As I already mentioned in some of my posts, recently I came accross the concept that we, autistics, shouldn’t be expected to modify our natural behaviours in any way and we should be as autistic as possible because that’s what’s good for us. This belief seems to be so strong among certain people that I’m actually surprised that I didn’t notice it any earlier.
I first became aware of it after following some autistic advocates on Instagram and shortly after I joined that Facebook group where neurotypical parents ask autistic people for their opinions about how to interpret autistic kids behaviour. I was aware that the group is against ABA therapy, but it’s also against speech therapy and pretty much everything else, except of taking care of sensory needs. According to people in the group autistics are meant to be exactly as they are, however, when I was replying to posts in my most natural direct manner I was being told I’m rude, that I’m arguing and was being reminded that I’m ‘new in the group’. After a couple of times, when I refused to apologise, I got removed by an admin. I am sorry but I can’t take those people seriously, I guess you agree with me on that.
But that isn’t the only thing that I have to say on autism and behaviour modifications.
First of all, I need to tell you that we, autistics, constantly look for clues in our environments, or in how we feel, to modify our own behaviour.
When I started blogging my posts looked different than now. I guess I was still trying to work out what I want to blog about and how it all should be. After a couple of weeks, when I went to Poland and found out how badly my addict brother neglects himself, the house and my mum, I started blogging about my family situation and my emotions. It was not a natural behaviour for me, I was definitely getting out of my comfort zone. With time I realised that made me feel good, it seemed like I was finally allowing space to be myself, something that I never felt before. I also felt that my content got better and much more real than if I was just demanding that people treat us, autistics, differently.
Getting out of my comfort zone brought me some positive results so I told myself it’s worth repeating – that means I made a decision to modify my own behaviour to achieve positive results.
Getting out of a comfort zone is what neurotypicals sometimes do to achieve what they want, should we not have the same chances in life then?
Moving to Swindon was also getting out of my comfort zone, that’s why I now own 2 bed flat with a garden. If I was just being myself, I’d still live in a shared house in Reading, renting a room because the only place I could afford to buy there was a tiny studio flat that I didn’t want to live in. So, really, being ‘our natural self’ is not necessarily a good advice.
If you believe that your autistic children behaviour shouldn’t be modified then you should never smile at them, never hug them, never buy them spontaneous gifts and only respond in very short sentences to their questions because smile, hug, a gift and an attempt to become interested in their world can be interpreted by your child as a sign they’re doing something good and they need to repeat it in the future for similar results.
I would say that 99 percent of my behaviour when I am with people is learned. If I wanted to behave naturally I’d probably hardly ever say anything, and it’s difficult to get what you want when one is not communicating. I’d most likely expect people to guess what I want and give it to me. And good lord, why life doesn’t work like that, can someone tell me?
Sensory seeking behaviours are 100 percent natural, and the way we think is natural, but then this is not behaviour, is it? But most social reactions are learned. Even screaming at people can be learned if it gives us the results that we want. And if you don’t support your autistic kids to learn some people skills, they’re going to have a tough life. You could probably bully the school to accept your kids as they are but you can’t bully their peers, the girls or boys they like or their employers.
Also, learning the right behaviour when we understand why something is expected is actually a piece of cake and doesn’t leave us exhausted like randomly copying other people does.
In here you have a link to a post where, towards the end (after ‘Regarding communication’ caption) I described an instance of my natural communication. The problem is that, at 44, I was perfectly aware that what I’m about to say is not extremely appropriate, even before I said it. We still learn, you know? Even if no one is explicitly teaching us.