Every year more and more individuals are diagnosed with Autism. Could it be the drinking water? Our new world of technology? Or that in the world of research, our knowledge of Autism and the behavioral links it brings with it are becoming clearer to the top researchers around the world? I have been able to experience first hand how important the research behind ABA is in relation to Autism in so many ways during my career. ABA is the study of human behavior and uses different techniques to change it. Positive reinforcement is one of the most commonly used terms in ABA. In the field, we typically use positive reinforcement to make our clients’ behavior (hopefully) occur again. For example, a very common issue associated with Autism is imitation or lack thereof. I’ll have my client choose a preferred item/activity (this can be a toy, edible, video, even physical play such as tickles!). Once they have selected what they want to work for, I ask them to “do this” followed by a specific gross motor imitation, let’s say this instance is clapping. Once my client engages in the correct behavior (clapping) I deliver the preferred item they chose! ABA focused heavily on data-driven techniques and results which is how we can see how much progress our clients are making. In a world with Autism, I hope we can go even further into our research and find even more ways to connect with those diagnosed.
I remember when you were just a tiny thing. Full of life and spunk. I couldn’t let you go for the first month you came home. I never thought it would be this hard to watch such a small creature pass and you haven’t even left me. The pet store never told me even a hamster could take a piece of your heart and give it something to smile about. I hope there is a giant wheel and a field of yogurt chips waiting on the other side for you. You have brought me so much happiness in just 2 short years. I will miss you my little friend.
When they diagnose you with depression they only tell you the majority of what people may experience: insomnia/hyper-somnia, thoughts of suicide, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, etc. But they don’t tell you that you lose your sense of self. They fail to mention you become the complete opposite of who you knew yourself to be. The glass is half empty, the world is a darker place than you once pictured light and beautiful. Your sympathy intensifies or fades away. You wish it would go away but you also don’t want it to leave. It starts to take over your entire being. But you still have to keep it together because this isn’t “a real illness”. You aren’t dying on the outside so you’re still expected to carry on and put your personal problems on hold. Textbooks don’t tell you your life is consumed by this giant dark cloud. They say the solution is inside a tiny orange bottle. But they don’t tell you it only helps you “manage” or keep your emotions “under control”.
As a society we are so programmed to generate the perfect response to any occasion. “Hey there, how are you today?” “I’m fine, you?” Are we all really “fine“?
One note, two different feelings. One to take away the nightmares and another to create them. Would they finally hear me once it’s written down? Who would show up and who would fall behind. If all that was left was a simple note would my story be more “poetic” or “worthy”? Would you feel guilty for pushing my “feelings” to the back burner? Would I no longer be considered strong because I caved to my biggest temptation? Well it wouldn’t matter at that point anyway, would it. I’d be in the deepest sleep while you drown in your guilt. One note: two feelings.
“But you’ve been acting fine”
“Think about all the good things in your life, you should be grateful”
“Only crazy people take medication, you’re normal”
“You get A’s on everything why would you be worrying?”
“I think you’re just upset about something, you’ll get over it”
“I know I get depressed when it rains because everything is so gross outside”
“Why don’t you ever want to hangout with us anymore”
“How can you not want to have sex?!”
“Do a shot you’ll start to loosen up”
“Take a hit you’ll feel better”
“Well she lost her leg in an accident I can see why she would be depressed, what happened to you?”
Have you ever given your complete self to someone else? Heart, mind, body, and soul? That is love. That is vulnerability. The scariest thing we do is open ourselves up to strangers to fill in the empty spaces. In those moments, we don’t think the worst could happen. In fact, we embrace it. Some live and breathe for those moments. Love is the most powerful force on earth. It brings out the best in you, but it can also bring out the worst in you. Love wisely.