Welcome to the 2018 series of the Louden on Autism Q & A . As many of you know, 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 a child with autism who is having difficulties becoming more verbal and if therapy might be the best option.
What can I do? Where do I go for help? My daughter has had early intervention and ABA therapy. The ABA therapy didn’t seem to help her very much as she did not show much improvement. What therapy can you recommend? Thank you so much for trying to help us understand people with Autism.
ABA can be valuable for developing the technical ability to do specific things, but can run into challenges when attempting to address the more subtle challenges of autism and motivation. One problem with autism is that through life you learn to lose confidence in yourself.
ABA can even reinforce this. You’re taught that you don’t know how to do things and need others to explain them to you. Even when you have the skills, you don’t have the confidence to do it yourself, and you’re afraid of the results of failing. It can result in a very reactive life, only doing things in response to specific other things. Even when told to do it, the internal anxiety can overwhelm you and make it hard to start or do the things.
You may want to look into therapies with a developmental focus – ones focused more on a slow approach to internal growth rather than skills focus. I hesitate to recommend individual therapies as I don’t have the time to investigate all of the ones out there in-depth, and I’m not a doctor and can only gauge them loosely. It’s important to work on natural confidence growth. When you succeed at something because someone else told you to do it, and you doubted your ability to do it, that can result in confidence growth, but it can also result in confidence loss: “I can’t even judge whether or not I can do it, I have to depend on someone else for that.”
Look for opportunities to create situations where she can choose to act, and succeed. Start in areas she’s interested in, don’t worry too much about the behaviors you want to encourage yet. Just getting her to do things on her own volition, and either succeed or learn from the failures (and in particular, learn that failures are okay) can help with the sort of growth it sounds like you want, I think.
Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.