Tricare/Therapy Thursdays: My Child is Diagnosed with ASD. Now What?


When Bug got diagnosed with PDD-NOS I was completely ignorant to the types of therapy that might help him. I of course had heard of ASD and all its components, but I really didn’t know what there was in types of assistance to help them. My misinformation and misunderstanding was there were none.

I pictured a family with an ASD child like this:

Screaming child…everywhere. Screaming in the house, at the park, in every public location he went to. All his screaming was unintelligible (no, I did not think they were all stupid) because I thought not many of they could actually talk. I thought they went through life in a normal school environment just with the understanding that the child has ASD and there is nothing you can do for them; because there is no cure right? Then I pictured the parents and them crying every night after the child goes to bed because they are beyond tired, worried and stress. They are smelly (the parents not the kids) because they are so busy giving 24 hour attention to the ASD child, they don’t have time to take a shower. So they also have stock in Old Spice and Dove deodorant and their stock portfolio looks amazing. The parents are also so skinny they look like Ethiopian children because their intake of calories isn’t enough compared to the use of calories in a day chasing around an ASD child who can’t speak but sure as heck can run. Lastly, are the siblings. They are druggies, or don’t even live at home because they have run away. If they do live at home, they are never given attention and often are at the receiving end of the abuse from the ASD child, who can’t talk, can run and is violent when he can’t express what he needs; which is all.the.time.

After we got home from the doctors I looked at us and our home. No telling when Bug actually got ASD, but we looked average. I was over-weight, personally well taken care of. Our daughter was happy and healthy as well. Bug could tell us what he needed to a point and our bank account did not reflect income from stocks, since we didn’t even have a portfolio. So I waited. I waited for that shoe to drop. I waited for him to stop talking, for him to start running and for us to wither away to nothingness. But we never did.

Instead, Bug was given an IEP and started at a special education preschool. He thrived. He was the only verbal child in his class and because of that he was a amazing model for his peers. The doctors soon wrote prescriptions for therapy and the influx of therapists started entering our homes and our daily lives. I quickly learned what they all did in terms of helping ASD children. However, it took me some time to get it all down.

When faced with a new diagnosis, it is always overwhelming, even the second time around. With two ASD children, I felt in control and prepared when handed her diagnosis. But I wasn’t. I was less prepared actually. I quickly feel back onto Bug’s therapists for advice and help. And soon I was maneuvering the road down ASD again like a pro. So I thought I’d share some of the foundations of therapy that are often prescribed with a ASD diagnosis. Remember every child is different. I have two ASD children and besides them both receiving ABA, they receive different services.

OT– Occupational Therapists (OT) Autism Speaks describes OT as “brings together cognitive, physical and motor skills. The aim of OT is to enable the individual to gain independence and participate more fully in life”.

PT– Psychical Therapists (PT) “focused on any problems with movement that cause functional limitations,” as stated by Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks lists speech – encompasses a variety of techniques and addresses a range of challenges for children with autism.

ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), to me, is the most important type of therapy a child with ASD can receive. Autism Speaks states that “Since the early 1960’s, applied behavior analysis, or ABA, has been used by hundreds of therapists to teach communication, play, social, academic, self-care, work and community living skills, and to reduce problem behaviors in learners with autism.”

All this information and more can be found by visiting Autism Speaks.

Tricare/Therapy Thursdays- DIY Weighted Lap Bag


Several times we have tried to use a weight lap bag or vest for Bug. Typically his teacher tells us its a distraction for fun time and plays with them more than it is helpful. But that is not the case for every child.

A weight lap bag can provide a grounding of sorts for the child. I have often heard Bug has a hard time with spacial awareness. He just isn’t quite sure where his little body is in reference to the world around him. He is everywhere! Upside down, right side up, hands in his mouth, head buried in a couch cushion and the list can go on. He often reminds me of a rubix cube someone is working to solve that is getting all twisted around. He just doesn’t understand where his body stops and the world begins. Having a weighted blanket, lap bag or vest can often help give them boundaries and make them feel safer in their environment. But their cost can be astronomical if insurance doesn’t cover it.

We use a heavy quilt during times of Bugs infusions to provide comfort and security for him. A friend of my moms makes “comfort quilts” for those she feels needs a little extra hug at times. Bug and Diva were recipients of them. Even though, at their age, they don’t understand the generosity of another individual; they know their quilts are something special and use them on a daily basis.

But enough about what a lap bag can provide for your child. Here is a great DIY lap bag idea I conjured up to make your own for home or school. And it’s so cute! I got the idea from Bugs school. They use some commercially made one. But I knew there was a easier, cheaper and DIY way to do it. Then I remembered the rice sock.

The rice sock is a great little invention our teacher told us about during our birthing class for Bug. She told us to fill up a tube sock with uncooked rice. Then instead of fumbling with cords of a hearing pad, to heat the sock up in the microwave. It is amazing and holds its heat for quiet a while.

So I took that concept and altered it a little. But the sock was too short. So I searched around for another source. We were playing with some neighbors dogs when one of them ripped all the stuffing out of their toy. Creating this long tube sock like casing. Ta da! All I had to do was go to the local pet shop and search for a similar toy to gut. The only other item needed was the rice. But it needed to be washable. So I looked up what was used in the commercial made weighted lap belts- poly pellets.

Next all you need to do is know the formula for your child’s weight vs the weighted item your making. Therapists say the most recent research suggests blankets should weight 10% of the persons body weight. However, since lap blankets are smaller and more condensed you can do 5% and make sure it weighs no more than 3 pounds.

All you need to do is add the appropriate amount of weight and sew up the open end.

**Update** After searching the web for a little more information on how to make these, I ran across Stacy’s at post at Starfish Therapies. Great minds think alike. She has some additional ideas on how to create one, materials to use, and other uses for the weighted lap pad.

Wordy Wednesday – MFLC

Forgive me for being so late with my posts, August has been and is a extremely busy month for our family. With Bug starting back to school and Diva switching schools, there is a lot of adjustments the kids are experiencing. Making each day a new adventure in the wonderful world of Autism (because they don’t do well with change!). So maybe I need to see a MFLC! But what is MFLC?

At first, I kept picturing this little duck walking around the office going “AFLAC, ALFAC!!!”. Then I realized it had nothing to do with a duck; but everything to do with a persons health. MFLC, or Military and Family Life counselor, is a program in the Army designed inn which, Masters or Doctorate-level licensed counselors assist families on a wide range of non-medical counseling services. I know from experience they even offer resiliency training classes (which MrsMissionControl and I took together!). Most importantly, they are a private counseling resource families, individuals and couples can use.  In addition they now have youth MFLC.

In the lifestyle we all lead (military families) we go through emotions and feelings that are unique to our situation. I had often felt the deep down sadness of experiencing depression. It is unsettling to talk to a family member or friend when pouring your heart out over how exasperated you feel; realizing at the end of the conversation you are the only one in it. This is where MFLC can step in and provide the understanding , mental equipment and knowledge on how to resolve a issue.