Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 8 - Page 34

attitude that reflects what you would like to see. There is a lot of pressure put on getting the “correct” answer; try instead looking at it as a multiple choice question. No one does well when they feel like they are constantly falling short. ing. It’s that simple. Lesson: If you are frustrated, do not attempt to direct the autistic person, and please keep in mind that if you are frustrated, the autistic person is also. Propositional Prompt Verbal Prompt Photo by Christina MacNeal. options/suggestions at us at one given time. Remember, most of us lack the communication skills to express that this is frustrating, and over time this builds into a meltdown. This is a very fine line, yet it is still pushing someone as you are no longer listening to the autistic person’s wants or needs. Lesson: Give time to respond and process. For us it’s like being interrupted constantly. Gestural Prompt This is basically what it sounds like; you are using your body to indicate a response. Here is a good example of this: You are waiting for a response from a person with autism after first trying the visual prompt, which didn’t work. You then point in the most exact proximity as possible to where the person with autism needs to go, allowing plenty of time and keeping your gesture the same. Gestural Push We feel everything, so if you communicate with an attitude and at the same time start raising your voice and overly gesturing out of frustration with people watching, expect a negative response with one of the following occurring: tantrum, outburst, meltdown or shutdown. Again, we are just like everyone else, and human nature makes us all want to fit in and avoid conflict for the most part. Lesson: If you want a positive reaction from us, then present an experience and 34 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses I think one of my favorite verbal prompts is as follows as I am a very visual learner. Have four pre-chosen responses to questions, one of which should always be “other,” and write the words in visual sight of the autistic person. It is a very quick response system and is easy for both parties. This type of verbal prompt is also good for select mutism during tough times. Remember to get the true answer by asking the questions in alternate order a second time. This can then be used for pointing if nonverbal or experiencing select mutism or can be verbally answered by someone who is verbal. Lesson: There is a huge difference between communicating and the ability to speak; also, use what works for that person or yourself and mix and match tools to be most effective. Verbal Push I consider this to be very straight forward. If you are speaking down to, over, around, or raising your voice for reasons other than hearing or safety issues, you have crossed the line and are push- I will put myself out there for this one. I care for about five foods. I will forget to eat. Food refusal can last for days that can easily turn into almost a week. I will walk past the food, at times even the five foods I will eat, and not initiate. Oppositely, if non-heated instant brown sugar oatmeal with just water is placed in front of me, I will engage and eat it. This is a great fussy, food-refusing method and works very well, given that there are no sensory issues with the presented food. Lesson: It’s neither laziness nor protest, but sometimes, as much as we would like to engage, we can’t make our bodies and minds work with us and in sync. so just don’t. It’s beyond disrespectful and rude. bow, hand or other previously discussed and chosen body part of the autistic person is a push and unacceptable. Lesson: Would you touch anyone else other than the autistic person in your life to get them to do what you were wanting in this way? If not, then don’t do it to us either. Physical Prompt Often called the hand-overhand method, it sounds so much cuter than it actually is. I am not here to judge. I am, however, an autistic person who experiences everything differently than my neuro-typical counterparts, and I assure you that I do not like to be touched without fair warning and given consent. Here is the bottom line with these types of prompts: Unless the person is harming him self, someone else or is in direct danger of some sort, it is never okay to put your hands on someone who either cannot tell you no Physical Push Please read above and repeat after me: Putting your hands on someone who is not in danger or in danger of hurting someone else without prior discussion and consent is not acceptable behavior. Please stop doing this to autistic people as it is wrong. The end. "If you want a positive reaction from us, then present an experience and attitude that reflects Propositional Push You have placed the item(s) in front of the autistic person for the sixth time in a row, and each response from the person is getting more intense in a negative way, yet you still proceed to do so. This is not only pushing, but also, it is being a bully and not good for anyone, what you would like to see." or who cannot make his body work well enough to remove your hands. It is, again, in my opinion, disrespectful, belittling and ultimately tells that person that it is okay for people to touch them regardless of their wants, needs and feelings. That’s not only a wrong message, it’s a dangerous and harmful one. Anything beyond a tap on the shoulder or el- Christina MacNeal is an autistic writer, activist, public speaker, the founder of two nonprofits, and a two-time Editor in Chief and communications director. You can contact Christina at christinamacneal@gmail.com. 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