The “why” behind “When Words Fail:”
4 page “problem solver” support:
People often make judgements about the behavior of autistic individuals, based on their perception and assuming it is part of the autistic person’s innate character. These “simple words” frame the behavior of the person as problematic and are used as rationale for “educational” approaches that are misguided, dismissive, and potentially damaging (e.g., token economies, planned ignoring, control based “interventions”). These words and labels fail to capture the full context as well as the autistic person’s experience and reasoning in a situation. They can be extremely harmful to mental health. Partners must strive to understand the WHYs and avoid biased, overly-simplified explanations that assign intention, motivation and deficiency to the person. It is critical that support is informed by and respectful of the real autistic experience.
“When Words Fail” is a support that is designed to help partners examine and understand the shortcomings of common educational approaches often used by partners to “address behaviors that may be problematic.” It is also includes the true nature of these observable behaviors based upon the perspectives of members of the autistic community. Grounded in this informed perspective,”When Words Fail” also offers partners effective and evidence based approaches for supporting autistic individuals which honor and respect their experiences. These approaches are divided into Environmental Accommodations, Activity Modifications, and Personal Tools and Strategies and differentiated for the factors underlying the “problem behaviors.” Finally, there is a section for autistic individuals and their partners to work through to create an individualized plan for support using this more nuanced and evidenced based approach.