Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Do Autistic or Hyperlexic Kids Really Need Therapy?

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So many parents are told that their kids need to be in certain therapies simply for being autistic or hyperlexic and that's the wrong approach. Here's what needs to be done instead.

When your child receives their autism or hyperlexia diagnosis, people start recommending a bunch of therapies. Some good, some bad, lots without any scientific evidence, and a whole bunch of woo. Try this, try that…blah, blah, blah.

It's so easy to become overwhelmed by all the “should do's” that people recommend. And before you know it, you're confused about the path you should be following.

So many parents are told that their kids need to be in certain therapies simply for being autistic or hyperlexic and that's the wrong approach. Here's what needs to be done instead.

But here's the thing, a diagnosis of autism or hyperlexia itself doesn't necessarily mean your child needs therapy.

And there's certainly no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy because, guess what, each child is different and has their own set of unique needs that might need addressing.

So anyone who tells you that you need to put your child in x type of therapy simply because they are autistic or hyperlexic is missing the point for the two reasons I mention above.

Instead, it's important to sit down and figure out what kind of supports and accommodations your child needs and what issues your child might be facing. Then pick therapies accordingly. For instance:

  • Are you concerned about their speech and language skills? Then speech therapy might be what you need.
  • Does your child need help with self-regulation or a sensory diet? Then it might be time to consult with an occupational therapist.
  • Dealing with anxiety? Maybe it's time to connect with a psychologist.
  • Struggling to get your kid to eat anything that isn't beige? Perhaps it's time to reach out to a feeding therapist.
  • Dealing with reading comprehension issues? Research your options and talk to your child's resource or special education teacher at school to see what programs might be available or look for a speech path trained in a program such as Visualizing & Verbalizing.
Do you see the pattern here? Your child's therapy program should be tailored to them and their unique needs. Therapy should be sought out based on whatever challenges you are facing instead of just signing up for some therapy simply because someone told you to because of their autism diagnosis.

And this might mean that your child might need blocks of therapy here or there as new challenges or issues arise instead of being assigned x amount of hours simply for being autistic or hyperlexic. Or there might be times where your child might not need any therapy at all.

I'm not trying to dismiss the importance of therapy here. Goodness, no.

Instead, I want you to think about and consider what the reasons are behind pursuing certain therapy options. 

  • Are you pursuing it because it can genuinely help your child and it supports their needs?
  • Do the goals of that therapy align with the goals you have for your child?
  • Does the therapy respect your child and their interests?
  • What is the scientific evidence supporting said therapy?
Be critical and diligent here because not all therapies are created equal. Nor do many have your child's best interests in mind.

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So many parents are told that their kids need to be in certain therapies simply for being autistic or hyperlexic and that's the wrong approach. Here's what needs to be done instead.

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