AUTISTIC LINCS: By Callum Brazzo, an autistic author from Spalding
According to many websites, World Autism Awareness Week has officially concluded so where do we go from here?
It’s time to make a tangible difference.
Last week was a polite yet firm message to dismiss the ABA and these ‘cures’ going around that want to rid us of the world…so let’s chat about what actually works!
Excellent, scientifically proven and autistically approved therapies or ‘therapeutic supports’ for autistic people’s wellbeing exist, therefore I want to examine three of them for now in today’s column.
We begin with the animal kingdom.
Animal therapy can be about utilising animals’ potential as a bridge to communication, creating calm and providing sensory regulation/stimulation to name only a few benefits.
Animals offer their individual characteristics to a situation such as a dog’s curiosity or a cat’s playfulness which an autistic person can interpret and respond to accordingly and indeed there are characteristic overlaps (a dog can also be playful and a cat can also be curious) but the main point with any therapeutic support involving animals is that there is often a unique dynamic between the autistic person and animals.
Let’s be clear, I am not saying autistic people ARE animals.
What I am saying is that where there may ordinarily be social norms to fit into for the autistic person with immense, unnecessary pressure, there is a mutual depth to the unspoken bond of an autistic person and an animal.
Frequently apparent in such encounters is the appreciation of nature.
The way a wind feels, breezing through human hair, could be intensely satisfying for an autistic person because of how their rainbow filter perceives that sense of touch and sound.
None of this has to be complicated.
For example, taking a trip out to a farm can support an autistic person effectively merely because of all that you would expect from a farm.
The noises, the textures, the food, the air.
People forget about the simple but effective parts of our shared world that we can harness to enrich an autistic person’s wellbeing.
Flexibility in our approach to this multi-sensory world and consistent communication with the autistic person are two key components of effective support.
Additionally, sports and the arts can enrich an autistic person’s wellbeing.
Sports activate our body’s willingness to learn about itself through physical movements.
A running race with other people surrounding the autistic person may not be ideal but a long jump event where the aim is to focus on your own run and performance of the jump is perhaps more suitable.
Autistic people can be competitive and so if you or someone you know has a competitive spirit then that autistic person, in the right situation, deserves to have their potential maximised.
Progressing into art then, activities like learning to play an instrument, dancing and painting can all be genuinely uplifting and feeds those curious and playful minds in need of some therapeutic sustenance.
Life is a canvas.
Whatever your route to wellbeing stability, the underlying principle I suggest that makes a tangible difference is as follows:
Nurture OUR nature.