It is estimated that autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys
The Story of John: How an Autistic Boy Learned to Stop Wetting His Pants
by Anat Baniel
From the very first child I worked with that was diagnosed with autism, I was struck by the degree with which his movements were undifferentiated and disorganized. This was also true for John, (not his real name), a four-year-old boy, who had many of the typical symptoms of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): few words and inability to formulate coherent sentences, no eye contact, difficulties around eating and digestion, and lack of social interactions.
However, what struck me most was that even though John was able to walk independently into my office, he was unstable on his feet and seemed like he would fall down with the slightest push. He was disoriented and drooling slightly; and his mother told me that he had very poor fine motor coordination.
When I began working with John, I quickly realized how undifferentiated his movements were. His brain didn’t map his body with the degree of detail and fullness needed for him to be able to make sense of his world on all levels: motor, sensory, cognitive, and interpersonal/emotional.
As my colleagues and I worked with John over a period of a few months, he greatly improved. His movements got stronger and coordinated, his language abilities were growing daily, and he became much more aware of himself and his surroundings and was much happier.
However, no matter how hard his parents and teachers tried, at the age of four-and-a-half, John still wet his pants. Then it occurred to me: since John was in diapers that absorbed the fluid, he couldn’t feel clearly enough the difference between wet and dry. By using a dry and a wet face towel, touching different parts of his body and asking him to tell me whether it was the dry or wet towel that he felt, John was quickly able to notice the difference between dry and wet. He has never wet his pants since.
The Story of Isaac, a Young Boy with Asperger Syndrome
Following is a testimonial from the parents of Isaac:
“Isaac is our second child and was very different from our first from the start. When Isaac went to the first grade he was diagnosed as having Asperger Syndrome, Sensory Integration Disorder, and a Visual Disability. He began receiving daily therapies and one on one teaching in school. During this entire time we did private OT, private tutoring in the Slingerland method, went to a reading specialist, a psychiatrist, a visual therapist, tried homeopathic remedies, tried programs for dyslexia like Brightstar, and turned our home into a therapeutic play space with balls of all sizes, textures, and weights, a large outdoor and a smaller indoor trampoline, swings, body sox, etc.
We had tried so many things without success when a friend recommended Anat and her work to us….I went to a weekend workshop with Anat and came away with the clear feeling that she could either help Isaac (my hope) or that she would be honest in her evaluation if she could not help him and would not waste our time.
Isaac got his first lesson with Anat when he was about to turn eight. The changes in Isaac in the last 6 months since he has been working with Anat are miraculous. He is so much happier in himself!
His reading went from 20 words a minute with very poor accuracy on 2nd grade text to 27 words a minute with more than 90% accuracy on 3rd grade text. He has been able to have a sleepover at a friends. We went to the dentist for a check up and made it all the way through the exam and cleaning in one visit.
He is making more friends at school. We went to a play and did not have to leave. He is trying things that he never tried before. He picked up a pencil and drew me a picture without being told to, and he can use more than one color on a page now.
He laughs, he smiles, he learns with ease. Isaac is now spiraling up instead of spiraling down. We are so, so, deeply grateful to Anat for all of her work.
Isaac is a very different little boy today than he was 6 months ago and I know that the work that he did with Anat was the real turning point for him.”