Monday, November 16, 2015

Dueling Cement Theory

I apologize for the lack of posts last week; I had 15 presentations spread out over 1,000 miles and all in all it was awesome. Exhausting, but awesome! I have a lot of thoughts from that week and of course the big news from the CDC that the incidence rate of autism looks to be 1 in 45 so this post could be all over the place.

With the rate being 1 in 45 the voice that the need for autism awareness and more importantly understanding should be the loudest we’ve ever had. This isn’t to say that this wasn’t the need in the past, as I feel whether it was 1 in 1,500 in 1983 or now the need is just as important because if just one person gets the early intervention they need, or one teenager gets the understanding from their peers instead of being mocked could be life changing. That’s what’s at stake here. Of course, remember, if you’ve met one person with autism you’ve only met one person with autism and from some early intervention may not be 100% needed, I’m a minor example (I had some, but not in the traditional sense as I wasn’t diagnosed until 20) but for others this could provide monumental strides forward.

There was an underlying theme I came across last week and it was a bit of a role reversal from what I normally hear. I do hear a lot of stories; some good, some soul-wrenching, but I have heard my fair share of stories from parents complaining that their child’s teacher just doesn’t “get it.” However, last week, it was the reverse and to explain this I have to use my cement concept I haven’t used on my blog in an extremely long time.

Why is early intervention important? Imagine the brain on the autism spectrum as being wet cement and if we want a patio we are going to have to pour it out and work with it in haste before it dries and sets. So too, sort of, are the brains on the autism spectrum. Now don’t get me wrong as there’s always hope as I remember my fourth grade teacher said that the, “Hoover Dam will be drying for 40,000 years” but of course the longer we wait the more work with, say, sledgehammers and jackhammers we will have to use to find wet cement and that brings me to the stories I heard last week.

Typically I hear from parents that the teacher will not be tolerant of the potential need that a student with Asperger’s may need another approach, or might have some sensory needs. Again, don’t get me wrong as there are so many amazing teachers out there, like the teachers I met last week that did get it but the problem in these stories lay with the parents that all but deny the diagnosis and would contradict the teacher’s teaching methods. Now here’s the thing and the reason why everyone needs to be on the same page; if a child is taught a certain set of rules at school and is learning to be a bit flexible on some things, but when the child gets home and the opposite is taught I must ask what that patio of wet cement would look like. Imagine two workers with two different visions working on the same patio and when one side has it right the other side comes in and makes it to what their version of right is. We could debate what is right all day long which that isn’t the point of this post but rather the point is this; if the world isn’t on the same page and in this story I told I will say it sounded like the teachers knew the dynamics of the autism spectrum and the parents could use a lot of help understanding the autism spectrum, but without being on the same page that child has to be, and is, highly confused. And who wouldn’t be? Another concept to use here is my “Film Theory” in that “whatever happens first always has to happen” and if there is a reshoot session every day the ability to move forward is going to become complicated.

It’s fitting that I write this today as today marks my annual trip to Las Vegas and the running of the SKUSA Supernats that I work. I say fitting because what I have laid forth in this post is the essence of the race I’m in. I may be an official at the physical race this weekend but make no mistake of the race I compete, and all of us are, in. This race is one we must not yield in. I’ve talked about the power of one but that one is now in every 45 and if we don’t push, should we yield, and should we become complacent the chances of each individual meeting their potential could very well be squandered and that, well, that’s the race because it doesn’t have to be that way.

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