Subtitle: “Dorothy, that’s hard to answer, but I think the main goal is to help you assimilate into society and reach your fullest potential.” – answered the Wizard of Oz
The article attached provides an assessment of autism therapy and current research at a very high level.
Oddly enough, it provoked a lot of thought in my ancient autistic brain, reflecting on my own pseudo-childhood therapies, and my own concoction of Behavioral Analysis Therapy which I performed on myself as an adult.
One of the key words in the article was ‘plasticity’ as it relates to the brain. The concept is that as a child, our brains are considered to constantly change from both environmental input as well as biological changes of an emerging living creature.
In reality, our brains demonstrate ‘plasticity’ for as long as we are living, attempting to cope, modify, and re-emerge with new synaptic connections in order to adjust to a constant changing world.
The flip-side to this concept is when our brains and the patterns created get stuck in an endless loop or software program, and we subconsciously or biologically stay static.
There is much debate on how, when, and what therapeutic interventions are needed to help an autistic child or adult, and the big question is why!
One of the debated therapeutic interventions is making eye-contact. Why is it important to make eye-contact?
In reality it isn’t important but social humans use that semi-innate capability as part of their communication methods, and I’ve trained myself to do it just like Dr. Temple Grandin did, but it still feels foreign and uncomfortable, and frankly just plain silly as a critical need.
However, social communication is important because that’s how we humans integrate amongst each other, learn to coexist on a very tiny round planet, and eventually use that tool for becoming contributing members of society.
And probably the most important aspect of social communication is the ability to make friends, establish personal relationships, and maybe one day fall in love with another human being, attempt to coexist together, and share lives which may include raising a family.
Therefore, whether you’re for or against therapeutic approaches, including Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy, sometimes it makes sense and is needed.
And the connection of scientific research looking for those illusive genetic combinations that ultimately affect our neurology and behavioral manifestations are an adjunct process to identify which genes affect which behavioral manifestation so that individualized treatment can be more effective.
Will we ever ‘cure’ or eradicate autism? I certainly hope not, I’m perfectly happy just the way that I am, and based on historical anecdotes much of the great science and art created over the centuries are a result of someone being on the autistic spectrum.
However, as primarily social beings needing other human connections in order to feel a sense of belonging and as equal partners sharing a small space, we do need to figure out what tools might help achieve that, and unfortunately the dreaded notion of behavioral therapy and psychometric drugs are part of that equation, at least until 99% of the planet is populated by autistics in my humble autistic opinion of course. 🙂
I hope you glean something from the attached article, preferably a more objective viewpoint on the heated debate regarding treating autism, and why this subject should still be discussed.
Excerpt: Ultimately, the question is not, “What is the best autism intervention?” but “Which method is the best match to this child’s profile of skills and needs?”