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Newsletter - May 2008

When You Receive a Diagnosis ...

Perhaps you noticed something not quite right was going on with your child, but hoped it would pass. Or the signs were there but Sarah Gewanter & Patientyou were too absorbed with the tasks and upheavals typical of child rearing to pay attention. Or you were in denial. Then you received a diagnosis from your doctor, the school or a testing service. You went to the Internet to research the condition. You talked with family, friends, doctors and teachers, and got all kinds of advice. Someone even suggested institutionalization. You felt overwhelmed.

What You Can Do: A Nine-Step Action Checklist
  1. Pause. Take a deep breath. Tune into the voice of your own inner wisdom. You know your child. Trust your instincts and your good sense. Be calm and confident that you will be able to evaluate the information and resources available to you and arrive at an appropriate plan. On airplanes you are advised in case of trouble to first put on your own oxygen mask before placing one on your child. In order to help your child, you need to be in charge.
  2. Locate and join a parent support group ASAP. Parents may be your best source of information. Often they have educated themselves to the degree that they know more than the professionals about treatment options and strategies.
  3. Rule out, or treat any physical or medical condition that may be causing or contributing to the problem. Consult your family doctor or pediatrician. You may choose to work with a biomedical practitioner such as a DAN (Defeat Autism Now) physician, naturopath or homeopath. Often a special diet like the GFCF (gluten-free/casein-free) diet is advised. Other options may be vitamins and supplements, getting rid of yeast through supplements or medication, or cleansing the body of toxic metals like mercury, through chelation.
  4. For sensory-based issues, including but not limited to auditory issues, try AIT (Auditory Integration Training). After AIT, find an occupational therapist who deals with SI (Sensory Integration) issues.
  5. For language delays, rule out deafness or hearing loss, then try AIT. After AIT you may find your child able to make much better progress with his or her speech therapist.
  6. For vision issues, investigate and get an evaluation from a behavioral optometrist.
  7. Set up a behavioral program such as ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Giant Steps or the Options Institute program.
  8. Find the best school system and teachers you can, or arrange a home-school program to meet your child?s educational needs.
  9. You and your child together will embark on a journey of growth and learning. Every day more is learned about conditions that used to be obscure or for which there were few options. Be alert to new developments that may ease your way.

The Counseling Center and Berard AIT Systems, Inc. has an evaluation process to help support and guide you through the array of treatment options. Sarah Gewanter, LCSW, our practitioner has over 25 years of experience. Many of the related links can be found on our website: Call us for more information and assistance: 828-683-6900 or email: We are here to help.

Ben the Chef

From Ben?s Grandmother, his story, during and after AIT (Ben is 6 yrs. old on the autism spectrum)

Ben's behavior has improved, he can listen to much longer periods of speech without pictures [I read him a 94 page book with minimal pictures!--update, I am now able to read him the Magic Tree House books!] he is exhibiting spontaneous writing and sounding out "Ben the Chef" writing and sounding out words to spell them, he's more affectionate, has had long conversations with family members , is now not protesting other people eating or singing nearby, and is less sound sensitive...and all in eight days. ASTONISHING positive changes from our point of view.

A few days later: Just wanted to give you an update on Ben's AIT therapy. He is like a new kid. Last night he and his father stayed outside"camping" in a tent after having a small fire and roasting marshmallows and hot dogs. His receptive language has increased about 1000%,he let me read him a 90 page book with minimal pictures instead of having to have a picture on each page and three sentences. I took him to the playground two days ago and one of the other mothers commented on how polite he is. His auditory sensitivities have decreased, his language is better, and the very high volume he used to used (very loud because he was trying to "fit in" and heard everybody else that way) is gone. His mood is good. His emotional regulation and ability to handle disappointments is markedly increased. We are all amazed.

Your results, of course, may differ. Benjamin had multiple insults to his auditory processing including the results of a placental abruption at 13 weeks which led to a velamentous umbilical cord and that meant that he couldn't move in the womb without cutting off his circulation. There were multiple ultrasounds and the use of a baby doppler because of the anxiety around the pregnancy and the safety of mother and child. Then he had multiple ear infections after his varicella vaccine and we believe the virus affected his cranial nerves, including the auditory nerve. We didn't suspect that until he came down with shingles on his cervical dermatome at age 4, along with atypical pneumonia, and his speech articulation improved after acyclovir. I think it's priceless. It's like all of a sudden the child has grown up!