When sitting in class, meetings, interviews; I find myself becoming very judgmental and critical. As much as I consciously try to stop myself, try to sit back and listen -- I can't seem to break the habit. When people are teaching, lecturing, informing, etc... I find myself putting my brother in the position of the so called "client." If I find myself shaking my head or totally going against it, I completely shut down. Not because I am not open to ideas or to learning -- but if I wouldn't put my brother in that position, why would I put any client in that position?
They say not to get too close to your job, to your clients. But are the best practitioners the ones with first hand experience? Aren't they the ones who get too close to each case? Aren't they the ones who take their work home with them?
If I wouldn't do a certain technique or therapy for my brother, why do I have the right to do it for another person? That same person is someone else's son, someone else's brother. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I would write off every technique just because I wouldn't put Sammy in that position. There are things are don't fit him because of who he is. Things that might work wonders for other individuals. What I am saying that if it causes me to shake my head, to think of it as treating them less than a human, mocking their Autism -- I wouldn't agree to it. Not that any therapies or techniques strictly try to treat the person unequally -- but some things really seem like that. For example, as much as ABA succeeds, isn't it what we do to train a dog? This is what I mean.
I know it sounds harsh, that I am being overly stubborn and ridiculous. But when I'm learning something new or in an interview, I think of it as a sibling. Would I be okay with this person teaching my brother this stuff? Would I be okay with this person coming to help him based on this interview? My most recent interview literally consisted of me checking yes or no to my experience. No further detail was needed. Although I know that I am there for the right reasons, if I knew some of the therapists that worked with Sammy were being interviewed this way -- would I be as trustworthy? Probably not. Someone could slip through the cracks -- and do incredible damage to my brother, or others with Autism.
Autism from a sibling's point of view...
My name is Paige and I am 24 years old. I graduated from Towson University with a Psychology Bachelors Degree. I am now working towards my Master's in Education of Autism and other Pervasive Disorders at Johns Hopkins. I am also a Behavior Data Specialist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute Neurobehavioral Inpatient Unit. My younger brother, Sammy, is 19 and has Autism. He is completely non-verbal, unaware of safety, is not toilet trained, cannot get himself dressed, and has difficulty with everyday activities that we all take advantage of. He works harder every single day of his life than anyone I know and he always does it with a smile on his face. He is my true hero and inspiration and because of him, I have dedicated my life to advocating and creating opportunities for individuals with Autism. I hope that I can make him proud and this blog is just a small part of the awareness I hope I can create about Autism and support other siblings impacted by Autism. I love you Sammy - thank you for everything.