To get into this topic we have to ask ourselves, what is independence and how the process happens in non autistic people.
Generally teenagers go through their process of growing up and all those extra cuticular activities and social meet ups art clubs, and hours in the football pitch help them gain the skills to becoming ‘who they are’ and ‘ finding their place in society ‘. Working on their emotional needs throughout their childhood gives them a sense of self and wellbeing.
Through that they learn the skills to navigate their world as an adult and choose their own path. They learn what they need to do to get by and what they are good at. A sense of belonging and an understanding of who they are comes from where they fit in in society and the emotional stability they were given as a child.
Well, for autistic children this works the other way around. And what works for non autistic children doesn’t work for them. In fact it does the opposite l. Socialisation, emotional programmes and working on strengths hoping that these experiences will be internalised to form a sense of self and independence actually causes confusion and frustration among autistic people and this is why so many end up in mental health care or shut down from the rest of the world.
What is the answer? Well this is quite a long one but I will explain in order and, of course, context. But, to begin with, a sense of self has to be formed in order to socialise, an understanding ( in context) of how visual order, sensory input and how and what causes a meltdown need to be an ongoing program ( which I will show you how to do).
A social understanding rather than socialisation is needed. Emotion needs to be something we view in a different way and the concept of context blindness needs to be broken down. Behaviour is not a word I use or see as being a problem, but rather an indication of something that is causing the brain to malfunction. Autism is a hardware issue not a software one.
So the happiness of the individual must always take precedence. In that, we can build a sense of understanding and with that comes choices of when and how people explain their difficulties to those who do not understand. They will learn that they are masking and can choose when and where this is necessary rather than feeling like they have to do it.
In order to explain these things further, I will break it down into context and will show you the visuals I use to help explain to each of my children how their brain works and what they need to function. I will show you how they progress and what went well and what didn’t.
With each of them the approach was very different because of their ages, time of diagnosis and understanding. By doing this, hopefully, you will get to understand why, when we change our focus, that all we were trying to achieve will be achieved, just from the inside out 🙃