Saturday, February 16, 2013

Responses to Previous Post on Treatment of Social Skills for Children with Autism

Last month, I blogged about my controversial opinion on treatment of social skills for children with autism. Here are some of the amazingly thoughtful and insightful responses from the facebook community. These individuals are parents, speech pathologists, educators, and/or spiritual teachers. All have an interesting take on this clearly complex topic.

    • Ken: Faith leads us to accept each person as they are, and encourage you say... to be themselves. It takes some people many years to learn this wisdom. Blessed Be

    • Janie: with autism, we can't just 'let them be themselves' when they CAN'T tap into their own underlying potential without professional help.

      Unable to speak, 14-year-old Carly finds refuge from disorder by typing.

    • Sue: Ahh - teaching the niceties. You have brought up an excellent question - should we teach children (autistic or not) how to say things that aren't true for them? Should we monitor other's feelings and then adapt our conversations to fit THEIR needs? Tough questions.

    • April: I love this Brenda! Especially since I was just worrying to myself about not teaching these skills to my ADD son who has social anxiety. It makes me feel good to be reminded of these things at times like this.

    • Heather: I think this is definitely something SLPs struggle with in terms of how and what we teach students with autism about social skills and relationship building. There is something very off-putting about changing a person to fit our neurotypical view of the world. However, we all know that people without these skills cannot easily find success in terms of a job and income. I have heard people take this further and suggest that these kids won't find happiness or loving relationships, but I don't really think we know that. We don't understand how they experience the world. As you said, I think it is critical to teach them the rules of the game while at the same time supporting their individuality, creativity, and uniqueness. Does forcing them to be different foster a belief in themselves or pride in who they are? I believe in teaching them about what "unexpected" behaviors look like and sound like, but I never teach that these behaviors are wrong. I want my kids to recognize these behaviors and decide for themselves if they want to suppress them in the moment. I don't think they should lose any part of themselves just because it seems different to me. To quote Paul Collins, author of "Not Even Wrong", "Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg."

    • Kim: That is a wonderful perspective! I think parents of children with high functioning autism would take comfort in this. I certainly know people who are obsessed with what others think of them and would probably be much happier without so much social anxiety. 
      I don’t specialize in autism either, but while I was reading this, I was thinking about a 5th grader, whom I officially see to fix his ch sound, but end up working mostly on social skills with. I’ve realized that the deficits in theory of mind that come with high functioning autism are a 2 sided coin – yes, you aren’t ruled by social anxiety, but you aren’t ruled by empathy either. The combination of the 2 has made this child a pill to be around. The rest of the speech group (myself included) is always relieved when he is absent, because his attitude is so unpleasant. What I want to help him with more than anything is how to be likeable. I believe his life would be richer if his peers and teachers enjoyed his company, because only then could he begin to make friends.

    • Gael Chiarella Alba: Hi Brenda!  How bold you are to be so honest! How wonderfully important to recognize the mandate to speak truth - no matter the topic. You address the enforcement of "the parasite" on our children (I love the direct naming of social conditioning for the sake of acceptance as spiritual teacher Don Miguel Ruiz calls it) which we are each called to claw and climb our way out of as we reach for authentic self-realization - while rising to the challenge of healthy interpersonal community, which requires serving each other well. As you keep your eye on the prize I surmise the journey will continue to clear as you help to build a new world for all of us one word - one glance - one truthful step at a time. Namaste. (

No comments:

Post a Comment