The Challenge of Community Integration
The longer I work with teens and young adults with ASD the more I realize that something isn't working with standard treatment: ABA, floortime, OT, and speeech and langauge. Although these intervention models may improve certain rule gonverned behavior and increase static skills -- including rote problem solving -- children with ASD are spending far too much time in self-isolating actvities that produce states of pleasure.
Whether it be trains or lego or Harry Potter or video games or internet games and research, children with ASD are developing deeply ingrained patterns of pleasure seeking behavior that create isolation from their peers.
Parents and other caregivers need to be proactive by setting limits on self-isolation and providing new challenges that create relationships outside the home -- and away from objects and actvities that perpetuate pleasure via isolation.
We work very hard in every group to point out the consequences of isolation and we try to facilitate relationships outiside of group. It is remarkably hard to create new patterns and challenges when a teen has spent most of his development hiding out from the world. But this is a productive struggle and one that you can prevail.
Set limits. Create productive tension. Establish motivation to try new actvities by withdrawing self-isolating games/object/activities. What can you do tomorrow that will break the pattern? Think about simple outings and tasks that will bring your teen out of his room and into your community.
Try our beach day: 7/3/10 as a start.