Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Joy of Autism

For the most part, I like what Estee has to say about things. Her posts are well thought out and usually pretty on target. She runs the Autism Acceptance Project, which is actually a very interesting site.

On one hand, I love her message. That we can love our children for who and what they are, that their Autism is a part of who they are. That to some extent we need to accept their quirks and difficulties, and learn to love them for it. She preaches inclusion, which I also think is good, in the right circumstances. Her son Adam is largely nonverbal (I believe), and communicates best through typing or writing. I've read some of their "conversations" and they were haunting, yet beautiful. Amazing to me, anyway.

On the other hand. I don't think that accepting Jaymes' Autism and stopping therapies would be wise. I do not think Estee advocates that though, but some of the folks over on the TAAP message board do. I'm all for acceptance, but some behaviors I will not be so accepting of- biting, headbanging, self injurious behaviors pretty much. As for the inclusion aspect. Inclusion is great, if done right. But take a look at a typical preschool "special ed" inclusion type classroom. 14 kids NT. 3 on the spectrum, some high functioning, some low. 1 Autistic kid. The ratios seem very off to me, for one thing. For another, what happens in a lot of these classrooms is, the NT kids get taught. The Autistic kids wander aimlessly around the room, and as long as they are quiet and sdon't cause disruption, all is well. This is where inclusion is a failure. I would rather have my child in a purely Autistic classroom, actually learning, than in an inclusive class, not learning.

Overall, I enjoy Estee's blog very much, and though some of her posts are way too long and full of looooong quotings, I highly reccomend it.


Anonymous said...

Estee Klar ignores all research based and scientifically proven therapy for kids on the spectrum. Inclusion is a complete failure if the child has not been taught the appropriate prerequisite skills through intensive ABA and even then, the majority of school districts are complete failures at properly transitioning a child successfully. They hire untrained "Paras" or "Aides" and the ratios are a joke. It's nothing but formalized babysitting. I have witnessed it time and time again and so many parents are not understanding everything that is missing.

Inclusion does not work for very affected kids. The only time I have seen it work is if a child went through years of ABA and then were high functioning enough to learn everything through observation, have good theory of mind, executive functioning, persepctive taking skills and are highly verbal. Remember, there is a BIG difference between a child existing in a classroom and calling that inclusion versus actually particpating and being able to successfully interact and particpate. I always tell parents and districts to equate it to this:

I can stand in an operating room and call myself a surgeon, but I'm not really a surgeon because I would need years of schooling and training and only then could I be capable of participating and call myself a doctor. Or I could sit in the cockpit of an airplane and tell everyone that I am a pilot, but I wouldn't really be a pilot until I had hours and hours of flight time and extensive training. Kids in inclusion are NO different and parents are fooling themselves to the detriment of their kids in the long run.

Sorry, but Estee lives in some fantasy world and does nothing but ramble. I think she is the last person any parent should be listening to.

Amber DBTD said...

Like I said, some of her stuff i can take or leave, some I like.

I do think that even severely autistic kids can learn without ABA- Jaymes has made leaps and bounds, and we have not been able to get the ABA. He's still not doing that wonderfully, but he is learning.

The school situation we have disgusts me, but at the moment it's the only option. At least he gets to be around other kids, right?

farmwifetwo said...

Don't ever get me started on ABA.. they were here for 8 miserable months. My happy, go lucky, never hurt anyone, everyone loves him kid actually assaulted (clawed the T's neck) one day - 5 actions against others - that was the last day he was here and they were gone less than 2mths later. He's NEVER harmed anyone since. He did get into it with the EA a couple of weeks ago.. he was certain he'd done the math right and she said no/yes/no/yes and then I guess he got up and moved her head up and down and said "yes"... No, meltdowns, no screaming, no yelling... the teacher told me it was all they could do not to laugh at him for being silly. He's discovered he has opinions and to vocalize them appropriately, not w/ excessive behaviour and to fix things when he's upset. Ie, spill juice - get a towel; lose socks - get another pair etc - saves on the meltdowns and teaches independance. Although he doesn't need the PEC book 80% of the time it is still there for those times he is overwhelmed and cannot communicate. This is also working very well. They weren't upset, but will now anticipate him and again, work towards more appropriate behaviour, and for them to communicate a better "reason" to him and not just "assume" he understands. I was pls'd that they realized that they too hadn't managed to communicate properly to him... and he needed to understand what they were trying to tell him... and they would work on that.

Started "back to school" stuff with ABA (SK) - keep the peace kind of deal at the "get out of my house" meeting - but the school even kicked them out after 6wks... with parental permission of course :) :)

Education is key... training one's pet dog to react to food... is not.

Inclusion done properly works. It is VERY rare for it to be done properly. We are VERY, VERY, VERY lucky that with the little one, it is being done properly.

Estee even posted that she doesn't plan on homeschooling him and this past summer stopped all extra therapies. This IMO is wrong. The child needs to have a life and extra-curricular activities as well... but 30min/day of extra spelling, a little math, and a story to read... goes a long, long ways in a very short span of time. Not a lot... just to help put in the basics of the 3 R's...

I have 2 goals for my boys - 1 - education; 2 - independance. How far we'll get with both.. unknown.. what I do know... is that we are doing better than we're suppose to be doing.

I see she deleted the blog today.


Amber DBTD said...

You have such wonderful experience to share! thank you so much for everything you've posted.. Eventually i'll get to replying in depth.. I'm so lazy lately.

I'm sad to see Estee's blog go, I wonder why she deleted it.