Recently, Dr. Gil Tippy, co-author of Respecting Autism, was asked to contribute a special guest blog post on the acclaimed Love That Max (which has been featured as one of the Top 100 Mom Blogs on Babble and more), in honor of Autism Awareness Month. Ellen Seidman, creator of Love That Max, added: “Dr. Tippy is all about respect—for the kids he works with, and for their families. As you can see, it shines through in his responses.” Here is an excerpt from Dr. Tippy’s guest post, “Myths and truths about autism from a doctor who knows”:
The myth: Autism is a disorder of memory.
The truth: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are disorders of relating and communicating, not disorders of memory. This may seem obvious, given that the general public has seen great memories in action—in the movie Rain Man, for instance—but the people supplying the bulk of the interventions in autism seem to have forgotten it. In general, kids on the autism spectrum have very good memories. In fact, their parents generally report that their kids remember the littlest, seemingly insignificant details of everything. Kids see the trees very clearly, but cannot see the forest; they have trouble being big picture thinkers. That is why interventions that work on cramming kids’ memories with endless facts, drilling on meaningless detail, are ineffective and harmful. What kids on the spectrum need are interventions that focus on the core deficits of autism: relating and communicating.
The myth: Kids with ASDs are not interested in communicating.
The truth: Kids with ASDs very much want to communicate and get their needs met, but have not yet seen that the way we generally communicate, with it’s subtle social rules, is something they can do. Kids communicate constantly, and they need clinicians and teachers who can appreciate their communications. Interventions should never be aimed at “extinguishing behaviors” by punishment or ignoring, as those behaviors are the communications of the kids. For example, one student I know was on a program where the goal was to extinguish “inappropriate smiling!” I guess the theory was that the smiling seemed to be out of context, and so was inappropriate. I wanted to treat the smiling as a communication, and worked hard to understand what the student was trying to tell us and then respond appropriately to what the he was trying to say. Teachers and parents need to be shown how to understand what is underlying a behavior, and to use the child’s natural desire to communicate as an ally in the attempt to invite kids into our world. “Extinguishing behaviors” is really just stifling a child’s voice.
>> Read More at “Myths and truths about autism from a doctor who knows” on Love That Max!
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we are offering the first chapter of Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s and Dr. Gil Tippy’s book, Respecting Autism, for free for a limited time. To download and read the first chapter in PDF form for free, start reading from “I’ll Run with You” from Respecting Autism.
Photo on right: Dr. Gil Tippy, and his daughter, Sarah at race.