Monthly Archives :

November 2017

Autism Q&A

Louden on Autism Q & A: Speech Therapy?

560 315 Paul Louden

Welcome to the Louden on Autism Q & A. This week, I’m back to answer a question submitted by a website visitors to shed light on some of the most important questions about autism. I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.

 

Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.

 

This week, I received a question about autism and speech therapy. Here it is…

 

QUESTION

 

I have two sons, ages 11 and 9, who have autism. We are doing ABA and speech therapy. How did you come out of it? Any recommendations going forward?

 

ANSWER

 

I haven’t done ABA therapy. I’ve worked with someone who was a BCBA but when we worked together she was practicing a different therapy.

 

As always there are many approaches to autism, and each one tackles different aspects of it. ABA can be good for developing specific behaviors, but make sure you’re working with someone who recognizes that autism isn’t just behaviors and that sometimes behavioral change can lead to more stress, anxiety, and potential depression.

 

A good practitioner will keep you in the loop, and adjust things based on the current state of wellbeing of your children. Beyond that, remember to give them lots of opportunities to be themselves. Intense therapies can often wear away at your ability to feel confident in your own decision making, as many of your decision-making tools have now come from “outside” and replaced the ones you’d come up with yourself.

 

So, giving them chances to take the lead, and live life their way can help them maintain the confidence necessary to take skills and make them their own, rather than just repeating someone else’s teachings.

 

Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.

Autism Q&A

Louden on Autism Q & A: Improving Your Skills

560 315 Paul Louden

Welcome to the Louden on Autism Q & A. This week, I’m back to answer a question submitted by a website visitors to shed light on some of the most important questions about autism. I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.

 

Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.

 

This week, I received a question about fine motor skills and apps that can help people with autism at school and with their writing skills.

 

QUESTION

 

We have a 13-year-old son with autism. In addition to trying to get compliance for his IEP from his Magnet school (health sciences and engineering) and dealing with his daily behavioral slips and suspensions (we’re on thin ice) he struggles with writing. It’s not just the fine motor skills, but the transference of ideas into organized thought/essays/stories, poor spelling and grammar and not understanding space allocation on a page. He also lacks confidence, even though his verbal vocabulary is off the hook. Note-taking is a challenge and he gets dinged for it. Every app I’ve found out there is either concept only or too “babyish” as he puts it. Do you know of anything to help with the motor skills and composition both? He has a voice-to-text device, but that’s not ideal, and unfortunately, they don’t teach keyboarding anymore. Any guidance you could offer would be great. I think this would go far in his self-esteem and help his stress level and grades as well.

 

ANSWER

 

One idea that might be interesting is to look into learning programming. There are both typing programming languages and more “visual” ones that allow you to construct your programs out of “blocks” that perform functions.

 

The reason I suggest this is because programming can become very engaging for people on the spectrum, it’s fairly common for us to end up with an affinity for technology and related things.

 

But programming also depends on a certain type of “logic.” You are, in essence, “explaining” to the computer what to do. The skills developed from this of thinking things through, understanding the parts, and putting them in an order that makes sense, typically starts very simple and grows in complexity as you learn to program. The same internal mental processes can be transferred to the process of organizing thoughts and ideas into clearer essays and stories. It may be something to look into.

 

It’s not specifically a treatment for autism, but there are many skills out in the world that can help anyone and there’s no reason not to repurpose them.

 

Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.

Autism Q&A

Louden on Autism Q & A: The Safe Person

560 315 Paul Louden

Welcome to the Louden on Autism Q & A. This week, I’m back to answer a question submitted by a website visitors to shed light on some of the most important questions about autism. I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.

 

Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.

 

This week, I received a question about why a grandmother’s grandson was insulting her often, when he is very nice and polite to many other people.

 

QUESTION

 

My 22 year-old grandson, who is on the spectrum, has beaten many odds like graduating high school and working for two years. He was the employee of the month for May! He loves work, but when home he shuts himself into his room & plays games online with people. I’ve always been his advocate & cheering squad but he’s very rude, insulting & mean to just me! His psychiatrist says I’m his “safe” person! What does this mean?

 

ANSWER

 

That’s difficult. Typically when an autistic person is “rude” to someone it’s usually a case of them not intending to be rude, but being interpreted as rude despite that. That can happen fairly easily if it’s around someone they feel “safe” with because they finally get the chance to relax from the high effort of trying to maintain their “appearance” throughout the day.

 

If he plays a lot of online games, he may have recognized that gamers often insult and “trash talk” each other as a means of bonding (though it’s not always this, and can just as easily be intended as offensive). It may be that he’s trying to form connections with you in a way he’s recognized elsewhere and it may take some time and effort for him to learn that such things aren’t appropriate except in very specific circumstances, or possibly even that what he’s doing isn’t the same as what’s happening elsewhere. Subtleties and nuance can be very hard for someone on the spectrum to pick up, so the difference between “playful and good-natured” ribbing and actual insults can be lost.

 

Because of the other disorders, it could also extend beyond that. It’s important to remember that not everything is autism, and it may be that something about his living situation or place in life is causing him physical or mental discomfort, and this is a way he releases that pressure.

 

My strongest suggestion is to talk with his psychiatrist more about the behavior. As they’re the person with the most direct knowledge of what may be going on, they may be able to guide you toward more positive behavior.

 

Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.

Autism Q&A

Louden on Autism Q & A: Autism Advocacy

560 315 Paul Louden

Welcome to the Louden on Autism Q & A. This week, I’m back to answer a question submitted by a website visitors to shed light on some of the most important questions about autism. I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.

 

Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.

 

This week, I received a question Temple Grandin and why so few people with autism are successfully advocating, like I am working to do.

 

QUESTION

 

Why are there so few people with autism who are advocating for others on the spectrum? You and just a few others are doing this. Why?

 

ANSWER

 

It’s very difficult. At the base level, most people can’t afford to do it. I wouldn’t be able to make a living from it and am only able to continue because of financial support from my parents because they feel the message is important. Temple Grandin was fortunate enough to be able to graduate college and have a career. After that, advocacy is a difficult process. In some ways it’s confrontational – you’re challenging beliefs people had, and trying to change them. I meet people who argue with me that I don’t seem autistic. Many of us have spent our lives being worn down, and if we manage to get to a level where we can get by, we don’t want to go out and make it worse for ourselves by having to confront people.

 

Assuming you have the financial means and personality for advocacy, you also have to have the communication skills. Even neurotypical people rarely have the communication skills to explain complex topics about their own thought processes and experiences. That’s why organizations like Toastmasters exist, to help people learn the techniques and skills to communicate effectively. Many of us with autism wouldn’t really think about going into a situation like that, that feels largely social, to try to develop those skills. It only occurred to me after years of advocacy as a means of improving my skills, and I haven’t done anything like it yet. While, speaking diagnostically, autism is specifically an impediment to social communication, this can result in communication delays in general or uncertainty in general communication, so you have to be one of the autistic individuals who either overcome that or doesn’t struggle with that delay.

 

Very few people who have disabilities go out and advocate for them. Most just seek to find a way to live their lives, and advocacy can add a whole new set of challenges. Autism, unfortunately, presents some unique additional challenges that made advocacy more difficult. You always have to put your own personal mental health first, and so for many people advocacy simply isn’t the right choice because adding the additional challenges on top of how difficult daily life can be may just be too much. I’ve had to take a step back from my activities in the past, the radio show, and other things because I just couldn’t manage it. Sometimes retreating for months at a time.

 

It’s just hard, and it’s not right for everyone in the first place, so the right combination of events has to lead to it. There are a lot of people with autism out there advocating on their own, locally, in their own spaces, but on top of everything else you also have to land in a situation where there are people who can help you spread your message on a larger scale.

 

It takes a lot of luck, really. That’s the short of it. Some of us got lucky, many of us are still working just as hard, or harder, to help people understand, but haven’t had the same opportunities.

 

Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.

Autism Q&A

Louden on Autism Q & A: Feeling Different

560 315 Paul Louden

Welcome to the Louden on Autism Q & A. This week, I’m back to answer a question submitted by a website visitors to shed light on some of the most important questions about autism. I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.

 

Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.

 

This week, I received a question about how people with autism sometimes feel different and inadequate. Here are my thoughts.

 

QUESTION

 

My son has so many feelings of being different and inadequate, and I was wondering if you knew what I can say or do to help him?

 

ANSWER

 

It’s difficult. Most autistic individuals who are at least interacting with the world around them are likely to recognize at least some of their differences.

 

My biggest recommendation is to try to give him the opportunity to be “in the lead.” Often if you’re doing a lot of therapy or education or other things, you’re following other peoples’ instructions and rules. Between that and the struggles of autism, you rarely have a chance to feel “in control” or even “right” sometimes.

 

If he has an interest, let him teach you more about it. Or look for activities like games, video games, or even just sharing a favorite book, movie, or TV show, where he can have control of when and how you do things, and be the one to “teach” you about it. This can help build a degree of confidence that, over time, can start to show elsewhere as well. Confidence and control are very, very important.

 

Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.