Imagine a world where people you know and work with set up your environment so that you never got upset.
The places in the community that you couldn’t handle were avoided. The jobs you did were always the ones that you liked to do. You got to dictate your schedule, where you sat, who you sat with, how long you could work on your task. And if you needed a break, you simply got disruptive and you might not even have to go back to the task because you showed such resistance to it in the first place.
Imagine never having to follow someone else’s agenda. Imagine only learning that with enough resistance, you can get what you want and avoid what you don’t. Imagine never having to think or problem solve.
Creating false environments for people with Autism looks just like that. When environments are created to avoid a meltdown, how are we teaching people with Autism to cope, to regulate, to problem solve? Instead, we are teaching them that we are afraid of the meltdown so we avoid settings, tasks or expectations. We teach them how to NOT follow someone else’s agenda.
And when the environment goes from a safe classroom setting to real life, there is no more falsehood.
There isn’t an aide there to manipulate the people in the grocery store or restaurant.
There might be a line to wait in. There might be a task that isn’t fun. There might be a change in the routine. There might be a loud noise. The restaurant might be out of chicken nuggets.
Did we do a good job teaching them problem solving skills and coping strategies, or did we just avoid the situation to avoid the meltdown to avoid the teachable moment.