ASD needs time and takes a village!

The numbers of ASD children are on the rise and so my services of workshops and advocacy are in higher demand.  I’ve been travelling all over the place lately – metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas. ASD has no borders or boundaries; prevalence rates aren’t affected by race, colour or creed.

What we know though, is that rates are on the rise … Teachers are reporting 3 – 5 ASD students in every classroom (25 to 28 kids) and therapists have never been busier. That means Australia’s statistic of 1 in 68 is way off target and the real figure is more like 1 in 5. The prediction is that by 2025 that figure will be 1 in 2 individuals will be on the Autism Spectrum.

So all this awareness and acceptance movement is simply bullshit – too little too late! What we really need, right now, is global education and action!

There’s no excuse for anyone living in 2016 to be ignorant and uneducated about Autism. It’s not acceptable to be ramming “compliance-based” therapy down the throats of ASD individuals in an effort to ‘change’ them into Neurotypicals … to make them “normal”. It’s not acceptable for educators to say “I’ve been working in special / education for 20 years and I know what I’m doing. Children must be compliant at all costs”.

I say it’s time the antiquated education system was completely overhauled. I say it’s time we started using Teaching methods that are engaging and fun; that re-establish joy in learning and pride in achievement. I say the teachers who enjoy the power their role affords them MORE than the ability to gift children a life-long love of learning, need to get out of the system. You’re damaging ASD kids! Maybe teaching isn’t for you anymore. Perhaps a job as a Bank Teller or a checkout person at Coles or Woolworths might meet your Authoritarian personality more.

What’s sparked this sudden, savage, spewing of words?

I’m sick and tired of trying to tip-toe around Special Educators, Principals and Classroom teachers who are embarrassingly uninterested, uneducated and uninformed about ASD!

I’m busy …. I have a full client load and I travel somewhere in Australia each week to deliver ASD-specific training with a focus on Sensory Issues. I’ve been doing this for 15 years! I don’t have time to pander to the power-play-muscle-flexing used by pompous, has-been educators hiding behind a “professional” label, trying to prove God knows what to themselves and others!

I’m over it.

What’s pushed me over the edge? I’m working with a Prep aged Aspie. He’s beautiful, energetic, enthusiastic… and extremely unregulated. Mum’s health prevents her from driving him to school. Getting Master ASD there on time, dressed, happy and safely is becoming more difficult, and less successful.

Remember, how we transition an unregulated Autistic child to Prep will influence his lifetime attitude towards school and learning. So Prep is, in reality, the most important year in his education.

Solution? Using the Transport Assistance Program provided by the government to transport him by Taxi. Using a transition program and social story to scaffold his success, will mean he will have the same Driver every day, he won’t have to walk (he has sore knees), he won’t engage in unsafe behaviour like  sitting  down in the middle of the road or running out in front of a car. He’ll arrive at school happier and not wind or rain affected (these are 2 of his major sensory issues).

Does he and his family meet the requirements to be eligible for a Taxi – yes.

Will his school submit and support his application – no.

Why?

They want him to learn to walk to school safely. They want to enrol him in a Volunteer program who’s members (unskilled & untrained in ASD) walk kids to school. Volunteers will change at any given moment as they leave or join the program. Volunteers are instructed to walk with children in all weather conditions – sunny, windy or raining.

Apparently the need to make him comply is far greater than the accommodation of his severe sensory issues or understanding the BIG picture. If “going to school” causes too much angst, his anxiety will increase, he’ll shut down and disengage!

There’s a new term being bandied around – Pathological Demand Avoidance – where individuals explode at the slightest demand made on them e.g. Put your shoes on, have a bath.

I don’t believe this is a new condition or a necessary new label. Dr Ross Greene described similar children in his book “The Explosive Child”. But I do believe we are seeing more of this ‘explosive behaviour’ because uneducated Professionals think once a diagnosis is in place that they can simply apply strategies and the child will become regulated and lose many of their ASD traits and behaviour challenges overnight!

Embedding regulation skills takes many years, and we can only work on one or two skills at any time, so the individual won’t become “regulated” and reach their fullest potential until their 30’s or 40’s.

All advocates, therapists and educators need to work together, to share knowledge, across an ASD individual’s lifetime to help achieve regulation.

It takes a village…and there’s absolutely no room for Powermonger’s. Change jobs if you’ve lost your passion.  Do the ASD community a favour and step aside! There’s plenty of ASD-educated, ASD-knowledgable and ASD-empathetic and passionate individuals to take your place!

Nelle Frances

http://www.aspergerchild.com/