In my last post, I discussed some of the controversy surrounding Applied Behavior Analysis therapy (ABA) and how Natural Environment Training (NET) might be a nice compromise for parents who want to try the therapy but are apprehensive about its intensity. In this post, I’ll explain our family’s experience with both therapies. While our story isn’t necessarily representative of either mode of therapy, it may offer some useful information for families considering these interventions for their children.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a popular therapy for children and young adults on the autism spectrum. Despite the scientific data supporting the effectiveness of ABA, this therapy has been scrutinized by the autistic community for its widespread unethical administration. The ABA debate can be confusing to parents who are trying to find the best resources and supports for their autistic children. For parents skeptical of ABA therapy, the natural environment training (or teaching) (NET) branch may offer a compromise.
I recently experienced the anxiety autistics and their parents sometimes face when confronted with law enforcement (albeit on a small scale) due to a lack of autism awareness. It reminded me of my neurotypical privilege in yet another aspect of life.
My son, Mikan, is fascinated with maps and geography and has always wanted to travel to other countries. When he was four, he could draw and label the entire United States as well as several other countries (His drawings have always kept the families behind us in church entertained!)
Angela is a 38-year-old mother of five (four of whom are on the autism spectrum) and avid musician. She is currently completing her thesis for a Master’s in Data Analytics and works in Customer Quality, dealing with complaints data in a wide variety of ways.
Angela answered several questions about autism advocacy: » Read more
Learning isn’t always fascinating, exciting, or rewarding for all children. For students with sensory processing issues, the school environment can be frighteningly unpredictable and stressful. Because your children will spend the majority of their waking hours at school, it is critical to ensure their educational environment meets their sensory needs in order to optimize health, safety, and learning potential. The most common issues teachers see in children who have sensory processing difficulties are an inability to focus or to sit long enough to learn. The goal of a sensory-friendly classroom is to create a comfortable and attentive state for a student, which is optimal for learning.
Most autistics struggle with sensory processing issues on a daily basis, and they need a safe place to provide respite from stressful and overwhelming environments. A sensory-friendly home is an environment optimized to meet the sensory needs of an autistic child and is crucial to decreasing stress and increasing functionality and overall happiness. » Read more
Ben is twenty-seven and works for the University of Notre Dame as an Event Setup Supervisor at the campus hotel. He considers obtaining this position one of his major life accomplishments. I recently spoke with Ben about autism advocacy and his experience growing up on the spectrum.
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Just as neurotypicals who befriend autistics can help them gain confidence and maintain a healthy emotional state, neurotypical parents can also benefit from establishing friendships with autistic adults. In fact, it is a useful first step to take upon discovering your child’s diagnosis. » Read more
An Important Addition
“Awareness” is a vague, hackneyed noun that every supporter of any cause in the world touts as their primary advocacy goal.
But what does it mean to be more aware of autism? Or breast cancer, or childhood leukemia, or poverty, or heart disease? Knowing that someone suffers doesn’t mean that much unless people are compelled to act. There must be a secondary agenda beyond awareness. » Read more
My introduction to autism came in 2000 when I was in high school and my younger brother (who was in eighth grade at the time) was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. I didn’t know a lot about the spectrum then, but I had lived side-by-side with my brother long enough to begin understanding what autism can look like and some of the struggles autistic people face in an unaccommodating environment.
I understood autism more intimately when my first son was born in 2008. » Read more