Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Is there something wrong with "perseverating" about animals? Rethinking "social skills" training.

I was just reading an article about increasing social interactions for autistic kids, and was a little bit offended. The child in the study (a teenager) was described as liking to read, watch television, and ride horses. She stated that she enjoys being with animals more than people. Because of her strong interest in horses, her interests were described as "restricted" and the article stated that she "perseverates" about the topic of horses and caring for horses.

Let's "tackle" this one issue at a time. My comments are in bold.

1. The child in the study (a teenager) was described as liking to read, watch television, and ride horses. Sounds like a teenager with some very healthy hobbies and interests to me. Oh, wait I guess we want her to be like the other teens...better start her smoking and going to drunken parties. (That was sarcasm).

2. She stated that she enjoys being with animals more than people. So do I a lot of the time. Animals don't have an agenda, and are often more friendly and forgiving than many people.

3. Because of her strong interest in horses, her interests were described as "restricted" and the article stated that she "perseverates" about the topic of horses and caring for horses. Well, I guess we'd better start some social skills intervention with all of the veterinarians, animal shelter employees, and animal rights activists because they sure devote a lot of their time to animals and their care. (Also sarcasm).

I think that we really need to respect the interests of autistic kids and help them develop them into a future job. I could see a great future for this young lady in some aspect of animal care. What a great field to get into!

But wait, this article was about a social skills intervention to get her away from this interest and be like the other teens. And, sadly, I guess it worked, because here is how the article described one of the successes of the intervention: "Towards the end of the school year, [CHILD's NAME] has made great strides as evidenced in her joining her peer to tease the speech and language pathologist."

Great job, you successfuly taught her to disrespect a teacher to be like her peers. Keep up the good work. (That was the last sarcasm of the post).

I'm not against social skills interventions, in fact, I think they're vital, but let's try to do them in a way that respects all individuals involved.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Aspie Mama

11 comments:

David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction) said...

So, a handful of professionals decided that it is more appropriate that an autistic teenage girl behave like an arse (and be just the same as her arse-ish friends) and be pretty nasty to people who at least try to support her development?

Fuckin' idiots!

"I think that we really need to respect the interests of autistic kids and help them develop them into a future job. I could see a great future for this young lady in some aspect of animal care. What a great field to get into!"

Yup. I agree entirely. But thanks to a handful of so-called professionals, that is now less likely to happen... that sort of thinking in professional practice makes my shit hang sideways.

r.b. said...

Still thinking about shit hanging sideways..."Thanks" for the visual, Mr. Andrews...

I agree totally. Perseverance is part of the gift.

Louise said...

Thank god nobody tried to stop me from "perseverating" on horses when I was a kid. I read about them, drew them, talked about them, pretended I was one, and rode real ones day in/day out.

The parents of the teenager in this story should be taking their daughter to a stable for weekly riding lessons. She would find like-minded people there and make more social strides that way than through some kind of "normalcy training" in a speech group.

Sheesh! What an upsetting story.

misha_k said...

It just blows my mind that somebody, or a few, decided having this girl tease one of her teachers rather than nurture her love for horses is a success story.

My son perseverates on mandrills and baboons. I have no problem with this But, I guess according to this story, sending him to a zoocamp where part of the weeks focus was on primates -
and mandrills and baboons were discussed, which made him very happy - is a mistake. Whatever.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be so late!!

I wonder what these people would think of Temple's perserveration with cattle? (Which from what I hear ended up helping that industry.)

Patrick

dweird1 said...

I have spent most of my life being unable to "fit in" and not really knowing how to get along with people. I never found it easy to make friends, I still don't seem to be able to. As a child I obsessed about horses and I have gotten older I have become obsessive about other things, reading, crafting etc. I have just finished reading The Language of Others by Clare Morrall and I have to say it was a revelation. It was like reading about myself; her thoughts and reactions to others etc. So I think I may be an Aspie. I have seven children aged from 22 down to 10 months. I have learnt to interact with them and play with them by reading stories and nursery rhymes etc. It has become easier but I still have to really think about it.

Cube Demon said...

Who in the fuck in the psychological profession came up with this idea to actively teach a kid to make fun of their speach pathologist?

What kind of orwellian and twisted bullshit is this?

Maybe the autistic child was much more mentally healthier than the NT professionls.

Everyday the NT world amazes me with more and more upsidedownness and craziness.

Giraffe's Song said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Giraffe's Song said...

Wow. That is sad. I also thought of Temple Grandin and her "perseveration" involving cattle. Look at where that got her! I cannot believe that these "professionals" believe that teaching a child to tease someone else is a GOOD thing. I am NT (with an ASD daughter) and much of what the so-called NT community does is appalling to me.

dreamer said...

I happen to be a very healthy 32 year old Aspie mother of an Aspie child. And let me say...I was obsessed with horses as a small child, through my teen years, and young adult life. Fortunately I was blessed to have parents who supported me. I ended up learning hunt seat equtation, owned and cared for my horse, and took my horse to shows and competed (all which were NOT easy)...however I learned, PATIENCE,RESPONSIBILITY,CONNECTED TO A LIVING CREATURE, my confidence became much better, and my emotional/anxiety state was less. All these things are positive and I truly believe that because of my "horse routine" (which I still do to this day) has kept me mentally balanced, secure in myself and much more wiser!!!

My son is a brilliant little non-conformist (in a peaceful way) and he has his obsessions. Color printers, space and time, and snowboarding.

I am so glad that I understand his ways, and there is no way some professional doctor is going to stamp out his dreams!!!
Those "professionals" really don't have a clue do they? They need to look for guidance from Aspie adults, and Aspie parents!!!

froginthepond said...

I find this absolutely baffling. All I could think of is how my own obsessive interests have ended up in a career and stress-relieving hobbies. And I didn't have to behave like a brat.

I am struck by those instances where interventions for ASD are based on socially constructed ideas of 'normal' rather than what is enabling for the child/adolescent with ASD.