Keys to Autism: Self
One of the Keys to Autism / Disability is knowing and understanding the “Self.” Once a disabled individual has a grasp and clarity about their own strengths and weakness and is able to define their diagnosis, they can better navigate their life. This would yield a quality life. Here in this article, we will be proposing a possible way of using – The Self template. TST is simple and could be used by parents, teachers, therapists, counselors, and eventually by the affected individual. For younger children, TST can be catered to at their level of functioning. As children grow older they need to be able to reflect and participate in filling their TST. They need to be able to understand their diagnosis, and how to define their own strengths and unique differences. One can visit TST as many times as required. TST can be stretched by adding columns or rows or making it appropriate to the unique needs of the individuals. TST can be treated as an add-on to executive functioning.
Becoming aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses and defining diagnosis is not an easy pursuit. It needs several parameters (therapies, supports) coming in together along with acceptance of the diagnosis, coming in terms which would lead towards Self-understanding. Post Self Understanding comes to the Self-advocacy. Sometimes disabled individuals at work who advocate might still face another set of systemic issues which is a grounding reality.
Autism is a complex neurological and developmental disorder that gets manifested as delays in one or more domains such as Speech/language delay, behavioral disorders, processing issues, and sensory disorders. What causes autism is unknown and there is an increasing trend in the number of diagnosed with autism. No two autisms are the same. However, the core symptoms overlap. Often sensory processing issues, behavior disorders, OCD/loops, rocking, aggression, and other behaviors exist in comorbidity. In autistic people, these associated behaviors significantly impact their functionality and interfere with their learning. This possibly causes them to lag behind in one or more domains compared to their peers. Sometimes it takes a longer time to get diagnosed and find the services.
Autism can be managed by therapies (SLP, AT, OT, Social Skills, ABA, and PT) in adjunct to psycho/pharmacological therapies. The younger the child the better the prognosis. Post the assessments using various batteries by a qualified therapist or medical doctor the diagnosis in the suspected areas is identified. It needs to be cautioned that a thorough understanding of the whole process(of assessment, diagnosis, therapies, and planning) would be crucial. This is square 1 or the very foundation. It begins with parents and caregivers who need to equip themselves with awareness, resources, their rights, and advocacies. This would be helpful in sustaining a healthy relationship with other providers and the school/ IEP team. As the child acquires skills (based on diagnoses mild-moderate and severe/nonverbal -can use augmented/Assistive technological devices) these advocacies can be transferred to the TST and can help in the acquisition of Self Determination and Self Advocacy.
One of the Keys to Autism is understanding the Self. Here we discussed how it can be started using TST. It is simple and could be used by parents, teachers, therapists, counselors, and eventually by the affected individual. It needs several parameters(therapies, therapists, & supports) to come in together along with coming to terms and acceptance of the diagnosis, which would lead toward Self-understanding.
TST can help in the eventual acquisition of Self Determination/ Self Advocacy, in turn, lead to Self-autonomy. Once disabled individual has a grasp and clarity about their own strengths and weakness and is able to define their diagnosis, they can better navigate their
life. This would yield a quality life.
Priya Pasumarthy is an award-winning author of Our little Promise (2022) and Halloween At Luke’s (2019) and resides in the Bay Area, California, with her family. She won the Purple Dragonfly Book Award for Our Little Promise(2022) and Royal Dragonfly Book Award for Halloween At Luke’s (2019). She holds a Master of Science Degree in Marine Biology.
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This post originally appeared on our November/December 2022 Magazine