I came across a newsletter for an agency that provides behavioral services to families.
I read and watched it all – despite the fact that I was sick to my stomach.
Videos of “success stories” showing a child sitting on the floor stimming and then the therapist taking the toy away and the child melting down – and then – flash forward some manner of months later – the child seemingly happily interacting with the therapist in an engaged and cheerful fashion. Stories of hope from parents who were able to go out do dinner because their child who would not tolerate a caregiver is now happy with the respite worker and mom and dad can go and have dinner together.
It’s basically good – an alleviation of the more distressing tenets of autism – the repetitive and disassociated behaviors that define the condition.
If we can’t start by accepting that BEHAVIOR IS COMMUNICATION and that a disrupted sensory system must be respected before we can repeatedly ask someone to change a behavior or to want to communicate with someone –
Then it’s just another exercise in standing on the shoulders of the people we claim to be serving.
This morning while feeding the horses the Kinks “You Really Got Me Now” played over and over in my head. A total “ear worm.” What was my psyche telling me? The angry guitar line matched my mood as I stomped through the mud feeding horses, or maybe the line “you got me so I don’t know what I’m doin’ “ was in my mindset.
I came inside, took of my boots and brewed a cup of coffee and brought the song up on YouTube
I started to rock and nod my head to the song loops in the wonderful pre-punk psychedelic phenomena that is The Kinks.
Why is it ok and sexy and wonderful to be so distracted by love and by music to rock and spin and be so fascinated with someone that you feel the way the Kinks feel in the song?
Why can we attach to this song and not to the stimming rocking child in the classroom? Why can’t we understand that this child is experiencing his world in a very real way? Why do insist on make him stop his behaviors rather than to respect that what he is feeling is real?
If it’s okay to be driven to distraction by love – why is it so different to understand that this child might be driven to the same level of distraction by the sound of the refrigerator motor, by the color of the sky, by the thought of his favorite toy or by the burning stomach ache he’s developing and like the Kinks,
“……You got me so I can’t sleep at night.”
“…….You got me so I don’t know what I’m doing.”
I don’t know much. But I know that if we don’t focus on respecting our kids and recognizing that a sensory avalanche comes in many different colors and flavors and not all of them are bad – and that creating resilience means building trust and that trust only comes from LISTENING and from genuine care.
I know that this dad – Jason Hague is closer to the truth
For now, I’m going to listen to some psychedelic music and rock out.
Happy New Year –