Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Working Together

I've said it many times before but consistency is important and so is understanding the principles of behaviour reinforcement, when working with kids with autism.

Alex has been having problems at school.  Nothing huge as yet, but head-banging and aggression have both made a reappearance.  His level of cooperation has dropped and there's been an increase in whining.  This has spilled over onto home as well.

Part of the problem (as we understand it), is that the expectations have not been consistent and there's been some inadvertent reinforcement of undesired behaviour.  This does happen, particularly if staff are not used to dealing with kids with autism.  (A lot of what is necessary is counter-intuitive, so I get that it takes awhile to retrain the brain to think in autism-mode.)  

But part of the challenge is that there are other things which can be pointed to as causes: disruptions of schedule, temporary staff due to illness, a rough night on Alex's part.  All the little stresses that make up everyday life because there's no way to have everything completely predictable.  There has been some disagreement about what the true cause of Alex's discomfort is.

My position is that if things were more consistent and the right things were being reinforced, then Alex would have more resiliency to deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  But I have to be cautious and not assume that I know what's going on in the classroom day to day.  (I can suspect based on what I've been told by the teacher, but cannot know because I'm not there to observe it.)

It's a hard balance because I don't want to be difficult and sour the relationship, but from experience, I also know that this could be the beginning of a long slide and the longer I let it go, the harder it's going to be to get back to where we should be.  And it won't just be school behaviour, we'll have to suffer through it at home as well.

So I'll continue to offer support and help as possible.  I'll continue to delicately push for more knowledge and try to keep an open mind.

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