Just last night at 10:30pm, which is normally Ethan’s bed time, we decided that since it’s the summer holidays we would give him a choice of whether he wanted to continue listening to music or go to sleep. Ethan was quick to type that he wanted “music” and so we let him stay up. All of a sudden it seemed as if Ethan got his second wind and he was so excited and giggling with joy. He had used his power of choice and was celebrating. This is just one example of how we treat Ethan. He always has a choice.
As parents of special needs kids we are so used to structuring their days that we forget that one of the most basic human rights is the right of free choice (within reason). On reflection we realized that one of the main reasons we have success with all the kids who follow Ethan’s program is that we empower them to have free choice. They do not work for rewards and they are not punished for non-compliance. We create a mentoring environment where they get to say what they want to work on next and so we have a group of autistic kids and adults who are excited to come to the center and work. Their reward is the feeling of self-satisfaction that they have accomplished something.
We contrast that with the latest fad where an MD neurologist is teaching parents how to stop their kids from stimming. This protocol requires the parents to withhold emotion when dealing with their children and to lock them in their rooms so that they learn to be on their own. These kids are also taught to sit quietly for up to 20 minutes and parents are even advised to restrain their kids so that they sit quietly; so called meditation. In addition, these children are taught that stimming is only allowed in their bedrooms and then for only a short period of time. These techniques are reminiscent of the techniques used to break POWs so that they become complaint. The result is a broken shell that does not stim anymore but is heralded as a sample of the success of the technique.
This MD is receiving government funding to teach these techniques to parents and work with our kids. There is no science behind it. Please join us to stop the government’s funding of these professional who abuse our kids with autism.
Please use your power of choice and help spread this story.