Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

You view everything through a lens of behaviorism

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Point 3 from Sometimes my Heart Hurts for your Child

Over on Speaking of Autism… Quincy has written a heartfelt piece aimed primarily at the autism community, but it is also relevant to the wider neurotypical (non-autistic) community.

The article is quite long (approximately 9 minutes reading time), and each of the points Quincy makes shows how much the autism community fails to understand the autistic community. For this reason, I’m re-posting each point as a separate article here, because each point is important.

Before I start, I feel I need to explain the difference between the “autism community” and the “autistic community” The autistic community consists of people who are autistic, whereas the autism community consists mainly people who are directly or indirectly involved with autistic people (typically family members and those involved in the “treatment” of autism), but are not typically autistic themselves.

Each of Quincy’s points illustrates just how far the autism community and the wider community has to go to meet the autistic community even part way.

You view everything through a lens of behaviorism.

Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Autistic people experience the world in our own unique ways. A young girl with a white tank top and long brown hair in pigtails stands in a field with her arms outstretched behind her, closing her eyes and her head tilted towards the sky. She is wearing headphones.

Not everything is about behavior. Yet some people seem to only view their children as a mass of “behaviors” to be refined. The thing is though, autism is not a collection of behaviors. It’s not a behavioral disorder. Autism is a neurology, a specific way the brain is wired. It’s a way of seeing the world. A way of thinking. A way of moving. So many parents, teachers, and therapists don’t understand that there’s a reason why autistic people do things, and that asking themselves why something is occurring rather than defaulting to “how can I change this behavior” is a better course of action.

It makes my heart hurt for your child when you take a mindset of “autistic = bad” and spend hours and hours per week in intensive therapies to make them appear less autistic, at best wasting precious time of childhood and at worst causing long lasting psychological damage, all for the purposes of “extinguishing” these apparently “bad” autistic behaviors rather than teaching actually valuable skills and coping mechanisms.

It makes my heart hurt for your child when you don’t take their perspective, thinking “if I were doing this my motive would be…” rather than trying to understand them. This leads many to punish meltdowns out of the false assumption that they’re attention seeking behavior, or assume that non-speaking means non-thinking.

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and was diagnosed as being autistic aged sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

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