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Patients: Have Patience!
by Amy Lansky, PhD
Editor's Note from Sue O'Callahan: How do parents of autistic children determine which alternative therapies are most effective? Usually by trial and practice. Amy Lansky chose homeopathy for her son, a process chronicled in her book "Impossible Cure." In this article she provides a supportive, realistic guide for helping parents manage long term therapies for autism and other chronic conditions. It encourages patience and meeting children where they are. It recommends celebrating every improvement and recognizes the importance of allowing the process to unfold organically, wise guidance that could be applied to parenting in general.
Is it an accident that the word “patient” has two meanings? Of course not. As a patient (noun) we must be patient (adjective). This is especially true when you are the parent of an autistic child.
The dictionary includes various definitions for the adjective “patient”, including:
* bearing pains or trials calmly;
* manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain;
* not hasty or impetuous;
* steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity;
* able or willing to bear.
All are qualities that are required of patients undergoing homeopathic treatment of a chronic disease — especially a chronic disease like autism that conventional medicine says is downright incurable. Autism parents taking an alternative path like homeopathy must be all the more “steadfast despite opposition” and “forbearing under provocation.” But they must also remember not to be “hasty or impetuous”.
Of course, as many parents who are trying homeopathy and other alternative therapies for their children are discovering — the allopaths are wrong. Autism is treatable. But it is so important to remember that the course of successful treatment is never a matter of days or weeks. Unfortunately, so many parents forget this key point. They read a story about a cure case like my son Max’s, but they forget that the process took years.
If conventional docs are telling parents that the situation for their child is hopeless, why do so many parents expect that their child to be cured in a month? There are probably many answers, but some include: panic, desperation, exhaustion, unrealistic expectations, denial, and impatience.
Published in April 2003, Impossible Cure has been out now for over 10 years. I get emails daily from all over the world, mostly from parents of autistic children. And one of the most common emails I get goes something like this:
“We have been seeing a homeopath for a month [or a few months]. We are only seeing slight changes so far, like better eye contact and some better behavior and better appetite/bowel movements, etc. But we want our child to speak. When will he speak? Should we try some other kind of treatment [usually an intervention that is more aggressive]?”
My reaction is always the same. “Wow! You are seeing improvements in just a few weeks or months! Rejoice!” You are experiencing a miracle from the standpoint of conventional medicine. They think homeopathy is a placebo, but now your child has improved!
And now, dear parent: “Be Patient!” A child who is autistic, especially one who is not speaking and is locked in another world within him or herself, will not suddenly “wake up” and start speaking to you as if nothing happened! The process will be slow. Better eye contact is one of the first clues that a child is breaking through the wall of autism and trying to join you. Be encouraging! Do not expose them to impatience and nudging. Instead, be gentle and supportive. Make your world one s/he wants to join! A common next step is for the child to start making his or her needs known in a more coherent way — perhaps through pointing or showing you things.
Another phenomenon that can happen at this point is increased stimming. Stimming can be a way for a child to calm themself — much like you might have nervous habits like biting your nails or drumming your fingers. Deciding to “join the world” can be quite scary! So increased stimming can be a strategy a child uses at this point to calm themself. The question to ask yourself is — are you simultaneously seeing signs of them trying to make more social contact? If so, be patient, be supportive! (The increase in stimming is also something to discuss with your homeopath.)
Another behavioral co-factor if your child is locked in autism is that they might be suffering from intestinal pain or neurological stress. If a remedy has helped a child to eat better, digest food better, sleep better or move their bowels more easily, it is also helping them along so that they can start focussing on the world outside themselves, instead of being locked in their own world of pain or discomfort. It is a beginning.
Don’t forget, in homeopathy, the body will tend to heal the most important things first. As far as the survival of the organism goes, it is much more important for your child to eat and sleep and be nourished than to talk to you.
Of course, it is important to stay on top of your child’s progress and not stay with a particular homeopath if you are seeing no change over a long period of time (say 4-6 months). But often, there are changes. You are just too close to observe them! To help you with the problem of patience here are a few crucial tips. Please take them seriously!
* Set your expectations appropriately. Gird yourself for a homeopathic treatment process that takes months and years.
* Keep a weekly notebook. Take notes about your child’s behavior, including ups and downs. Over time, this notebook will be your guide and reminder about the progress that your child has (or hasn’t) made. In other words, you will be better able to assess whether you are seeing progress or not. This notebook will also be a handy tool for helping you communicate with your homeopath.
* Be the turtle, not the hare! You will more likely reach your goal through slow steady progress (including some ups and downs), rather than through some miracle dash to the finish line.
* Your patience helps your child heal. Your impatience does not, and in fact, might retard their progress. Autistic children are pretty psychic even if they aren’t communicating with you. They will know if you are disappointed or angry. Impatience is not an incentive for them to join you.
* Rejoice in every gain! Not every child can be completely cured. But any improvement has the potential to dramatically help your child’s quality of life.
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About the Author
Amy Lansky, PhD was a NASA researcher in artificial intelligence when her life was transformed by the miraculous homeopathic cure of her son's autism. In 2003, she published Impossible Cure: The Promise of Homeopathy, now one of the best-selling introductory books on homeopathy worldwide. Since then, Lansky has broadened her investigations to include ancient and modern teachings about consciousness, meditation, and our collective power to evolve and transform our world. The result is her newest book, Active Consciousness: Awakening the Power Within, published in 2011.