Dear Autism Teacher/Therapist:
First, let me begin by explaining what autism is. It is a developmental disorder that affects a child’s ability to communicate, socialize appropriately and self-regulate their behavior. Many individuals with autism also have sensory processing disorder. This means they are not able to regulate their sensory needs and may be sensory seeker or sensory avoider. Two of the main areas autism affects are communication and behavior. Now – if the child is young probably younger than ten years old, it is easy to handle their inappropriate behaviors. However, when they get older as all children do, it can become hard to physically handle them. This is when your education and experience kicks in. Actually, even when the kids are young, they should’ve been taught how to self-regulate their behavior. One of the best ways is understanding autism and behavior. I am not saying – you need to go to school and learn behavior analysis but if you chose this field, you should at least understand the basic concepts of autism, communication and behavior.
Here are some simple steps to think about:
1. Jamie from Behave Your Best has an amazing video that explains light switch on and light switch off. This means when the child is displaying any inappropriate behavior is not the best time for the teacher/therapist to keep talking to the child because their brain is not listening and they are in flight or flee mode.
2. Meet their sensory needs proactively and not wait until they have the need.
3. Keep learning and reading about autism, communication and behaviors. Relias Learning has lots of online/webinars that are pretty good.
4. Be humble if you don’t understand something or need help. Don’t be afraid to ask parents for help – they will most likely know more than you when it comes to their child and autism.
5. Don’t label informed and educated parents “difficult”. I once watched Relias Learning video by Dr. Gerhardt and he said one of my fav lines of all time “don’t be afraid of a difficult autism parent, they know more than you and expect a lot from you”.
I understand this is not an easy job, and I hope that those that have the passion and heart do this. Every-time we leave our children with you in school or in a therapy center, we leave you with our heart. Treat our children the way you would want your child to be treated. Be kind, be understanding, learn a lot, analyze situations and don’t use one size fits all, and above all care for our kids.
While this is hopefully an isolated incident, the fact that it is even one incident is heart-breaking. Autism teachers and autism therapists must have some kind of humanity to teach our children.
Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.
Idil – Autism Mom