It’s easy to make judgements and only look at the surface without exploring the world from the child or young person’s perspective.
Autism is a complex developmental disability that affects the way a person thinks and responds to the world around them. Most individuals will have difficulty to a greater or lesser extent with social communication, social interaction and social imagination.
There are specific traits that you may see in people who are on the spectrum but for me, it’s about seeing the person first, and seeing the world through their eyes. Our challenge is to read the unspoken communication and identify what we can do to best to support individuals help them reach their full potential.
I am writing as both a professional who has worked in the sector for over 30 years, but perhaps more importantly as a parent of grown up daughter who happens to have autism. It is essential that we see the individual first rather than the condition.
Communication does not need to be about language, we all need to ‘look’ for hidden communication to understand what the person is trying to say. Behaviour is a form of communication, if that is so, what is the communication behind the behaviour?
It may be that the child with his hands over his ears is saying ‘Help, it’s too noisy and I’m scared’ or ‘I need some help in taking a step forward to meet new people’ or ‘I need you to show me what I meant to be doing’.
Trying to understand individuals on the spectrum is not always easy. It is hard when verbal communication may not always come naturally.
The new Fink Cards ‘Let’s talk autism’ were written in conjunction with parents, siblings and individuals on the spectrum.
The questions offer the opportunity to explore the world from the child’s perspective, find out more about them and take another look at how to support the individual more effectively. They have been written in a way where the responder can answer literally, or if the responder does not know an answer it helps the questioner to recognise this is where they may need a little more support.
In the series we also take a look at how others respond to autism, parents, siblings and professionals. Autism is not just an individual disability it affects the wider family and friends circle, the school children and staff and even those we meet in the supermarket.
If you use these new cards, prepare to be challenged, to consider your own communication, responses and behaviour and try to see the world through a different set of eyes. Let’s take a person centred approach can help make life easier and less stressful with a little thought and planning.
The Play Doctors provide work placements for young adults on the autism spectrum to give them a helping hand into the workplace. We manage each individual differently, using visual aids where necessary, adapting work programmes and tasks. We watch as these young people become more confident, self assured and ultimately learn skills to move into adulthood.
Autism to me is amazing and if we look at the individual first we can all help individuals to reach their own potential in life.
Wendy Usher has over 30 years experience of living and working with people on the autism spectrum and other disabilities. She taught children with additional needs and managed a number of voluntary organisations before setting up The Play Doctors in 2007. The Play Doctors provide visual aids and communication resources for home and school. Wendy has written 11 books and writes and delivers training courses across the UK. Her philosophy is to ‘help break down communication barriers to enable all people to participate’. http://www.theplaydoctors.co.uk/
Wendy brings her expertise on Autism to Fink Cards‘ new resources to help people understand more about autism and how it affects the lives of individuals on the spectrum and those living or working with them at home or at school. Let’s Talk Autism, All About Me and Let’s Talk Autism, All About Me and Others is published this week.