Monday, July 11, 2011

Autism, Other People, and Discipline


How do you treat people with autism? In my experience the way people act can vary widely. Some people stare or act like I’m invisible. Others try to be nice. These fall into two groups. First are the ones who act like I am not understanding  anything, who look at me like I’m a species of lower-cognition human. They try to help by talking slowly and giving me high-fives. They are well intended. I am not angry at not knowing and being kind. I do get angry if they know I understand and still act this way.

The other folks act pretty normally around me and ignore my weird stims when they come. I am so relaxed around these people. I do take advantage of the opportunities I get with people who are too understanding of me, however. If someone is not intuitive and I feel they are clueless, I can be a real pain, to put it mildly. I mean, all I need is a weak, sympathetic helper and I’m a strangely obnoxious guy. It gets awful because I don’t like being so stimmy and all, but I take advantage of the opportunity time after time. I laugh now thinking of the hapless substitute aide two years ago, who talked to me like I was retarded, watched me stim without helping me get control over myself, and told my mom I had a “good day” at school. When my aide returned the next day the assistant principal stopped her and said, “Never be absent again.” Ha ha ha. It’s funny now, if not then.
This is true in a way for all people. My history teacher was really structured. The students were sitting and working quietly. It was a really nice class. My English teacher was not good at structure or discipline. The same students were rude and disruptive. That class was more of a trial. The students were mostly the same people. My impression now is that a good leader is essential in teaching and in people who work with me. It’s a true thing even with dogs, or anything. We work on making sure our dogs are not the leaders of our home. I know people whose dogs run the entire house.

In autism, we have impulse control problems. My aide must help me control impulses, keep me focused, and help me function in society. I am improving in self control. Glad about that, but I’ll tell the truth, I’m likely to take advantage of wimpy people and I bet your autistic kid will too.

Hope this helps with the selection of an aide.

5 comments:

  1. I would cry without my son's aide. First of all, I like that he is male. Secondly, he's very active. When my son needs a break, they go for runs outside, nice physical stuff that he needs. I wish we could select aides, and I wish we could keep them forever. :( Oh, and in one school, they wanted my son to get rid of his aide (my other son) because they were too close! They were worried! He got him back, eventually. Everyone wanted to be his aide because he really just needed someone to escort him on breaks because he was young, and to write for him because he has dysgraphia. Now, he just has an aide in the classroom, for anyone who needs it/for writing problems. But yes, an aide is important, and as you know, autism is no excuse not to discipline your child. I can't imagine making any child's life harder by not disciplining them. And that's exactly what happens when you let them walk all over you -- less of a chance of an independent life, no matter what the child faces, neurotypical or not.

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  2. Ido, as always, you rock! Another great blog post for me to share.
    Thanks!
    Dashiell's mom, Clara

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  3. Ido, I am a school district aide and I am working with a nonverbal 5-year-old right now. I have enjoyed reading your blog so much these past few months. I feel that you've given me some great insight for working with him. I try to talk to him like I would any other kid his age and give him good movement breaks when he needs them. If you have any advice for aides, keep sharing. Thanks for your great example and letting us all learn from you!

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  4. What are some examples of an aide helping you control impulses? By doing heavy work? thank u.

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  5. H Paola, this is Ido's mom. The aide helps Ido not give in to impulses by focusing on classwork and how he should be behaving at that moment. Their support is essential by helping him fight internal and external distractions so he can function calmly in school. You inquired in another post whether Ido has tried biofeedback. No, that is one therapy he never tried. So glad his insights have been helpful to you and your sons.

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