While the cause of Autism remains unknown, there seems to be an increase in the diagnosis of the ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder condition. Autism spectrum disorders (including Aspergers Syndrome) and autism involve difficulties in relating and establish relationships. They also involve difficulties in communication and cognitive thinking.
Myths of Autism:
When Autism was first studied in 1940, it was understood that people with Autism are unable to love, cannot form loving and warm relationships. However, the work by Dr. Stanley Greenspan suggests that children with Autism Spectrum disorders can also experience a sense of love with significant others, such as their parents or caregivers. In addition, research by Morton Gernsbacher and her colleagues shows that children with ASD can also pay attention and understand human emotions when encouraged & directed.
With the new insights and research studies on Autism Spectrum Disorders, we have learned more about the needs of children with ASD. Early intervention guided by the newest research studies is needed for treatment and intervention.
Dr. Stanley Greenspan suggests that working with ASD children using the relationship-based approach. Dr. Greenspan developed the DIR / floortime model to work with children with ASD.
Although children with Autism Spectrum Disorder requires interdisciplinary team approach with speech therapy, occupational therapy, and educational programs, etc. and, home intervention is also possible. There are a lot of activities parents and caregivers can do at home with their children to expand their emotional horizon.
Behavioral approach and behavioral modification alone will not be able to teach your child to become loving naturally or to develop critical judgment although they may be helpful to change surface behaviors. It is because behavioral modification involves repetition, script memorizing and structured learning. The qualities of being warm and loving cannot be taught by repetition and script memorizing.
Helping your children with Autism Spectrum Disorders or Aspergers Syndrome to be warm, loving and engaging is possible but this happens through spontaneous interactions that follow your child’s lead. Every child is different and unique, by following your own child’s lead and pace will allow you to support the best possible learning.
For further information regarding Dr. Greenspan’s DIR/floortime approach, Autism Myths & Facts and recent research studies, please visit www.floortime.org
** Reference: Engaging Autism by Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder (2006)