Working with Big Bad Autism

Reading blog article after blog article on how autistic people who were treated with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and I myself, being older, and not subjected to it, turning out passing for neurotypical to most people, I have come to a conclusion: Applied Behavior Analysis and its cruel carrot-holding practices of reward and punishment for neurotypical behavior does not work. So many people have “amputated” themselves from their families for using ABA therapy. I’m sure many people will object to the above statements, but it will mostly be concern trolling…i.e. harrassing a person with an undesirable trait “for their own good.” (You may say it’s for their own good, but it’s mostly for your own fear and hate.) Instead of fighting and trying to minimize autism, why not work with the autism to achieve the results of functioning in this world? It will lead to a much better outcome.

For starters, fighting autism often leaves a person traumatized, disillusioned and hateful toward society. Much of it is usually due to fight stimming, which is a coping mechanism, without replacing the stim with another stress reliever. For example, a child who is hitting their head against the wall might achieve the same result if their destructive stim were replaced with a neutral or helpful stim, such as shaking the head, flapping of the hands or maybe physical activity, if possible. You do not have to be afraid of the behavior if it is not harmful. Later in life, when I stimmed among my sisters, they would yell at me to stop it-but it only led to more stimming, or stimming where I was safe from their yelling. (For those who do not know, my sisters did not have my best interests at heart. It has taken me a long time, but I now forgive them.) I finally experienced relief from my sisters when they decided to amputate themselves out of my life, and the life of my mother. I could finally be myself again.

Speaking of my treatment at the hands of others, I am an example of working with autism’s parameters making things better. For example, we recently talked about stimming in my childhood. She put it best: “If (I) needed to stim, (I) did it.” My particular stim was to run up and down the hall or stairs at my childhood home. Apparently, I also paced and hummed, according to my sisters. Anyway, what happened was that I had these strange bursts of energy which needed to come out, because I could not recognize my emotions at the time. I stim much less now because I work out 2-3 times a week, and can recognize my feelings. I could often find a solution to other problems, too. Eye contact problem? Simply see what color the person’s eyes were. (I was curious.) Struggling to find the right word? Describe what you’re trying to say until someone gets it. Something way too loud for you but not for others? Just cover the ears or get earplugs. There is always a solution, when you think outside the box. Why am I bringing myself up as an example of working with autism’s parameters? Because people can barely understand that I have autism, because I do not have typical “autism behaviors” such as stims and meltdowns (unless I’m due to start my period, but usually only my mom is keeping me company).

There are more examples of people whose parameters were worked with who turned out better than those who were fought against. I will bring up the “face” of autism, Temple Grandin, as an example. One of her special interests was animals. Her college major? Animal Husbandry. Her career? Designer of humane meat production equipment, such as comforting feed, storage and slaughter systems. I have also learned from Temple Grandin lessons on how to understand and better treat my Pomeranian (dog).

I learned from her that minor things can worry an animal, such as a wadded up paper napkin lying on the sidewalk, and go to simply let my dog sniff it and move on. It only takes a second. Also, when an autistic person “comes out” to the world, they often have a supportive, accepting person in their background. For Daryl Hannah, another example, it was her mother. For Dr. Temple Grandin, it was also her mother. (If you think I am only choosing people with mothers, it is because those are the ones I know of. Many successful people can have fathers or others as their support.) I myself have one of those supportive mothers who taught me how to be social. We are generally grateful when they work with u, not against us. Can you see the benefits of working with autism and not fighting it yet? I hope so.

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