Towards the middle of my undergraduate career, I began to become increasingly aware of autism and the challenge presented to countless children and families to unlock the mystery behind the diagnosis. I recall reading Barry Kaufman’s Son-Rise. As I remember, the book spoke from a perspective of integrating one’s self into the world of the child with autism and slowly drawing him or her into the greater world over time.
When I finished my bachelor’s degree, I spent a year working as a 1:1 classroom aide for children in preschool, many of whom had autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses. I supplemented this job by working as a discrete trial (Lovaas/ABA) therapist. I was trained and supervised by a licensed clinical psychologist who had worked under Dr. Lovaas at UCLA, and at my peak, I spent about twenty hours per week doing something entirely different than the protocol discussed in Son-Rise. Rather than trying to integrate myself into the child’s world and slowly draw him out, I was working on providing very specific and repeated practice for the child to learn how to function more adaptively in the world, a world which might be confusing and overwhelming when viewed through senses blurred or magnified by ASD.
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