People with autism possess greater ability to process information, study suggests

People with autism possess greater ability to process information, study suggests.

I thought this was interesting. Some quotes:

Professor Nilli Lavie, from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, hypothesises that this combination of the ability to focus and a susceptibility to distraction might be caused by a higher than normal information processing capacity.

and:

Professor Lavie says: “Our study confirms our hypothesis that people with autism have higher perceptual capacity compared to the typical population. This can only be seen once the task becomes more demanding, with more information to process. In the more challenging task conditions, people with autism are able to perceive significantly more information than the typical adult.”

I wonder, then, how this would also affect those with ADD/HD and if maybe any subtypes would be more akin to autism than not. Distractibility and autism kind of go hand and hand along with hyperfocusing, both of which are also a part of ADD/HD.

As it is, I already believe that the two are too similar to be separate conditions. This just adds to that growing list of reasons why they probably should fall under the same diagnosis, as far as I’m concerned.

But as the article reads, it seems to me that we can extrapolate that ASD children have difficulty processing information because as children, they simply don’t have the higher functioning capabilities (i.e. maturity, age appropriate cognitive skills being too young) as the adults to properly organize that information they receive. Or we could extrapolate that they aren’t being given enough information. I tend to think the latter is probably not correct simply because developmentally, they couldn’t do much with more information anyway but I do think that the prior could be a very real issue. The article does state that while not all ASD children are savants, they are likely to have the same processing ability.

So maybe the processing issues we know ASD children have, stem from a lack of maturity and those processing issues correct as they get older and develop their non-typical skills that help them to process that information the way they do.

Certainly an interesting assertion. Maybe all us parents that are desperately worried about our kids’ processing for no reason (well, no reason might be stretching it but you know what I’m saying).  One thing we do know is that MR is not a symptom of ASD so processing disorders are always on the minds of parents of ASD children.

What do you think this could mean?

I’m sorry. Excuse me. Pardon me. My apologies.

I know some people believe that forced apologies are insincere. I’ve heard it over and over again and while I understand the fundamentals of the belief, it doesn’t change the fact that we should apologize when our children can’t.

Some of you are probably wondering what I’ve been smoking to say something like that.  The truth is, if parents didn’t care about what others thought of their child, they wouldn’t have behavioral therapy. They wouldn’t care about social skills and focus on life skills, educational skills, and vocational skills. But that’s not true for most. We want our kids to have friends in school. We want them to make friends as adults. We want them to have girlfriends and boyfriends, husbands and wives. We want them to have children. We don’t want them to be social pariahs.

Honestly, how many apologies do people make that are sincere? Not many. Every person we bump into with a rushed, “excuse me” or “I’m sorry” isn’t steeped in genuine remorse and guilt. And rarely are people as emphatically remorseful as they sometimes make it sound.

Yes, there are some things we do that keep us up at night because we feel so badly about them.  But not many. Most things are forgotten about within five minutes.

Does that mean we shouldn’t apologize? No.

Apologies are a social construct. It’s a display of politeness. It’s a social skill. We can’t teach our children social skills by excluding the apology unless they mean it, especially when they are likely to be even  less remorseful than a typical child because logically, why should they apologize for something they didn’t know?  They should do it for the same reason you get a ticket for speeding in a residential area when there is no posted speed limit. Not knowing doesn’t excuse the behavior.  Everyone knows it’s twenty-five mph in a residential area, posted or not.

It’s not about whether or not they have autism. Austism might be why  they don’t understand that biting is inappropriate, but that still doesn’t excuse the behavior. The majority are able to learn. Having a consequence for biting is something I’m sure most parents have, but they don’t always make their kids apologize or apologize for them. This is a mistake. If the child were typical, the likelihood of a forced apology is much greater. Don’t let autism be an excuse.  It’s not. The whole point of behavioral therapy is to teach them what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t.

Apologies aren’t meant to always be sincere.  Remember – it’s a social construct. It’s about being polite. Acknowledging that something occurred. Having a consequence to hitting a child isn’t the same as having a consequence and making the hitter acknowledge that hitting is wrong.  Apologizing makes a person internalize what happened as being offensive as opposed to just suffering through a time-out because mom’s pissed. This occurs even on a subconscious level. This is how we learn expected behavior.

One could say that apologizing is only meant to shame the offender and well, yes.  That’s true. Get ready for the obvious…because it’s meant to teach social skills and right from wrong. But a person can only feel as much shame as they allow.  Through good and bad acts, rewards, punishments and apologies and praise, we learn to put that “price tag” on our acts.

How much shame does one feel when they apologize for bumping into someone? None. How much shame does a person feel when they steal someone’s husband? Probably a whole lot. Because doing bad things in the past have taught us the degrees to which we should feel shame and apologies are a part of that.

I’m sorry (see, another insincere apology but socially it’s expected because I’m expressing an alternate view than others and hopefully doing so in an inoffensive way – that’s always debatable with me but I digress), but apologies are a part of life. They are a part of learning appropriate social behavior. If typical behavior is what a parent wants their child to learn, teach that child to apologize because more people expect it than don’t. By not teaching them to apologize whether they mean it or not, parents are setting their kids up to be ridiculed and hated for being a rude and pompous ass by their peers in the future. I don’t think that’s what parents want for their kids.

Whether or not a personal belief is to like or dislike the insincere apology, until insincere apologies are passe in society as a whole, give your child all the tools they need to succeed in the society as it is today. They are already starting behind the eight ball, why make it harder?

Social Thinking

My son recently started a social skills group and this is the program they use.  I have to say, I love it.  It’s really been a great tool.  Not only does it help to teach appropriate social skills, but it also does it in a way that doesn’t make them feel inadequate.

Superflex®: A  Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum PackageRight now, we are using the Superflex curriculum.

Now when my son has a rough time with not getting his way, I simply have to tell him, “Has Rock Brain taken over your brain?” as opposed to, “You can’t always get your way!”  He knows what it means, he knows that when Rock Brain has taken over, he uses his Superflex strategies to defeat Rock Brain.  (It helps that he’s a boy and loves superheroes.)  This takes the blame off of him (who wants to change when you feel like you can’t do anything about it?), doesn’t make him feel like he can’t do anything right and allows him to regroup, understand that he’s being stuck on his way or the highway and figures out how to overcome the challenge.

Even when he’s in the right, he now understands better that how you express it is going to affect how people react.  It certainly works a lot better than telling him these things in plain words.  Kids start to tune that stuff out until you say it in terms they care about.

When he’s throwing a temper tantrum over something silly, instead of yelling at him, I say, “rubber chicken” and he instantly knows what it mean.  It means he’s not behaving well and he’s getting a rubber chicken for his bad behavior.  They even have rubber chickens if you need the actual chicken.

Check them out here.

Behavioral Therapies & Other Useful Therapies

The merits of each therapy may be discussed in the future but at this time, I’m just going to give you the information to research since there are so many options. I have a few more “basic” blogs to post and I have limited time to do them so discussion on each isn’t on the table for me right now. I hope that, for now, this is will help you in your research.

ABA:
CARD What is ABA?
Bright Tots ABA Therapy
TACA How To Start An In-Home Therapy Program For Your Child

Verbal Behavior Analysis This is still ABA but with a focus on language and communication. There is a good, detailed explanation of it that is downloadable in PDF from Coast ABA. I would have added a hyperlink directly to it to view as an html but I’m just not that computer savvy yet.

Floortime/DIR

RDI

TEACCH

Cognitive-Developmental Systems Approach

PRT:
UCSD Explanation
Training Manual

The following are not behavioral therapies but fit in nicely and may also help to alleviate behavioral issues:

The SCERTS Model

An educational model for social communication.

The Hanen Program
A speech and language program.

Michelle Garcia-Winner/Social Thinking
Also a speech and language program centered on social thinking and communication.

Social Stories
Focuses on social learning and understanding.

And now we have some other therapies that aren’t behavioral but can have a great impact on behavior by treating some of the sensory and cognitive processing problems:

Visual Therapy

Auditory Integration Therapy:
Vital Links Therapeutic Listening home program
Tomatis Center based program
Berard Center based program
The Listening Program Home Program
Samonas Home program, click on the blue “Samonas” folder with the colored tabs.

Interactive Metronome

Hippotherapy

Neurofeedback

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