Saturday, May 23, 2009

Teaching Your Child How to Do Autism

Mom recently read me a story about a man whose comment struck her as truth. After sitting down to plan with the school for his son, who was in kindergarten, he summed it all up by saying, “I don’t want to cure my son of autism. I want to teach him how to DO autism”.

His is a lucky child.

Autism is a tricky subject. It is experientially different. To “help” is not to “cure”. This may be difficult to grasp as a concept, most especially when the very definition of a successful treatment outcome resembles what looks like a neurotypical experience at end.

Once autistic always autistic, but autism parallels human development. Once human always human, but we do not expect humans to remain in their infant form. Autism is one kind of humanity in infant form. You would not expect a boy to “do” girl, yet you target treatments on par with this concept. “ How to do autism” is an excellent learning exercise both for the doer and his/her teachers. Growth comes through acceptance.

Why do I say this? Because acceptance of the child as an autist, is the key to developing them to their full potential as a human being. Acceptance does not preclude achievement of higher functioning, it facilitates it. To approach it differently is to try to change the nature of the child rather than develop them as an autist. It pits the treatment against the individual. Rather than partnering with your child you end up combating them. To try to change an autist into a neurotypical eradicates the autist’s soul, whereas to start from a point of acceptance causes that soul to blossom. Teaching how to “do” autism, it is the right perspective. It is the only perspective that will allow your child to grow into himself/herself as a person, not an autistic or neurotypical person, but his/her own person.

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