One common statement that I came across was: 'There is no one universal way of treating autistic children. Each child is different and what therapy works for one child doesn't necessarily work for another.' With the risk of becoming more repetitive than an autistic person, I will say it again. Interaction is not a therapy aimed at treating autism. The concept of interaction describes our conduct during interactive moments with a child whose senses are sending mixed messages to his brain. These mixed messages make it harder for him to make sense of reality as perceived by us. Your role as a mentor is therefore very clearly defined. You are there to help him relax. You want him to want to interact more and then during shared attentive moments you are teaching him shared meanings.
Furthermore, for example, I the non-autistic have the ability to empathise with what it must feel like not to hear words or with the difficulty when trying to talk to someone over blasted-out music. The non-verbal autistic child has no idea what it must feel like hearing words, but he can already empathise with the irritation experienced by you when you cannot project your voice over loud sounds. Therefore I will motivate myself to create a silent environment for interaction to increase my child's chances of hearing me. At least this way he stands one chance as opposed to no chance.
My heart was left bleeding after I met the children who were exposed to behaviour modification techniques aimed at communication. Most 'helping' techniques are stripped of love and understanding, yet they are financed. They are financed by public money because scientific evidence proved that children learn words and the autistic behaviour can be modified to that end. I never understood why that was enough of an argument to win financial support. Call that 'my autism' if you like. It will not offend me. When the child grows old enough he runs away from places where those techniques are practised. He runs away searching for freedom, yet no one runs away from gathering more knowledge, from learning to make sense, from love or respect.
I met the child who knew 1000 words but never put a sentence together. During his programme all he had learned was to feel afraid of people. I have also sheltered people who ran away from those techniques and rubbed cream on their self-inflicted scars. I received phone calls from autistic people after an article that described autistic behaviour as 'manic' made the headlines. They shared their desire to phone the writer but they were afraid of being labelled 'manic' for phoning in. What a vicious circle, don't you think? There are children who continue to be tied to their beds, locked in solitary confinement or placed under heavy sedation - all that to teach them not to behave in an autistic way. It makes me wonder what happened to us, we the non-autistic people?
As further reading I strongly recommend Tony Attwood's (1998) book. Tony Attwood is a clinical psychologist and he approaches autistic people with respect and empathy.
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Whenever a doctor informs the parents that their child is suffering with Autism, the first & foremost question that is thrown over him is - How did it happen? How did my child get this disease? Well, there is no definite answer to what are the exact causes of Autism.