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 the floor of the store.
The more years I spend in education the more I marvel at what students with autism will do to get their message heard. Behavioural responses may start out quite typical: a short temper flare up, work refusal or whimpering. But the slower we are to figure out the message or the longer we ignore the message, the more marked the reactions can become. I am sure I am not the only one who has witnessed clothes come off, obscenities being screeched and entire rooms being cleared of furniture! On many an occasion (after a child and I are both exhausted) I marvel at the sheer tenacity of our kids who live with autism.
They must get so exasperated with us! We scratch our heads and think: “Why won’t he stop doing that? Is he being a brat? Wow, she IS stubborn!”
Meanwhile, the kid must be thinking: “Why are YOU so slow? Am I NOT being clear? I keep trying to tell you, but you won’t listen to me!”
If you as the adult keep seeing a challenging behaviour, it is you that is not clear on the message being delivered. Individuals with autism will win the persistence contest. They will outwit, outplay and out last you for sure. They will continue to use the Roladex to find a behaviour that gets the results they are looking for. The trick for our survival is to be just as tenacious when it comes to identifying what function the behaviour is serving and replacing the individual’s Rolodex with our own!
Stay tuned as we dig a little deeper to ensure that everyone keeps their clothes on and their sanity in check…
Until then, enjoy the journey (mostly) 😛
Copyright 2014 Jennifer Krumins