies. Another woman-owned small business. Jane Park, a physical therapist, also provides craniosacral therapy.
- Nourish House Calls. This is my functional medicine house call practice. Among other services, I offer chelation.
I hope this information has been helpful to you as part of creating Your Autism Game Plan.
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