A place to learn about different treatments of autism. A community of knowledge and support.
Kyle’s Treehouse, originally a resource about autism, has evolved into a community, where hundreds of thousands of visitors learn from each other every year. So, join in the conversation and welcome to Kyle’s Treehouse.
In the past we’ve talked about different places – such as museums and movie theatres – that have made special arrangements for those with autism in order to make visits more sensory-friendly. Some malls across the country are doing something similar this holiday season by offering special Santa visits. This is a time where, in some cases, the lights are lowered, store music is turned off and lines are short, eliminating some of the distracting and/or upsetting environmental factors that may impact an autistic child during a trip to see Santa.
Two malls currently offering “sensory-friendly” Santa hours include Maine Mall – which offered four ‘Caring Claus Sundays’ – and Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia – which provided the Autism Society of Tidewater a chance to visit with Santa before the mall opened (check out this article).
This is yet another great example of how businesses and local organizations are giving families the opportunity to enjoy time together – it’s just a little adjustment for these businesses, but a world of difference for families touched by autism.
I’m sure there are more malls and locations that may offer something similar this holiday season, so if you know of one, please share it with us here!
A new study is now out (published in Nature) that shows a baby’s gaze—when and how long a baby looks at your eyes—may prove to be an early indicator of autism. Researchers found that children who were found to have autism at age 3 looked less at people’s eyes when they were babies than children who did not develop autism.
As described in this NY Times blog, the study found that babies who later developed autism began spending less time looking at people’s eyes between 2 and 6 months old, and paid less attention to eyes as they grew older.
If this proves to be the case, then it could be the earliest behavioral sign to date of developing autism, and treatment could potentially begin much earlier on. But researchers are quick to warn that specific technology would be needed to properly track eye movement in babies – and don’t want to create unnecessary concern, noting that if a child isn’t looking them in the eye all the time, it’s not an issue – children look all over the place.
As we all know, early intervention can make a world of difference in the treatment of autism, so this could prove to be a really important finding, helping to bring intervention in as early as possible.
Just the other weekend, identical twin brothers Alex and Jamie Schneider, both 23 and with severe autism, did something I know I could never do – run in the New York City Marathon. Their proud parents explain in this ABC News article that their sons, who are non-verbal, discovered their love of running at a young age – and the activity has given them joy and relief from the frustrations of not being able to communicate. They found out about a club that offered volunteers to run with individuals with disabilities and the brothers have been gathering awards ever since (they’ve already done about 130 races!).
Racing has become a primary focus – and this is a great story of how celebrating strengths has led this family to discover a way to bring great happiness into their children’s lives. Go Alex and Jamie!
Forbes.com contributor Emily Willingham came up with what she called the five “scariest autism treatments” – and although the timing of the post was on Halloween, she was using the word “scary” not to associate it to the holiday, but because she feels these treatments really are quite frightening due to the harm they can (and have) caused, and are pursued (and at times strongly defended) by some of those in the autism community. Here is the quick run-down of her list (and click here to read the info in full)
MMS – It stands for Miracle Mineral Solution, taken orally or as an enema – but through her own home science experiment, Willingham cautions it’s really bleach.
Lupron Protocol – It’s a hormone-based therapy that interferes with the production of testosterone or estrogen – Willingham refers to it as chemical castration.
Chelation – This is the process of using a chemical to strip metal from the blood (used, for example, to treat mercury poisoning). As Willingham notes, it can strip out other needed metals – such as calcium – which keeps our hearts beating.
Stem cells – She points out that treatments, like this one, you need to go around the FDA on – you may want to think twice about.
We here at Kyle’s Treehouse understand that there are many different treatments and therapies out there to tap in to – and it’s about finding the right one, or mixture of treatments – that work best for you and your child. And our post here is not necessarily to specifically label the treatments above since we’re not as familiar with these – but it serves as a good reminder that, on a broader scale, there are treatments out there that can cause true harm and are very dangerous, so it’s important to know all the facts before pursuing one that may be associated with potentially negative outcomes/consequences, whether considered small or large. The world of treatments is massive – it’s a lot of information to weed through – but it’s important to do that research because there could be a lot at stake.
Love this video – although it was posted earlier this year, it is now just making the rounds – and we’re glad it did! Tom Hanks has a reputation for being one of the nicest stars in Hollywood, and this just makes the case even stronger. While starring on Broadway in “Lucky Guy” he invited Sarah Moretti, a young lady with autism, backstage after learning she was a huge fan. In fact, according to the YouTube post, Sarah saved all the things she could find about Tom Hanks over the years – and you can see him going through the binder with her. (The best part is watching the excited Sarah’s reaction in the mirror!) – check it out:
I spent the morning having fun on YouTube. Aside from Facebook, it’s another internet site where you can “waste” time…I’m not kidding – it’s seriously addictive! I started by watching ‘The Kennedy Center Honors’ from last year, and an hour later I was asking myself, “seriously, what did I just do??”
But YouTube has its useful side too, especially if you are looking for help with your autistic children. For starters, take a look for the Autism Treatment Center of America and The Son-Rise Program. Here are just a couple of great links that can help get you started down that “geez, it’s been an hour already?” path….
(in this video, you hear a little bit about Nathan from the perspective of his mother, who’s speaking in a lovely Irish accent…)
(in this video, you hear about Jake’s recovery from autism, and Jake’s parents, Brian and Susan were also in our first Son-Rise start up and have enjoyed the same success as we’ve had with Kyle!)
(and in this video, you can see Kyle’s first ever fashion collection, and yes, that’s Kyle talking with Marsh Gay Harden!)
So you see, YouTube can be a very useful way to spend an hour, or two, or three, especially if what you are watching incredible videos filled with help and hope – you never know what will be that one message you hear that will inspire you to take bold action in helping your little youngster with autism. Log on and give it try…it’s really fun!
There is a decision many parents tend to struggle with after learning their child is autistic – -which is, when and how do I tell my child they’re autistic? Writer Brenda Rothman touched on this very topic (here via Huff Post). She talks about the various “tactics” that people have recommended (ie…think it’s time to have “The Talk”). After thinking it through, she came to realize it wasn’t about sitting down and having this serious, big talk with her son about his autism – which could make it a negative thing, like something was wrong. Instead, she felt it could be done in trickles, which was more of a natural sharing of information – almost the opposite of “The Big Talk” tactic – making it no big deal. I like this way of thinking – because autism is part of who your child is, it should be a natural sharing of information, with an emphasis on what makes them special.
There are some books out there that are designed for autistic children to help them understand what their autism means, which can also be a good tool in talking with your child. A few include:
But there are many different thoughts and ideas on this one, so we’d like to hear from you (as I’m sure other parents seeking this kind of information do too). How have you told (or how are you planning to tell) your child about their autism?
First to share her insights is our own Jen Westphal, who said:
A few of the most important aspects of The Son-Rise Program is the three E’s – eye contact, energy and enthusiasm – and their teachings of acceptance. Once we realized what a gift Kyle’s autism was (because we did NOT believe this before Son-Rise), we enthusiastically set out to help Kyle appreciate that his autism was an important part of him! Some days were better than others, for sure, but today, at 20 years of age, Kyle understands himself sometimes better than most “typical” people I know! Kyle’s courage to jump over one hurdle after another, fall down 7 times, get up 8, and embrace his autism makes him a hero in the eyes of so many who know him.
Daryl Hannah, probably best known for playing a mermaid in Splash in the 1980’s – or more recently in Kill Bill, opened up to People Magazine about her childhood diagnosis of autism. This is likely a surprise to most people, being that she’s a public person (and little was known about autism at the time of her diagnosis). But she wasn’t as “public” as we thought she was. In fact, her autism makes her quite uncomfortable being the center of attention – at the peak of her popularity, we learned that she wasn’t attending awards shows or movie premieres.
As a child, Daryl said she suffered from “debilitating shyness” and rocked non-stop. Doctors had recommended medicating her and putting her into an institution- luckily, though, her mother (a teacher) chose not to take their advice. Daryl found her love of acting – and although she dropped away from the Hollywood scene years ago and focuses much of her time on environmental activism – still does so from time to time.