I want to start by saying that I do not believe there’s a “cure” for autism. Without variability in this world, we would certainly have boring lives, and autistic children are just as valuable and beautiful as any other children. As a parent, I want the best for my children, though, and that means I want them to feel the best they can feel. Plenty of studies out there have pointed to a variety of health conditions that come along with autism. Children with autism generally have a difficult time sleeping, have digestion problems, and, many times, get more ear infections than other children. I received a copy of Dr. Janet Lintala’s book, The Un-Prescription for Autism, in exchange for my fair review of her book. Dr. Lintala founded and heads Autism Health, which serves children and adults in 12 states and as a fellow autism parent, she provides practical advice for parents to follow in order to help regulate the underlying issues that come with autism. I want to share some noninvasive ways to help treat autistic children without medication and help them feel more comfortable so that they can achieve the best possible health outcomes.
5 Ways to Treat Autistic Children without Medication
- Get Organized. Yes, this seems like a silly first step, but how often do you misplace the documents you need before heading off to an appointment or important meeting for your child? If the answer is “a lot” then you’re not only just like a ton of other tired moms, but you probably need a system put in place. Dr. Lintala suggests getting a heavy three-ringed binder (I have one of those 3-inch binders), a hole punch, tabbed subject dividers with pockets, appointment cards sheet for the front of the binder, and possibly a calendar. She gives suggestions for how to section your binder so you easily know where to find the important information you need when you need it. Life simplified. No more frantic searching in the minutes before the appointment for what you need! She has sooo many clever organizational tips that I cannot possibly list them all here. Don’t worry, though. You’ll have the chance to enter to win a free copy of the book so that you can see it yourself.
- Care for yourself. You’ve heard it a thousand times but you probably still don’t think you can do it. If you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of your child as well as you would if you felt well. Lintala talks about nurturing your friendships (which we tend to lose as autism moms) and nurturing your relationship as a part of your plan for helping your child. There’s good reason to do both of these things. You need friends for support when you’re feeling low and you need your husband/wife/partner to be on board with you while you try to raise healthy, nurtured children. And your partner can be your best friend, but when you’re mad at your best friend, sometimes you might need a friend outside of your relationship to help talk you through it.
- Use the Poop Protocol. There’s a lot of talk about poop in Lintala’s book because when our digestive systems wreak havoc on our bodies, we feel like human excrement ourselves. Imagine how your child must feel if his or her tummy is in knots constantly from either not being able to poop or having uncontrollable bowel movements. There are a few things you can do to help here, including using digestive enzymes and probiotics. I use them myself and find myself going number two much more comfortably now, so I know it works! This is something that is talked about more in-depth in the book, with adjustable schedules for when to take them and everything.
- Vitamin D-3. Most of us are deficient in this vitamin since it comes from the sun and we use sunscreen so much these days and/or stay inside a lot. A lack of this vitamin can have an impact on our neurological health and mood and increase a risk in inflammation, amongst other things. Using Vitamin D-3 keeps you in the healthy range for the vitamin and it can help improve the mood and brain functioning.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. If you’ve heard a lot about using these, it’s for good reason. Apparently, children with autism tend to have low levels of essential fatty acids, which help support the immune system, decrease inflammation, and help improve autoimmune disorders, which often are comorbid with autism. I’ve heard of people using these essential acids to boost brain functioning as well.
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A final suggestion from the book that resonates well with me as both a former special education teacher and the parent of a future autistic adult: Lintala makes the suggestion that taking advantage of Rehabilitation Services is something you really should do for your child. I know one young man that I taught a few years back that used vocational rehabilitation and they helped him get into college and find a way to pay for it. They will help young graduating adults with all sorts of disabilities to find jobs that match their skills and ways to get to college or receive additional training to support their employment. These things are so important in order for our children to become independent from us. We can help support a healthy GI system for our children, support their immune system, and do so much else for them, but unless we also help them find a way to live as independently as possible, we eventually have failed them since we cannot be around forever. I strongly encourage anyone reading this to reach out to your local vocational rehabilitiation center by the time your child hits sophomore year in high school. Make sure transitioning from high school to adulthood goes as smoothly as possible.
[bctt tweet=”What would you do to help your child feel better? Check out @AutismWithDrJae’s book, The Un-Prescription for Autism!” username=”embracespectrum”]
And check out Janet Lintala’s book, The Un-prescription for Autism, which is now available on Amazon.com for more details on supplement schedules and ways to stay organized as a parent raising an autistic child. You can also enter to win this book until May 31, 2016!
Janet Lintala, author of The Un-Prescription for Autism, founded and heads Autism Health!, which serves children and adults in 12 states. Her advice integrates the clinical expertise of a nonprescription autism practice with the firsthand experience only an autism parent can deliver.
Martha W. Murphy is an award-winning health writer.