27 Tuesday Aug 2013:  A Guest Blog

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When we began going to autism workshops and conferences, we found ourselves the subject of many sales pitches for the newest therapies that would produce miracles.

We also were sometimes pressured by parents in the local Autism Society to make a commitment to purchase a certain therapist’s services in order to “bring her to our community.” Enough parents had to participate in order to pay for her services to make it worth her while to come. Auditory integration training would cost $2,000 for a set number of therapy sessions. Music therapy was $100 an hour.

There were two problems with this.

First, we could not afford it. We were just scraping by as it was. Several options were presented – beg the money from our relatives, put it on a credit card, get a bank loan or a second mortgage on the house.

Second, which one of our children would we choose? Choosing them all was out of the question.Should we choose our gifted, disruptive autistic son or our quiet, multiply learning disabled autistic oldest daughter? Or our youngest, questionably autistic daughter? An impossible choice.

Therefore, we said no. As result, we were ostracized for not “participating for the good of all the children in the area.”

Instead, we chose to invent our own therapies out of ordinary life.

We listened to classical music in the house for our music therapy.

We were blessed by a piano teacher who was willing to try to teach my son. He enjoyed music, singing in tune with gusto. After a year, she noted that he had an aptitude for music. She taught him for 12 years. After that year, we ask her to teach our oldest daughter in order to improve her finger strength and coordination. I thought it might help her learn to hold a pencil. My youngest daughter wanted to do what her brother and sister did. This cost $10 a week per child – a pay as you go therapy.

We chose to take advantage of community subsidized speech and occupational therapy offered by Easter Seals and the Rehabilitation Hospital. These required small payments times three.

In spite of extended and persevering effort, learning to ride a bike did not happen. Instead, we found equestrian therapy – offered at a discount due to the generous donations of the community – also paying as we went. Our children were unable to ride a bike due to balance issues, but they were able to eventually learn to ride a horse independently.

These choices stretched us financially, sometimes heavily, but we made the sacrifices on a weekly, monthly basis.

Choices of “miracle therapies” with little proof of efficacy would have bankrupted us.

From Ann Kilter: Conundrum–Therapies That Worked For Us.

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The Ram’s Head Writer’s meeting is always engaging.  Hosted by Lisa Hatton in her home, it’s a friendly get together of several writers at varying stages in their careers.  Lisa is disbanding the group temporarily while she goes for surgery, and the camraderie and Lisa herself will be sadly missed.  When we left, we all admonished her to get well soon and email us the minute the meetings were back on.

Most people read some of their work, and the stories were engaging, the critiquing, sound.  Some of us got stuck on the word “inception” and a lot of discussion followed about the appropriate usage of the word.   We heard children’s stories, and in contrast, Jason read a chapter where his murderous antagonist runs amuck.  All great stuff.

For me, the hardest part about writing a book is understanding how it sounds to readers.  Last night at Lisa’s, I read chapter eleven of Unforgiving aloud.  I chose that chapter because it deals with the predator stalking Margaret Jean, choosing her as his target, and testing the family waters to see how the family will react.  This is a tense chapter largely fueled by a child’s outrage.

While reading, I looked up occasionally to see if my audience was engaged.  They were sitting up, leaning toward me, totally focused.  After the meeting, they all handled the book, some jotted down the title, and asked me where they could buy the book. 

I drove home, thrilled and excited.  Until I realized what I had forgotten– That I had five copies of the book in my trunk!

The Ram’s Head…

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