Helpful Book – People with Autism behaving badly

                           ‘People with autism behaving badly – helping people with ASD move on from behavioral and emotional challenges’  is written by John Clements, a clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience in the field of developmental disabilities with special focus on autism. Behaviour problems is one common thread that runs through every family with a child/adult with autism and as parents we need to be equipped to deal with them. This book is helpful for people all over the autism spectrum, be they high/low functioning and nonverbal/verbal and children/adolescent/adult. The best thing about this book is the approach the author takes when describing people on the spectrum, its totally understanding and insightful. To quote Mr.Clements,

” People with autism are not travelers from some other world. they are fellow travelers in this world, on the journey of human life. Like the rest of us, their route and their destination may be individual, reflecting each person’s unique qualities and unique circumstances. Like the rest of us, they need to be able to understand what is going on and have some say in that. Like the rest of us, they need the tools and equipment that will help them on the journey.Like the rest of us, they need good company on the journey and expert guidance through difficult terrain. Like the rest of us. ”

Part 1 of the book is ‘Groundwork’. It talks about setting priorities, deciding which behavior problems are more troublesome and get about making life easier by rapidly resolving the concerns. Part 2 is ‘Themes and supports’ ,  the heart of the book and my favourite part.  It has separate chapters for the common underlying themes behind behaviour problems. Each chapter focuses on a specific theme, explains with numerous examples and gives plenty of ideas on how best to deal with it, tools for the parent/caregiver that are life saving!

The chapter ‘ I can’t stand that’ explains about behaviour problems that are triggered by sensory stimuli that cause immense discomfort to the person. The next chapter is ‘You’ve lost me’ and deals with behaviour problems that arise mainly at transitions/waiting with triggers like having to stop doing something he likes, not knowing what is going to happen next, out of boredom, etc. The chapter ‘There’s something I want from you’ explains in detail the behaviours that occur as a means of persuading other people to change a situation to make it more favourable for a person with autism. For example, to avoid an uncomfortable environment, to seek attention, to be left alone, etc.

The next chapter ‘ I don’t want you to say NO’ deals with behaviour problems that arise only when their wishes are denied. There are examples also for situations when they lose control when told NO. The chapter ‘I love it when ‘ deals with the most common behaviour problems that arise when we try to stop a disruptive behaviour that means a lot to a person with autism, for example, tearing clothes/paper, eating inedible items, destroying household items, etc. They may satisfy the sensory needs of the person but are nonetheless destructive and Mr. Clements suggests numerous ways to deal with this without getting into a power struggle. The chapter ‘ I feel terrible’ talks about behaviour problems that arise when the person/child is in a bad mood when their tolerance levels are at a minimum threshold. The next chapter ‘ I’m in charge here’ is also a common situation that many parents face when their child’s rules are not followed,for example wanting routines to be followed only in a specific order, monopoly over television, computer,etc.

Part 3 deals with ‘underlying issues’ like lack of social connectedness and loss of personal well being. Part 4 is ‘think pieces’ and talks about using drugs like anxiety reducers, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, etc and the author advises against their use as it is difficult to wean off the drugs and their cocktail combinations may cause side effects.  The author instead encourages developing a relationship style for a parent/caregiver that complements the nature of the child/person with autism.



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