Written by Avril
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
I want to let you know about some excellent training that I recently attended. It was given by Claire Smyton and Leah McKeown from the Centre for Autism at Middletown in Co. Armagh. Please see https://www.middletownautism.com for more information. The two sessions I went to covered communication/coping with anxiety and promoting positive behaviour. The staff from the centre go all over Ireland training parents and professionals, if they are in your area, make sure to check it out as the training is really good and free of charge!
See below a summary of some of what I learnt. Training is great because there are things you need to be reminded of time and time again and you always learn something new. I also met some wonderful Mums and other professionals during coffee and lunch; it is so good to connect with others on a similar ‘journey’. I came away with a better sense of perspective, energy and confidence to hopefully help my Stephen with his anxiety and meltdowns.
Tips to help communication with individuals with ASD:
- Keep your language simple. Use key words to give commands, comment and question, in other words, Say less! Go slow! Show!
- Use pictures/visuals. Individuals with ASD learn using pictures. Make pictures using photos, symbols, cut-outs and use them for schedules, giving choice and general communication. Always have paper and pen with you and use pictures to explain what is happening.
- Give the person time to process information, use the 10 second rule. Do not repeat what you said, after 10 seconds clarify what you said and use objects/pictures/symbols to explain what you have said.
- Individuals with ASD often have higher heart beat rates even when they are in resting/calm states, they live at a higher level of stress/anxiety all the time.
- Reduce visual and auditory distraction where possible. Individuals with ASD find it difficult to regulate these and their other senses and they can get overloaded / overwhelmed very easily.
- Individuals with ASD do not learn social rules by watching others, you have to make things very clear; use first-then communication (e.g. first bath, then bedtime), everything you do has start-middle-finish, when you say No! mean it!, prepare for change using pictures.
- Use clear pictures, lots of structure, be consistent and calm (last one is a bit of a struggle for me!)
- Behaviour is communication, what might look like 'bad behaviour' is the individual trying to tell you something.
- Be aware and understanding that individuals with ASD think differently, they know of only one way to do something, they cannot adjust their thinking and have difficulty asking for help when things are not going their way. This is the way they are, it is not their fault that they cannot be reasonable or think of others, it is part of who they are.
- This quote helped me - From Wing 1996 p87 ‘It is essential to understand the nature of autistic conditions. People with these disorders because of their social impairments, cannot meet you half way. You have to make an imaginative leap into their world and try to see things from their point of view'
Best wishes always,