Autism Society records most keynote and concurrent sessions at their annual conferences. You can see and hear those recordings by purchasing full online access, or individual recordings.
1. If a person perseverates on a topic often the solution suggested is to create methods of stopping the person from becoming involved in the perseveration. Yet, many higher functioning individuals with ASD have become successful when they have been encouraged to learn more about their perseveration. Temple Grandin is an excellent example of someone who was encouraged to turn her high interest in cows into a very successful career. It was that career that caused Ms. Grandin to become socially aware, since she needed those skills in order to become employed and work with cattle.
2. Elopement is one of the most common targeted behaviors that providers report needs to be stopped. Professionals state with great concern how the person “runs off” without any reason or awareness of the dangers in the environment. Often staff use fear to try to stop the behavior from continuing, and are very confused about the behavior’s origins. Developmentally, the answer should be obvious! When teaching someone (whether on the spectrum or not) to walk, especially if they have motor coordination delays, experts encourage people to play the game of “chase” with them. The result is the person’s muscles are strengthened and their coordination improves with practice, meaning they can walk/run better. The neuro-typical person continues to develop normally and soon finds the game of chase boring. While the person with a developmental delay may continue enjoying the game of chase, even after they can run faster than the people around them. If the function of the behavior is to have fun, professionals will have greater success if they replace fun with fun. Therefore, teaching the runner the game of STOP will usually be much more successful then punishing someone for playing the game of chase, especially if the runner cannot be caught!
3. Children and adults on the spectrum often are reported to talk “nonsense” especially when placed in a new environment or stressful situation. This “nonsense” talk can become loud and disruptive to others, especially in an inclusive classroom or location. Adults, and sometimes children are diagnosed with schizophrenia along with ASD because of the bizarre comments they make. That is because most neuro-typical people assume that talking means someone is attempting to communicate. However, people on the spectrum also “talk” because they find the words calming, enjoy how the sentences sounds, the repetition, or they just like the control they have when they ask a question and have the power to know what the answer is going to be in advance. In other words, the person engages in self-talk because they like it, not because they want to communicate with anyone. It also may be possible that the person with ASD is engaging in self-talk because it helps them process information, thus making it easier for them to learn. When an individual with ASD is talking to loud the professional can teach the person how to whisper or talk softly. That way the individual with ASD can continue to engage in a behavior that s/he often finds calming and fun without disrupting the environment.
This workshop will offer a variety of composite examples representing individuals with ASD engaging in disruptive behaviors and how specific techniques can reduce those incidents and slowly adapt them into functional behaviors.
Content Area: Behavior
Larry Lipsitz, M.Ed.
Director of Intensive Services and Educational Supports
Family Services Foundation