Long way but not there yet. I cannot remember the last time I talked to someone, familiar or new, who had not heard the word autism, spectrum, or known someone on it or closely related to that someone. We are not there yet, though, when it comes to how to help. Call it treatment, educational approach, therapy, coaching. It could be because it is that much harder with a spectrum condition. Individuals are very different, as are their strengths and weaknesses, therefore one can expect that their choices wold have to also differ. Also, mostly families of young children or young adults are making choices for them, based on their own beliefs and experiences, and the information they have access to. What can we do and how to choose when the information is all over the place? We recommend choosing what has been studied scientifically; been through rigorous testing, just like with any medical treatments and educational approaches, it is safest to use what has demonstrated the desired results. Find organizations that do not profit from giving information and making general recommendations and call on those who speak outside of their scope of knowledge and practice. Beware. Unfortunately, it is still a wild world out there.
A very brief post recommending teaching specific versus generalized mands can be found here: http://goo.gl/UIiI4H along with references to a few studied that support this opinion. We need all the research we can have on teaching mands due to the extreme importance to people with autism and language impairments.
And we need practitioners to truly understand what constitutes a mand and be able to assess motivation and current controlling variables when helping an individual to learn to mand. Mand training is too often poorly done and it is both because to be done well, it takes a practitioner who is very fluent in verbal operants and because it is not always easy to assess motivation and control all the contingencies necessary to establish the mand repertoire, especially with individuals with very limited strong motivation for items controlled by others, and with long histories of absent, weak, or aberrant behavior functioning as mands.
This article by Mark Sundberg discusses 30 points about motivation from Skinner’s book, Verbal Behavior: http://goo.gl/oDg1yK.
We practice and we practice and we practice. But it is not an easy thing to do when the time comes and all the excitement culminates. The costume (if we got there), the group of kids, the different doors and doorbells, the sequence, and all the candy to come, make it extra challenging to perform on show time.
These cards are a cute way to let the neighbors know we understand that maybe our kiddo is not holding the basket or bag open, or bolted into the house without an invite, or dropped the bag and is covering his/her ears, or threw the candy back right at them, or stepped on the decorations, or even on another child they were trying to beat to the door.
Hopefully you have friendly, loving neighbors who are familiar with you and your child, from happy or challenging circumstances you have shared, and they will be ready. Maybe you have even prepared everyone during practice. But you may have new neighbors or be trick or treating in someone else’s neighborhood and could use this little postcard to leave a special thank you and make them aware that kids with autism trick or treat *sometimes* a little differently.
It is a slippery slope if the child is not assessed (and diagnosed) properly; behaviors have different functions and even in children with ADHD fidgeting can have other functions rather than, or in addition to, increasing alertness. So let’s pay attention to the research and use the results, while ensuring that we do not take these as rules and we continue to pay attention to EACH child and their environment. We need to investigate the contingencies exhaustively before we recommend any strategy to help children perform better and be happier. Call the behavior analyst and hopefully they are reading the research, behavior analytic and this one too, and are making decisions based on their current assessment of the child.
Read the Wall Street Journal’s article here: http://goo.gl/bfOYYU
So much has been said and so much has been done. Autism Speaks has to be mentioned and given credit as the study case it is on outstanding, fierce and effective action for autism awareness, lobbying, that has changed the world scenario. More people know the label, more people know basic facts, including that people with autism can be very different form one another, more people know what to expect and what to do when presented with autism in their lives. Autism insurance reform has brought evidence-based treatment to the insured and recent Medicaid expansion should help many more access effective treatment. It is our wish that on April 2, during the whole month of April, and every day of the year, Autism Awareness campaigns be responsible and target accurate information based on what the best science has to offer. We should be thankful that science has embraced autism and is not letting go. Many scientific domains are tackling better understanding of what autism is, why it happens, how people affected can be helped to live fully, how it may be prevented from affecting lives so pervasively as to impact development to the extent of preventing happy, independent living and community participation, education and access to the workplace.
This month for each DTT Manual sold we will donate $5.00 to the Association for Science in Autism Treatment to support their work of disseminating accurate information about autism spectrum disorder. And we’ll gift this Strong Mommy (we are ordering a strong daddy too!) tote bag with a very true message.
A cute and funny reminder that no matter how hard, as long as we are doing everything we can, we have to try to stay positive. It is not completely in our control and what others do matters. Also little luck is needed. But focus on what you can control and take deep breaths. Frequently.
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