Thursday, August 27, 2015

In My Misunderstood Autism

I am Philip. God made me this way. When I was younger, no one appreciated me being autistic. I was seen by my deficits, not as a person. It made me feel so lost. It was the worst. I am so happy I am no longer there. I thank God and Soma for getting me out of silent prison. Being thought of as retarded and unteachable is like being locked away in solitary confinement except people are all around me thinking I am not there.  I talked with a mouth which did not say what I wanted to say. Meaningful words stayed behind in my mind.  How I wanted to get them out. People assumed I only thought what I said. I was not in control of my body either. I made many mistakes on my school drills. I had amounted to a pet to train through ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis). I want to tell you loud and clear. Save ABA for pets and animals. The solution accepted by my friends and me is acceptance of autism as another way of being. Then good education and a reliable means to communicate must be given. Addressing anxiety and brain-body disconnect is also important. 

I am each day learning as a neurotypical learns. I can understand everything people say. I mean to be able to do more to show people I am smart. Autism really makes it hard to control your body. In my case, I can look like I don't care or I can't comprehend. I think many autistics are underestimated like I was. I am learning some easier ways to good communication. Pointing to letters is easier than speaking. No method has helped me more than Rapid Prompting Method (RPM). I was able to show I could learn. I am advocating for regular education with accommodations such as using iPads and letterboards in the classroom.

I think most autistics invite mental challenges. Good instruction about the world prepares us to choose an interesting life for ourselves. I prefer learning to childish ABA activities. Be very patient with us doing academics. We understand what you teach. Our bodies betray us. Most of the time I cannot be independent in my work because my body gets distracted so easily. Assume competence and we will do better. Meaningful pieces of good advice prepare us to enter the learning world with good attitude toward others. I can very much feel freer to hear you and respond if you care and are persistent. I search among people a quality of lots of motivation to get to know me. My success comes from a lot of mom persisting I work every day. A quest of mine is getting parents and teachers to practice RPM more. Autistics like me need believers in us. We need you to accept our challenges and help us work through them.

Addendum:  Philip answering questions from a reader:

Do you think that ALL autistic children are just as bright as neurotypical children, just that they have sensory difficulties? Or do you think that there are some who are too shrouded with sensory difficulties that they are not able to learn well and have no longing to communicate like you did before you went through RPM?

Philip:  My opinion is that all autistics can learn and want badly to communicate. Sensory difficulties make no difference in intelligence or desire.

Also, it seems that many of the autistic kids I work with, even those who are able to speak, have an issue with reasoning. For example, when asked "why" questions. Why is it that those who are able to speak well and articulately are not able to answer questions like that?


Philip:  Autistics do not have a problem with reasoning. They may need more practice answering why questions because their impulse is to rely on repeating back information.






Lisa's note:  This post is a response to a comment from a reader which read:

Dear Philip, I work with some autistic children and I recently chanced upon your blog. I am quite amazed by the fact that we could have been so wrong about some of the kids. We love and believe in the children, and believe that they are able to learn. But thought of them wanting to communicate so badly like you did, but are unable to do so verbally, never crossed my mind. It kills me thinking that. It got me interested in RPM. It would be great if the students took it up. I have in mind some kids whom I can see on the programme.

On a separate note, do you think that ALL autistic children are just as bright as neurotypical children, just that they have sensory difficulties? Or do you think that there are some who are too shrouded with sensory difficulties that they are not able to learn well and have no longing to communicate like you did before you went through RPM? The reason I ask this is because there are some students who aren't able to do seated work like math, or do not seem to be able to make simple choices or follow instructions. These are the students who seem much more different than those who (even though do not talk much) are able to make choices, follow instructions, and do seated work.

However, if these students actually have a desire to speak and communicate just as much as you did, and are able to logically think that and crave for that, then there is a big change that needs to be made about our thinking towards them.

Also, it seems that many of the autistic kids I work with, even those who are able to speak, have an issue with reasoning. For example, when asked "why" questions. Why is it that those who are able to speak well and articulately are not able to answer questions like that?

I haven't read your blog for long, but it's amazing what has been done with RPM so far. Please do respond to this comment because I would like to understand more about the students I work with. Reading your blog makes me realise how one-sided our approach and thinking towards autistic people can be. I hope to be able to introduce some parents to RPM if that means helping their children communicate freely. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Anxiety


By Philip

Anxiety gets in the way of my life. My body not working well causes anxiety. Anxiety further causes my body to fail me. I can't escape anxiety. I am anxious all the time. 

I want to be able to control my body better.  I have a body with a mind of its own. I am practically pleading with my body each day to listen to my mind. I try to get it to act normally but my body won't listen to my instructions. I mean to learn to use my thinking brain more than my impulsive brain. I am annoying to live with. I often go to my siblings’ and parents' bedrooms and take their toothbrushes. I am really bad. I mess so many things. I am ruled by impulses in these moments. I am an escaper too. I have a tendency to ask for the bathroom to avoid uncomfortable situations. I flee when I am overwhelmed with stress or fear and don't know what to do. I am shy. I wish I could have a more outgoing personality. Peace could come if I could control my actions better. I am so paranoid I will lose control and make a fool of myself. I am peacefully accepting I cannot make my autism go away. Therefore I am going to have to live my best with autism. I am making an effort to put more good practice in purposeful movement. I want to act more normally and appropriately.

Autism is very very challenging because it affects everything I experience. I am always trying to protect myself from an overwhelming feeling of dread. It can come anytime:  a child's cry, a bombardment of sound, or a tough patch in my development in communication. These can make me feel so helpless, out of control, and painful. Nothing pacifies me completely. I go to God's word to help me. It helps but accepting wisdom the Lord gives is by faith and trust. It talks to me only when I am seeking. But asserting God's wisdom asks I be peaceful enough to hear. My prayer is that God give me a less anxious heart so I can make a wise choice to daily participate in the world more. I sometimes wish I could see Him and ask Him to rid me of anxiety for good.

A moment of calm at the lake.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Newton, Gravity, and God

By Philip

I think Newton was an intelligent man to make such an impact on science, engineering, and astronomy. He came up with many many new ideas about nature from keen observation. He applied the ideas made by people before him like Galileo and Copernicus. Newton was a leader in new thinking and invention. He came up with the universal law of gravity, explanation for light and rainbows, and invented calculus and reflecting telescope. God gives man the ability to reason. Therefore God allows his natural laws to be uncovered by people. Gravity is God's force holding everything together in the whole universe.  He rules over the universe and everything in it.  He does not take a break from it. I pity the man who takes too much pride in his intelligence and thinks there is no God. He is ultimately a fool. I want to make a new way of looking at autism. Loving us as we are is important. Being willing to search for the hidden talents of autistic people will improve the world.


*Lisa's note- An interesting idea is that Newton may have had Asperger's Syndrome.  You can read about it in this article in New Scientist.  

Isaac Newton



Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Cottage

By Philip



I had a go at camping in Canada this weekend. I loved it. Peaceful and quiet it was. My Aunt Kit and Uncle Mike made our family feel so welcome at their cottage. I am thankful I got to go. Nature was all around me. I made the most of being out in nature. I marveled at God's creation. I picked wildflowers and passed many plants and trees on our hikes. I smelled the pines. I heard animals chirp, splash, and scurry. The lake was so peaceful. My anxiety melted away looking at the clear and soothing water. I am sane and calm around all of nature and peace abounds in my soul. I wish I could live a more simple life. My perfect life would be in the country. Part of me wanted to stay forever.





At the cottage I tried lots of new things. I have made more daring efforts to try new things. I went on a motorboat. Motorboats are loud but fun.  I am putting up with loud noises more so I can slay my fears away. Action packed was my weekend.  I swam, paddleboated, hiked, fished, and rode on a boat and a canoe. I also saw animals like a heron, hummingbird, loon, and a fox. I tried fishing for the first time. Uncle Mike helped me by showing me what to do.  I didn't catch anything, but it was great to try. Mastering the fear of trying new things makes me satisfied with how well I am living now. Making bolder decisions makes for a more exciting life.  I am glad I went to the cottage. It was so relaxing and fun.

 Paddle boating with Dad

Fishing with Uncle Mike


Thank you Aunt Kit and Uncle Mike for inviting us to your cottage. I really enjoyed it.

Relaxing with the Family