Friday, May 13, 2016

Autism Caregiving: Early Diagnosis & Early Interventions

VeteranCaregiver receives inquiries every month about information and support for military and veteran caregivers also caring for a child with Autism.  There is a great deal of crossover in caregiving with the lack of time, overwhelm, fatigue, concern, and lack of adequate self-care.

We’d like to raise awareness about early diagnosis and early interventions. Timing can be critical in life, and just as with TBI and PTSD, the sooner effective treatment begins, the more beneficial the outcomes.  Earlier genetic testing can provide earlier interventions, critically important for future capabilities and quality of life.  Please seek the advice of your care team with questions about your personal situation.

Autism is the leading developmental disability today, with nearly 3% of the population falling on the spectrum.  While leading experts have yet to find a definite cause or cure, there is help and support available. We recently interviewed Scott Fowler on our radio program.  He is a retired special education administrator, an Autism Subject Matter Expert -- and a parent caregiver of a child on the spectrum.  A common saying is that if you know one autistic person, you know one autistic person, since each are unique.  The radio program is titled More Alike Than Different and is available on Military Network (  
Coming soon:  Autism Outreach Network
Autism is diagnosed through often lengthy behavioral observation, with most diagnoses coming between the ages of four and five.  This is the ‘diagnostic odyssey’, referring to the time-span from initial concerns to an actual diagnosis. New technologies now make diagnosis possible through specialist referral to genetic testing from birth forward, which can lead to available interventions at an earlier age, which is an advantage to your child and the family.

Occupational Therapy and Speech & Language Therapy are the two most commonly used early interventions.  Occupational Therapy addresses the child’s relationship to the environment around them and Speech Therapy helps with the range of speaking issues that promote communication. The sooner these services are started, the better the overall life outcomes for your child. 

Parents have highly attuned intuition about their children, and if you have doubts or concerns about the timely development of your child, don’t wait, but talk with your care provider immediately.  Ask directly about diagnostic genetic testing and for prescriptions for both occupational therapy and speech/language therapy evaluations and have them completed.  You are building your child’s care team, and the sooner you act, the sooner your child can realize their fullest potential.

Linda Kreter & the
VeteranCaregiver Team