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Autism news: This could fix a lot of behavior problems
August 16, 2019

I remember when my son was very young how reluctant I was to discipline him for misbehavior. Because I didn’t know a) if he would understand what he had done wrong or b) if he could even control his own actions.

So I tried very hard to err on the side of leniency. And it turned out that my suspicions were correct.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve encountered one of his behavior issues only to find that something besides willful disobedience was the cause.

Consider “Kaley”, a young child with autism who couldn’t seem to stop her constant screaming. The noise was so deafening that the rest of the family had to wear earplugs to protect their hearing.

At first, Mom and Dad didn’t know what to do. But soon they wondered if a medical problem could be causing the screaming.

The first doctor they visited insisted that the screeching was purely behavioral. He conducted no tests; he only asserted his opinion.

But Kaley’s parents weren’t satisfied with that answer. The behavior had started suddenly for no apparent reason. It just wasn’t like her to scream all the time.

They ended up visiting six or seven doctors until they found a pediatrician who took an x-ray. It turned out that Kaley was constipated, backed up from top to bottom.

After a series of enemas, the screeching stopped and Kaley was back to normal. (They shuddered to think what would have happened if they had believed the first doctor!)

A few years later, the shrieking started up again. Mom assumed Kaley was constipated as before. But this time, tests showed that she had a duodenal ulcer.

Once Kaley was treated for the ulcer, the screaming disappeared again.

This is a true story that can help us to see behavior problems as red flags warning us that something else could be wrong.

I’m not saying that parents shouldn’t discipline their children. It’s true that some behavior problems are rooted in rebellion or mischief. This is often true for children who are not autistic.

But when it comes to children with autism, especially those who have a hard time communicating, it’s very important to first find out if something else could be causing them to act out before you carry out any discipline.

For our son, physical or medical problems have often been the culprit.

So if behavior issues are a challenge in your family, I would encourage you to put on your detective hat and try to find out if something else is going on.

Because there’s a chance that a medical problem, if left unchecked, could eventually become serious. Even Kaley’s conditions could have been life-threatening if her parents had delayed seeking medical help.

Your child’s doctor can conduct tests to either confirm or rule out digestive ailments, mineral or vitamin deficiencies, allergies to food, chemicals, mold, etc., or other medical problems.

You may even be dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, panic attacks, or other mental health issues.

And don’t hesitate to seek as many professional opinions as you need to get to the root of the problem. Especially if something doesn’t seem right about the answer you’re hearing.

This can be particularly critical if your child can’t communicate how she’s feeling.

After all, we are our own children’s best advocates. Because no one will love and care about our kids as much as we do.

Warm Regards,

Kay Donato

Discover Autism Help, LLC

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