Understanding autism – a child’s story

Autism is a condition which the National Autistic Society estimates affects around 140,000 school-age children in the UK.

Generally, autism affects how a person communicates and experiences the world around them. However, as a spectrum disorder there is no ‘one’ definition but rather certain difficulties that people with autism or ASD share. This fact can make it challenging for parents to know how best to help their child.

At Sunflower, we believe that embedding a good health foundation and celebrating the strength that comes from being different is a step in the right direction – as is seeing each child as an individual, not a label.

So, how does Sunflower improve the health of children with ASD? Well, we have found that many children with ASD suffer with musculoskeletal misalignment due to changes in their soft tissue, which can mean that the body develops compensatory patterns of movement as a coping mechanism. To combat this our practitioners apply simple osteopathic methods to re-adjust imbalances.

Sheree McGregor, our Alton-based practitioner, explains: ‘the foundation of good health lies in the musculoskeletal and nervous system. It is these systems which make it possible for each of us to move, see, hear, touch, think and feel …and learn. If the structural system is misaligned and has developed compensatory patterns of movement this will impact upon the nervous system and can lead to neurological confusion. To re-balance the body, I use applied osteopathy and dietary supplements and have found that many difficulties can be reduced this way. If you improve structure and nutrition you change biochemistry, change neural transmitters and change behaviour.’

David was one such Sunflower Story. His father shares his journey here:

“Our son David has autism. Until he reached 14 months of age, David was a very sociable little boy who met all the usual developmental milestones, thereafter he slowly retreated into his own world. By the time he was 20 months old we could no longer explain away his increasingly odd behaviour. I called in the Health Visitor who mentioned Autism immediately. I was shocked because I had always believed that autistic children were unhappy children and our son appeared to be very happy just oblivious of those around him.

“As David’s formal assessment for autism could not be scheduled for another 4 months, I took to researching endlessly on the internet to confirm whether I thought autism was a reasonable diagnosis. Sadly, the evidence was all there. David had lost the few words he had begun to use, lacked eye contact, turned in circles, walked on tiptoes, hand flapped, fidgeted, stared at lights, never pointed – the list went on and on. I then set about seeing if there was anything we could do for David while we awaited his assessment and came across The Sunflower Programme. Here was something we could start immediately. I wasn’t looking for a cure from the programme, I was just looking at ways to make David feel his absolute best so that he had a chance to function at his optimum level.

“Sunflower achieved a great deal given that David had very little understanding of verbal communication. His improvement over the course of the programme was phenomenal. In that time, he responded to his name and learnt nearly 100 words. His eye contact improved tremendously, he seeks company and even enjoys cuddles and rough-and-tumble. We enjoy books, singing nursery rhymes and doing puzzles together.

“We cannot possibly put all of David’s progress down to the Sunflower Programme. David would likely have made progress to some degree had we not intervened at all and we are lucky to have an enthusiastic team working with David now including a Speech & Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist and Educational Psychologist. However, what I can say is that after each visit to Sunflower, David showed a marked improvement in ability and awareness. We are confident that the Sunflower Programme improved David’s wellbeing, the result of which is that we have a happier, healthier child. Many thanks to you all.”

#WorldAutismAwarenessWeek #autism #SunflowerStories

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