I found this interesting article/answer by Donna Williams, posted on the "Autism Today" website. As you may have gathered by now, I consider Donna to be one of the 'gurus' of the world of real knowledge and understanding of the autism spectrum. In the article/answer by Donna, she is responding to a question posed to her by a lady wishing to understand more about ABA therapy. Donna's answer corresponds with my own sentiments about ABA therapy. For parents and other interested persons, 'articles' like these are important to read when seeking valuable and realistic information about the world of autism, generally speaking. To find Donna's answers to questions (and the ABA therapy one I mentioned above) go to "Autism Today" and click on "ask the experts" column on the left. There you will find Donna Williams, fifth from the bottom of the experts list.
Do you understand the behaviour of your autistic child, friend or sibling?
Discovering the reasons behind the behavioural responses/reactions is paramount when helping our autistic sons, daughters, siblings, family member or friend to experience a more rewarding and happy life with others and especially for themselves.
Some therapies focus on behaviours primarily and aim to change/alter/challenge the way an autistic person is responding to a e.g. stimulus. In gaining an understanding of the reasons or influences behind the response/behaviour in a holistic fashion, as is unique to the individual, the alteration or 'modification' can perhaps also focus on our understanding of the variety of responses inherent (as they can be diverse) in human nature. When we understand such, we can assist with learning alternative or other ways the autistic person can 'deal' with stimulus (if necessary for a healthy, happy and safe life experience).
If we discover underlying influences, such as a previously undetected illness/health issue, and treat such appropriately, we may well find that some difficult behavioural responses of an autistic person to a situation may dissipate/decline or even reduce dramatically.
When we attain such an understanding, we can see that not 'one way' is the 'only way' to understand someone or that one focused style of intervention is the best of its 'breed' when assisting our autistic children, friends etc..
As I mentioned above, a holistic approach, I feel, is the best consideration when we seek assistance/interventions for our children.
Each child can be different in many ways to the next. What works for one may not work or be appropriate for another.
I also believe that our children should not "be vessels of experimentation" (Quote from my book - "An Autism Connection - sharing the journey with other parents").
What can affect the behaviour of a child (whether on the spectrum or not)? Could you be asking these questions or could your autistic child, friend and sibling be asking themselves some of these questions?
- learning styles,
- communication abilities,
- health upsets (diagnosed or undiagnosed),
- physical abilities (to relay infromation),
- self esteem levels (including confidence in relaying information),
- feelings of self worth (inc. perception of self),
- possible exposure anxiety,
- the known or anticipated response of others,
- levels of trust in exposing one's fears to another,
- fear of ridicule,
- feelings of inferiority (if the behaviours or responses of others imply their 'superiority'),
- sensory overload and other personal aversions,
- interrupted routine or sudden change,
- new unscertainties or fears have arisen,
- family issues,
- loss of a relationship (e.g. friend moved, or someone passing away etc..),
- are we having a good day or a bad day today?
- are we overtired?,
- are we hungry, thirsty etc.?,
- are we feeling ill?
- "I'm feeling happy. What's your problem?"
- am I able to relate to my helpers/teachers?
- do they (teachers/helpers etc.) relate to me?
- is my environment (e.g. school) the most appropriate for me?
- am I reacting to a medication?
- is a particular medication appropriate or necessary?
- are the 'interventions' being applied appropriate?
- is the help (educational and otherwise) designed to suit my needs or is it generically based?
- am I really understood?
- do I have communication devices/ assistance methods appropriate for my needs?
- am I worried about something?
- am I worrying about you (the parent, friend etc..)?
- "I need my own space and you don't get it."
- "I don't want to be social, but you insist..."
- "I don't want to be held now..." (knowledge of sensory preferences and aversions)
- "I don't want to look into your eyes..." (sensory overload)
Note, the "quotes" are things I have heard some autistic persons (mainly children) say to other people in moments when the 'others' have not understood their behavioural responses (exhuberantly in an exited/happy or angry way)