Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Autism/Asperger Resources

We've got some more things out there to help NTs and autists/Aspies to connect.

When teaching autistic and Aspie children (sometimes adolescents and adults, too), we can explain good behaviors in a modeling technique known as Social Stories or Social Articles. Carol Gray, an expert on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), founded the concept of writing stories to help ASD children learn about the NT social world, and then added on social articles for ASD adolescents and adults.

For example, for a little boy who saw a projector stored in the bathroom, and then refused to use the bathroom unless it had a projector in it, there's a social story titled "AOK to Use the Bathroom Any Way" - explaining that a bathroom may sometimes have a projector stored in it, but it's OK to use the bathroom even if it doesn't have one.

Ms. Gray also has resources to help others write social stories and social articles. She emphasizes that social stories and social articles should often praise the ASD person when s/he does something right, like wait patiently for something or behave maturely when things don't go as expected.

With a little creativity, anyone can make social stories and articles to help autists and Aspies learn the ins and outs of this world.

Lorin Neikirk has given us a series of articles on "How to Love Someone With Aspergers/Autism" - Part 1: Acceptance and Part 3: Communication. (Part 2 has since been removed by eHow.) As Ms. Neikirk makes clear from the beginning:

Half the time you want to hold them forever, and the other half of the time you want to strangle them. You have a family member, friend or love with Aspergers, and it's making you crazy. But it doesn't have to be that way. Remembering a few important things will enable you both to have a very rewarding relationship. 

Getting down to specifics:

Think about your words. Many Aspies listen to each word which is spoken, and they interpret your meaning based on their understanding of the definition of the words you use. Most NTs are able to generalize a little better when another person says "could you put a lot of mashed potatoes on my plate?" Say this to a person with Aspergers and you might get a blank look! When the message is in the words, it pays to be as specific as possible. Doing so can save time in the long run, preventing repeat requests or lengthy explanations, when a more precise word is all that is really needed for the Aspie to get your meaning.

These are some great tools NTs, autists and Aspies can use to build mutual understanding and some wonderful relationships. Let's use them!

Hat-tip: Mama Mara for the stories, and Emily for Lorin Neikirk's work.

EDIT: Addressing the removal of Part 2 of Ms. Neikirk's series.


Mama Mara said...

From you, that hat tip's a really big compliment. Thanks, and thanks also for the resources.

DJ Kirkby said...

Hi. I would say that these aids as with all people, work for some and not with others. Social stories make a big impact on me but are not effective at all with my son.

Lorin Neikirk said...

Hi, Jeff- I am humbled by your blog about my work, and your other generous comments. Thank you so much! I agree with you on the importance of helping Aspies and NTs ''link up'' on a plethora of levels. I am glad we stumbled across each other, and hope we can work together to help both NTs and Aspies learn how to work together. Thank you again -L

Jeff Deutsch said...

Mara: You are more than welcome. You deserve it, and not just for that pointer.

DJ: Quite right. No resource for anything works for everyone all the time, and social skills resources are no different. It's like work and school accommodations - one size does not fit all. I'm glad social stories work for you, and I hope you and your son's teachers can find things to help your son.

Lorin - You are more than welcome. It is an honor to be linked to you. I'm glad we're on the same path.

Jeff Deutsch