Adding or Extinguishing
I hear a lot about extinguishing traits. From some parents it's all about getting rid of the autism and for autistic bloggers it seems to be about making sure we don't extinguish what is uniquely autism.
So I wonder. Do I add or do I extinguish?
Patrick never did flap. It's one of those things that everyone assumes your child will do. I've even been told that because he doesn't flap, he isn't autistic. But remembering back, Patrick did do this one thing. He used to tap his thumb and first finger together. Sometimes he would just be standing there tapping. We thought it was interesting of course. But in the same way his climbing was interesting, or his brother's latest drawing was interesting. It wasn't until years later that I realized this could be considered a repetative behaviour. Eventually he just stopped doing it...perhaps when his ability to communicate made life easier for him? I wonder if we'd had the diagnosis at a younger age if I would have been tempted to extinguish this?
Patrick's only speech at a young age was echolalia. Absolutely nothing came uniquely from him. So we took him to speech therapy, used some signs, made him use words for requests, etc. Interestingly enough, early on we decided not to try and decrease the echolalia. The result? The sum total of his speech increased. So now he does converse reasonably well, but he also still enjoys repeating things over and over. No conclusion, just an interesting observation. He certainly has a fantastic memory. I wonder how that will serve him in the future?
So, does a parent focus on extinguishing behaviours? I'm not referring to Self Injury here. But simple things that bring attention to your child for being different? Is there a cost to this? How do we decide what to keep and what to get rid of? Is it a value judgment?
My overall philosophy in this parenting journey has been to try and add to my children's abilities. It seems, to me anyway, that when positive things like communication, education, and safety are added to a child's life the need to extinguish behaviours diminishes.
No answers here. Just a lot of questions.