Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a multi-faceted diagnosis. It is a spectrum of symptoms that vary in significance and severity. Autism can also come with multiple other diagnoses as well. One undisputed aspect of autism is that early diagnosis and intervention can make a significant difference in the lives of those who have autism, and the family around them.
Parents might notice delays or unusual behavior as infants become toddlers. Often the child will not show significant signs of autism until closer to school age and sometimes it is a teacher who first sees symptoms and recommends autism treatment services.
Autism Treatment Services at OhioGuidestone can help with the diagnosis and early intervention for children with autism. We also provide autism therapy services and education for the family of a child who has autism. The diagnosis itself can be traumatic for parents and siblings, as they fear for the future, or feel neglected because of the extra care that goes to someone with special needs.
Because autism doesn’t look the same in everybody, autism treatment services can vary as much as the symptoms presented. At OhioGuidestone, our priority is the mental health and well-being of everyone involved in the child’s life. Our autism therapy services can extend to the whole family. We can be a resource of referrals for special education and programs to support those who have autism. Mostly we are here to support and counsel anyone affected negatively by the diagnosis.
Autism has become more common in the last two decades. Members of our own staff at OhioGuidestone have children or other family members who have autism. One staff member has three family members who have been diagnosed with varying abilities and disabilities related to autism, and highly recommends autism therapy services.
OhioGuidestone’s PLAY Project is an example of our autism treatment services. The program teaches parents and family members how to interact with a child who has been diagnosed with ASD. The ASD treatment involves parent-child relationship building and techniques for setting goals specific to child’s individual needs.
How the PLAY Project Created a Path to Understanding: Dahmeer’s Story
Life with Dhameer is never boring–his energy is contagious, and his love of play keeps his family busy. “He likes to play until he’s tired. Then he rests for two minutes and goes to play some more,” said his mother, Nyema. Playing with Dhameer is a joy for his mother, because he didn’t always want to engage with the people around him. Dhameer has autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.
It affects his ability to relate to others. “He goes to hug other kids a lot, and when they don’t expect it, and reject him, it hurts his feelings,” said his mother. “He used to not make eye contact, either.” Relating to Dhameer was even difficult for his mother at first, but through the OhioGuidestone PLAY Project, she learned that Dhameer just needed to be supported in different ways.
Nyema knew that OhioGuidestone could help her son, because they had counseled her through maternal depression after having Dhameer. “When we began noticing a change in behavior from Dhameer, we reached out to see what OhioGuidestone could do,” she said. Dhameer and his therapist first began working through behavior problems in 2014. The initial sessions made it clear that there was something different about Dhameer, and he was diagnosed with ASD.
As Dhameer has grown, OhioGuidestone’s autism services have, too. Since the PLAY Project began, Dhameer has worked with his therapist through play therapy. The PLAY project uses techniques for parent-child relationship building and works on achieving individualized goals. Dhameer’s mother’s goals for his future through the PLAY Project are ambitious. Currently, loud noises make Dhameer upset and set him into fits—Dr. Courtney Gottschall, Assistant Director of Community Counseling, and Nyema are looking to work on his extreme reactions to sensory overload.
With his family’s help, Dhameer will develop his skills and grow. Nyema is optimistic about his future. “I want to have my children grow comfortable with themselves as adults. That they know who they are and do not feel out of place,” she said.
Dhameer’s outlook on life will always be different. For this, his family is grateful. “I’ve learned that having a child with autism, you have to be stronger,” said Nyema. “I never thought that I had what it takes for raising him, but I do.” The resiliency that comes from overcoming obstacles is something that Dhameer will learn to value, just like his parents.
For now, though, Dhameer will continue to play and experience the joys of childhood, and his family wouldn’t want it any other way.
OhioGuidestone can help
Are you in need of our services? Contact us today to learn more about next steps and the kind of care you can expect from OhioGuidestone.