Working closely with Jeremy, I have gained a lot of information about the nature of autism and the many evidence-based supports that can be implemented to meet an individual’s needs. In this editorial, I will talk a little about my experience working with Jeremy and the insights I have gained on how to support him.
Supporting Sensory Differences
By far, the most useful information I have learned about supporting Jeremy has to do with the sensory challenges that are associated withautism. Currently, I take sensory a check-in with Jeremy at the beginning of each day. After working with Jeremy for some time, I grew to understand the importance of making this check-in consistently. Because of the check-in, it has become much easier for me to avoid taking certain behaviors personally when Jeremy becomes upset or anxious in sensory-stimulating situations. I like to remind myself that his inner experience of sensory stimuli is very different compared to mine. This reminder allows me to set aside the fear that I am not doing a good job of caring for him. Instead, I focus on figuring out the issue that is upsetting him (which is often sensory related). Recently, he told me, “I’m really glad you are feeling more comfortable around me.” I feel confident that this increased comfort is primarily due to this course and my newfound understanding of sensory difficulties.
Supporting Motor Challenges
The information I have learned about motor planning has been immensely helpful to me as well. Jeremy often has a challenging time getting his body to where it needs to be. He will often say things like, “Just move me there,” especially on days when he is having a particularly hard time with motor movement. Strategies covered in the online course are beneficial in these moments, or when I start to feel like Jeremy is “just being oppositional.” I know this is not the case.
Developing New Supports
Currently, I am working on developing a new support for Jeremy. I will be creating a visual task analysis to support Jeremy in the steps of washing his hands. At present, Jeremy must be verbally, and sometimes physically, prompted to wash his hands.
I am hoping the visual prompt I develop will help foster greater independence for Jeremy in completing this task. To make the support, I took several photos of Jeremy as he moved through each step of washing hands. Together, these photos will become a set of steps for him to follow each time he must complete this task.
Developing Patience and Understanding
The increased understanding and patience are two of the qualities greatest qualities I have received from my time working with Jeremy. I have had experience supporting a few people with autism in the past, but I have never really had a solid understanding of evidence-based practices. As a result of ignorance, I have experienced unnecessary agitation and frustration because I did not understand why the person I support would act in specific ways. I would blame myself for things that were not my fault and blame the person I support for things that were not their fault. Jeremy has more severe sensory, motor-planning, and communication difficulties than any person I have supported in the past. While working with him, I have taken the time to really understand how to be patient and support his needs.
About the Author
Matthew Murphy is a member of Jeremy’s Sicile-Kira’s in-home support team.