The following weeks passed by in a haze. Armed with flashcards, reinforcers and a cup of strong coffee every morning, we would get the day started. I had to learn to break my speech back down to single words again and go right back to basics. I used Munchkins interest in books to my advantage but she was no longer allowed to browse them by herself, she had to allow me to participate. Quite quickly, I realised she couldn't (or wouldn't) point. I worked for months and months using hand over hand to teach her how to do this. To this day, she will still point with her thumb instead of forefinger if she's tired. She loved to stack blocks so this was another strong reinforcer and had a love of stones so gathered a small bucketful to use too.
I decided to take her off all gluten and dairy as had heard a lot of parents had good results with this and I was astonished how quickly she responded to the diet. It was as if the fog was lifting and she was suddenly interested in her surroundings. Her eye contact improved dramatically and she started sleeping at night! She had been a three times a night waker up to this point. I wasn't surprised when her blood tests showed strong intollerance to dairy, soya, wheat and eggs, but was astounded that she was also intollerant to pears, apples, beans and peas! These were things I would never have thought of removing from her diet. I'm not Jenny McCarthy and I'm not saying that all children on the spectrum will improve using dietary restrictions but do believe that if your child has food intollerances and you have blood tests to confirm this, then yes, there can be significant improvements in behaviour, attention, eye contact etc... It must be stated it is not a cure but worth investigating. If your child has no IGg antibodies, it would probably be pointless restricting their diet as you most likely won't get the gains I've mentioned (In my opinion, I don't have a medical degree!)
Munchkin had a lot of sensory problems at this time too and I spent a lot of time on desensitising her while using her strongest reinforcer (Elmo). If she wanted to watch the furry little monster sing and dance on screen, she had to let me rub her feet or touch her hands. She had particularly adversive reactions to having her hands touched and if she wanted to push you away, she would always use the back of her wrist and never her fingers. She used to sleep in my bed and I would have to lay my arm across her chest (not my hand, only my forearm) and she took comfort from the pressure. I implemented a home made OT program which involved a lot of deep pressure and squashing using cushions. She needed this rough and tumble every hour or so or would become distracted and whingy. She loved to be wrapped tight in a duvet and swung or squashed. You had to squash for only a second though and release quickly and it took time to figure out what her limits were as she hated being restricted and still does.
I also bombarded her with social interaction.... but thats another blog post!