Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What to Look for When Helping a Person with Autism

People working with people who have autism need to understand how behaviors are a form of communication. Tantrums and meltdowns are not just willful behaviors. Sometimes they are the only way a person with autism can express themselves. People especially need to understand this within the framework of positive behavior supports. An additional need is to plan for repeat problems. People need to look for usable strategies and techniques to teach social skills to people with Autism.

Specifically people should look at enjoyable socialization methods so people with Autism may experience success and the desire to build skills. Social deficits affect life at home, school, and eventually in the workplace. People need highly beneficial strategies that can be used across a variety of settings and routines. The strategies should be practical and effective solutions to assist ‘typical’ people. The strategies should also assist people to become more understanding, accepting and engaging of those with social difficulties.

Part of behavior management strategies is the process of building a relationship on as many levels as possible. Then within the context of the relationship people with and without Autism can work on collaboratively solving problems with behaviors. It also includes doing whatever possible to avoid power struggles.

Another part of behavior management for people with Autism is to build social skills. This should be done with formal lessons on social skills. A social skills training program should also teach strategies for the person with autism to be able to generalize the skill from one situation to another.

At the same time a person with Autism needs social skills training, a typical person needs sensitivity training to better be able to work with an individual with Autism. People can use a variety of ways to practice both the social skills and the sensitivity, such as lunch buddies, peer buddies, and class buddies. Other techniques to be investigated with a person with Autism are conversation skills, cooperative play skills, emotion management, understanding others’ feelings, and dealing with teasing.

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