web analytics
August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Life Lessons From Raising An Autistic Child (Part III) – Therapy


Arnold-053113-Girl

The father’s story:

What’s your parenting philosophy? How do you feel about discipline? What educational approach do you find most compatible with the sum of yours and your child’s personalities?

As parents, we’re called upon to make countless decisions regarding the chinuch of our children. Some will happen via research and thought-out discussion, but most tend to be made by the seat of our pants. Now, though all of us would admit that it’s wiser to think out our approach before we’re in the heat of the moment, usually we get away with it. However, when raising a severely autistic child, the stakes are different. The only hope for getting through to him is by keeping your instructional and disciplinary methods consistent and predictable. Therefore, the choice of educational approach takes on added significance.

There are two popular schools of thought regarding therapy for autistic children. We only wish we’d known as much about them at the beginning of our journey with Menachem as we do now…

The DIR Therapy Session:

Menachem is sitting and staring at the wall. Though it does not look like a particularly exciting activity, he is, for the moment, blessedly silent. I contemplate attempting a quick phone call. No. It’s our daily twenty minutes of DIR therapy time, and that means that I’m supposed to enter his world. The focus of DIR, an acronym for the major therapy components of Developmental, Individual-difference and Relationship-based, is to join him where he’s at, in the throes of his activity, in the hope that we will, through that, form a connection.

Arnold-053113-HandsSo I sit in front of him, directly in his line of vision, so that he’s looking at me instead of the wall. He blinks his eyes. I blink mine. He scratches his nose. I scratch mine. Hello Menachem, I say to him, wordlessly. I’m here, I’m your father, and I care about sharing your world.

Menachem gets up and climbs onto the bed. He begins to jump. I take a breath, climb on and jump along. He jumps off, and runs out of the room. I follow him. He tears through the house, his usual whirlwind. So now I’m chasing him around the house, which is not much different from what I do at any other time, but, hey! I’m doing DIR!

No cynicism, I admonish myself. Now Menachem heads for the stairs. He starts to run up and down. No big surprise; this is one of his favorite activities. Here goes. I’m running up and down the stairs myself. We pass each other on the way. Up and down. Up and down. This is called therapy? I try to silence that inner cynic but it’s hard, oh so hard, when my son cannot dress himself, cannot go to the bathroom, cannot put two syllables together…and I’m getting goals from therapists that are about making eye contact and imbuing communication attempts with significance. All nice and high-sounding…but completely immeasurable. How in the world do I know if I’m giving my son the desire to communicate or merely chasing him around the house?

But the evaluating doctor was so confidant and definitive when he told us to enroll Menachem in a DIR-based preschool – and even offered to pull strings to make sure he got a spot. Overwhelmed and grateful, we didn’t think to question his advice, or to investigate whether there are other approaches out there, better for our son. They started with him on the first stage, which is regulation. After all, nothing can be accomplished if the child isn’t calm and receptive, so the first step in DIR therapy is to help Menachem calm himself down when he is in a hyperactive state.

My wife and I eagerly await the secret of how to do this. But there is no secret. Menachem tantrums, and we are instructed to sit down next to him, massage him, speak softly, do whatever it takes to soothe him, to make him feel that his feelings are understood. After all, if he’s crying, there must be a reason. Enter into his world.

Problem is, we have no clue why he’s crying, and if Menachem knows, he’s not telling. My son is particularly hyper, and over time we try everything we can think of to calm him down, including changing his diet, putting him on medications, but nothing works.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Life Lessons From Raising An Autistic Child (Part III) – Therapy”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The three salesmen -Netanyahu, Ya'alon and Gantz
Netanyahu Tries to Sell Bill of Goods that Israel Won Goals in the War
Latest Sections Stories
Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot together in concert.

Almost immediately the audience began singing and clapping and continued almost without stop throughout the rest of the concert.

Mordechai-082214-Armoire

As of late, vintage has definitely been in vogue in the Orthodox community.

Einhorn-082214-Water

Stroll through formal gardens, ride mountain bikes, or go rock climbing.

As they fall upon us we go
To the WALL.

One minute you’re shaving shwarma off a pit, then the shwarma guy tells you he read a (fake) WhatsApp that the boys are dead.

I probe a little deeper and Shula takes me into the world of phantom pains and prosthetic limbs.

This went on until she had immersed eighty times, and then Hashem at last took pity upon her.

Because Menachem lives in Israel, he can feel the ruach in the air.

Perhaps you can reach a compromise during this news frenzy, whereby you will feel more comfortable while he can still follow the latest events.

Leon experienced the War of Independence from a soldier’s perspective, while remaining true to his Jewish ideals and beliefs.

Chabad of Arizona centers recently hosted an evening of remembrance to mark the 20th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

More Articles from As told to Gila Arnold
Challenging-Parenting-logo

Because Menachem lives in Israel, he can feel the ruach in the air.

Challenging-Parenting-logo

Usually Menachem is very hungry when he gets home, and we have food prepared for him. Though logically, he should sit down happily and eat, when he is in such a hungry state logic flies out the window, and, out of frustration, Menachem will knock over and spill the food. So meal time with him involves a lot of cleaning and coaxing. And always, always, vigilance.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what happens when the village has no idea what to do with the child?

Sibling relationships are a world of their own. By nature complex, the intricate dynamic is thrown for a giant loop when a special-needs sibling enters the picture.

The uncle’s story:

When Menachem was a baby, he seemed like any other normally developing kid. Videos from that time show him laughing and reacting to other people; you’d never guess how he would turn out. I don’t know, maybe a professional might have seen the signs, but I certainly didn’t.

The father’s story: What’s your parenting philosophy? How do you feel about discipline? What educational approach do you find most compatible with the sum of yours and your child’s personalities?

Being a preschool teacher is a big responsibility, and believe me, I don’t take it lightly. For these two to three year olds, I’m the first teacher they’ll ever have. My primary concern, of course, is to provide them a safe environment for playing, but I also try to get in some teaching, in a way that’s appropriate for their age.

And underneath there exists the same deep desire for connecting with others that all of us have. More desperate, perhaps, because the desire is trapped inside a mind that doesn’t know how to reach out.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/challenging-parenting/part-iii-therapy/2013/05/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: