BUILDING ON AUTISTIC STRENGTHS WHILE RESPECTING NEUROLOGICAL DIFFERENCES
What is the Neuro-Strength-Based Approach to Autism (NSBAA)?
The NSBAA method is NOT another form of intervention. It IS an approach to the way we, as therapists and educators, interact with autistic individuals.
The NSBAA method focuses on identifying and building on an individual's strengths. It also recognizes the neurological differences in the way the autistic brain processes experiences. Experiences are the foundation for learning and growth. Positive experiences provide the motivation for further learning. Negative experiences are avoided, tolerated, stored in our emotional memories, or go unused. Whether an experience is positive or negative depends on how the brain takes in, processes, and interprets that experience. Different minds will interpret the same experience differently and respect for neurodiversity is an essential key to this approach.
What can educators and therapists expect to achieve by using this approach?
The most important thing educators and therapists will gain by using this approach is a better understanding of, and respect for, the differences between how the neurotypical brain and the autistic brain learn and communicate. The behaviors seen in autistic individuals will make more sense as providers are able to interpret them as communication, not an inability or resistance to learning. Keep in mind that the autistic person is as perplexed by neurotypical behavior and methods of communication as neurotypicals are of autistic behavior. The majority of clients and students will be open to learning, once this approach is implemented.
What can therapists and educators help their clients and students learn when using the tools that are integrated into the NSBAA?
When using rapport building strategies, therapists and providers will be modeling social interaction skills (the power of, as well as the give-and-take in, communication; exploring likes/dislikes; finding fun in playing together or comfort when you are upset; building trust by turn-taking and sharing control). Rather than directing what clients/students learn and how they learn it (which leads to learned dependence), therapists and educations will be using various tools to help clients and students think and make decisions and accept responsibility for their own actions and choices.