When your friend does something out of the ordinary, do you think to yourself... I need to change them? No. What happened to "Accept a person for who they are?" People with Autism are people too, this rule should also apply to them.
Just because flapping your arms or constantly covering your ears isn't the "norm" doesn't mean it isn't acceptable. Why are we trying to ABA the shit out of people with Autism? I get it, ABA is highly successful for many people with Autism. But why do we need to change every single behavior. that we consider "odd?" It isn't odd to him/her. It isn't odd to the Autism community. Things like stimming bring a person with Autism back to balance. Back to their normal. Back to feeling "sane."
How do we know that when we (the so called normal) use eye contact or when we don't keep everything lined up just right, the people with Autism aren't thinking, "what the hell? they are so weird!" They don't try to change us, why should we try to change them?
Obviously, there are behaviors that need to be taught not to be done because it can injurious to self or others. But why aren't we mainly focused on helping them acquire the skills they need to live? Like taking a shower, getting dressed, preparing a meal, filling out a job application, etc. Of course... those things are in their plans but should behaviors we consider "normal" even be a priority, at all? Who says we know what normal is?
I'd rather my brother or my clients master hygiene, job skills, safety, etc. Things that matter. My brother isn't something we can just perform experiments on. If we try A, this will increase/decrease the behavior of B and increase/decrease C. WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT? Pavlov trained his dog to salavate when a bell was rung... "trained," "dog." Humans aren't dogs. Humans aren't meant to be trained. Humans are meant to live. Humans are meant to be unique.
Sammy is unique. As is everyone with Autism. Actually, everyone on the planet. How about we start helping people with Autism learn to do the skills they need to be independent and the rest of the world work on adapting to the fact that there is no normal.
Autism from a sibling's point of view...
My name is Paige and I am 26 years old. I graduated from Towson University with a Psychology Bachelors Degree and from Johns Hopkins with a Post-Bacc Certificate in Education of Autism and other Pervasive Disorders at . I recently left my job at Kennedy Krieger Institute and began my Master's Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at University of South Florida. My younger brother, Sammy, is 20 and has Autism. He is non-vocal, 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.