It is just coming up to ten years since I was diagnosed with autism. Obviously in the years before my diagnosis things were very difficult for myself and my family. I`d be one of the first people to say that autism has its good side, but you would be a fool to deny that there are a lot of negatives that come with it. Simply getting a diagnosis helped a lot with those. Knowing what it was we were dealing with obviously made things easier, and my autistic brain coped better after it had more facts presented to it. But things were still difficult. The techniques that were going around to deal with certain challenges were fine, but for us they just didn’t quite do it. This isn’t to insult the techniques, but every technique, no matter how well thought out and fine-tuned it may be, isn’t going to be able to help everybody. So my Mum began to create techniques of her own; a points-based reward system that helped to encourage me to do things I found difficult, rather than punish me if I had a meltdown or something. She created a series of Scripts, Signs and Sketches that helped me to deal with challenging situations, and helped me to understand social etiquette better. And something that might be familiar to you if you have read my previous blogs; the Transition Techniques – a series of techniques that helped me to deal with changes, whether they be small or monumental in scale. These were all incredibly effective.
We began to notice real changes in behaviour and in our day to day lives. I am presuming you are not stupid if you are reading this, and I wouldn’t treat you like you are and try to tell you that everything was perfect, but there were huge differences.
I have always been an avid reader. I do read less now because I am so busy in my day to day life, but when I was younger I would generally have at least three books on the go at any one time, and would spend the majority of my free time reading. I don’t know if any of you read the blog I wrote on IMAGININGS, but if you did you will know that I was already creating stories in my head from a very young age – with casts of hundreds of characters, and story lines that I would create and play out over many years. It is fairly obvious that the two things were bound to meet at some point, and at around the age of eleven I did begin writing my first horror novel.
I remember one day saying to my Mum `I think we should write a book on these techniques we`ve been doing. ` – to my surprise she`d had the same idea. So really that`s where the ideas for the books came from. ( you can check them out here http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/author/1762 )
We both felt that because of our knowledge and experience of autism, and our techniques for dealing with autism, that we were more than qualified to advise other families. The thing is, you can never speak for everybody with autism, but I think that because I experience a lot of the things that the majority of autistic people experience – but I am also able to articulate and explain them in a way that not everybody with autism is – I am able to write about them in a way that people without autism can’t do. It is not that I think that anybody without autism shouldn’t be writing about it, it is just that personally, I believe that people with autism are the best qualified to give advice on it. It is with that principle in mind that I started writing. Of course the Reward Plan book was co-written with my Mum. She believes the same thing I do about autistic people being the best to give advice, but she did create all the techniques which allowed me to be able to express my views in this way. And they are techniques that I believed at the time and still believe now, could be incredibly useful for a large number of people.
I suppose what I am really saying is not that you shouldn’t listen to someone who isn’t autistic; it is just that when you have somebody who is autistic, and is able to articulate how things are for them, that can give parents and professionals an insight in to autism that they might not have had otherwise. A lot of non-autistic people will look at behaviours, and things such as meltdowns from the point of view of an outsider. Sometimes you need somebody with autism to explain the logic and the reason behind each piece of behaviour – because there is always a reason behind it – nothing is irrational, no matter how much it may appear to be. Again, I am not trying to discredit any professionals without autism, but I think everybody would agree that when you get autistic individuals who can express the reasons behind their behaviour, it is so much more useful. And that is basically why I started writing, I wanted to be able to try to explain to people some of the reasoning’s behind these behaviours, and some of the ways that could help.
Everyone who has read both the Reward Plan and Transition Techniques books say they have found them incredibly helpful, and have begun to use some of the techniques themselves, so overall, I think what we have been trying to do has been working.
Currently we are working on two more books, but right now I have no idea if they are going to be published or not.
If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS? On Twitter https://twitter.com/ASKPERGERS