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Autism Coach

About Autism Coach


"Autism Coach is one of the oldest autism information/product catalog sites on the internet.In its capacity as an information site, Autism Coach offers practical advice, articles on autism research and news. As an catalog Autism Coach offers, supplements, dietary products, and software to help individuals of all ages within the autism spectrum reach their maximum potential." Sue Bennett, Autism Coach
 
How it All Started—A Family Story

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My kids, , as toddlers, 1994.

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Will and Amy, siblings and band-mates, photo taken at a local park, Winter 2009.

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Will at age 21, performing at the 2014 Frakenmuth, Michigan Ragtime Festival

In 1995, my son, Will, was first diagnosed within the autism spectrum. Today Will is one of the success stories of autism.

I come from a family of scientists and the the day after Will was diagnosed, I began researching articles and books for approaches that indicated statistical or anecdotal improvement in individuals within the autism spectrum. We spent several years trying different therapies and figuring out what worked best for Will. When Will no longer needed the intensive interventions that helped him come so far, I decided to help other parents and children by creating this website. 

What wouldn’t I have given to have solid, proven, common-sense information to put into practice and start helping my son immediately! From the beginning, the website contained information and products that had worked for us and had statistically significant benefit based upon data available through research and parents organizations to help others. I coined the term, Autism Coach, thinking of the analogy of a child's parent(s) acting like a sports coach, helping the child cross the finish line to a normal life. Now, the term is widely used a job description.

I also created this web site, because I had a mentally retarded brother, Martin, who did not get the help he needed when he was young. He had a much sadder outcome than my son and spent his life in public institutions, barely able to communicate and severely limited in his abilities to communicate. In 2000, he sadly passed away of an aneurism at the age of 50 (he was born and died on Martin Luther King's birthday). On the day of his death, Marty was in incredible pain and banging his head on the wall and was taken to the hospital by his group home. The hospital misdiagnosed him and sent him back to his group home by hospital staff, where he died later that day. Martin might have lived if he had been able to verbally communicate his symptoms. Within a month of his death, I began Autism Coach to honor what I believe would have been my brother's wishes that other children be spared his fate, having the opportunity to receive the help they need and reach their full potential.

If this site has helped to brighten the future of a single child, it has served its purpose.

For those of you who are interested, I am sharing Will's story below.

Will's Story

When Will was vaccinated at age 2 with the MMR vaccine, he also simultaneously became ill with chicken pox and that is when he began to noticeably diverge from normal developmental milestones. He memorized the alphabet shortly after that but was not speaking in sentences. Up until then his milestones had matched those of his sister - both had spoken their first words at just 6 months.

When Will was eventually diagnosed at age 3 1/2 by a psychologist from the University of Michigan, with PDD NOS (Pervasive Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) he told my husband, Jim, and me, “There is nothing you can do – just wait until your son gets to kindergarten. Then he will go into special ed classes.” Naturally, Jim and I initially felt totally devastated and helpless. Not being able to accept that our son had a problem and there was nothing we could do to about it, I went to our local book store and spent hours browsing in the section on special needs children. This was the beginning of Will's journey towards recovery. Over a period of years, we researched and tried many therapies – many of which were invaluable in helping our son make enormous strides forward.

The first year after our son's diagnosis, we worked with a behavioral speech therapist to create and implement a modified Lovass behavioral intervention program, during which our son had 4 hours a day of one-on-one therapy a day to improve speech, memory and comprehension.* Most of this therapy was done by us. That first year, our son also went through a session of Auditory Integration Training (AIT) which triggered remarkable growth—he began speaking in complete sentences for the first time during that first session. We then put him on a restricted diet, limiting foods containing gluten and casein, added supplements, and saw even greater improvements. Since that first year, we have repeated auditory integration training, eliminated gluten and casein foods from his diet, and added visual integration therapy. We also purchased AIT CDs from www.seriouscomposer.com which allows us to carry out AIT in our home - we use them periodically when he looks like he needs a pick-me-up to keep him moving forward. In first through third grade, he received services through his public school for speech, occupational therapy, and social work. He also benefited from interactive metronome therapy, visual integration therapy, tap dancing, autism enzymes, and a supplement protocol which we continually adjust to meet Will's nutritional needs.

Updates to Will's Story

2006 update. He came so far that at age 10, he was a gifted pianist, reading chapter books, had ridden every roller coaster at Cedar Point, and biked around the neighborhood with his best friend. Currently, at age 14, he is considered by several of his music teachers to be a musical prodigy - he has been playing piano for about 8 years, guitar for 4 years, and drums for 3 years. He composes music and he and his sister have a formed band and are playing in public in Ann Arbor, Michigan and he was hired to play holiday music at a local mall during the 2006/2007 holiday season. He is sweet, loving, funny, and quirky and we wouldn't have him any other way. That he has come so far is in large part due to the combination of the interventions carried out by us and by the talented professionals who came into our son's life over the years. However, our son deserves deserves the lion's share of the credit for his hard work, perseverance and courage.

2011 update. Will is now age 19 and continues to grow as a person and as a musician. His band won an international award in 2010 and he is involved in several musical projects, including having been the pianist for his local community college's jazz orchestra, and playing piano at local restaurants. He still has social issues, being on the shy side, but is in an excellent social skills group with other kids with autism spectrum disorders and seems to be applying what he is learning. He is learning to drive. He is interested in becoming a music therapist and does volunteer work with autistic kids locally, working as a volunteer with local music therapists. He has also taken up meditation and is has been reading up on psychology, including Freud. The IPad has been helpful to him because he is somewhat dyslexic so he can do a combination of reading and listening to books.

2014 update. Will, age 21, is a professional restaurant pianist and is starting to take classes at a local community college to obtain a degree in recording engineering. He plays extensively at private events and venues in our area, has gone on tour and performed on the East and West coasts.  He came back with a beard from a tour of the West Coast with a friend last summer.  He is growing up and keeps maturing; he is still a work in progress, but aren't we all?
 
* For more information on behavioral intervention, see Catherine Maurice’s wonderful book, “Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with AutismT his book was a life saver for us.