Friday, November 6, 2009

When Autism Behaviors Are Physical Pain

November 5, 2009

By Libby Rupp

When a child has a high fever or an oozy rash, doctors typically work to find the cause and end the problem. However, when a child is flapping or walking on their toes, the symptom is considered normal behavior for autism and the search for answers ends there.

This week we had an encounter that, on a small scale, typifies the struggles our kids have. I took my daughter to Occupational Therapy and she came out an hour later incessantly chewing her tongue. The therapist was talking about her new stim and suggesting therapeutic options to address it. Meanwhile, I was asking my daughter if there was something wrong. After repeatedly getting no reply, I shoved my finger in her mouth and found several pieces of lettuce stuck in her gums and teeth. She had to deal with that discomfort for an hour because of it was deemed 'typical autistic behavior' instead of considering that there might be a problem.

This past year my daughter went through a period of severe aggression. The “professional” response: family counseling and behavior modification. Real issue: she had kidney stones and once she received treatment, the aggression ended.

Dr. Krigsman has found gastrointestinal disorders in children that posture. See Figure 13 ((HERE)

Behaviors are symptoms. Behaviors are communication.

Listen to your children, even if they can’t speak. Push your doctors, therapists and teachers to use your kids’ behaviors to search for underlying problems. Behaviors are sometimes the only clue we have in helping our children.

Libby Rupp is the mother of an awesome little girl and an autism advocate. She maintains the website

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