My Behavior Is Not the Problem: Shifting Autism Focus to Positive Support

By Stephanie Yamkovenko posted 15 days ago


In honor of Autism Month and OT Month, which are both celebrated in April each year, we wanted to share the unique way that occupational therapy practitioners work with people with autism. Instead of focusing on problems, occupational therapy helps people with autism find solutions and use their strengths to reach their goals.

That was the focus of a recent TEDx Talk by an AOTA member who says we need to stop focusing on removing so-called “problematic” behaviors for people with autism and instead support the development of their emotional skills. Amy Laurent, PhD, OTR/L suggests a positive shift in focus and was joined virtually by her colleagues Michael John Carley, Patti Menzel, Neal Katz, Stephen Shore, Dena Gassner, Patrick Quinn, and Jacquelyn Fede. Hear from adults with autism on why taking away their behaviors is like taking away their identities (or watch the video embedded below).

Kristie Patten Koenig PhD, OT/L, FAOTA, talked to AOTA about the importance of harnessing strengths in an Everyday Evidence podcast. Imagine working solely on things that are hard for you every day. Services for people with autism often focus on fixing problems. It’s time for a shift—occupational therapy practitioners say harnessing the strengths of autism can lead to success as an adult. Listen to the episode here.

Last year at the 2018 Annual Conference & Expo, Koenig moderated a panel of autistic self-advocates who addressed research issues central to autistic community concerns of setting priorities, providing for authentic participation in the research process, and yielding a truly client-centered research agenda.

One attendee at the end of the plenary said, “I thought I was an autistic ally, but I was just slapped in the face. I’m rethinking everything I thought I knew.” AOTA members can watch the plenary here (and you can earn free CE credit here!).

Not an AOTA member? You can watch the recording and earn CE credit for $24.95. Or you can join AOTA today!


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