dylanHi all,

The times that have guided treatment interventions for children with ASD are certainly changing.’ But why has it been so difficult for folks to embrace this change and incorporate these new findings and discoveries into their work? Do I dare say that politics and funding play a role? Or  even dare say that special interests groups/folks in the world of ASD have certain “power sources” to steer agendas? Or, how-about the thought that folks choose certain research studies to support an agenda? Whatever the case is, the ones getting hurt are children and their families. They are the ones that are not being given a choice, and in turn, are not fully made aware of alternatives and truths.

Why are families of children with ASD rarely informed of alternative treatment options outside of only one way of working? Is prochoice not permitted in the world of ASD? Why is it that on a weekly basis, and sometimes times daily, I meet with parents of newly diagnosed children, who come into my office expressing that they have never heard of any developmental approach being effective. In addition, I would say that 95% of them say that they have never heard of the DIR/Floortime Model? This is generally followed by them saying, “oh yes, I have heard of music therapy, but what exactly is music therapy? What does a music therapist do? Oh, are you going to teach him songs? He just loves the Beatles!” It’s disheartening.

The purpose of this post is not to preach that developmental approaches  (or that developmentally-based music therapy) are better then behavioral. I’m simply saying that parents should be better informed and given the option of treatment interventions. A part of the issue is that we, developmentally-based therapists and organizations, have to do a much better job of advocating and educating folks on developmental ways of working and thinking. Then, there are the bigger issues that get in the way of effective advocacy  (and that political stuff  I’ll save for another time). What can we do now? We simply  would like for families to be made aware of alternative treatment options that ARE actually based on theories of child and brain development.

There have been many new discoveries on child and brain development. In the last 10-20 years we have learned a great deal about how children develop healthy foundations for thinking, relating, and communicating. We have extensive research on brain development, as well as now know how important it is for children to be nourished with affect and relationship-based interventions that cater to their individual-differences in order to foster their ability to self-regulate, engage, and reciprocate. For some reason, however, we seem to be stuck in the old the ways of thinking, and in turn, are not implementing new and robust scientific data into clinical practice.

Join me in NOT preaching what is better or worse, but for advocating that families should be given treatment options for their children. Let’s keep in mind that this IS about the children. The agenda should be based on helping to serve families while respecting the fact that every child, every person is different, and that there is NEVER only one way to do something.

In this video (see below), you will hear Drs. Stanley Greenspan and Serena Weider discuss how these new scientific discoveries have found their way into “new” ways of thinking and working with children with developmental challenges such as ASD, ADHD, etc.

Here are the 3 main points that are discussed as being newly discovered areas of development

  • 1) affect and learning through relationships
  • 2) the importance of individual-differences, including motor planning and sequencing (children who have difficulty with planing and sequencing will simply just repeat, i.e., self-perseverative behaviors)
  • 3) can not teach isolated cognitive skills