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7 Lessons We’ve Learned from Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability categorized by significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges, as described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ABA Centers of America offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for autism, including targeted emotional and social skills treatment. Our staff is devoted to helping your child reach their full potential. Our team will adapt to fit your family’s needs.

Below, ABA Centers of America staff share some of the things they’ve learned in this growing field.

1. Children are excellent teachers, and they don’t even know it!

“A child with autism taught me how to speak in Yiddish, become more culturally aware, celebrate hard work, and self-correct when I know that I could do better. Most importantly, a child with autism taught me how to live in the moment. You learn a new kind of awareness, where you are constantly looking out for signs and gestures that can provide insight into what the child may be feeling.

Because children with autism are often nonverbal, these children have taught me that silence can speak volumes. There are always ways to better communicate, to express ourselves, often without even using words. Teaching a child to use skills to communicate their needs is one of the most empowering things I‘ve done with my psychology degree. Social interaction dramatically improves the quality of life, and I feel lucky to be a part of that.”

2. Celebrate every win!

“Working in ABA with children who have autism has taught me to celebrate EVERYTHING! It can be draining working toward specific results, and you often miss special moments when you are distracted by that need. Perhaps the child didn’t get 3/3 trials, but they got one more than yesterday. That’s a significant win that is cause for celebration. Progress, not perfection!

It’s essential to recognize the positive behaviors and praise the child when acting appropriately or engaging well with others. Ensure that you are giving more positive feedback than negative. A child should feel celebrated by their wins, not let down by their losses. There is always something positive to take away from every situation, even tantrums, which teach us about triggers.”

3. A child with autism taught me to take nothing for granted.

“When I first started in this field, I didn’t consider myself super optimistic. I mean, I tried to see the good in things but was often overwhelmed by circumstances. Seeing a child with autism work hard and learn new things, despite their struggle, completely changed how I express my gratitude for the things I have.

Children with autism are superheroes. Every day they wake up and fight to make each day brighter than the one before. They overcome obstacles, and it’s inspiring. If I can see a child with no language start to make sounds for the first time in their life at 7-8 years old, some may not see that as a big win, while now, I know that is huge! That is a new chapter in that child’s life where words may become available to them. Watching these kids get through anything inspires me never to take the neuro privilege that I have for granted.”

4. Children with autism are just like other kids, but their brains are different.

“Like any other child, these children need us to believe in them. We need to encourage them to participate, learn, perform, and flourish alongside their peers and within their communities. Children with autism can become adults with autism who give back to their communities through hard work and sharing their experiences. We can do better to make the world more available to them.”

5. Every child is unique.

“No two autism diagnoses will ever look the same. Some children will be higher functioning than others, but that does not make these children more significant, only more equipped. Each child has unique talents. What matters here is how we are letting the child shine. How are we helping them live better lives? That’s the question I always keep at the forefront of my mind.

I never walk into any case with a bias, even after I’ve seen their history. Every client is unique and different from the previous one. I start out looking for what could be causing distress? Where do they flourish? How can I help them achieve more independence in this scenario?”

6.  Autistic children have taught me never to give up.

” I worked with a child over nine months on specific finger positionings. This work became tedious, and we grew to hate this part of the session every day. However, under my Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), we continued to work on it. One day, I realized it might be easier if the child made the motion in a more natural setting. We tried playing some finger games on the playground, and within an instant, the child learned the motion. It takes reworking a situation to work out for the client. It takes trying to see things through their eyes.

If something feels unnatural, like random finger specifications, try making the motion in different environments and circumstances. Often the action is possible. The movement must work for the child’s benefit, whether that is access or a reward system. Trials should be fun and random. If they are beginning to feel plain draining, it’s time to switch up how you are doing things.”

7. It’s important to smile during the “not so great” moments.

“There will be tantrums and meltdowns in this work. It is essential to recognize these moments as incredibly teachable and possibly transformative! In seeing what we don’t want and getting through it, we toughen our skin and learn about triggers. Understanding a meltdown today can help us avoid tomorrow’s breakdown, making life a bit easier.”

What Does the Future Look Like Based on What We’ve Learned from Treating Autism?

Individuals with autism have so much to offer our world. We have to make an effort and take the time to see past their diagnosis. Companies like Microsoft and Google have embraced the unique strengths of someone on the spectrum, making them not only employable but often helping them flourish. Changes like these are what hope looks like for advocates of autism.

As we grow in this industry and learn more about autism, we will see more companies making changes to make employment opportunities accessible. We will know of new methods and accommodations that can make life with autism a bit easier. Above all else, we will make independence the goal for every child we treat. Knowing that every child is different, no two journeys will look the same.

If you know a child who needs autism treatment, don’t hesitate to contact us at ABA Centers of America for a free consultation. We work with you to determine your insurance benefits and treatment options.