Lessen the effects, not the person

Image fom Karla's ASD Page on Facebook

Image from Karla’s ASD Page on Facebook

As I have moved from awareness to acceptance, one issue confused me. I understood advocates’ objections to seeking cures for autism, but I wasn’t sure if treatment was completely forbidden. What I came to understand is that I have to examine my motivations for seeking therapy for Philip and really look at the desired outcomes. If I have Philip in therapy so he learns to act normal, that isn’t acceptance.

Take for example speech therapy. I’ll be honest and admit that I get very excited every time Philip speaks a new word. But my goal isn’t for Philip to talk so seems less autistic. Ever since he received his iPad my hope for him is that he will have a tool to communicate. My desired outcome for his speech therapy is to be able to express his wants, indicate his needs and shares his ideas. If he uses AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) for the rest of his life, I won’t be sad. I’ll be grateful to everyone that helped him find a voice, even if that voice comes from a communication device.

It is okay to acknowledge the challenges and to consider autism a disability. It is not okay to spend hours in treatment trying to disguise these facts . Therapy should be used to lessen the effects, not the person.

As usual, I’m not saying another new. Yesterday, another parent blogger wrote (quite eloquently) on the same topic. I hope you take the time to read her post, as well as the articles written by autistics linked throughout this post.

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a-to-z-letters-l
L is for lessen. And love. Always love.
I’m writing on the topic of autism acceptance as part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

4 thoughts on “Lessen the effects, not the person

  1. Wow you have brought up a lot of things to really think about and why we choose to do therapy. Most parents I have met at parent training seminars or groups have talked more about “enabling” their children. Trying to find the best kind of therapies that follow their child’s lead and concentrates on their strengths to build their confidence so that they can succeed and be emotionally happy.

    For me it is hard when the words started to come with “Johnny” last year and he sat on his bed crying….why? Because he was sad because it was just so hard trying to communicate with words. He has a communication book with PECs and he can use hand signs as well. But the thing that I have been missing a lot in the whole awareness vs acceptance discussion (debate) is how do the child’s peers see them. How do they communicate? The other children want “Johnny” to talk and help him say things all the time because they want him to do what the can do and they can play with him. In a better world the teacher would use PEC’s and visual schedules for the whole classroom and would involve the children in more peer to peer play with my son so he learns and they learn how the communicates but sadly many classrooms make accommodations for the special needs student “to be” in the classroom and to learn but they don’t have the rest of class make accommodations. I think you have inspired me to write a lot on this….but I take him to speech therapy because he wants to go because he doesn’t like having trouble saying words.

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    1. Your remark about using PECS with everyone is valid. It’s just good teaching to combine both visual and auditory input so that you are meeting the needs of all students despite their preferred learning styles.

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      1. I think the reality that parents often face that you have a teacher with 25 + children in the room and the Education Support person working with the child that has special needs. The EA or some folks call it special resource person is in charge of following through with the school board’s SLP that has designed the PECs book for the student to use in the classroom. The EA tries to teach the child the book to use in the classroom. The teacher and staff tell you all the right things but at the same time make it clear that there are many things happening in the classroom, many children to juggle who need help as well so they do what they can. As a parent you spend endless amount of hours making sure that school resources come in to further assist your child so that they can function in the classroom acknowledging that the teacher has challenges and funding issues. I personally am dealing with a very experienced 30+ years confident teacher who thinks she has experienced everything and and knows her job….she was offered ABA training courses before our son went into her class but she preferred to do her own research. 2 months after having him in her class she was clearly frustrated and was not happy he was performing better in other settings. Today she is happy because she now has taught him to read but its April now…it took us 2 month of fierce advocating and having colleagues talk to her before she learned new strategies. It is an uphill fight many times for many parents.

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