This is a word I come across daily. Recently, I reacted to a post, where a behaviourist, wanted to change the word behaviour into communication or alert. I appreciate the effort to progress in this area. But there is still so very far to come.
It is a word that I don’t use, because when we use the word behaviour, we focus on what’s on the surface. You get people trying to manage behaviours rather than the trying to understand what is wrong. Our focus should be on the happiness and well being of the autistic person and not on managing behaviour. And what happens to the person who has equal struggles, yet displays no ‘behaviours ‘!?
Autistic children do turn into autistic adults. By invalidating their feelings and concentrating on strategies to help them control their reactions, what we are doing is creating so many inward mental health issues for the future.
Recently, my son has not been able to attend school. Some people call this ‘school refusal’. Actually, it’s not that he refuses to go, but that he is not able to go, due to his difficulties. He is aware of his difficulties and has a great understanding of how autism impacts on him in different environments and he has a social understanding of what is going on around him. However, because of his understanding, he doesn’t display any typical ‘ behaviours’ and so because of this, his school didn’t believe me when I tried to explain his various struggles.
You see, the acceptable and only intervention that school systems and professional services are able to offer is around ‘behavioural management ‘. So this means 2 things. 1. They try to reinforce ‘positive behaviour ‘ (while ignoring the needs of the person) or 2. They see no behaviours and so therefore ignore the individuals needs.
It’s time we move past ‘behaviour ‘ and work with the individual on creating an understanding environment that, regardless of behaviour or presentation, that persons needs are met and accepted in a way that acknowledges how that person perceives and processes the world around them.