What Are Autistic Traits
I like to start by thinking what Autistic traits really are. And to do that, first we need to talk a little bit about what autism really is.
Autism is a diagnosis that you can go get.
You can go to the doctor, you can fill out forms, you can see therapists and neurodevelopmental pediatricians and neuroscience and a million different people
And you can get an official diagnosis when you see the right person and they say, yes you are autistic.
But being autistic is also an identity.
If you are around autistics, it wont take long for you to kind of start to see that. Autism is an identity and its a culture of itself.
Because of that, asking what is autism? is kind of like asking what is French?
There are some overlaps between being French and being Italian. They might even do some of the same things.
But it doesnt mean its not a French thing if Italians also do it, and it also doesnt mean that it is a French thing, just because French people do it.
I know this analogy is a little strange, but the basic point is, defining with clarity, this is autism and this is not is really just an endless battle.
Because the fact is, what is autism and what is not is different for me and different for my son and different from my Autistic best friend. We all experience our identity and our culture, a little bit differently.
Handling A Lack Of Responsiveness
Five Ways To Damage Autistic Children Without Even Knowing
Yep, uncomfortable title. But sadly, these are subjects that I feel we have a responsibility to talk about.
Today, Im going to share some habits that Ive seen in a wide variety of contexts: some of them in my career in education , some of them from people dealing with me as an autistic man, some of them Ive seen in the form of internet comments, and so on. Although often done unknowingly- hence the article title- these habits have the potential to do harm.
This is a tricky subject, I know, but these are five mistakes that need discussing. Youd be surprised how easy it is to make them.
Rather importantly, this is not specifically a guide for parents. It is a guide for anyone who has any contact with a young and/or vulnerable autistic person, whether they are parents, teachers, teaching assistants, family friends, and so on.
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Everyday And Social Skills For Unfamiliar And Difficult Situations
Sometimes autistic children and teenagers might seem like theyre behaving inappropriately. But actually they dont have the skills to handle unfamiliar or difficult situations.
For example, your child doesnt say hello to someone. Your child isnt being rude on purpose they might not know they should say hello. Your child might start hitting something because a particular noise is upsetting them. Or your child might smear poo on the wall because they like the warmth and texture of it, not because they want to upset you or do the wrong thing.
Breaking tasks into steps can help autistic children and teenagers learn everyday skills like how to get dressed or how to use deodorant.
Behaviors That Reveal A Child May Have Autism
Autism is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by social withdrawal, by repetitive behaviors and by some kind of focal attention in its classic form. Basically, its an inability to relate to others. Harvey V. Fineberg
Autism spectrum disorder is not as mysterious as it used to be ten or twenty years ago. Now, we have a better understand of the spectrum, and with that understanding comes empathy and support. Children on the autism spectrum see and process the world differently than children who dont.
They may also have a harder time socializing and understanding social cues than other children. Without knowing what autism is, or without knowing how to stop the signs, these children can often end up with an unfair expectation put on them by both their parents, teachers and their classmates.
Like the name suggests, autism spectrum disorder exists on a spectrum of different types of behaviors, and things that a child can or may have a harder time doing that most, including auditory processing, speaking verbally and communicating. How can you know when your child might have autism?
There are some classic signs, and once you get a diagnosis you can help your child better interact with the world in a way thats safe and comfortable for them.
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Assume That Most Of Their Identity Is Down To Autism Rather Than Personality Choices
The phrase yeah, thats his autism is one I have heard far too many times. Even in professional circles.
Yes, our autism influences us. Yes, it often gives us particular habits or interests unique to us. But to say its just his/her autism is implying that we dont get any say in the matter.
I remember when I was running a chess tournament in a special school . One crucial match was scheduled for a day when the school was doing a special event. Throughout the day there was only one opportunity for this game to be played and ten minutes before the start, one of the students got a migraine and had to go home.
This stressed me out because I was relying on that matchs result so I could drive straight to the trophy centre after work and have the prizes engraved . And Im fairly transparent, so people could tell I was bothered by something.
When I told one of my colleagues I was feeling stressed, she immediately asked me oh dear- is it because todays been a break from routine?
No, it wasnt.
Some other examples:
That said, there is a balance. Like I said, autism does have an impact on us. I used to watch Independence Day on video over and over and over and over again when I was twelve, and you could validly say that this habit was influenced by my Aspergers. But the main reason it happened was because Independence Day was an awesome movie!
Is It Autism Or Just Bad Behavior
Discipline is helping your child learn how to behave as well as how not to behave. It works best when you have a warm and loving relationship with your child. Discipline and discipline strategies are positive. Theyre built on talking and listening. They guide all children towards:
- Knowing what behavior is appropriate whether its at home, a friends house, child care, preschool or school.
- Managing their own behavior and developing important skills like the ability to get along well with others, now and as they get older.
- Learning to understand, manage and express their feelings.
Autism vs tantrums
Its important to determine if the behavior you are witnessing is a result of the autism, or if your child is in fact misbehaving. As you can imagine, this isnt always an easy thing to do, but there are 2 tools you can use to make an accurate assessment.
ABC Behavior Chart
An ABC Chart is a direct observation tool used to collect information about a childs behavior.
- Antecedent:A refers to the antecedent or the event or activity that immediately precedes a problem behavior.
- Behavior: B refers to observed behavior or the childs response.
- Consequence: C refers to the consequence or the event that immediately follows a response.
The Iceberg Model
5 Discipline strategies for children with autism spectrum disorder Like all children, children with autism spectrum disorder benefit from:
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My Child May Be Nonverbal But She Has A Lot To Say
We live in a very verbal society that is ill-equipped for those in our population who are nonverbal. Its estimated that about one-third of those on the Autism Spectrum are unable to speak. Still, it would be a mistake to assume these people do not have ideas, opinions, and other things to say. Some autistic children learn sign language to communicate, while others type or use other tools.
Do Symptoms Of Autism Change Over Time
For many children, symptoms improve with age and behavioral treatment. During adolescence, some children with ASD may become depressed or experience behavioral problems, and their treatment may need some modification as they transition to adulthood. People with ASD usually continue to need services and supports as they get older, but depending on severity of the disorder, people with ASD may be able to work successfully and live independently or within a supportive environment.
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Figuring Out Your Childs Needs
Theres been a lot of research about how people with autism lack a so-called theory of mindthey dont understand that you are a different person with different needs than theirs. That may be true, but teachers, parents, and specialists are often just as lacking their understanding of what might be called the childs theory of sensation and perception.
You dont get why she experiences a flickering light bulb as a bolt of lightning, a doorbell ringing as the sound of a thousand church bells. You dont appreciate why a child might need to tap his foot and run around the classroom to keep from falling out of his chair. And you dont grasp how yogurt, because of its smoothness, may be one of the only foods that doesnt make your daughter feel like she has a mouthful of pebbles.
Your child may have as hard a time figuring out your needs as you have figuring out hers. She may not notice that today is a bad one for you, and so try to be less needy. He may talk endlessly because he cant read your cues of boredom.
How Is Autism Treated
There is no cure for ASD. Therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms and can substantially improve those symptoms. The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that meet the specific needs of the individual. Most health care professionals agree that the earlier the intervention, the better.
Educational/behavioral interventions: Early behavioral/educational interventions have been very successful in many children with ASD. In these interventions therapists use highly structured and intensive skill-oriented training sessions to help children develop social and language skills, such as applied behavioral analysis, which encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative ones. In addition, family counseling for the parents and siblings of children with ASD often helps families cope with the particular challenges of living with a child with ASD.
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Developing Plans For Discipline
Learning how to discipline a child with autism takes discipline. One of the best things you can do is to develop a plan for dealing with negative behaviors, and follow through consistently. In order to be consistent, it is helpful to follow your parenting style.
Parenting an autistic child is challenging, and dealing with difficult behaviors can be exhausting. If you work with your child consistently, behavior will improve.
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We Need To Hear We Are Doing A Good Job
This is, of course, true of every parent, but it is especially true of parents of children on the Autism Spectrum. Raising a child with autism is a lifelong learning curve. As more and more is learned about the biology of autism, parents must keep up with new therapies and decide if they would be right for their child. For instance, there are new supplements, dietary concerns, and feelings about a new friend or teacher. The list of things to keep parents up at night is a long one.
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How Do I Discipline A Child With Autism And Adhd
Children with autism respond to clear, short directives in the moment. Help set them up for success by praising desired behaviors, establishing regular routines, and avoiding tantrum-triggering environments. These techniques, which avoid harsh discipline, work well with children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder , tooand all kids, generally.
Trust The Top Expert On Your Child: You
Not teachers. Not friends or relatives. Not the doctor. Not even other parents who have a child with ADHD. You live with your child, day after day. You know his unique potential his energy, passions, curiosity and creativity, qualities that can get buried under distractibility, impulsiveness, and restlessness.
The best strategies for making sure your child gets what she needs to thrive will come from your own instincts, intuition, and intelligence. There are as many approaches to behavioral management as there are children, and you are the one to decide on the best approach for your child.
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Why Does The Title Of Aba Include The Word Behavior
Everything we do is behavior. A common saying in ABA is, If a dead man can do it, it is not a behavior. Our learning, sitting, walking, talking, etc. are all behaviors. ABA specializes in all of these, not just bad behavior.
I believe that the misconception between ABA and bad behavior can be explained by exploring my tumultuous relationship with my computer. Learning for everyone is uncomfortable. Due to that, negative behavior often occurs when we are learning. I yell when I cannot make my computer do what I need it to do. My yelling behavior is simply a response to my ineffective computer skills. The more I learn about my computer, the less I yell.
Difficulty Responding To Kindness
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg because autistic children may also have a tough time managing their responses to adult or peer “kindness.” Perhaps these examples sound familiar:
- Grandma comes to visit. She sees her autistic grandchild, opens her arms, and asks for a big hug. The grandchild runs in the opposite direction at top speed. Grandma follows him and gives him that hug, only to be rewarded with a kick in the shins.
- Grandpa gives his autistic grandchild a gift, and his grandchild says, at an age when he or she should know better, “I don’t like this! I wanted a ___!”
- A kind peer from school agrees to a play date and finds himself ignored for several hours while the autistic host plays alone. Even worse, the guest may spend two hours being told, “Don’t touch that!”
All of these behaviors can be embarrassing, and all can lead to hurt or even angry feelings. Yet all are typical of autism, and, in most cases, result from sensory, communication, or behavioral challenges that are part of autism.
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How Parents Should Discipline Their Autistic Child
Autistic kids require a lot of compassionate caregiving for things that would typically be deemed discipline issues. Not punishing someone for a meltdown, which is a neurological event, doesnt mean that autistic children dont need structure and discipline.
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The Difference Between A Reason And An Excuse
I saw my first face-to-face example of autism being used as an excuse when I worked in a special school. A 17-year-old student was finding something difficult in a maths lesson and knew it would take some effort to solve. When we encouraged her to knuckle down and give it her best, she casually said nah, I cant, I have autism.
Now, if she had genuinely been struggling, that would have been different. If she were feeling anxious, that would absolutely have been different. But she said it in such a calm, dismissive tone that she was obviously trying to play a get out of work free card.
To make it worse, she said it in a roomful of students who genuinely did struggle with maths because of their autism.
And those other students are the reason why its so important that autism isnt casually waved around as an excuse. It trivialises the problem, and its unfair to those who can legitimately say that their autism makes them struggle. Those for whom autism is a reason, not an excuse.
The other part, of course, is the damage it does to the person saying it.
I knew a teenager from my youth club who was diagnosed with dyslexia, but it did not seem to affect his reading ability in any noticeable way. However, from the moment he got the diagnosis, whenever we asked him to do a Bible reading he would grin and say no, its ok, Im dyslexic.
It was immediately clear that his attitude was a far bigger obstacle than his dyslexia had ever been.
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