Discussing Treatment Options for Children With Social Anxiety

The following correspondence originally took place upon the Facebook wall of fellow emcee, Tru Leo…

Tru Leo: kids with broken legs dont have to do PE but kids with social anxiety still have to do public speaking, isnt there a problem there? Jus sayin

NaNuk H.: Social anxiety is something that can be worked through. A broken leg won’t put the child permanently out of commission. Thus the “push” for a child with a fear of public speaking to perform, in my opinion, is a step in the right direction.

Rayn: It’s ableism in action, which is a very pervasive problem in today’s society.

I should also point out that a socially phobic child should not be pressured into speaking, as this counterproductive activity only aggravates their anxiety, while disintegrating their trust in you. Such uncompassionate efforts to “push” an anxious child into speech, when done repeatedly or demanded strongly enough, may actually trigger an even more anxious condition called “selective mutism” in such children, as they are already vulnerable, and easily triggered and traumatized by their social surroundings

NaNuk H.: Makes me wonder why it worked for me. Interesting.

Rayn: That is interesting, indeed, because not only did it fail to work for me, it exacerbated my social anxiety and induced years of panic attacks and selective mutism for me, instead. And, I know exactly why it didn’t work. Since my social phobia stems from qualitative impairments in social interactions and social communication, early efforts to pressure me into speaking, when I first entered school, simply resulted in an entire school career, including college, struggling with panic attacks and selective mutism, all throughout.

Instead of pressuring a child into speaking, I would suggest that parents and instructors encourage self-advocacy in that youth, starting with a discussion on the issue of where, how and why he or she is struggling to speak. This important, and much overlooked, step would provide the valuable input necessary for the child’s caretakers to form an individualized course of action towards improvement of the child’s speech, right along with the child. Compassion and cooperation are key, here.

And, to date, cognitive behavioral therapy still remains the best approach towards a effective and long-lasting treatment for moderate to severe social anxiety. This is to be distinguished from repeatedly pressuring or strongly demanding that a child speak, which indicates a stubborn insistence by a caretaker upon a rigid, one-track course of preconceived “solution,” even in the face of continued failure to yield any positive results from said commands or demands. If that’s what you’re saying worked for you, Nikki, and wondering why it did, you might want to ask yourself why you were anxious to speak, in the first place. This will likely help you to gain a better understanding of the dynamics and mechanisms at work in your treatment. On the other hand, you might then also want to ask yourself if you would have possibly benefited much more greatly from the use of cognitive behavioral therapy for your condition, rather than the “pressure” you received to speak during your childhood, instead.

NaNuk H.Rayn, thank you! No one ever explained any of that to me. I was thinking about what you stated in your first comment. When I used the word “push” I meant “to encourage”. The support and encouragement I received as a child helped me to overcome that fear, just enough to interact with others. In turn, experiencing my own ability ,however lacking, helped me to repeat and gain little victories. I do still deal with social anxiety, but on a very different level from when I was a child. I have to agree with you. I do believe being more informed at an earlier age would have caused me to be farther along in my quest to improve. I appreciate your willingness to explain. Thank you again.

Rayn: You’re most welcome. Thank you for engaging in this discussion, and for sharing your story, as well. Also, I agree with you that support and encouragement are definitely steps in the right direction!

Tru Leo: You guys are tha best…luv y’all…I was entertained and well informed..I appreciated you both.

NaNuk H.: Ly2 Tru Leo

Autistics Speaking Day 2012!

"Autistic Speaking Day"

“Autistic Speaking Day”

In honor of Autistics Speaking Day, I would like to share with the public some of my thoughts on Autistic Self-Advocacy.

As an Autistic Self Advocate, I work to advance the rights, goals, concerns and self-determination of the Autistic community that I am a part of. I strive daily to promote Neurodiversity awareness and acceptance, knowing that my condition is a functional, natural and necessary difference, worthy of respect, and celebration. I push to uphold the Social Model of Disability in regard to the Autistic Spectrum, fully aware that “systemic barriers, negative attitudes and exclusion by society (purposely or inadvertently)” are the main obstacles I face as an individual on the Spectrum living in a Neurotypical world. I fight to dispel the popular belief that the Autistic Spectrum is a “disease” in need of a “cure,” understanding that there cannot be any real and honest dialogue about the Spectrum so long as the general public entertains such a prejudicial viewpoint. And, of course, this trend in thinking is not so easily reversible, since it is perpetuated by not only medical professionals, experts, and the mainstream media, but even some well-known organizations that purport to represent the Autistic community, as well. However, like many others on the Spectrum, I struggle against these factors to add my own voice, realizing how important it is for Autistic individuals to educate the public about the Autistic Spectrum for ourselves – especially when our Neurotypical counterparts fall short.

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Autistics Speaking Day 2011!

"Autistics Speaking Day"

“Autistics Speaking Day”

In honor of Autistics Speaking Day, I would like to share with the public a few of my experiences as an individual on the Autistic Spectrum.

I first was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2006, when I was 26 years old. Before this, the only professional explanations for my differences were “severe social phobia” and “selective mutism.”

Being on the spectrum, I have some sensory issues. They have been with me all of my life, and have created many challenges for me. Typically, bright lights and strong perfumes irritate me, and I often suffer from headaches due to them. I feel very uncomfortably self-aware of my skin, and sometimes feel trapped in my body. Because of this, I unwittingly engage in certain stereotypies – often pacing, shaking my leg in place, flapping my hands, swinging my arms, and rocking back and forth, without even realizing it. I am unable to withstand most fabrics, and almost always wear cotton, avoiding anything frilly or lacy. Tight-fitting shoes and pants are completely unbearable, along with bras with seams in the cups, and cheap socks with seams that pucker at the edges. I’m intolerant of many flavors and textures, and typically eating the same few foods over and over, for weeks, months or years at a time, with little deviation.

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Tax Returns Speak Volumes for “Autism Speaks”

The following article was inspired by a correspondence I had with my friend, and fellow Autistic self-advocate, Jason Ross, here, on his website, which I also shared in my post, “Discussing the Organization, ‘Autism Speaks’…“…

Listen to the Tax Returns, that is...

Listen to the Tax Returns, that is…

The officially-stated mission of Autism Speaks is “to fund research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.” While their mission may sound noble, does this organization truly represent the interests of the Autistic community? Being on the Autistic spectrum, myself, and somewhat interested in the possibility of becoming more actively involved in the Autism Speaks organization, I decided that I would venture to discover the answer to my question by doing some much-needed research. I found a well of information on the internet, beginning with the following controversial Autism Speaks video, released on Sept. of 2009, entitled, “I Am Autism”:

(note: sadly, all traces of this video have since been scrubbed from YouTube)

Update: here is a version of the video that recently popped up on Vimeo:
Click here to download a copy, in case it disappears, again!
(note: sadly, all traces of this video have since been scrubbed from Vimeo)

Update: here is yet another version of the video that recently appeared on YouTube:

I Am Autism – Autism Speaks Ad:

This completely tasteless and offensive video seems to perfectly illustrates what Autism Speaks is REALLY all about: IRRATIONAL FEAR-MONGERING FOR PROFIT through promotion of a very disingenuous “disease/cure” paradigm, with no regard for the DAMAGE they cause to the MANY groups that are aimed at the currently pressing issues of garnering AUTISM ACCEPTANCE and facilitating SELF-ADVOCACY.

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Discussing the Organization, “Autism Speaks”…

The following correspondence originally took place the website of my friend, and fellow Autistic self-advocate, Jason Ross, “Drive Mom Crazy,” upon his blog post, “This Was Too Much for a Tweet, So Look Here“…

Listen to the Tax Returns, that is...

Listen to the Tax Returns, that is…

Jason Ross: Recently, I noticed Autism Speaks tweeted about how in 45 years The United States of America will be a country of Autistic people. I saw it was even retweeted by someone I follow on my twitter page as well. When I went on Autism Speaks twitter page just now before I posted this, I just noticed it is no longer on their twitter page. Did Autism Speaks realize what they said was absurd?  What was the meaning of Autism Speaks statement? What is the message that they are trying to convey to the public? Is it a scare tactic! Is it really the truth! Autism does not make us horrible nor does it make us incapable.  Autistic people can achieve and fit in to society because it is a handicap like any other.  So why make such an unrealistic and a false statement about Autism? It is a very unrealistic statement since Autism has been around for generations.

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