27 04, 2014

Replacing the Roladex: Changing Behaviour in Autism

Last week I described what I believe to be the tenacious and creative genius of students and children with autism. It has been my experience to witness my own autistic son and my students persistently sift through an assortment of behaviours that have proven successful in gaining a desired response from us at some time or other. I am convinced that a hidden Roloadex of behavioural responses keeps us on our toes and accountable for hearing the message being communicated! When one action doesn't garner our attention then there are many more to choose from!  So what does this mean for those of us trying desperately to hear the message that behaviour is communicating?  It means that we need to be sure we do our homework.  We may need to conduct the appropriate Functional Behaviour Assessments to figure out what the behaviour is telling us. Does the child want to

17 04, 2014

Never Give Up Hope

Disheartened. Discouraged. The dark settles in and infiltrates every aspect of our day. Why can’t it be easy? Why is there always something that goes wrong? When will things change? As sure as we have a heartbeat we will struggle. Others will hurt us, disappoint us and leave us feeling hopeless. Decisions that are far beyond our control will impact us in ways that are totally unjust. Exhaustion takes its toll on us emotionally and physically. How are we supposed to give and serve when we are empty? In spite of it all, I choose hope. I have come to expect struggle. My resilience has been strengthened because of it. I will not fight. Fighting exhausts me. It steals my inner strength and joy. No. I will take the next step even if I am incapable of seeing where the path leads. I will take account of what is right

10 04, 2014

Quick Get the Rolodex!

Human are results driven. We do what works. When one way doesn't get us what we want, we persevere. Smart people try a new approach if they are not succeeding. We celebrate that kind of tenacity. As a society we tend to ridicule people who keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. Remember Albert Einstein and the whole ‘insanity’ insight? Kids with autism are tenacious. I mean that as a compliment. They are very creative when it comes to producing results. I am convinced that kids with autism (and even those without) carry a carefully hidden Rolodex. On each card is a behavioural response that has at some time or other yielded the desired result. Perhaps failing to complete a task has convinced the teacher to use a visual schedule. Maybe big sister has caved and bought dollar store toy when the child refused to move from

2 04, 2014

Today I Celebrate

Today I wear blue. Today I join the world as it aims a spotlight on Autism. In my family and in my work, autism is a part of everyday existence. I love my child with Autism and I love my students with autism. But today I stand in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of people (maybe more) in sharing what we know and what we have yet to know about Autism. Today I celebrate the fact that we are talking: talking in our homes, communities, work places and schools. We are talking about autism all over the world. I celebrate the fact that since 2007 Autism is talked about openly at a global level and in places where it was never acknowledged or where it was considered shameful. I celebrate the fact that when I explain a seemingly odd behaviour that might be construed as ‘bratty ’is actually autism, the