Autism services offered in
Palatine and Chicago, IL and Kensington, MD


 Express Yourself Pediatric Therapy with locations in Palatine and Chicago,Illinois and Kensington, Maryland is proud to be an autistic ally!  Our team is excited to support all autistic individuals. We embrace autism, we advocate for all autistic individuals. 

What is autism?

Autism isn’t a bad thing. Autism is a developmental disability — and disability is a natural part of human diversity. Autistic children should get the support they need to grow up into happy, self-determined autistic adults (ASAN).

The Express Yourself Pediatric Therapy team supports children by focusing on the whole person rather than simply a diagnosis. Our goal is to help autistic individuals thrive, not to change them!

Here are some things autistic people have in common:

Every autistic person experiences autism differently, but there are things that we all have in common (Taken from A Guide For Parents with Autistic Kids) 

1. Autistic people think differently. We may have very strong interests in very specific things. Your child might be able to talk for hours about dinosaurs, or spend a lot of time learning to draw maps. They might love to stare at the washing machine, or line things up. We might be great problem-solvers, or pay close attention to detail.

It might take us longer to think about things. For example, it may take your child a longer time to answer a question. We might have trouble organizing our thoughts. That can make it harder to figure out how to start and finish a task, or make decisions.

Routines are important for many autistic people. It can be hard for us to deal with surprises or unexpected changes.

Sticking to a schedule can be helpful. Your child might want to eat the same food every day, or always watch tv at the same time.

When we get overwhelmed, we might not be able to process our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. That can cause us to have meltdowns, which can make us lose control of our body. For your child, this might look like a tantrum, but they are not the same thing, and should not be treated the same way. We will talk about that more later.

2. We process our senses differently. Your child might be extra sensitive to things like bright lights or loud sounds. We might have trouble understanding what we hear or what our senses tell us. We might not notice if we are in pain or hungry.

Because our senses are so sensitive, the world can be overwhelming to autistic people. To help process sensory information, we might do the same movement over and over again. This is called “stimming”. For example, your child might rock back and forth, flap their hands, or hum. This can help us feel calm, help us pay attention, or just feel good. Stimming is an important part of being autistic. You should make sure your child is allowed to stim.

3. We move differently. A lot of autistic people feel like our bodies don’t always listen to our brains. Your child might have trouble with fine motor skills or coordination. They might walk in a way that looks a little bit different from other people. They might seem “clumsy”, or have bad handwriting. It can also be hard for us to start or stop moving. For example, your child might have trouble getting up to come for dinner. It might take them longer to stand up, even if they want to.

Because autism affects movement, it can affect speech. When we speak, we move our lips, tongue, throat, and lots of other things at the same time. So, autistic people might not be able to control how loud our voices are. We might speak in a monotone, or in a sing-song voice. Or, we might not be able to speak at all. It’s important to know that even if an autistic person can’t speak, we can usually understand what other people say.

4. We communicate differently. We process language differently. We might take a while to understand and respond to things people say to us. We might also understand things differently. For example, your child might not know if someone is joking, even if your child knows how to tell jokes. Or, they might take things literally.

We also use words differently. We might have a different sense of humor. We might talk using echolalia (repeating things we have heard before). If you notice your child repeating a line they heard on TV, that is echolalia. It is a way we try to communicate, even if other people might not understand what we mean. Over time, you can learn what your child means when they use echolalia.

Autistic kids often start talking later than other kids. We might also learn to talk more slowly. If your autistic child is not speaking yet, they might just be getting ready. In the meantime, there are ways to communicate without speaking. Your child is already trying to communicate with you, whether or not they can speak.

Some autistic people use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) to communicate. For example, we may communicate by typing on a computer, or pointing to pictures on an iPad. Some people may also communicate with behavior or the way we act. For example, your child might run away if you try and take them somewhere they don’t want to go. Not every autistic person can talk, but we all have important things to say.

If your child doesn’t talk, they can use AAC. We will talk more later about using AAC to communicate.

5. We socialize differently. Some of us might not understand or follow social rules that non-autistic people made up. We might be more blunt or to-the-point than other people. Your child might be very honest. But other people might think they are being rude, even if they don’t mean to be.

Eye contact might make us uncomfortable. Your child might not look at you when you talk to them. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t listening. We also might have a hard time controlling our body language or facial expressions. That can confuse non-autistic people and make it harder to socialize.

Some of us might not be able to guess how people feel. Your child might not be able to tell if you’re feeling happy or sad. Your child still cares how you feel! But they may not be able to tell from your face or your voice. They may need you to tell them how you are feeling instead.

Autistic people might have a hard time making friends. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want friends. Autistic kids may need help communicating with their peers. And their peers may need help communicating with them! The way autistic people socialize isn’t bad. It’s just different. We can have close friendships and be great friends, while still being ourselves.

Every autistic person experiences autism differently, but there are things that we all have in common. It’s okay if your child doesn’t experience everything on this list. There are lots of different ways to be autistic. That is okay!

What may increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder?

We don’t know exactly what causes autism, but we know that it is genetic. You might not have another family member with an autism diagnosis from a doctor. But your child probably is not the only autistic person in your family. Many autistic people have lots of autistic family members. Even if you don’t have any other autistic relatives, genes can change or be passed down in different ways. Genetics are complicated!

There is no cure for autism. Autism is not a disease. Autism is how our brains work. Autism doesn’t make you sick, and you can’t die from autism.

Vaccines do not cause autism. In 1997, a man named Andrew Wakefield lied and said that vaccines caused autism. Lots of scientists proved him wrong. Vaccines do not cause autism.

There is no autism “epidemic.” People say that there are more autistic people now than there used to be. This is not true! In the year 2000, doctors said that about 1 in 150 people were autistic. Right now, they think 1 in 54 people are autistic. This isn’t because more autistic people are being born. It’s because doctors are getting better at diagnosing autistic people. Autistic people have always existed, but are getting diagnosed more now than ever before.

You did not cause your child’s autism. Your child was born autistic. Nothing you did as a parent “made” your child autistic. 

How is autism treated with therapy?

The Express Yourself Pediatric Therapy does not treat autism, we treat symptoms of autism such as challenges with speech and language development. Using a comprehensive evaluation, our team determines which goals are best for your child and develops an effective treatment plan to attain those goals.

The Express Yourself Pediatric Therapy specialists understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for autism. They offer:

  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Social skills groups
  • DIRFloortime® services
  • Feeding therapy
  • Counseling 
  • Educational therapy

The practice provides individualized, family, and group therapies. The team encourages parents/caregivers to take an active role in therapy sessions and incorporate things they learn with their children at home.

Schedule an evaluation at Express Yourself Pediatric Therapy by phone or request one online today to determine which autism treatment plan is right for your child.