So, children learn by copying (as do adults, if they would but accept it). How do we know that autistic people are not merely highly sensitive, highly functioning individuals, who are learning about their world through mimicry? How do we know that apparently extreme behaviour is simply an autistic’s interpretation of the way the world looks to them? Does the world look that violent to them? Hard to admit, but I’m willing to wager that’s exactly what’s happening: the world certainly looks like a violent place to me.
How do we know these things, especially if we don’t ask them? How can we be sure that it’s not the rest of us that lack communication and social skills, and autistics are just copying us? Is it easier to believe that they are “less” than us, in some sense? Of course it is. Is it possible that these people are extraordinary in every sense, but that we can’t see it? Of course it is. Remember, if they look weird, they’re only copying us. That’s what children do. To require them to do as we say, not as we do, thinking we can act with impunity leads to appalling confusion: it goes against the very basis of learning. One would be denying them the right to learn about YOUR world, because you won’t allow them to copy it, and you won’t explain it, either. And it’s your world that they are trying to fix.
Simple questions, but sometimes you have to throw things in that people aren’t expecting! Such is my understanding of behaviour: everything is learnt. Incidentally, the above probably represents the most acceptable of my theories! Alternatively, one may follow the accepted scientific position: autism is incurable and your child will be living with you for as long as you live.
Originally posted by Jayne
I appreciate what you are saying and this may be really good advice for a non-autistic person but it may be difficult for the parent of a child with ASD to ask him why he behaves in a certain way.
For children with ASD the world is generally very black and white - with little or often no grey areas. They 'live the moment' and may instinctively react without knowing or understanding why.
It would be almost impossible to discuss the behaviour while the child is still distressed or anxious as their ability generally plummets as their anxiety increases and they simply not able to process the question and find the right words for an answer even if they know the reason.
If you wait until the child has calmed down they may have 'moved on' and the behaviour and the cause of it are forgotten. To try to discuss an incident at a later date may cause the person with ASD anxiety and distress because they may not know what you are talking about or may be unable to process the question and find an answer.
The way we would try to modify this type of behavour would be to introduce elements of TEACCH - physical and visual structure - giving the young person clarity about what will be happening and what is expected of them and offering an alternative way to behave. With this information the young person's anxiety level will be lowered and therefore there will generally be less inappropriate behaviour.
Depending on the ability of the child we may also use Social Stories to teach appropriate social behaviour.
I think the trouble with ' throwing things at them that they aren't expecting' would be that children with ASD thrive and need predictability and sameness and a different approach that they are unprepared for may only increase their anxiety.
It's really difficult thinking about how to manage the bahaviour of children with autism - you almost have to turn everything you know about parenting on its head!