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Mon Aug 17, 2015, 01:06 PM


We have autism all wrong: The radical new approach we need to understand and treat it


Unfortunately this behavioral-assessment approach—that is, using a checklist of deficits—has become the standard way of determining whether a person has autism. We say a child has autism if he displays a combination of traits and behaviors that are deemed to be problematic: difficulty in communicating, trouble developing relationships, and a restricted repertoire of interests and behaviors, including repetitive speech—known as echolalia—and actions, such as rocking, arm flapping, and spinning. Professionals observe these “autistic behaviors” and then assess the people who display them by using a sort of circular reasoning: Why does Rachel flap her hands? Because she has autism. Why has she been diagnosed with autism? Because she flaps.

Following this approach means defining a child as the sum of his deficits. How best to help such a child? By managing those behaviors or attempting to get rid of them: to halt the rocking, to squelch the echoing speech, to reduce the flapping. And what denotes success? The more we can make a child look and act “normal,” the better.

This way of understanding and supporting people with autism is sorely lacking. It treats the person as a problem to be solved rather than an individual to be understood. It fails to show respect for the individual and ignores that person’s perspective and experience. It neglects the importance of listening, paying close attention to what the person is trying to tell us, whether through speech or patterns of behavior....

What’s more helpful is to dig deeper: to ask what is motivating these behaviors, what is underlying these patterns. It’s more appropriate, and more effective, to ask “Why?” Why is she rocking? Why does he line up his toy cars that way, and why only when he arrives home from school? Why does he stare at his hands fluttering in front of his eyes, and always during English class and recess? Why does she repeat certain phrases when she is upset?

At last, an NT professional who gets it!

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Reply We have autism all wrong: The radical new approach we need to understand and treat it (Original post)
KamaAina Aug 2015 OP
hunter Aug 2015 #1
KamaAina Aug 2015 #2
hunter Aug 2015 #3
mapol Sep 2019 #4
Mopar151 Apr 2020 #5

Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Wed Aug 19, 2015, 12:03 PM

1. I'm reminded of the movie Iron Sky where the Nazi doctor "fixes" the black guy by making him white.


As a middle aged autistic spectrum person myself I'd learned in the school of hard knocks and occasional formal therapy to behave "normally."

But now I'm past fifty and just god damned tired of acting. I don't care if people think I'm eccentric. I am.

I take meds for problems that are most troubling for my immediate family and me personally, since feral street life in this society is difficult for both humans and dogs, but beyond that I'm no longer interested in any kind of conformity. If my fidgeting and obsessions annoy people, then that's their problem. If there was a magic pill that would make me "normal" I'd refuse it.

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Response to hunter (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 19, 2015, 12:30 PM

2. Temple Grandin has stated this for the record.


If there was a magic pill that would make me "normal" I'd refuse it.

She's worried that it would take away the special skills that put her at the top of her field.

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Response to KamaAina (Reply #2)

Wed Aug 19, 2015, 04:05 PM

3. Yeah, I probably stole it from her.

But I'm never concerned about any "special skills."

I just want the freedom to be comfortable in my own skin, not to live every waking moment in terror that I will "mess up my lines" in my life among the normal people.

I shouldn't have to keep my natural self closeted and censored. My natural self is a very nice guy with high ethical standards, but a bit odd and fidgety, with peculiar obsessions.

Don't ask about the occasional bad hairs on my face. I've bought special glasses and tweezers for those. I will track those bad hairs down and remove them.

At my very very worst "off ny meds" self, the campus and local police regarded me as an amusing diversion from their sordid late night duties of domestic violence and such. Helping me find my clothes among the random piles of kelp on the beach past midnight was nothing more than a funny story, as it is with me. I have many funny stories, wonderful and weird stories, of the "roomy from hell" including the ex-significant other sort.
plenty of witnesses who can tell anyone exactly what is wrong with me.

I was the roomy from hell, and sometimes a disturbing mystery.

Who are those guys asking about Hunter?

I used to make buttermilk from government surplus powdered milk on top of the water heater. And I can brew beer from anything.

But I'm "mostly harmless."

Sometimes with past midnight donuts and coffee and a free ride home to irritated house-mates who'd long quit worrying about my frequent disappearances, just as my parents had, once I was sixteen with an automobile, quitting high school, a high school dropout in college, and soon university,.

Two years I was a minor human sub-eighteen year old in college. They had a special class for us, and there were a few professors who were very uncomfortable that minor students parents had to sign off on field work.

Autistic people have the same range of intelligence as everyone else, from the highly intelligent with marketable skills (my grandfather was such, an aerospace engineer) to the entirely dysfunctional and not-so-special keep-it-in-your-pants sort..

But we are all human beings and deserve to live freely so long as we are not a danger to ourselves and others.

One of my grandmas, not my normal but anxious grandma who married the autistic spectrum aerospace engineer grandfather, was probably somewhere on the autistic spectrum herself, and she was very proud that she had a lifetime career, could focus herself for eight hours a day of work with occasional overtime of her good union job. But after work my grandma had other severe mental health issues besides autism, a very dark side. Outside of her work her personal life was always a flaming and explosive high drama catastrophe. There were no bridges she couldn't burn behind her, no kind of good intentions she couldn't reforge into knives to cut people with.

After my grandma retired she lost her sanity entirely becoming a danger to herself and others. She had to be removed from the home she owned outright by police and paramedics. She held them off for hours cussing, throwing things, biting, hitting, kicking, and screaming, up until she was strapped to a gurney and sedated. Had she not been white, or had she'd remembered the guns she'd hidden away from my mom, my grandma probably wouldn't have survived that long afternoon.

No "extended care" facility would or could hold my grandma for long, even those who specialized in nasty mean old ladies. So my grandma often ended up in the master bedroom of my parents' home with her evil cat.

Honestly my grandma would have been just as happy as a nasty old bag lady living on the streets spewing castrating or slut-shaming words to anyone passing by.

In her youth, high times in World War II, my grandma was Rosie Riveter by day, a party girl by night. She knew horny sailors, just as she knew bad dogs, horses, and hot metal, My mom was born to a girl just past sixteen, sort or like Jesus.

But hell no, my grandma was no Sweet Mother Mary.

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Response to KamaAina (Reply #2)

Mon Sep 23, 2019, 01:16 PM

4. Temple Grandin has made a very good point.

She'd have every reason to worry about the possibility that the special skills that put her at the top of her field would be taken away.

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Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Fri Apr 17, 2020, 03:54 AM

5. Who's defective here?

Social conformance ain't shit, but it's the only tool available, or acceptable, to a lot of NT. Sumbitches don't trust arithmetic, 'cuz it might mean they're full of shit!

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