Its time for another ABA interview!
If you work in the field of ABA and would like to share your story and experiences feel free to contact me directly. I'd love to hear from you.
This interview comes from an amazing young lady who has Aspergers. She contacted me to share her opinions about my Stimming post (please read that post for her very astute explanation of her reasons for stimming) and I asked if she would like to share her story on my blog. Then she actually said yes! :-)
I am very excited to share her interview, as I happen to think she is a bit brilliant.
1. If you would like to, state your name. Tracy.
2. Please state your age. Thirteen.
3. What Autism Spectrum Disorder do you have? How old were you when you were diagnosed? I'm an Aspie. I don't know how old I was.
4. At what age did you become aware that you might have a diagnosis? How were you told that you have a diagnosis? I don't remember. I think I was seven or eight.
5. What types of treatments or interventions have you experienced for your diagnosis? Which ones were the most beneficial? A whole mishmash. I don't think a particular therapy was most helpful in general, more particular teachers.
6. What do you think about ABA therapy as a treatment method? I think it could help with some things, but being so compliance-based I think it shouldn't be used so very intensely (a 40 hour week is quite a lot!) so often or on older kids and adults (I don't believe in mental age.), because it could make it harder for them to be independent; it could make it harder for them to make decisions for themselves and be themselves, and foster unhelpful perfectionism.
7. Do you think ABA could be dangerous or harmful for an individual with an ASD? Yes. Anything could, really. Some aversives and restraints can be very physically dangerous.
8. Have you ever experienced any ABA therapy? If so, what was that experience like? I haven't.
9. If you have experienced therapy before (ABA, ST, OT) do you have a favorite therapist? What was it about that person that made them your favorite? I've had a bunch of lovely therapists. My favorites were the ones who didn't condescend, who trusted that I knew myself relatively well.
10. Do you see your ASD as a deficit or an asset? It's not that simple. Life as an Autie is more intense, detailed, alive. Being as I am definitely has some setbacks---- I think most of us, Auties and NTs alike, would at least theoretically like a little pill to “cure” ourselves and the people we spend time with of our “door-slamming, soda-drinking, glasses-losing”- ness.
11. At school, what kind of challenges do you deal with because of your ASD? I'm always worrying that people will hate me. But I know a lot of people who feel that way, and not all of them are Autistic, but I don't know.
12. Do you engage in any self-stimulatory behaviors (stims)? How do you feel when you stim? I rock, flap, tap, spin, hair twirl... everything except breathe fire. Asking me how I feel when I stim is like me asking you, “How do you feel when you make facial expressions?” The answer is long and incomplete.
13. If you were not allowed to engage in stims how would that make you feel? Do you think that stimming is beneficial to you? If someone blocked me every time I stimmed, I'd feel:
A. like I was a failure for doing something wrong every five seconds.
B. like I was being told the rhythm in which to breathe.
I do think it's beneficial to me. It helps me calm down, it helps me pay attention, it helps me think, it is a reaction to joy.
14. What situations or settings tend to increase your stims? Intense emotion.
15. Are you still able to focus on people and things around you when you are engaging in stims? Yes, most of the time; as well or better than if I wasn't stimming. Even while spinning in a circle I can have a conversation, though then of course I can't take in the same visual info.
16. How do you communicate best (writing, vocally, drawing, etc)? How have you dealt with difficulty communicating your thoughts or emotions? Which way I best communicate varies. Generally writing. I've dealt with difficulty communicating by trying to censor myself less, and adding humor to conversations to make them more comfortable.
17. What kind of social difficulties do you experience on a regular basis? How do you manage them? Worrying that people will hate me. Mistaking one person for another. Being socially awkward in general. I manage it by doing stuff anyway. I mess up, but the good parts outweigh the bad.
18. In your own words, how do NT’s differ from individuals with an ASD? Auties are more thoughtful, more passionate, and experience emotions and sensations more intensely.
19. What are some of your hobbies? I'm a writer. I draw and read and do logic puzzles and ride horses and walk and listen to music and bike.
20. Have you seen any movies about individuals with an ASD? Can you name a favorite? I haven't seen any Autie movies. I read The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time. I loved how fleshed-out Christopher was.
21. What do you like most about yourself? Being a writer.
22. What goals do you have for your future? Marriage? Children? College, etc? Those could all happen. As of now, I'm in middle school.
23. What would you like people who teach individuals with ASD’s to know? It's easy to not allow an Autie a personality, to attribute everything to fixations and splinter skills. But really, we're people, imperfect people, with good days and bad days. Fixations may just be loves.
24. What would you like people raising a child with an ASD to know? I'd like to tell them congratulations. I’d like to tell them to read work by Auties. I'd like to tell them there's no normal child locked inside a shell…. there's an Autie child, and the child does in fact love and have emotions, and most likely loves them.
25. As far as disability advocacy, what issues do you feel are most important in regards to ASDs (education, public sensitivity, etc)? Such a complicated question. I think we need to give Auties more freedom.
26. What are some of the biggest misconceptions and myths that people have about individuals with ASD? Hee hee. Love this……We're robots who can't feel. We're just dumb. Auties are violent criminals. Auties are eternal children. One thing is true, though: Auties have absolutely no sense of humor. Neither can we be sarcastic. (sarcasm)
27. What do you think about Sensory techniques as a therapeutic method? Do you think they are helpful or harmful? Love 'em. Bouncy balls and swings help to manage emotions, and to concentrate. Assisted stimming!
28. What qualities and characteristics do you think any individual should have who wants to work with individuals with an ASD? I think someone who works with Auties should have a sense of humor, the bigger the better, and should be open-minded, willing to learn and to work through their mistakes.
29. Is there anything you want to add? Autie blogs for anyone interested:
juststimming.wordpress.com (Truly beautiful poems. Read Quiet Hands, if nothing else.)