Autism & BLM

I write this as heavy hearted as I can imagine. This week was rife with social unrest from all areas of the US stemming from George Floyd’s death in Minnesota. All over social media the position was that white’s were privileged and we needed to shut up and learn. I took this to heart. I thought about what could be my biases, but I came up more confused. I actually spent a good bit of my time being “raised” by a black family. Being taken to BBQ’s and playing with the kids. My parents were at work and their house was generationally blended and full. So I spent most of my time there, and found community. The one thing that stands out in difference between white and black experience is community. Whites are separated in order to move to better income opportunities, where the black community seems to stick together. This is, in my opinion, one aspect of white mental health. Depression, anxiety, and the like. However, the deeper I asked, I kept saying “all lives matter” and was educated that this was inherently white supremecist. Which of course didn’t sit well with me. The position is that BLM needs its moment. They have been marginalized for 400+ years and need their moment, and in so doing giving their moment will give all others their moment.

So, I circle

Autism & Riots.

What is our practice if we can’t use it on a global scale? An issue of constant contemplation is that ABA is so effective but our research is qualitative over quantitative unlike the rest of psychological research. We can demonstrate extremely effective validity but the response is much like, so what, use it in Autism and shut up about it. Why? Because Autistic people can’t talk so it’s only used in instances where there is no response? I don’t know, im a bit snarky lately so why is it that ABA which is the study of HUMAN behavior isn’t used in other areas? Maybe (I believe) this is what kids with Autism have agreed to do. They’ve agreed to show up in ways we can demonstrate social validity. They force us all to use behaviorally sound strategies instead of analyzing cognition under the lens of a diseased model and the require tribal responding.

For instance, I must write a paper on using ABA in a social justice issue. And Im planning to write it about riots in response to social injustice. Thing is, and I have to pull the data, this is pretty formulaic in nature it goes like this:

Injustice + exposure (social media/news) + delay in charging crimes = Protest

Protest=Police presence= Violence at police presence (police presence is what we call an SDP a discriminated signal for punishment)=Arrests (back to the original issue-setting event)=Riot (increase to the original response)

Final consequence: original crime charges filed.

So, on a grand scale, the original setting event is reinforced. Rioting is reinforced by the crime charges filed.

In the world of ABA, we stop tantrums by teaching delay tolerance. So what that would look like (I propose) is:

Original injustice + exposure in social media on a delay tolerant schedule (palliative care i.e. crisis counseling-walkins and phone support, public forums of trauma informed yoga/meditation, free meals to families in the town impacted, a public candle/prayer ceremony honoring the individual, and a public announcement on the charging process with TIME SPECIFIC expectations. “A decision as to the charges will be made on this specific day and time.” And then it is announced. The facts and decisions surrounding the charges or lack thereof are stated.)

This is non-contingent reinforcement. We get ahead of the schedule in delay of response with filling in the gap to reinforce the pro-social behaviors we see during the pause. Then we tell the specific set of contingencies that are in place to go back in.

 

In the current paradigm of socail responding, there is too long of a delay. Then by natural progression, charges are announced just after riots have ensued. So, rioting is reinforced rather naturalistically on the current schedule of responding.

Just so everyone is clear as to how this all functions. But, you know, we’ll just be over here working with our non-verbal kids.

Autism & Medication.

Several semesters ago in class we learned that when a medication has been used to manage behaviors and the behaviors begin to receive therapy the need for medication dissipates. I have a case where the child was on heavy dose anti-psychotics taken off all medication simply because we taught him to use his words and ask for what he wants. I’ve seen kids on ADD medication get “worse” behaviorally because the sibling received therapy and now the neuro-typical child doesn’t need medication. In fact, it’s happening in the family dynamic I am in now. The child with ASD is getting appropriate attention, which is causing a shift in the attention the neuro-typical child is receiving so that child’s medication needed to be reduced. I laid in bed considering all the factors of medication and the functions we work with and I had a big awakening-it’s called Attention DEFICIT Disorder. The child is medicated due to an attention deficit stemming from some unseen force. That’s what America does, right? When something is unseen we through some medication at it to cure. This bit by Katt Williams really illustrated this for me as well. His son was running all the time, but he was happy. Children need to run, children need outlets to process all the emotions and knowledge they are carrying.

Autism & Love.

Yesterday was mostly a horrible day, but deep healing happened. My client (the “weak” link in the family) has been improving dramatically. He’s been using his words, asking for what he wants, and the family is doing their part to ensure his success. His younger brother now is falling apart. His ripped all his eyelashes out of one eye. Yesterday, he became violent during session while I was there. I argued for probably an hour with my supervisor to address this kids need for attention before going into my session but she pushed back stating we are barred from intervention because he’s not our client and we haven’t done an assessment. So, I stood by watching this child writhe for attention knowing exactly what he needed but being ethically barred to respond. It was awful. I mentally cursed my supervisor, the insurance system, even my science, I wanted to throw in the towel as it seemingly all fell apart in my hands. What I was watching unravel was unhealthy power dynamics and coping mechanisms this kid had put into place for him to perceive that he was the stronger, more able bodied even though he is younger. The shift in power dynamics left him without a role, exposed his weaknesses. He’d had to be strong for his older yet disabled brother for so long during their trauma, that when I came to provide the attention in the areas they so desperately needed it exposed the areas he was covering up. He threw a basketball violently and repeatedly nearly 20 times threatening to beat everyone up until he made the shot. We all stood there frozen in disbelief how a game turned from fun to violence. When he made the shot, and he could be done with his interaction, he dissolved into a mess of tears and shame. He cried out with multiple trauma narratives-he was no good, he’s sorry, he’s embarrassed. It was deeply traumatic for me to watch because I felt in that moment that I had failed and drew back to everything I knew how to do. It’s not until several hours later of reading spiritual material that I realized, he simply had no idea how to let love in. I bring pure love to every family I interact with. When they receive the love they need modeled for them, I then teach them how to get it from each other and themselves, things shift. The crazy moves out and love moves in. Kids need less medication, and I oversee lots of weaning off bursts. Families start to watch movies together or have an outing periodically. They start to bond. Yesterday, the Grandmother was telling me about several instances of argument from the weekend and it came upon me to say mostly out loud too “Lord, let’s unite this family, bring their bond together”. It was a call to action, an intention between me and the big man. This discord must not stand for them. I know it’s not what God intended. This was happening on a micro-level for this family, but on a macro-level I had been mourning race relations in our country all morning and considering ways to do better. If patterns of responding predict future outcomes, I again arrive at applying more love. At first, there may be an extinction burst where the darkness cries out and wails, but thereafter calm ensues and love remains to bring people and families into unity.

That is the most socially significant outcome there can be.

Autism & COVID-19

The last time I saw my favorite client was March 13, 2020. I had worked with him so hard to build him back up to attending school full time and this was his first full day. And when I returned him to his mom at the end of the day she was rushed in a panic that the announcement would be made that we were under a national emergency. It was such a career high to an immediate low. So much has been lost during COVID-19 and I write this some two months into this process. For the first month, we were banned from seeing clients due to exposure and billing. Then some insurance allowed telehealth but not his insurance. Now they do allow, but only one hour a week for a supervisor, not his 40 hours from me. So I have lost the connection with my favorite client and his family. I got word yesterday that his insurance yet again would be stopping telehealth coverage but they have an elderly parent living in the home and can’t risk exposure. So, his services will be stopped altogether.

I felt an immense amount of grief yesterday. I called friends and got support and the take away was to lean into the experience of loss and grief. To focus on what is to come out of COVID-19. What’s meant to come out is that I went into COVID-19 with lots of plans. I planned to take a board exam, two in fact this year. I planned to take a yoga teacher credential course. I planned to start opening myself up to a romantic relationship. And as of this writing, they have all been blocked for some reason or another. For a good bit of COVID I was unimpacted. It made me appreciate how far i’ve come and I did a lot of self care, but now I am simply upset. I’ve lost clients. I will graduate in two months and have been blocked from sitting for my exam that would enable me to stay with my clients on telehealth.

So, as of now, I need to build. COVID-19 is forcing me to become more resolute on finishing my goals and to get focused despite the pandemic. I am of more use and help to my clients being credentialed. I must absolutely face the steps getting me through credentialing so I no longer lose clients if I can help it.

Autism & Murder.

I am crying from my soul as I write this. This news article of a mom murdering her 9 year old non-verbal son feels like an ache of grief in my soul. Yet, conversely, it is but a moment. I am reading a book about soulmates and how we continue to meet the same souls throughout our lives. It’s written by Brian Weiss who was a Yale trained MD at the time he introduced hypnosis to a woman with pervasive anxiety. She quickly recalled several of her past lives and by processing each one found the Dr. to be her teacher in each. They mutually realized the role we play in each other’s lives in a spiritual sense.

An excerpt reads: “Humans always think of themselves as the only beings. This is not the case. There are many worlds and many dimensions. Many, many more souls than there are physical containers. Also the soul may split if it wishes to have more than one experience at the same time. This is possible but requires a level of development which most have not achieved…When you look into the eyes of another, any other and you see your own soul looking back at you, then you will know that you have reached another level of consciousness. In this sense reincarnation does not exist, for all lives and all experiences are simultaneous. But, in the three dimensional world, reincarnation is as real as time or as mountain or oceans. It is an energy like other energies, and its reality depends on the energy of the perceiver. As long as the perceiver perceives a physical body and solid objects reincarnation is real to that perceiver. The energy consists of light, love, and knowledge. The application of this knowledge in a loving way is wisdom. There is currently great lack of wisdom.”

“All is love. With love comes understanding. With understanding comes patience. And then time stops. And everything is now. Love is the ultimate answer. Love is not an abstraction but an actual energy, or spectrum of energy which you can create and maintain your being. Just be loving. You are beginning to touch God within yourself. Fell loving. Express your love. Love dissolves fear. You cannot be afraid when you are feeling love. Since everything is energy, and love encompasses all energies, all is love. This is the strong clue of God. When you are loving and unafraid, you can forgive. You can forgive others, and you can forgive yourself. You begin to see with the proper perspective. Guilt and anger are reflections of the same fear. Guilt is a subtle anger directed inward. Forgiveness dissolves guilt and anger. They are unnecessary, damaging emotions. Forgive. This is an act of love. Pride can get in the way of forgiving. Pride is one manifestation of ego. Ego is the transient, false self. You are not your body. You are not your brain. You are not your ego. You are greater than all of these. You need your ego to survive in the three-dimensional world, but you only need the part that processes information. The rest-pride, arrogance, defensiveness, fear, is worse than useless. The rest of the ego separates you from wisdom, joy and God. You must transcend your ego and find your true self. The true self is permanent, deepest part of you. It is wise, loving, safe, and joyful. Intellect is important in three-dimensional world, but intuition is more important. You have reversed reality and illusion. Reality is the recognition of your immortality, divinity, and timelessness. Illusion is your transient 3D world. Reversal is damaging you. You yearn for illusion of security instead of the security of wisdom and love. You yearn to be accepted when in reality, you can never be rejected. Ego creates illusion and hides truth. Ego must be dissolved then truth can be seen. With love and understanding comes the perspective of infinite patience. What is your hurry? There is no time anyway, it only feels that way to you. When you are not experiencing the present when you are absorbed in the past or worried about the future, you bring great heartache and grief to yourself. Time is an illusion, too. Even in the 3D world, future is only a system of probabilities. Why do you worry?

Love is the ultimate therapy. Measure time if you must, in lessons learned, not in minutes or hours. The past must be remembered then forgotten. Let it go. This is true for childhood trauma and past life trauma. This is also true for attitudes, misconceptions, belief systems drummed into you, for all old thoughts. Indeed, for all thoughts. How can you see freshly and clearly with all those thoughts? What if you need to learn something new? Thoughts create the illusion of separateness and difference. Ego perpetuates this illusion, and this illusion creates fear, anxiety, and tremendous grief. Fear, anxiety, and grief turn into anger and violence. How can peace exist in the world when these chaotic emotions predominate? Just unravel. Go back to the source of the problem. Stop thinking. Instead use your intuitive wisdom to experience love again. See that everything is interconnected and interdependent. See the unity. See your true self. See God.

You have relationship with yourself and others. You have lived in many bodies and in many times. So ask your present self why it is so fearful. Why are you afraid to take reasonable risks? Are you afraid of your reputation, afraid of what others think? These are conditioned from childhood or past lives. As yourself, Whats to lose? What is the worst that can happen? Am I content to live the rest of my life this way? Against a background of death, is this so risky (comparatively). In your growth do not be afraid of evoking anger in other people. Anger is only a manifestation of their insecurity. But fearing this anger can hold you back. Anger would be merely stupid if it didn’t create so much grief. Dissolver your own anger in love and forgiveness.

Do not let depression or anxiety hold you back in your growth. Depression is losing perspective, forgetting, and taking things for granted. Sharpen your focus. Resent your values. Remember what should not be taken for granted. Shift your perspective, and remember what is important and what is less important. Get out of the rut. Remember to hope. Anxiety is being lost in the ego. It is losing one’s boundaries. There is a dimly remembered loss of love, a wounding of pride, a loss of patience and peace. Remember you are never alone. Never lose the courage to take risks. You are immortal you can never be hurt.”

 

Sent with love to that child, in his next lifetime, that is happening as we speak, surrounded in love.

Autism & Inappropriateness.

A few months back I really wanted to connect my client to his new school. He’d been expelled due to violence and bringing him back brought about a lot of anxiety. At the same time, ironically a man I didn’t know sent me a friend request. I don’t usually accept people I don’t know but we had about 6 mutual ABA friends, so I broke protocol. As soon as I accepted he asked me if I would accept money for a kiss. He didn’t phrase it like that it was more like “have you ever sold your kisses”? I told him no and that I would not consider doing that. He then told me he was high functioning ASD and if I had any questions I could ask. So, I asked about my client and he said the biggest struggle of people with ASD is the enormous amount of shyness and anxiety they experience but coupled with a strong desire to relate and be normal but they have no idea how. I tested a few things with my client the next day based on what he said and it was a massive success. This guy really was right, it had to do with socialization. So I kept at it and made a lot of progress. But then the facebook guy sent me a message asking if he could pay me to have his child. I told him that was out of the question. I asked him why he would ask something so invasive. He said he has a strong desire to be a father. So, suddenly I saw him the way I do my clients, instead of creepy, I saw him as seriously lacking in social skills. My thought went immediately to someone is going to exploit this guy. He’s going to get catfished asking random women to have babies and someone is going to ask him for money, at the very least. Or worse, he could be lured into something unsafe. So, instead of being highly offended (which I was), I asked him to call me and gave him my number. I am trained to lean in. I still questioned every moment of this decision-envisioning multiple subsequent phone calls, the ethics of this decision, placing appropriate boundaries afterwards, etc. I didn’t know this guy at all and he lives 6 states away. But, he called. He was grateful. I was honest with him. I told him what he asked was significantly inappropriate. Does he have a therapist because he would need to work out his process with this person. He would need to disclose and work on what he asked of me. He said no, he had aged out of services after turning 21 and now only has a job coach and gets no social support. So, we talked more. I told him my concerns about his safety and what people could do if he were to continue to solicit like this. I told him it was unsafe and offensive. I was compassionate but direct. He listened. Then thanked me, and he hasn’t contacted me since.

He didn’t want to be inappropriate, but he does want a child and doesn’t have anyone to help him meet this goal. I hope that each moment of having these types of talks someone will help my client if he finds himself in a similar situation someday.

For now, we slayed these dragons today.