Today was Max’s birthday party, in a local church hall, and he came home with a huge pile of parcels. His pal Arthur (who lives a few doors away) came round to eagerly help open them.
Husband recently went on a Hanen programme course called Talkability. He’s a very committed dad and hoped the course would help improve his relationship with his son. The course was devised by Speech & Language Therapists and sticks closely to the social skills/language deficit idea of autism or autistic-type behaviours.
One Max’s presents was a totally un-pc set of plastic soldiers with various bits of plastic weaponry. Arthur wanted to make a fort for the soldiers to hide out in and set about with a pair of scissors on a cardboard box. He wanted Max to join in the fun of stabbing scissors into a cardboard box, but Max kept out of the way, instead flying a plastic fighter jet at the other end of the room. Arthur was getting more and more frustrated with Max; ‘come and help make a fort Max!’, so Husband decided to follow the advice of the Hanen SLTs and encouraged Max to join in; ‘come on Max, come and help Arthur!’.
Of course it didn’t work. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that Max’s motor skills are well behind those of his peers. Using scissors on cardboard is completely out of his depth. But if you ignore the physical immaturity all you can see is some inexplicable social avoidance. Max loves Arthur, but his fear of humiliation by showing himself up in a practical task is way stronger.
Instead of always assuming that Spectrumites have social problems, can we take a more rounded look at why people might be behaving the way they are?
This post is in response to the Autistic People Should/Autistic People Are campaign to get google to remove offensive predictive search suggestions.