Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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Understanding autism

9 Summary

One message from this week is that no ‘one size fits all’, due to the diverse nature of autism. Increasingly psychologists are advocating a combination of methods, individually tailored to the person’s skills and needs. While many interventions do require training or specialist therapists, some adjustments can be implemented easily by families, schools or workplaces. For instance: removing, as far as possible, sources of sensory distress, such as fluorescent lights or noisy air conditioning; providing a secure place for when the person feels overwhelmed, or a ‘traffic light’ card system so that, at times when they feel unable to speak, they can signal positive or negative feelings with a green, amber or red card.

This clip from Arabella describes some of the strategies she has used to help Iris.

Download this video clip.Video player: boc_aut_1_video_week5_9_arabella.mp4
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Transcript

ILONA:
So in terms of giving Iris Grace the best opportunities to develop and flourish, what's your overall philosophy, and how have you implemented it?
ARABELLA:
To follow Iris. I know it sounds ridiculous because it's a child that needs a lot of help and needs a lot of guidance. But there's a way of following autistic children which is very powerful in getting them to learn.
Say you watch them start off with, you observe all of their behaviours-- good and bad. You'd see what they like, what they don't like, what their good and bad sensory triggers are. And you get to know them far beyond anyone.
You need to be the person that can read them like a book, that completely sees the whole picture, so that you can use all of these little moments where you have got teaching moments, where you have got times when you can connect with them. And you know what will work. You know what you can say to make them laugh. You know what you can say to encourage them.
For example, if I was-- like with Iris, she loves texture. So if I want to get her interested in a particular object, I can just add a bit of texture that she likes to it. There's always ways, even with a child that seems to be blocking you out completely, or making them think you're the cool person to be with.
So you want to do that. You want to create sort of a place for them to be, and that includes you, that makes them think that you're the person they want to be with. You open up this world for them.
So if you know what they love, that's the easiest, that's the key. So fill their world with Thomas the Tank Engine or LEGO or whatever it is that they really like. And use those-- what doctors can say are obsessions-- use those passions as something positive. And use them to teach them.
ILONA:
So in terms of the main, well-known therapies that are out there like Teach and Flex, Floortime and so on, are there any that you've been able to draw on?
ARABELLA:
Yes, I've done a mixture. So it was a mix between at first Floortime and a programme in America that's called Sunrise. So it was a mixture between those two. And it was basically following Iris, seeing what she loved, copying her movements, sitting beside her not opposite her, being on the floor with her, lots of sensory play, lots of things that she could get into and that I could join in with.
And then it was encouraging joint attention. So we used drawing. And then eventually her art came in.
And that was just brilliant, because it gave me an opportunity where she was moving, she was elated and happy when she painted. And then I could drop in information to her. And we could talk about colours, and she started verbalise things. It was these magical moments with them that mean that you can be there with them but you're not putting pressure on them, which I think is really important.
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You should now be able to:

  • appreciate contrasting views on ‘curing’ autism
  • understand what is meant by ‘intervention’
  • appreciate the importance of interventions being evidence-based
  • understand broad principles for evaluating interventions
  • be familiar with key interventions and recent developments in the field.

Now you can go to Week 6. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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