Reading Comprehension, Perspective Taking, and an Autistic Solution

Is perspective taking important to reading comprehension? Of course it is! Understanding why characters are behaving in certain ways is crucial to comprehension. We also need to be able to understand that different characters have different perspectives and to be able to shift back and forth between characters and their particular perspectives. Because of this, in reading and in life in general, autistics are often admonished to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”

To say something like, “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” assumes a shared experience in the way we think and handle information. That is likely not the case when it comes to autistics, meaning that because their brains likely do not handle information in a neuromajority manner they do not share your experience. That is why understanding HOW autistics think is crucial to understanding how they can come to comprehend what they read or find their place in a multifaceted, fast paced world.

I am intimately acquainted with this admonition – “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” – because I have heard it all my life! In fact, growing up and during my adult years I have been scolded with this saying because I have not been able to put myself in someone else’s shoes. These scoldings never helped me gain this skill.

Coming to understand how my own brain handles information is what made the difference. Here is how I see it:

Why it doesn’t work for me to take your perspective:

As an autistic, it doesn’t work well for me to try to follow the admonition “put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” suggesting that if I do that I will somehow magically wind up understanding exactly how this other person thinks and feels. It seems to me this involves a multistep process.

Step One: To “put myself in someone else’s shoes” means I am supposed to think about how I would feel if I were in the same circumstance.

Step Two: It is assumed that once I think this through, I will have a similar feeling to the neuromajority person.

Step Three: It is thought that I will be able to act, based on my now similar feeling, in a way that will be much appreciated by the neuromajority person experiencing a given circumstance or difficulty.

Looking at these three steps, I am very able to accomplish Step One. I can think about how I would feel if I were in the same circumstance.

Step Two is where the problem comes in, because very often if I were in the same circumstance, because of my autistic thinking style, I would NOT wind up feeling the same way a neuromajority person feels.

Then, when looking at Step Three, yes, I am able to act on MY feelings, but it won’t work out well socially for me because MY feelings likely will NOT match the feelings of the neuromajority. So that is why it doesn’t work out for ME to TAKE your perspective.

Personal Example: Take for example the time I left the home of a friend without say- ing good-bye. We were done visiting, so I left.

Later, I found out my friend’s feelings were hurt because I hadn’t said good-bye; she wondered what she had said or done to deserve what she considered rude treatment. She guessed that she had somehow offended me.

None of this was true for me. I had simply left when the visit was over! No matter how much I think on this, I will never arrive at the same feelings as my friend. So, it will be of no benefit for me to try to put myself in her shoes.

However, I can come to understand how my friend thinks and feels about me leav- ing without saying goodbye and then respond based on her take of the situation, which I have learned to do. I always say goodbye when I leave now – not only with this friend, but with everybody (Endow, 2012)!

For most of my life, people have assumed that I am lacking because I have been unable to take their perspective. The truth is I can come to understand others’ perspective and act on this understanding even though I do not naturally take their perspective. In fact, as an autistic it is not necessary for me to actually TAKE the perspective of others! I only need to understand their perspective to enable me to act in a way that will be socially desirable.

This isn’t rocket science! The ways of the majority is assumed to be “right” and becomes a societal standard. Anyone who doesn’t measure up to the standard is assumed to be deviant or “wrong.” I don’t believe most people even think about this. They are not trying to be mean or in any way think or behave badly to autistics. Instead, it is merely an assumption most peo- ple act on without giving it any, or very little, thought (Endow, 2013).

Solution for Perspective Taking Based on Autistic Thinking Style:

As an autistic, I have learned that when I understand the “majority-is-right” assumption, I can make the necessary accommodations to fit more comfortably into the neuromajority world around me.

Rather than trying so hard to take someone else’s perspective – when that perspective is very foreign to me – what has worked very well for me is instead to try to understand the thinking style of a neuromajority person.

Also, I try to understand the way the feelings of neuromajorites are attached to their thinking because it is often different from mine and has to be accommodated for in order for me to fit more comfortably into the world around me.

To do this, I think of the neuromajority person and myself as characters in a play. This enables me to understand how to act in a compassionate manner based on someone else’s perspective without having to figure out how to take that perspective as my own – something I am not able to do simply because my brain does not seem to work in the same way as the brains of neuromajority people’s brains work.

I understand that thinking elicits feelings and that most neuromajority individuals think in similar ways and that this, in turn, leads to shared feelings. However, because I don’t always share this experience, I have had to figure it out another way.

I can NOT understand by simply putting myself in others’ shoes because even though I could and did put myself in their shoes, my neurology would not allow me to arrive at the same conclusion of a shared feeling.

Instead, I have learned to fast-forward the (current life situation) AS IF it is a play. That way I can see in my head the various ways people might come to look as the scene plays out. I can work out the effects of various words and actions on the characters in the play I have running in my head. Fast-forwarding allows me to act in a way considered “appropriate” without having to understand what the characters are feeling and why.

The amazing thing is that the more I act in a way that makes scenes come out favorably, the easier it is to pull it up again at a future time. In addition, after I acted “right” several times, I could anticipate the responses of others, and it was this anticipation that allowed me a soft feeling of my own – of wanting to relate to and be a part of making the scene come out nicely for all!

It is important for autistics to learn how to take a perspective other than their own according to how it works for their autistic neurology. This, in turn, will lead to increased ability to comprehend written materials where different perspectives are discussed.

BOOKS   BY JUDY ENDOW

Endow, J. (2019). Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology.Lancaster, PA: Judy Endow.

Endow, J. (2012). Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic Adult.Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2006). Making Lemonade: Hints for Autism’s Helpers. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2013). Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2009). Paper Words: Discovering and Living With My Autism. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2009). Outsmarting Explosive Behavior: A Visual System of Support and Intervention for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2010). Practical Solutions for Stabilizing Students With Classic Autism to Be Ready to Learn: Getting to Go.Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Myles, B. S., Endow, J., & Mayfield, M. (2013). The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job: Navigating the Social Landscape of Employment.  Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Murdering Autistics is WRONG

It happened again. An autistic was murdered by his mother. His name was Alejandro and he was 9 years old. The news media shares story as if the story is about Alejanro’s mother and not about him. For some reason, in our warped culture, being autistic  means you don’t count – you are not considered human being enough to count even after someone tries to murder you! In fact, you will likely not even be part of the story after the first few sentences. The story quickly becomes one of excuses for the mother or caregiver who murders the autistic.

At our core, as a society, we hold the belief that a disabled person is better off dead. We don’t actually talk about this belief, but it is what is underneath when so many can read the story and agree with and sympathize with the murderer. In no other murder scenario do we do this – sympathize with the murder and blame lack of services. Disabled people are construed as a burden to their families and are even thought to be the fault of their own murders! Sympathy starts pouring in for the poor murderer who had no choice and who, in fact, did what any one else would be driven to do under the same circumstances is what we are told by news stories and social media commenters.

WRONG

WRONG

WRONG

There are ever so many things wrong with this story line we see repeated about the “unfortunate tragedy” due to the “lack of services” for the family of an autistic person, while writing out the actual autistic person who was in fact murdered or had an attempt of murder carried out against her.

Here are some facts the news reports do not tell us:

1.  Autistic people are human beings. Human beings do not deserve to be murdered. PERIOD. NO ifs, ands or buts.

2.  Autistic people’s lives are not worth less than other people’s lives.

3.  Autistic people do NOT cause their caregivers to murder them.

4.  Lack of services is not a reason for murder.

5.  If you are a parent or caregiver and feel the only way out is to murder your child you are in crisis. Call a crisis line. Your child may be removed from your care temporarily. Foster care isn’t great, but it will keep your child alive while your crisis state can be addressed.

I know by writing this I will have many parents of autistic children jump all over me saying all the usual things they say. So, I will tell you a bit about me ahead of time.

I was “severe” enough as a child to be institutionalized. As a teen I lived in two foster care arrangements that were not appropriate for an autistic teen. One was a group home for mentally retarded adults (that word was not a bad word at the time) even though I was neither mentally retarded or an adult. The other was a group home for delinquent teens; I was a teen, but not delinquent.

It took me a long time to grow up, but I did grow up. As a parent I was told my autistic son  had failed all the services my county and state had to offer and that I should call the police when he became violent.

I foster parented a severely autistic teen for a short time. I went to college. I got a master’s degree in social work. I worked in clinical settings. Eventually, I limited my practice to autism. Today I have my own business. I am an author, consultant, artist and international speaker on autism topics.

I write all this about myself because, nearing retirement, I have experienced all sides of this many-faceted story. I know how it feels to be the victim, the mother, the caregiver and the social worker.  I understand foster care from the angle of the kid in the system, the foster parent and the social worker. And I can tell you that at the end of the day no matter how I look it I know this:

IT IS WRONG TO MURDER YOUR AUTISTIC CHILD.

If murder is looking like a solution to you it means you are near the breaking point and need help. Call your local crisis center and say these words, “I am thinking about murdering my autistic child and here is how I would do it.” Then tell them your plan. If you do not have a local crisis hot line go to the nearest hospital emergency room and say the same words. It is not a perfect solution. It is a crisis solution, but will ensure you get someone to help you in the moment because murder is not a solution to your problem.

Here is the link to the original news story from the weekend.

Image may contain: outdoor, water and nature

Photo Caption: Duck family by the side of a waterway on a sunny day.

BOOKS   BY JUDY ENDOW

Endow, J. (2019).  Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology. Lancaster, PA: Judy Endow.

Endow, J. (2012). Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic AdultShawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2006).  Making Lemonade: Hints for Autism’s Helpers. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2013).  Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2009).  Paper Words: Discovering and Living With My Autism. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2009).  Outsmarting Explosive Behavior: A Visual System of Support and Intervention for Individuals With Autism Spectrum DisordersShawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2010).  Practical Solutions for Stabilizing Students With Classic Autism to Be Ready to Learn: Getting to Go.Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Myles, B. S., Endow, J., & Mayfield, M. (2013).  The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job: Navigating the Social Landscape of Employment. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

The Autistic Experience of Wanting a Friend

In my experience of working with countless autistics over time I know that most of them express the longing for having a friend. They simply don’t know how to make that work. More specifically, they don’t know how to make conversation work for them to be able to participate in the social fabric of life.

Our society uses the medium of conversation for social participation. Through social participation most individuals discover an array of people, some of whom they wish to have as friends. For autistic individuals this often does not happen without lots of support.

Over time many social skills have been directly taught to individuals with autism. We then moved to teaching social understanding rather than individual social skills. We have developed lots of strategies such as cartooning, teaching hidden curriculum, social mapping and social narratives. While these strategies are helpful ways to deliver social information that autistics don’t automatically pick up, still autistics most often go away not having the skills and abilities to use conversation to make friends.

Assigned Friends Outcome

I was taught to say, “Thank you for being my friend.”
So I say it.
I was told to smile like I mean it.

So I smile.

I know I am supposed to feel grateful
That you are my friend
That you took the class
On how to be a peer mentor to me –

The good friends way –
A pal for six weeks
You have been defined

You are a good person
For giving up your spot
At the popular kids’ lunch table

To earn the community service hours
You need for graduation
By eating lunch with me,
By being my assigned friend.

I ask, “Do you know Jerry Lewis?”
Because I think you would like him

I think you are a modern day Jerry Lewis –
A Good Samaritan who calls himself friend.

You don’t have a telethon on TV,
But you have the Jerry Lewis Telethon
In you heart
Imparted by Mrs. Jones in her Good Friends Program.

You are a good person.
You are a trained Good Samaritan now called “friend.”

Definition of Good Samaritan
“A person who gratuitously gives help or sympathy to those in distress.”
Says dictionary.com

Next month you will get your community service credit.
Your lifelong attitude about people like me
Will have been shaped

Because the peer mentoring training
Has passed on to you
Society’s adoption of Jerry Lewis’ ideas about me –
A person in need of sympathy
And a person in distress
Only because I am me – an autistic

We have become fake friends
For six weeks –
A Mrs.-Jones-Good-Friends-Program-success!

Your benevolence
 My neediness
Having been defined

With a line drawn between us
Our two groups separated
Defined, distinct, different from each other –
Society’s wisdom at categorization…

When it is over
We say our goodbyes

And like I was taught I say, “Thank you for being my friend.”

And I remember I am meant
To smile like I mean it.
So I smile.

Goodbye peer mentor –
My assigned pal
From Mrs. Jones Good Friends Program.

You go on to your next project
I wait for my next assigned friend to eat lunch with
Both of us having been marked by the experience

Unbeknownst to Mrs. Jones and to us –
The indelible ink of societal attitudes
Wrote messages on both our hearts
Confirming my place in your world…

That it is indeed YOUR world
And thus, your right
To continually put me in my place

For which I am meant to say,
“Thank you for being my friend.”
And to smile like I mean it.

And this status quo could march on and on EXCEPT

Yesterday I stopped smiling
And for all the rest of my todays

I will no longer say
“Thank you for being my friend.”
Even though I know I am meant to.

Today autistics and those who work with them have an opportunity to use the strategies out- lined in Talk with Me: A Step-by-Step Framework for Teaching Conversational Balance and Fluency (Mataya, Aspy, & Schaffer, 2017). Implementation of this program goes way beyond teaching and practicing elements of conversation. Autistics have been able to develop critical mass (Myles, Aspy, Mataya, & Schaffer, 2018) in conversational fluency. Several individuals I know have gone on to be able to use the medium of conversation to allow them to develop friendships based on shared interests……(to continue reading please see  Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology. )

Photo shows two large white eggs on the ground in a wooded area.

BOOKS   BY JUDY ENDOW

Endow, J. (2019).  Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology. Lancaster, PA: Judy Endow.

Endow, J. (2012). Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic AdultShawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2006).  Making Lemonade: Hints for Autism’s Helpers. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2013).  Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2009).  Paper Words: Discovering and Living With My Autism. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2009).  Outsmarting Explosive Behavior: A Visual System of Support and Intervention for Individuals With Autism Spectrum DisordersShawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2010).  Practical Solutions for Stabilizing Students With Classic Autism to Be Ready to Learn: Getting to Go.Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Myles, B. S., Endow, J., & Mayfield, M. (2013).  The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job: Navigating the Social Landscape of Employment. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

 

Autistic Cognitive Processing Differences

Over the past 20 years we have begun to realize that people with diagnosed with ASD have a different cognitive processing style. Professionals have looked at autistic people and by observing their behaviors have come up with at least three theories that together impact reading comprehension in students with autism. Here are those theories along with aspects of their basic definitions:

Central Coherence:

  • the brain’s ability to process multiple chunks of information in a global way
  • and viewing them in context
  • in order to determine a higher level of meaning

Executive Function:

  • the set of skills or abilities involved in organizing cognitive processes

Theory of Mind

  • ·  the ability to recognize the thoughts, beliefs and intentions of others
  • ·  to understand these are different from our own
  • ·  and to use this understanding to predict behavior (Carnahan & Williamson, 2010)

We can now look at these three theories and know that it isn’t all together true that autistic people are lacking in these areas, but instead their brains function differently than the brains of neuromajority individuals. It has been more helpful to me in my practice to figure out how the neurology of the individual I am working with actually handles information and how his automatic style of autistic thinking works. It hasn’t ever turned out to be helpful when I have tried to get individuals with autism to think and handle information in a neuromajority manner.

For many years I have ascertained that it isn’t that I, as an autistic, do not have theory of mind, but that instead, I do not have YOUR neuromajority Theory of Mind. When I am with other autistics I discover we share our own Theory of Mind. Our brains work similarly to one another and differently from yours. Simply put – we have a different operating system. Just like you cannot adopt my Theory of Mind, I cannot adopt yours.

Additionally, when it comes to theory of mind aspects of interoception now inform us that individuals whose sensory system is not giving them typical and reliable feedback do not have the physiological basis – feeling and understanding their own bodily sensations that are connected with their emotions – that is the prerequisite to being able to understand how the thoughts, beliefs, intentions and feelings of others might be different from their own (Mahler, 2018, Personal Communication). Understanding this difference allows us to go on to predict behavior of the characters in a novel and of people in the world around us.

Neuromajority Theory of Mind is based on a shared experience of the functional interoception body mind connection. When experiencing a sensory system that is not integrated, autistics struggle to access participation in this shared experience. Today we can use The Interoception Curriculum: A Step by Step Framework for Developing Mindful Self-Regulation (Mahler, 2019) to support a more functional body mind connection.

Likewise, much of executive function happens differently for autistic people. Previously in this book you have read a few examples of the storage systems of autistic individuals. These storage systems are examples of the rudiments of executive function for that person. It is the way their brain is organizing the information. Left to itself, it is has been my experience that initial styles of organizations, being literal and concrete and starting at a young age, are often outgrown as youngsters age. They simply acquire too much information for their early years storage system to serve them well. When we understand their system we can impact the size, functioning, speed of retrieval, etc. to make it more efficient. In addition we can use the typical supports all human beings use to stay on top of the many things we need to keep organized both in our internal thoughts and in our external lives as we go about our days.

Central coherence allows us to figure out why it is that characters in a novel or people in real life are acting the way they are acting. It requires the ability to process many individual chunks of information in the story or in the context of life, hold all those individual things in place and then match them to the context or backdrop of what else is going on in the story (or life) – all of this to then surmise a higher meaning.

As for myself I have had lots of trouble doing this over my life, but have learned along the way just how my brain does it. Additionally, I have learned how to best support my autistic style of thinking and manner of handling information to be able to comprehend what I read and much of the social aspects that living entails.

Point to Ponder:

I simply think differently than neuromajority people think. It is not an inferior way of thinking. It is just different. Even so, because autistics are measured according our deviation from the typical standard of normal our different ways are often assumed to be inferior or less than.

This is another example of why it is not helpful to think of autistic people in terms of their diagnosis. Because a diagnosis is based on deviation from accepted normal, an autism diagnosis shows a picture of what autistics ARE NOT and highlights what we CANNOT DO as compared to the majority normal. A diagnosis says nothing at all about the human beings we ARE or what we CAN DO.Our abilities and skills often remain unnoticed and untapped.

The majority of the people in the world do not possess our autistic skills and abilities. Because of this they do not notice them and really do not have a good way to understand them. This makes it nearly impossible for neuromajority folks to support autistic skill development in us. For example, if my way of thinking in the movement and sound of color had been understood by those around me and then supported over my growing up years I likely would have been able to produce paintings well before my 50’s (Endow, 2013).

Taken from  Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology. 

BOOKS   BY JUDY ENDOW

Endow, J. (2019).  Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology. Lancaster, PA: Judy Endow.

Endow, J. (2012). Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic AdultShawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2006).  Making Lemonade: Hints for Autism’s Helpers. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2013).  Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2009).  Paper Words: Discovering and Living With My Autism. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2009).  Outsmarting Explosive Behavior: A Visual System of Support and Intervention for Individuals With Autism Spectrum DisordersShawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2010).  Practical Solutions for Stabilizing Students With Classic Autism to Be Ready to Learn: Getting to Go.Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Myles, B. S., Endow, J., & Mayfield, M. (2013).  The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job: Navigating the Social Landscape of Employment. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Concrete Style of Thinking

When it comes to autistic individuals, those whose brain gloms onto concrete thinking are often our rule followers. They know exactly how things are meant to go and they follow their perceived routine, doing things exactly in the same way every time.

One time I was called in to a high school because a student on the spectrum had picked up a tabletop copy machine and threw it on the floor, causing considerable damage. This situation was cartooned and the problem discovered before we even got to the event of throwing the copy machine to the floor.

This student was able to draw cartoon stick figures and then told me what to write in the word bubbles and thought bubbles as we went. First, he was sitting at his desk doing a math worksheet. Next, he was sitting at his desk reading his paperback chapter book. Then the bell rang signaling the class was over. He then threw his book on the floor.

This student asked if I could write swear words in the word bubble because he actually had said a swear word, but the rule was no swearing in school. I knew he would get stuck on this if I didn’t find a way through for him because his cartooning needed to be accurate and he also needed to follow the rules. Therefore, I showed him how to write a swear word using asterisks in place of some of the letters.

When he got done with that frame I commented he must have been really ticked off about something to use a swear word, especially since he was such a great rule follower and the school had a no swearing rule. He told me, “Not mad, not sad.”

I accepted that and then added to the frame showing the bell had rung. (An empty frame that had the letters bzzz to indicate the bell sound.) I added a stick figure and a thought bubble and prompted, “Tell me the words to write in your thought bubble.” Using this visually concrete way to elicit the timeline of events along with his thoughts worked well.

The words in the thought bubble turned out to be the internalized rules he had made for himself on how to read a book. The steps were actually numbered! He had made this list when he was a very young boy and his parents read him storybooks. The rule list went through such things as turn open the cover and the front page one, turn each page and read each word until there are no more words or pictures, turn any remaining pages, turn the inside back cover to close the book.

I could see the problem! He was using a preschool set of rules for reading a picture book and now he was in high school reading chapter books. The rules no longer worked! Generally, a chapter book is not read in one sitting. How frustrating to take out his book for pleasure reading each time his seat work was finished and to start reading on the same page one over and over! He said, “I follow the rules as I know I should. Over and over, again and again, but never do I get to the end of my book. It must be because I’m stupid” (Endow, 2006).

We needed a solution that would work for his neurology. When I suggested that since his old rules were meant for childhood picture books maybe he could update the rules to cover chapter books he disagreed. He wasn’t changing the rules. They were the rules!

The next time I saw him I brought several bookmarks with stickers of his then favorite Toy Story movie. He was invited to make a set of rules for how bookmarks worked that could fit into his rules for reading a book. It worked!

Once again, understanding his neurological style of thinking dictated by the way autism played out in his brain allowed for a resolution to the behavior of throwing his book each day at the end of math class which culminated in a frustration big enough that on his way out the door one day he picked up and threw a copy machine.

Even though throwing things was the behavior problem I was called in to solve, it wasn’t the real problem. Finding the glitch – that place where his autistic style of thinking did not interface well with the world around him – is what was needed. Then, once the real problem is discovered we needed to come up with a real solution – one that worked for him – i.e., bookmarks!

Simply giving him a rule such as no throwing things may have served to cut down on the throwing, but the frustration would have grown and he would have engaged in an alternative-to-throwing behavior. We often give our students rules about what they can and cannot do around their behaviors. It seems to make sense, especially when they are rule followers, but it rarely pans out as a viable long-term solution.

Additionally, we have the science that allows us to extinguish a behavior. In the long run it usually doesn’t serve anyone well to simply extinguish a behavior because that behavior is a solution for something – in this case to release the pressure that came from feeling compelled to follow a set of rules that no longer served him well. When one behavior is extinguished it is soon replaced by a new behavior that is always a more intense behavior. It doesn’t work to just say no to behaviors. We need to find the glitch – that place where autistic neurology doesn’t interface smoothly with the context of life – and outsmart that place based on that particular individual’s neurology.

Taken from  Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology. 

BOOKS   BY JUDY ENDOW

Endow, J. (2019).  Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology. Lancaster, PA: Judy Endow.

Endow, J. (2012). Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic Adult. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2006).  Making Lemonade: Hints for Autism’s Helpers. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2013).  Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2009).  Paper Words: Discovering and Living With My Autism. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2009).  Outsmarting Explosive Behavior: A Visual System of Support and Intervention for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2010).  Practical Solutions for Stabilizing Students With Classic Autism to Be Ready to Learn: Getting to Go. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Myles, B. S., Endow, J., & Mayfield, M. (2013).  The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job: Navigating the Social Landscape of Employment. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.