“Broken Normals”

This debate that is summed up in the video below is pretty much the epicenter of the autism world: “cure/treat” versus acceptance.

It is what separates the different therapeutic approaches, the location and allotment of funding, and cultural response with regards to autism. Do we aim to “fix” autism, or do we aim to accept autism? While I personally come from the angle of acceptance, a sizable chunk of the autism therapeutic community thinks otherwise, and that is evident in where the money is going.

At some point as a society, we accepted other forms of neurodiversity and assimilated them into the flock. Even though discrimination is still present, and laws to protect are still needed, we overall moved past the need to completely erase certain conditions. It took a LOT of work, though, and the fight continues today. I wonder when we will get to that point with autism, and how much education and acceptance it will take.

I may do a much longer post on this subject later, or maybe even a series. Heaven knows the subject deserves it. For now, this is a brief look into it.

VICE News: “Broken Normals”

Quick Tidbits

I’ve been having my own form of writer’s block for the past few weeks. I can’t tell you how many blog posts I have started that now sit idle in the Drafts folder. I will get to them, I promise. In the meantime, I decided to give some practical tips that I’ve learned/been reminded of by some of my new clients. We can always use tips, right?

  • For some of my older clients on the spectrum, a lot of anxiety is reduced when they are given the whole picture or situation first. We tend to assume that they will not be able to process everything at once, but giving information in little pieces (especially if they are directions) can also make them anxious because they don’t know what’s next. What I’ve learned to do is to give the overview first, and then each step afterwards as we hit it. For example: “Okay, we’re going to make lemonade today. We’ll need lemons, water, and sugar so that we can mix them together.” Boom, I just summarized the entire recipe. After I did that, the client walked me through the process, asking when he needed clarification. While he is what would be considered “higher functioning,” he still needed the anxiety reduction.
  • Many kids love the feeling of independently doing and choosing for themselves. Even if it is not a true choice (say, choosing between your two choices), the illusion of choice can be a great asset. I try to give my clients choices whenever I can. Sometimes they bounce the ball back into my court for me to decide, but I offered them the choice, and that goes a long way.
  • To my fellow workers: it is really easy to assume that a parent is just being bossy, lazy, whatever trait you believe you’re seeing that week. Try to step into that parent’s shoes. Most of us get to go home at the end of our day. For those of us without kids, we go home to stillness (most of the time). For our clients’ parents, their challenges and triumphs continue long after we’ve gone home. It’s just a few hours a week for us…it’s 24/7 for them.
  • That being said, workers, know your boundaries. You have to take care of yourselves before you can take care of anyone else. Our clients can pick up when we’re tired, hungry, or just plain pissed about something…and the result is usually a less than stellar session. Parents, we go through a different kind of burnout. We are not just worrying about the well-being and future of your child; we often have several more families we have to put equal energy and time into (or dozens more if you’re a case manager). We’re not trying to be rude or mean if we hold our ground on session times or availability. We’re trying to make sure we can continue to be the best that we can be for all of our clients, including you.
  • Workers, think outside the box. Not just with your clients, but also in regards to your job/position in an organization/your own practice. What are your strengths? How can you use them for the betterment of your organization/practice? Are you doing things that others are not? If others are doing it, do you have a unique spin or voice to bring to the table? Is there something you see in your client that others don’t?
  • This one goes to everyone: have fun. I’m serious. I work mostly with kids, and I see so many instances of family and workers alike getting so wrapped up in the goals and the data that they forget that they are dealing with a kid. I celebrate when a client has a “kid moment.” In that moment, autism wasn’t some horrific veil hanging over their heads (according to everyone around them). Autism was a way to really feel the sunshine and the wind, to appreciate every color dancing across a bubble. Autism led to a laughing fit to end all laughing fits. I’m not trying to downplay the challenges of this type of neurodiversity. It is a tough road to tread, nearly impossible at times. What I am saying is to really be in the present when it comes to those moments where the child is just being a child. I dare say that maybe, just maybe, you may want to join them there.

The Good Doctor

Finally got a moment to post something in-between packing, trashing, and donating stuff! I’m still nowhere near done with a week left…amazing how much stuff you can accumulate over time.

Anyway, below is the trailer for the fall ABC show, The Good Doctor. It is a remake of a South Korean show of the same name, which I also included a snippet of. There is an apparent discussion on which looks to be better (with the SK one winning so far), so I wanted to put examples of both.  I will say that the ABC trailer made me track down the Korean one, and now I want to watch that one! Maybe once I’m settled in LA…

I think this will make for a very nice look into how two cultures, Korean and American, approach autism in the workplace (especially in a role as critical as that of a doctor). I’m looking forward to checking them out!

Have any of you seen the Korean drama The Good Doctor? Any thoughts on the American remake? What do you guys think of both shows?

Police Autism App

Technology really is incredible, if you think about it. A great example of this is the article below, about a Minnesota police officer created an app to help officers if they encounter an autistic person. If they get within 40 feet of someone on the spectrum, they are given not just a name and photo sent to their phone, but some quick info of what can cause behaviors (loud noises, for example) and how to calm the person.

I have no idea where the police get that type of information from (a database, maybe?), and that could lead to a whole discussion of privacy issues (could employers have access to that information during background checks?). The article does not go into that much detail about…well, the details. I think it is intriguing, though, and I am glad that police across the country are starting to address this issue. It will be interesting to see how this continues to develop.

New autism app for police being tested

Good work, Boynton Beach!

This city is about 15-20 minutes from my hometown. I applaud their efforts to get their city employees more aware (and accepting!) of autism. I hope they continue their work, and that other cities follow their lead. They made some amazing adjustments, from visual aids in lobbies, to HR personnel learning that lack of eye contact does not necessarily mean that the person is being rude.

Read the story here: http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/local/boynton-beach-becomes-first-city-to-be-named-autis/ntDmY/ 

Autism and ADHD

This is an article that came out this week about how often autism and ADHD not only coincide, but also why they may be more similar than first thought. Many of my autistic clients certainly have some of the major indicators of ADHD, and this has been a suspicion amongst those of us in the field for quite awhile. I also appreciate the detail at which the brain function similarities are explained. Check it out below (first link is the news article, second link is the study itself):

Autism and ADHD

Autism/ADHD study, published 11/2/16 on PLOS ONE