Susan's Blog

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Understanding Works Both Ways

The Doctors’ Lounge site ran a relevant and sensible finding by scientists at Johns Hopkins U.  Apparently adding in a component of focused social engagement into ASD toddlers’ interventions increased their social abilities, wherein they were better able to give “joint attention,” eye contact, and “shared positive affect” with others (HealthDay News).  This is the kind of science we need to see.  I think we need to devote equal attention to positive therapies that build skills for those with ASD, as much as finding out the causes of autism.  I used to take the hard line that we didn’t need to know the causes so much, but truly, we do.  Autism is a difficult disorder to contend with, no argument there, so most likely we would want to know its causes and have less of it, or at least have it be less severe if possible.

I’d also like to see studies that worked with older folks with ASD.  Toddlers seem to me to be low-hanging fruit.  Plasticity of brain and all that.  But I believe that all of our brains are plastic enough, practically saran wrap at this point, plus there’s all that white and gray matter not even being used.  So let’s figure out a way to tap into that, damn it!

We need to encourage similar studies in adults with autism.  We need to stop acting like they don’t exist.  We need to stop acting like they’re a lost cause.  We need to look at them, and see them as the people they are, with all that they have to offer.  Untapped potential!!  Open the floodgates!  Imagine what we might find.  The Hopkins study is important in that it helps create better understanding of ASD among the neurotypical populations.  Understanding works both ways.


I agree with all of your comments regarding adults. I spent 25 years working at a school for kids with autism, and I am now with adults. They have so much potential to learn, sometimes they have calmed down enough to pay attention and are finally at a place where learning isn’t so hard. It makes it frustrating that the staffing levels are so much lower than with kids, that the funding is so much lower, but still it is possible! I’ve been part of helping a couple of adult men (in their 40’s) start choosing what they want to eat when they go out. The nay sayers were there of course, saying that they don’t attend to pictures (not true) and it would be hit or miss. WRONG! One of these guys is a very picky eater and consistently, every single time, eats what he chooses. I make pages for each of the restaurants that our individuals go to routinely, with 4 choices on a page (same for drinks and desert. They started off choosing before they leave and once consistent with that, will choose directly to the wait staff. They LOVE it! This is just a small example, but these people are just great and have so much to offer and so much to learn. My 52 year old brain is learning a new language, why would they be any different?

— added by Michele on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I always appreciate your perspective; it gives me hope to think that there are those like you out there working with adult autistics.

— added by Susan Senator on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm

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