The Culture of Autism: Clues to Causation of Crises and a Source of Solutions

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According to Sikorski, a blogger who posted about the experiences she had during her international travels to discover and understand the different cultures said that she found herself asking these questions: 1) “I wonder why they do that.”; 2) “What could that behavior mean?”; 3) “How do I clarify what I want or am looking for?” and; 4) “Do I seem as unusual to the people I’m interacting with as they sometimes seem to me?”

She also included her thoughts about her interest on knowing how do people with an autism disorder perceive and experience life. Sikorski cited the TEACCH Program, which is a Division of the University of North Carolina Department of Psychiatry, which is said to be known in paving ways on “…understanding the characteristic patterns of thinking and behavior seen in many individuals with an autism diagnosis.” In order to support the concepts included in her blog, she specified 10 TEACCH website references which exactly refer to the following:

1. A preference for strength in visual processing.

2. Attention to details but difficulty understanding how those details fit together.

3. Difficulty combining ideas.

4. Organizing difficulties.

5. Problems with attention, such as being distractible or making transitions.

6. Communication problems, especially in the area of the social use of language.

7. Difficulty with time concepts.

8. Attachment to routines and related generalization difficulties.

9. Strong interests and impulses.

10. Significant sensory preferences and dislikes.

As an addition, she also mentioned CPI’s renewal course for Certified Instructors, which is now called Autism Spectrum Disorders: Applications of Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Training and provided simplified five categories in order to clearly present the content: 1) Social interaction differences; 2) Communication skills; 3) Repetitive/Restrictive patterns of behavior or interests; 4) Sensory processing differences and; 5) Cognitive processing differences. Sikorski emphasized the importance of finding and understanding this Culture of Autism, especially for her to direct them in discovering the prevention and intervention strategies. With that, she cited Dr. Gary Mesibov, saying that in order to maximize our effectiveness, we have to understand autism and how everything on it, is functioning.

Defining culture and seeing autism in its lenses, it is said that “autism is not truly and technically its own culture.’ In her explanations of learning the concepts during the training program, they were able to explore the concept of “Precipitating Factors” where it is defined as the internal and external causes of acting-out behavior and which they see it as a trigger for crisis on a person or people with an autism disorder. One of the examples given is about the frustration of a person with autism experiences whenever he or she is having difficulties in expressing themselves, particularly in trying to tell what do they want and need clearly.

The Culture of Autism

“Autism is of course not truly a culture; it is a developmental disability caused by neurological dysfunction (Mesibov, G.B. and Shea, V., 2010).”

Autism was said to be seen as a culture in a sense that it also functions through the exposure of characteristics and the predictable patterns of behavior on each individual that has an autism. It is being characterized by having difficulties on a person’s communication skills, social relationships, cognitive functioning, sensory processing and behavior. In an interview conducted by the researchers on the Project Coordinator of the Autism Society of the Philippines, it is also mentioned that there is an approximately 10-15% of those people with autism who have an average or above average intelligence. He also mentioned that these people may show different extraordinary skills, breaking the myths made by people, thinking that they are incapable. Mesibov and Shea also clarified that the following characteristics are not unique or exclusively defining autism, it could also be seen in other development disabilities like the following: mental retardation, learning disabilities, and language disorders; also seen in some psychiatric conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Individuals or people with autism were said to have “lack of concept of meaning.” With that, it does not completely mean that they are not capable of learning. In fact, it is said that they could learn different skills and language, but will only have difficulties on making or understanding what those interactions or activities mean. Moreover, these individuals are good observers, but despite all the observations they have done, assessment on these important details are neglected. They also deal with distractibility, especially that these people find it difficult to pay attention or focus on what their instructors are trying to convey, they only give attention to something that they think as interesting or important. When it comes to concrete thinking, people have to understand that they have “greater difficulty with symbolic or abstract language concepts”.

With that, they have to be presented with more specific and straight to the point facts or concepts. In line with the other characteristics mentioned, people with autism also find difficulties on combining or integrating ideas, just like what was mentioned earlier, they understand things better if these are being explained to them specifically, not when ideas or concepts are put together: they have to be clear and not contradictory. Organizing and sequencing of information also challenges them, since organization of information requires integration of ideas and ability to focus. It also happens in sequencing information and generalization which shows up as very unusual to people with autism. Other than those things, Mesibov and Shea noted three more important characteristics of people with autism, which are the following: 1) Strong impulses; 2) Excessive Anxiety and; 3) Sensory/Perceptual Abnormalities.

References:

Sikorski, P. The Culture of Autism: Clues to Causation of Crises and a Source for Solutions. Retrieved from https://www.crisisprevention.com/Blog/January-2012/The-Culture-of-Autism-Clues-to-Causation-of-Crises

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The Culture of Autism: Clues to Causation of Crises and a Source of Solutions. (2022, Apr 06). Retrieved July 4, 2022 , from
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