Ask Dr. Mike: Expecting and Anxious About Autism

Published by Ashburn Patch

With last month’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) reporting that as many as 1 in 50 children in U.S. schools have Autism, the topic of Autism has created an increase in parental anxiety in my practice as a psychologist. Parents want to know what the CDC’s study and those numbers could mean for them and their own potential for having an Autistic child.   

The parents who are most concerned are those who are either planning for pregnancy or who are pregnant and expecting. One parent I met with recently expressed a profound sense of relief after learning that the sex of their fetus is female, reminding me that boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with Autism than girls. And, another parent indicated that, while they would love a fourth child, they do not want to “take any chances with autism being so rampant.”

pregnant woman's sitting in a position lotus

We have all watched the rates grow year after year, so I’m not surprised that parents are becoming more anxious about Autism. In 2000, the Autism prevalence rate in the United States was 1 in 500 and during the past 13 years those numbers have climbed to today’s CDC’s finding that 1 in 50 U.S. children having Autism. One explanation for the startling increase is that diagnosis is improving and older children are now being diagnosed at higher rates.

And the CDC’s research findings have mirrored what I have been seeing in my practice for several years now, where I am diagnosing older children – usually male – who are generally high functioning. I have spoken to my colleagues whose experiences are similar, and I imagine that child psychologists all over the country are having the same sort of experience in their practices – that there is subset of children with High Functioning Autism, Asperger’s Disorder or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), that aren’t being identified or diagnosed until later in childhood. 

Presently, there is no medical test or genetic test that can identify Autism during pregnancy. However, several factors are associated with higher rates of Autism, including: premature births, babies low in weight at birth, low Apgar scores, parental age (for both fathers and mothers), high maternal stress, maternal use of certain medications, maternal hormonal and genetic status and fetal hypoxia. Some research has even shown a correlation with Autism and cesarean section delivery and having a baby in less developed countries than the United States or Europe.

Unfortunately, most of the above-mentioned factors for autism are not in one’s control, and the rise in Autism rates is raising parental anxiety. Pediatricians, child psychiatrists, child psychologists, and other professionals who work with parents who are planning for pregnancy or expecting or parents of young children need to be prepared to discuss Autism. 

My advice to my clients at this point is for them to focus on what is in their control: good maternal health at birth and good prenatal care. I also discuss the importance of early intervention and its proven positive impact for children on the Autistic Spectrum. I also support and work with parents whose children are being diagnosed later inasmuch as older children and adolescents on the Spectrum can benefit from behavioral therapy and social skills interventions. 

I also tell parents that Autism is an epidemic on a global level, but it is not a curse on an individual one. Some of the happiest parents I know (both personally and professionally) have children on the Autistic Spectrum. And it has been my honor and pleasure to work with many children, adolescents and adults with Autism over the years.

Regardless of the diagnosis, at  The Behavior Exchange , we’re here to help. With our applied behavior analysis approach and neutral perspective on diagnosis, we work to help your child overcome the symptoms that led to that diagnosis.  To develop strategies for healthy interactions, help is a phone call away. Dial (888) 716-8084.

Categories

Categories

Archives

Archives

Covid 19 Update

Safe hives. Changing lives.

Learn how we’re keeping our hives safe, healthy, and buzzing with hope!

 

Click here for details

As Director of Finance, Robert manages and oversees financial planning and accounting, revenue cycle management, budget operations, and strategic initiatives for The Behavior Exchange. He brings more than 15 years of experience to his role and is accomplished at developing financial strategies that enhance organizational growth and maximize sustainability. Robert’s expertise includes the design of short- and long-term financial plans, investment management, De Novo strategy, operational optimization, financial problem solving, compliance, and much more. But he’s not all “Show me the honey!” Robert is as comfortable handling transaction and valuation service engagements of more than $100 million as he is driving a classic dune buggy to work.

Ashvina attended University of Bombay and graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce. She got her Montessori Diploma in 1985 and taught ever since. Ashvina came to TBE in January of 2016 as Admin Assistant. During the years she got the opportunity to learn and work in different departments such as HR, Finance, Office Manager and Executive Assistant. Last summer TBE bought billing in house and her current focus area is Revenue Cycle Management. She is detail oriented and enjoys working with people. Ashvina volunteers to deliver meals to seniors and local shelters on the weekend. She loves to spend time with her family and grandkids. Ashvina loves her job because she enjoys hearing different points of view, and she feels her contributions help fuel the direction of our company.

Working with children comes naturally to Angela. Her mom was a special education teacher for 30 years and often had Angela join her for Take Your Child to Work Day. And in high school, Angela spent every summer as the nanny for a little boy with an autism spectrum disorder. It was this experience where her passion for working with children with autism started to blossom.

From there, she went on to graduate from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences. She learned about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in a non-normative development class and from that moment knew that ABA would be her life’s work.

Angela moved to the DFW area shortly after and began working at The Behavior Exchange as a therapist. She worked on her Master’s in Behavior Analysis at the same time. A year after graduating, she earned certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Now, as a Clinical Director at The Behavior Exchange, she brings a life-long passion to her work, holding a special place in her heart for children with limited language skills and working closely with families to develop healthy sleep habits.

Danielle’s passion for working with families is deeply personal and from the heart. Her younger brother has an autism spectrum disorder, and through their journey as a family, she found her purpose in life as an advocate for individuals with special needs.

After graduating from the University of North Texas with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, Danielle began volunteering at The Behavior Exchange. She saw passionate therapists, meaningful change for clients, and families with hope for the future. After a summer of volunteering, she officially joined the team as Director of Admissions and found her home with The Behavior Exchange family.

With her extensive experience working as a client advocate with insurance providers, Danielle perseveres to help individuals of all ages and abilities receive the services they need to reach their full potential. She feels truly honored by each and every family who entrusts The Behavior Exchange to be part of their journey and is committed to the organization’s core values, mission, and goal of being a beacon of hope for the community.

Adam has always had a passion for helping individuals of all ages thrive and reach their full potential. He’s also an enthusiastic musician, songwriter, leader, and devoted family man, who has been helping children and team members grow with The Behavior Exchange since 2010.

Prior to joining the team at The Behavior Exchange, Adam was a mortgage loan consultant and grad student, pursuing his master’s degree in Education at the University of North Texas. He graduated in 2013 and also earned a graduate academic certificate in Autism Intervention. The following year, after years as a Behavior Therapist and seeing first-hand the power of ABA and the meaningful impact it can have on children and their families, Adam became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. He then commenced from the Stagen Leadership Academy after completing the Integral Leadership Program (ILP), a 52-week practice-based program designed to develop executives serious about transforming themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

Adam is truly grateful to be a part of a dynamic, inspiring and compassionate team, and he’s dedicated to bettering the lives of all children and their families through the delivery of the highest quality of ABA services, while supporting the amazing team at The Behavior Exchange.

As Supervisor of Technology, Marvin is charged with the creation of strategic IT initiatives that align with the mission, culture and long-term goals of The Behavior Exchange. He works closely with Directors, BCBAs (Board Certified Behavior Analysts), RBTs (Registered Behavior Therapists), and administrative staff to deliver innovative technologies and services that enhance teaching, learning, research, and client activities.

Marvin’s commitment to the success of The Behavior Exchange and its clients has resulted in improved data collection, analysis, mobile device management, and cloud-based file management infrastructure. Marvin graduated form the University of Texas in San Antonio with a BA in Psychology 2004. After graduating, Marvin wanted to give back to his community by dedicating his time commitment to provide a civil service. Marvin for which he commited 8 years to be a probation officer in Bexar County Tx. When the opportunity to join The Behavior Exchange arose Marvin jumped at the chance to continue to provide services for those in need and to work for an amazing organization and cause.

Soraya is from South Africa and moved to Texas in 1996. She graduated from The University of Texas and pursued a career, at that time, in Education. Soraya taught at a Montessori school for a few years and then took on a leadership role.

During her time in the education system, Soraya realized her passion was to assist children with special needs. So she joined The Behavior Exchange as a therapist, transitioned into a supervisory role in 2017, and a year and a half later, was promoted to Clinical Operations Manager.

She quickly learned the ins and outs of ABA operations and scheduling and successfully collaborates across departments to ensure The Behavior Exchange continues to provide quality services to clients and their families. She’s thankful to be part of such an amazing organization and excited to see what the future holds.

You could say Walter’s career started when he spent hours as a young child drawing superheroes and coloring maps. This passion, along with extraordinary swimming skills, landed him a full swimming scholarship at Texas Christian University, where he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Graphics.

During the next 13 years, his design and art direction skills, conceptual-thinking abilities, and marketing-savvy know-how were honed at a few prestigious advertising and marketing agencies around the Dallas area. In the mid 2000s, he helped his wife Tammy Cline-Soza (founder and CEO of The Behavior Exchange) create a unique and concise brand for her new business. From logos and websites to uniforms, brand voice and visuals, Walter has been the main creative force for all things The Behavior Exchange.

Aside from giving birth to The Behavior Exchange brand, Walter is helping Tammy raise two amazing, beautiful children, River and Sierra. In his spare time (the two minutes he’s got per week), you can find Walter illustrating iconic landmarks of Dallas and Texas or looking around for this next open-water swim. Once he gets back in shape.

After 20 years of building The Behavior Exchange, literally from the ground up,
Tammy couldn’t be more proud of the team, culture, and organization that it has become.

As a family helping families, The Behavior Exchanges looks for opportunities that will make the biggest impact and produce life-changing outcomes – for clients, families, and even for team members. Tammy believes that if a team, a family, a community takes care of each other, the possibilities are endless and the relationships built along the way can make life more enriching and challenges easier to navigate. You could say her goal has been to build a kind of utopia full of support, love, and expertise that brings the best services possible to the community and ensures more families have access to those services.

Tammy and her family have dedicated their lives to the mission of The Behavior Exchange and continue to grow, learn, cultivate, challenge, support, and create better models for success. To that end, she is committed to her own leadership development and actively participates in advanced training, mentoring, and deep self-exploration on how to live out her purpose to love and support her family and help others reach their full potential. She takes her position very seriously and tries to serve as a channel for what the universe wants to come to fruition.

She also loves travel, gardening, being creative, MUSIC!, tennis, yoga, meditation, journaling, reading, being in nature, adventures, and more than anything, spending time with her husband Walter and their two beautiful children, River and Sierra.