I'm going to start with an apology because it seems as though I'm on a little negative mission at the moment. I promise I am not what I write is solely dependent on what I read...
I truly hope tomorrows post is happy, joyful and full of marshmallow clouds :D
So back to today's 'mini-rant'.
I was so excited to expand on the BBC News tweet this morning.
What's this 'super-parenting'?
Dramatically improve autism?
This will be amazing for so many of the families I support.
But then as I clicked through disappointment set in.
'Super-parenting' is nothing more than all the things I already share with parents.
'Super-parenting' describes the same things that most parents do if they have been lucky enough to work with progressive health professionals.
'Super-parenting' is simply removing expectations based on a diagnosis and supporting your child as if the diagnosis didn't exist.
A diagnosis of autism should only ever be used to guide the methods used to support development and not as a 'block' to development.
The only thing that ever stops a child from achieving is the limits we place on that child.
The negative effects on child development due to decreased expectations is something which has been widely reported for decades and something many parents already know...
But as an ever vigilant educator, I read the actual research (and not just what the BBC have reported) on to see the 'dramatic' results.
First I checked to see who was actually included in the study and more importantly who was excluded:
"Exclusion criteria were children with a twin with autism, non-verbal age equivalent to 12 months or younger (Mullen scales), epilepsy requiring medication, severe sensory impairment, or severe mental illness in a parent."
Meaning it was only tested on children who already showed verbal communication skills, and did not have severe sensory impairments ...
So how 'severely' autistic are these children...
And what exactly was changed?
Unlike the BBC who leads you to believe all children go from being unable to talk to talking in sentences...
"Several years ago it was a largely silent interaction, but now he will be so chatty, 'Mummy, Mummy, look they've gone on in a different order.'
(Louisa talking about her child Frank, commenting on lampposts)
But this, unfortunately, is not the case.
The study shows an improvement in communication - but this is sneaky because communication isn't just talking.
Communication includes playing with others, communicating using sign language, communicating with pictures, IPads...
Talking is a really small part of communication.
So I decided to find out what this PACT Intervention is all about and here's a mini quote on the evaluation of a previous trial:
"The evaluation showed changes in parent communication style which were found to significantly lead to increases in child communication and parent reported everyday social communication, child expressive vocabulary and language understanding." (Aldred et al. 2011)
So really all that happens is instead of a therapist working directly with a child for an hour a week the therapist works with the parents and shows them how to help their child communicate...
Makes sense (and what I do with parents).
Probably would have happened naturally if health professionals had not put the 'can't' word in front of any form of communication because of the ASC diagnosis.
Expectations and lack thereof are the only things that stop a child achieving.
If you have a child with any disability ban the word can't.
In stead use the words 'in time'.
Children who have a disability just take longer to master things than children without.
Never give up.
A disability should be a guide to help you adapt the way in which you work with your child and not a block to achievement.
I recently worked with a family who's child is severely autistic (and non-verbal) who had extreme behaviour difficulties. So much so the parents could not go out.
CAMHS were 'supporting' the family for the last 8 years.
CAMHS told the family her behaviour was due to her autism and there was nothing they could do.
I worked with the family for just 8 weeks.
They now go out with their child.
Oh, and she has started communicating verbally...
Can't was removed and 'in time' was introduced.
The parents were shown how to engage, how to build a relationship and how to encourage her to communicate - including speak.
I have no doubt she will continue to improve.
So please - remove the word can't.
Treat your child as you do all the others, and as you would a child without a disability.
Have hope and magical things will happen for you, your child and your family.
Have a wonderful Wednesday & catch you again soon - Katie
p.s. if you need a little help getting things back on track then why not check out the 'positive parenting community' where you can get help from Katie every week in live Q&A sessions, there's loads of resources and a whole host of other benefits. Click the button below to find out more:
Katie Woodland - A developmental, and holistic psychologist who specialises in educating and empowering individuals, business leaders & school teachers to remove mental health as a barrier to success.
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