Autism Spectrum Australia

A hand lent is a hand well spent

  • Posted: 27/03/2014
  • Author: Thomas Kuzma
  • Comments: Loading.. .


Hey everyone, welcome back to the blog written by the guy who was in an ad 12 years ago for a girl’s magazine. This week my friend Jenna came over to play retro games. Sadly most of the time was spent restraining myself from yanking the controller out of her hand and showing her how to play the games correctly. This got me thinking about challenging behaviour (mine, not Jenna’s!). What is it, and what do we do about it?

A Professional Opinion

In my great search for all things challenging I talked to a man who knows. Aspect’s Tom Tutton is a Clinical Psychologist who works with many people on the autism spectrum and their families, implementing Positive Behaviour Support.

“Positive Behaviour Support looks at challenging behaviour – persistent behaviour that causes difficulties and limits a person’s ability to have a good life. We aim to bring people together to develop an empathetic understanding of why challenging behaviour is happening.

“It’s important to understand that PBS work is mostly done by those people who see the individual most often. This includes families, friends and school or other staff, not just the ‘experts’. This helps recognise the expertise of families and importance of their lifelong role. There’s no quick fix approach; PBS involves dedication and perseverance over time as well an acceptance that change is also the responsibility of families – mums and dads have to change their behaviour too.  For PBS to work, it’s important that the strategies are put into practice every day and in as many settings as possible.

"Aspect’s PBS team started in Western Sydney in 2002, and with additional resources including government funding, we now work across NSW and in Victoria and Queensland.  

"We have helped those on the spectrum develop friendships where previously there were none, improve self-esteem, and develop their communication skills. This means people have more choice and control over their lives, as well as hugely reducing anxiety and distress. One of the most consistent changes we see is in the increased understanding and acceptance of others in allowing them to just be themselves.

"I am very proud of Aspect’s PBS and I’d like to continue offering these effective services. Right now, due to funding agreements, there are restrictions on whom we can support and where we can do this. It would be great to have the opportunity to offer support wherever it is needed. I see a lot of young people in very challenging situations so I’d really like to try to make sure that good practice PBS is embedded in policy and practice much more consistently, especially in schools," said Tom.

My Two Cents

What can I say about positive behaviour support and how it has affected me? It’s all about finding out the reasons for a particular behaviour, and how those needs can be met in a positive way. Growing up, mum was more rewarding to good deeds while dad was the evil tyrant punishing what he thought were bad deeds.

What changed however, was when I was diagnosed with the condition. Mum and dad saw that I was poorly coordinated and it was getting detrimental to my everyday life. So instead of watching me get more frustrated and upset, my parents decided to help me by making coordination tests, games and juggling. Starting off slowly I would bounce a ball against a panel of symbols whilst solving equations. It didn’t stop there. From there I would start juggling balls, balancing myself with my eyes closed and solving memory problems. In the space of three months my coordination had gone from zero to hero making life happier for me and less stressful for mum and dad!

In Conclusion

Well one thing is for sure, to quote the legendary cartoon Transformers (or GI JOE), “Knowing is half the battle!” Something I notice from those on the spectrum is that they often have had a lot of trouble fitting in. We are in need of more of these PBS programs. Those on the spectrum need these programs like blind person needs braille or like a deaf person needs sign language. But what kinds of challenges do you or a person you know with Autism face? leave a comment below! 

To end this week, I feel the best quote is from the movie Temple Grandin. This quote is for all those parents that have done everything for their child with autism, yet feel like nothing is working.

Dr Carlock: “You seem to be acting as if you have done something wrong, when it's obvious you've done everything right. I think she's terrific. I know it's difficult when, as parents, we want our children to be everything we hoped for them to be and, if they're not, we think it's our fault and... And that there's never ever anybody out there who understands what we're going through. It makes you feel alone.”

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A hand lent is a hand well spent