Real Housewives of New Jersey star and mother warrior, Jacqueline Laurtia, participates in a live #ChatAutism Q&A session on Facebook.
Q: Hi Jacqueline Laurita, what protocols have you implemented that you have seen improvements in your son?
Jacqueline Laurita: GF/CF/SF diet, Supplements, ABA,Speech&language, music therapy, gymnastics, yoga, Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy, OT, PT , PARENT TRAINING
Q: Hello Jacqueline! What have you found to be the most helpful thing for Nicholas to help him overcome any obstacles relating to his autism? Its a broad question but it can be anything that you found impactful for him. Thank you!!
Jacqueline Laurita: Just to stay positive, Say positive loving things to him, keep believing in him, and pushing him to defy expectations. Patience on both our parts
Q: My 2 1/2 yr old son has terrible tantrums and does not handle transition well at all. His tantrums aren’t always easily redirected. I’ve tried rewarding him when he is good and doesn’t tantrum, but that doesn’t always work. What is your advice in how to handle tantrums & transitions? Especially out in public when others look at you like they’ve never seen this before!! I have been struggling with this difficult time that leaves me most nights feeling defeated at the end of the day. Please help. Also if there are any support groups you recommend. I sometimes am left feeling like I am the only one having these problems. It would be great to talk to others who really understand what I am going through.
Jacqueline Laurita: We stopped a lot of the tantrums by making schedule boards with pictures of people, places, things in his life (PECS size) to show him what we will be doing and who he will see throughout the day. WE put it on a board with velcro to show him the order of the day. We also use timers to let him know that once the timer goes off, he must transition to another activity. (NEVER GIVE EXTRA TIME because they can be very manipulative) Once they figure this out, it gets easier on them and transitions are easier. We also count.
Q: I have an 8 1/2 year old with autism. Noise is a huge issue. He screams abd covers his ears. What should i do?
Jacqueline Laurita: May be a sensory issue. Take him out of the noisy area he is in. You may want to try some Listening therapy to help with that. Also I have seen people use noise canceling headphones. That may help.
Q: Any advice how to go CF with a 2 yr old? She won’t take rice milk and I haven’t introduced nuts yet. I really want her off dairy but don’t know what I can give her to ensure she is getting everything she needs for bone/ brain development…thank you!
Jacqueline Laurita: You can get the nutrients she needs from supplements, calcium and vitamin D and in other foods. My son like coconut milk. I put vanilla coconut milk in his smoothies. Nicholas doesn’t use dairy at all. I would research more about dairy and how it impacts certain kids on the spectrum. Have you done any food and allergy testing?
Q: Jacqueline, For the newly diagnosed: There are so many therapies and supplement options out there for autism. How does a newly diagnosed parent know where to start first? Thanks.
Jacqueline Laurita: I know what you mean. I obsessively researched in the beginning and felt overwhelmed. Get to know your child and pay attention to what their strengths and weaknesses are. Go from there. Nick needed ABA for compliance, speech & language because he couldn’t talk, music therapy because he responded well to music. I cleaned up his diet first because I wanted him to be the healthiest he could be from the inside out so that he could respond best to his therapies. Then I tried other things like gymnastics for coordination and strength.
Q: How do you maintain a healthy balance with your children and spouse while helping your son overcome autism?
Jacqueline Laurita: You just have to carve out that time. Everyone involved in your child’s life needs to have their roles and responsibilities set ahead of time. Chris and I have date nights and couples night out. CJ gets one on one time with his DAD & cousins on a guys night out. I spend time with CJ while Nicholas is in his therapies and we always do things together as a family as well. You have to schedule the time.
Q: How are you finding time for yourself? How are you balancing treatments, therapies and day to day life?
Jacqueline Laurita: Whenever I feel like I’m getting overwhelmed, I take a break. If you don’t care care of yourself, you can’t give your best to others. I also tend to stay up late and get up early. Take it day by day and find the joy in the little things. I was thrilled to enjoy a bath by candlelight the other day while listening to Louise Hay affirmations. :0)
Q: How is Nicholas siblings relationship with him? Do you have them go to a counselor to talk about what autism is?
Jacqueline Laurita: We have always talked openly about it as a family and everyone has their roles and responsibilities in Nick’s recovery. CJ is very involved as a playmate. He is very loving and kind to Nicholas. He also serves as food police to make sure Nick doesn’t get ahold of anything that’s not on his special diet.Ashlee adores him.