Although the general public has a better understanding of autism now than it did just a few years ago, people with autism still suffer from widespread myths. One of the most pervasive is that they engage in isolated, repetitive behavior because they want to. In most cases, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Most people would dearly love to be a part of mainstream society. They simply don’t know how to be. The path from “me” to “us” that seems so clear to everyone else is confusing and overgrown to them. You see, the social-emotional sense that arises in most of us as we mature from infancy to childhood doesn’t appear as readily in the autistic, due to biological defects mostly located in the pre-frontal lobe of the brain. Executive Function (EF) and Theory of Mind (ToM), both of which are critical to proper social functioning, simply don’t develop when they should.
Autism is as much a disability as deafness or blindness. These otherwise normal, bright children are just missing a piece of the normal human experience. Unlike most physical disabilities, however, aspects like ToM and EF can be taught. Think of it as a kind of transplanting of an endlessly renewable resource from the child’s caregivers to the child. It takes great patience, hard work, and care, like all worthwhile tasks, but it can be done.
The key is helping children with autism recognize emotion in other people, especially complex emotions like surprise and loneliness. Even high-functioning autistic children often have trouble recognizing such emotions.
Fortunately, I have just published a groundbreaking new book on the subject, Unlocking the Social Potential in Autism. My book is more than just an explanation of autism; it’s a step-by-step guide to helping children overcome major symptoms of ASD. The Poirier Developmental Curriculum provides a wide variety of lessons to familiarize the autistic child with all the aspects of social development that are impacted by autism, so she can learn to function better in society.
Social-emotional understanding is only one part of social development, but it’s an important one. To learn more, order my book today. It may be the best investment in your child’s future you’ll ever make.
Dr. Karina Poirier is the clinical director of the Center of Social Cognition, a prominent clinic for treating social and cognitive deficits in autism. Dr. Poirier is the author of “Unlocking Social Potential in Autism.” Available here.
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