Every year, one in 68 kids in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism (CDC, 2018). One in 68. According to the DSM-V, a child must display deficits in social communication, social interaction and restrictive and repetitive patterns of behavior. Nothing is easy about autism. Nothing is black and white.
As an educator, autism fascinates me. Every behavior serves a purpose. The mystery, is finding the purpose.
As a teacher and consultant, I am a detective working to figure out the “why” of the behavior. In schools, we call this the “function”. What does the student gain from displaying a behavior? What makes the behavior happen? How long does it last? What skills can we teach the student so he or she doesn’t continue to display the behavior? We look for clues. We watch. We interview. We explore and have trials with interventions. Success comes in tiny increments – and we celebrate each millimeter.
As a person who loves many kids with autism and their families, autism frustrates me. I witness the heartbreak and struggle to accept the idea that a Daddy’s journey with his son is going to be unique. I work with the Mama who matches her son’s shirt, socks and underwear because she can, at least, control his clothing.
Autism is complex, however, therapists and behaviorists have discovered many interventions that help our little PCs live in this MacBook world. So…even though autism is a booger, we’re going to grab a Kleenex and head to Switzerland!
NOTE: In my blogs, I will attempt to present ideas from an educational and a parental point of view. The stories I share and the words I write will never come from a place of disrespect to the kids and families from which I have learned so much. I hope that all who read this blog will accept and understand my intention.