The Dark Side of Compliance.

Posted by: Admin Tags: There is no tags | Categories: Autism 101, Life Skills


compliance and choiceFrom a very young age our kids with special needs are taught to be compliant and to listen to the “adult” as adults know better. Behavior therapy even encourages us to reinforce this behavior with a reward system so that our kids learn to be compliant and obedient. After all, the professional teach us parents that “it is a prerequisite to be compliant” before you can learn.

Many of our kids, especially the nonverbal ones, spend a minimum of 10 – 18 years being told what to do, how to behave and always listen to the adult teacher or a behavior therapist who is teaching them usually using behavioral techniques.

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Autistic Feng Shui – better known as OCD

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lemonsEvery few months Ethan’s OCD kicks in and he has to rearrange things according to the autistic feng shui 🙂 . There is no rhyme or reason but things that used to be OK now bother him and he has to move them so that there is “order” in his life. Sometimes it has been paintings on the wall, other times sofas and chairs. Over the years we have learned that if he is in the “OCD zone” where he is sweating and so worked up, there is no negotiating and the only thing that calms him down is to allow him to express his “inner designer” and move them. Once he has moved things, he quickly calms down and things go back to normal. The only time we will not allow him to do what he wants is if it is dangerous and then the only alternative is to remove him from the environment until he calms down.

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The Power of Choice!

Posted by: Admin Tags: There is no tags | Categories: Autism 101, Medical


restraining no stimming webJust 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.

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Risk and Reward

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medication badAs parents of children with special needs, we are always looking for ways to help our children. This is especially true if our kids have medical needs as well. I was recently reminded of this by a local family who are trying to help their nonverbal autistic son. However, before I begin, I wanted to say that this is not a judgment of anyone but rather a learning experience for all of us.
One of the latest “treatments” for severe autism especially for nonverbal kids is a drug called Namenda. This drug was originally tested for the treatment of Alzheimer disease. However, we find more and more doctors are prescribing it for autistic children. The list of side effects is definitely the who’s who of side effects but what alarmed me most was the following statement. Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur: blurred vision, dizziness, headache, nervousness, pounding in the ears, tingling of the hands or feet.

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Autism and the Network Effect

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poolIn economics, the network effect relates to something that increases in value as the number of people who use it, increases. There is also a negative network effect, where the value decreases as the number of people increases. Facebook is a good example of both a positive and negative network effect.

The more people who join Facebook the more valuable it is to everyone. The flipside is that the more people on Facebook, the more computers they need to transmit updates to all the members. Facebook has so many users that they have created algorithms to decide which updates to broadcast and to how many “friends” to send the update.

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Posted by: Admin Tags: There is no tags | Categories: Autism 101


butterflyThe butterfly effect is a mathematical concept that is used to describe a system in which a very small change in the initial state can cause a very large change in a later state.  By co-incidence the butterfly effect is also true for some autistic students where a small change in the way they are taught can lead to a very large change in the way they learn.

Last year, we started working with a 21-year-old nonverbal male with autism.  He has been through all the traditional approaches and is still unable to type or communicate effectively. The first day, it took him over 2 hours to get into the car to come to the center. He is now at the point where he jumps out of bed on the days he comes in to learn. The small change for him, was allowing him to watch YouTube during his lessons. This change goes counter to everything we have been taught about attending in class, but in this case it actually helps his concentration and he soon forgets about the video as he knows it is always there if he needs it – his security blanket. Just 2 weeks ago, we started working with another 24 year old nonverbal male, and he too responded when he was allowed to watch trains on YouTube during his lessons.

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