12 Step Program

Tatianna’s 12-Step Program



1.      Get a diagnosis as early as possible, or at least begin an intensive early intervention program as early as possible. The earlier the better. Put denial on a back burner and get to work absolutely no later than three years of age.

2.      Find a support group. Family, friends and other parents of autism can help with feelings of loss, sadness and frustration.

3.      Find a good consultant or lead psychologist through your local birth-to-three agency to set up your child’s initial intervention plan. Perhaps down the road, if you learn enough, you can take over the program in time.

4.      Find good therapists with appropriate skills, enthusiasm and energy. Or, at least find trusted individuals willing to learn. Realize that the more people involved, the better your child will learn to generalize skills with different people in different environments. And, realize that not everyone will be a good fit. Move on to other options when this is the case.

5.      Become intimately involved with your child’s intervention plan. This is a team effort. A school, therapist or parent cannot bear the responsibility alone. Everyone needs to be on the same page, working toward the same goals with the same strategies.

6.      Consider training your respite provider, college students and family members to provide therapy sessions. Chances are they will charge less than a professional. The number of therapy hours outweighs the credentials of the therapists. Experts recommend a minimum of 6 hours a day of intensive intervention.

7.      I recommend redirecting every odd or obsessive/compulsive behavior, whether the 6 hours of therapy are officially completed or not. I also recommend working towards appropriate social engagement even beyond the 6 hour minimum.

8.      In every possible instance, strive toward normalcy and flexibility. Do not create an odd or unusual crutch when it is unnecessary. And, if a crutch is needed, eliminate it as soon as possible once the skill is mastered.

9.      Eliminate or greatly restrict television and computer time. Instead, focus on social interactions.

10.  Provide opportunities for sensory input. Use preferred sensory activities to settle and reset the brain for more work. Use non-preferred sensory activities to help build tolerance levels to everyday experiences.

11.  Consider implementing dietary restrictions and supplementations with the consent of a trusted doctor, especially if your child shows signs of gastro-intestinal distress or disorder. Keep a food journal and look for reactions for up to 48 hours.

12.  I recommend committing to this level of intervention for at least three years. I know it is incredibly hard work. I know it is expensive. But there is a chance for recovery at the end of this three year period.



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  1. This is just what I needed to read today. We are overwhelmed and confused with our 3.5 yo son. Pediatrician says he is “all boy” even though his lack of speech untill 2 months ago (finally saying single words and correctly naming objects), was a HUGE issue. He would babble “mamamama” for a day or two then never heard it again. Same with a few other things. The ped finally agreed to speech therapy through EI about 9 months ago. After speech pathologist said she is seeing signs of autism in him she is encouraging us to have him evaled. However they are taking time because if he is, services will not kick in till the Fall. I think he is for sure on the spectrum, and have for some time, without even knowing details of sutism. I just KNEW there was something else going on in his brain. My DH and I are standing united so far and love our son the same no matter what. But it’s so conflicting, confusing and frustrating. Where else can we turn while waiting?

    • I just sent you an e-mail so our discussions can be more private. Please check that it doesn’t end up in your spam. Thanks, Tatianna

  2. Hello. Thank you. I sometimes think no one understands. You do. I know there is hope.

    My daughter is 26 months. She was diagnosed at 20 months with ASD, apraxia and auditory processing disorder. I am trying DESPERATELY to get her services here in NJ, which is a great state for autism awareness. However, our early intervention program is limited and flawed. I will move anywhere if it meant my daughter will get the treatment she needs.

    She currently gets 18 hours ABA/VB, 2 hours OT and 1.5 hours of oral/motor therapy. She is non-verbal but babbles and has three words: duck, bubbles and cracker. She stims and has a ton of sensory issues. We are claiming bankruptcy in the near future — the costs have been astronomical.

    Thank you again for your blog.

    • Hi Kim,
      I e-mailed you back so our discussions can be more private. Please make sure it doesn’t go to your spam file. Tatianna :0)

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