Still, having completed Andrew Solomon's Far from the Tree, my view has become more complex. People can find identity and strength in their autism characteristics. They become frustrated by the medical drive to eradicate autism features. I am more compassionate towards how autism can be an identity for some, not simply an illness to be corrected. This changed attitude increases my flexibility of what should be supported and even appreciated in someone faced with autism. One mother interviewed by Solomon discusses how she honors her son's discomfort with intimate contact. Instead of punishing her son for not engaging in typical loving behaviors between child and mother, she limits her hugs of him and accepts his limited eye contact. Thereby crossing a boundary while still accepting variation in interpersonal needs.
Autism spectrum disorder is not straightforward. This scenario will not always serve as an appropriate solution to bridge the gap. The complication is due to there being a whole satellite of potential symptoms across behavior, language, and personality. Depending on severity, the child with autism might have limited verbal skills and limited behavioral control.
I was moved by an article in today's New York Time's Science section, entitled "Dentists Open A Closed Door for Autism." This is a lovely example of allowing access to something needed without punishment or forcing change.
A dental cleaning for someone with autism can require sedation. A program, D-Terminated, is seeking to make children with autism more comfortable in the dentist's chair. Composed of short bouts of repeated exposure (i.e., weekly very-short visits) and rewards (i.e., iPod tunes), the children learn to be more cooperative and experience less fear. I appreciate this real world example of working with symptoms, not punishing the identity. The dental chair is, in this case, being fixed to better fit the client.