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Posts Tagged ‘children with autism and fear’

Hi! and welcome to What Works Wednesdays where we share a success story from our clinical files.Today’s success story is a follow up to a previous clinical case. Do you remember Little Cherub? She first came to us over a year ago. Little Cherub’s dad attended a presentation we did in Atlanta. He desperately wanted help because she had very restricted eating. After listening to dad talk about her symptoms, we suggested that Little Cherub be seen by a specialist to determine if she had celiac, an autoimmune condition that leaves the body unable to digest gluten, a type of protein found in bread, pasta, and cakes.

Sure enough, Little Cherub had celiac. After putting her on a gluten-free (GF) diet, she further restricted her eating. After 5 of the toughest days imaginable, we finally helped Little Cherub learn that new foods are not scary and that, in fact, new foods can actually taste good. Little Cherub’s parents were amazed to see her chasing them down to get more cantaloupe!

In addition to her eating behaviors, Little Cherub has a fear of many new things. Take toileting for example. Little Cherub wanted to continue using her pull up for toileting. Urinating on the toilet was not painful for her. But from the look on her face and the behaviors she exhibited, one would think she felt extreme pain on the toilet. In the same week we taught her to eat, we taught her to use the toilet for urinating and defecating. We made a simple visual schedule to show her that “pee” goes in the toilet.

Within 2 days, Little Cherub overcame her fears of using the toilet. We reserved her very favorite jalapeno corn chips as a treat and she learned to associate positive things with the toilet.

Less than 10 months after overcoming her fears of new foods and toilets, Little Cherub began showing fear-like behaviors in public places such as Target and grocery stores. Little Cherub’s dad reached out to us again for assistance.

Public places can be very scary for children on the spectrum. Public places are loud, they have strange lighting, and things are not always predictable. However, once you teach children the routine, and associate the public place with something positive, children learn that public places are not scary after all.

Little Cherub’s parents used the same intensive model we used with feeding. They began taking her to public places two times per day, every day, for a week. Little Cherub’s dad writes,

She went from cowering to smiling when we went twice a day for a week and explained to her what everything was she was seeing and hearing.

Congrats again to Little Cherub and her parents for working so hard on overcoming these fears. The work parents do is never easy but with success stories like this, it makes all the work worthwhile!

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