Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Parent to Parent: Autism
When a child is diagnosed with autism, it can be devastating for the entire family. In today's Parent to Parent, Dr. Valerie shows you ways to deal with this disability and where to find help.
WSVN -- Robin Ramos knew something wasn't right when her son Patrick suddenly stopped talking at 12 months.
By the age of two, he was diagnosed with autism.
Robin Ramos: "His diagnosis was a blessing to us, it truly was, and I know that sounds odd, but it gives you a direction because now you know what you're dealing with. Now you can tackle it."
Seven's parenting expert Dr. Valerie Goode says all parents should be on the lookout for signs of autism: if your child is not speaking -- usually by age two, if they don't make eye contact and they don't seem to connect with you or other family members.
Dr. Valerie Goode: "Seek out a doctor to have them evaluated, and see what's going on."
And Dr. Valerie says it's OK to be devastated.
Dr. Valerie: "It's scary for any family to receive a diagnosis that their child is different in any way, and it takes time to adjust."
But know, as a parent, you will have to take steps to make your child's life better.
In Robin's case, doctors told her Patrick would never finish high school. She refused to accept that and started him in therapy right away.
Robin Ramos: "Whatever Patrick needs he's going to get, and what he becomes, we're going to be OK with."
And Dr. Valerie says therapy will show you ways to communicate with your child.
Since most autistic children are more visual than auditory, Dr. Valerie suggests using pictures to communicate.
Dr. Valerie: "If you wanted a child at home to clean his room you may have a picture of a child making his bed and picking up the toys."
Also, join a support group -- networking with other parents can be your best resource.
And make sure your child is getting the specific help he or she needs.
"And the letter B has a ... a bubble!"
Patrick has done well in therapy, but the whole experience taught Robin there aren't a lot of programs out there.
So, she started Faith's Place, which helps parents find treatment.
Like 6-year-old Bryan Fernandez, who can't speak but is now learning sign language.
Robin Ramos: "That child is going to be exactly what he was meant to be, and you have to believe that. Your job in all that is to provide the very best for your child that you can provide. The rest is going to happen."
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Contact Robin Ramos
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