ASQ Articles

Articles from Straight Talk About Autism, my column for Autism Spectrum Quarterly, and other brief articles

In 2008, I was invited to write a regular column for Autism Spectrum Quarterly by Dr. Diane Twachtman-Cullen, Editor in Chief of ASQ. After decades of publishing in peer-reviewed journals and for scholarly books, I seized upon this opportunity to have the freedom to express my opinions and have my voice heard without compromise. I attempt to select topics that are rarely discussed or critically analyzed in other publications or forums, yet are often controversial and crucial in understanding and supporting individuals with ASD and their families. My goal in sharing these articles is to encourage discussion and lively debate on these topics!

  • ASQ1 – Finding Balance Spring, 2008
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    Parents are challenged by the need to find balance between supporting their child, and dealing with many other issues in the life of the family. Finding balance is also a challenge for researchers and advocacy and fundraising organizations. In this article, based on a presentation given for parents, I discuss the nature of challenges in finding balance.
  • ASQ2 – On Recovery, Summer 2008
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    Debates about “recovery” from autism, whether recovery is possible, or even whether it should be a desirable focus of intervention, remains a profoundly emotional and controversial issue. I address the concept of recovery and consider why it is so controversial.
  • ASQ3 – Parent-Professional Relationships: It’s a Matter of Trust
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    It is well accepted that positive, collaborative relationships between parents and professionals are crucial in effectively supporting individuals with ASD and their families. I discuss why developing trust may be so challenging, and steps that can be taken to achieve this goal.
  • ASQ4 – Treatment Options and Parent Choice: An Individualized Approach to Intervention – Part I, Winter 2008
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  • ASQ5 – Treatment Options and Parent Choice – Is ABA the Only Way? – Part II, Spring 2009
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  • ASQ6 – Creating a Culture of Family Centered Practice For the Autism Community – Part III, Summer 2009
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    In this 3 part article, the concept of family-centered practice is presented as the “gold-standard” in providing services for persons with ASD and their families. However, services and practices often are not family-centered, and parents are left out of the equation in essential aspects of treatment choice and setting priorities. I discuss some these issues and recommend steps that can be take towards improving practices.
  • ASQ7-8 – Primacy of Trust parts 1&2, Fall-Winter 2009
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    In this 2 part article, I am joined by Michael John Carley, Executive Director of GRASP (GRASP.ORG), the largest advocacy organization in the world for persons with Autism and Aspergers, and father and professional with ASD, in sharing our thoughts and recommendations about the crucial issue of developing trust with persons with ASD.
  • ASQ9 – Reflecting on the Journey: A Retreat for Parent of Children with Autism, Spring 2010
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    I am joined by Barbara Domingue, Executive Director of Community Autism Resources and a parent, and Dr. Elaine Meyer of the Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital-Boston, in describing our annual weekend parent retreat now in its 17th year. We discuss why the retreat is an effective and innovative model of support attended by 60 parents each year.
  • ASQ10 – Respect Begins with Language – Part I, Summer 2010
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  • ASQ11 – Respect Begins with Language – Part II, Fall 2010
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    In this 2 part article, I discuss the language of Autism “culture”, and how this unique “dialect” with its own vocabulary is at best, inaccurate and imprecise, and at worst, condescending, judgmental and disrespectful of individuals with ASD and their families. Recommendations are made to change this linguistic culture to support true collaboration and mutual respect.
  • ASQ12 – The Cup Half Full: Nurturing Interests, Strengths and Talents- Winter 2010
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    A wonderful, recent trend in supporting and understanding people with ASD is the shift from a “deficit checklist” approach (a phrase I coined in 1982!!), to identifying interests strengths and talents as a means to improve quality of life and enhance abilities. This trend is discussed with “real-life” advice from Briant Canha, a father whose adult son has benefitted from his parents’ efforts to nurture his artistic talents.
  • ASQ13 – Behavior is Not the Issue: An Emotional Regulation Approach to Problem Behavior Part I, Spring 2011
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  • ASQ14 – Behavior is Not the Issue: An Emotional Regulation Approach to Problem Behavior Part II, Summer 2011
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    For this 2 part article, I am joined by Amy Laurent, co-author of The SCERTS Model, in presenting a framework for addressing problem behavior from an emotional regulation perspective. We define this approach, and discuss why it provides a developmentally-based, respectful alternative to traditional behavior management approaches.
  • ASQ15 – The Use and Misuse of Evidence-based Practice: Implications for Persons with ASD – Fall, 2011

    Evidence-based practice is now an essential consideration in selecting treatments/educational approaches for persons with ASD. However, the concept of EBP has been applied in different ways, and in some cases, misapplied to further political agendas, to control funding streams, and to convince parents to select specific approaches, often to the exclusion of others. I discuss the appropriate application of EBP as a mean to support collaborative decision-making based on available research and other critical factors.

  • ASQ16 – Join Us on the Journey: What Parents Want and Need from Service Providers – Winter, 2011
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    This article is the result of interviews with seasoned “parent-professionals”, as well as what hundreds of parents have shared at our annual retreat over the past 17 years (see ASQ 9). Parents answer the question “What do you want and need from service providers?” We can all learn to be more effective in supporting children and families if we listen to this advice.
  • ASQ17 – The Power of Emotional Memory – Spring, 2012
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    It is well accepted that memory is a relative strength of most persons with ASD. In this article, I explore Emotional Memory, one dimension of memory processing. Some of the challenges of emotional memory are considered, with practical suggestions for supporting positive emotional memories.
  • ASQ18 – Thinking developmentally (with Eve Mullen) – Part 1 – Summer, 2012
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    Many professionals and service providers who are supporting persons with ASD have minimal, or no training in child and human development. In this two part article, we define what it is to think developmentally, and emphasize that it is far more than teaching to a developmental checklist. In Part 2, we discuss the benefits of thinking developmentally, the dangers of not doing so, and provide a case vignette.
  • ASQ19 – Thinking developmentally (with Eve Mullen) – Part 2 – Fall, 2012
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    In part one, we defined what it is to think developmentally when supporting persons with ASD, emphasizing that it is far more than merely teaching to a developmental checklist. We will now consider the benefits of thinking developmentally; the dangers of not doing so; and the practical implications of this type of thinking.
  • ASQ 20 SPECIAL ARTICLE in The Cutting Edge: From Research to Practice – Summer, 2012

    On the Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder

    In the heat of the current controversy surrounding the proposed tightening of DSM V criteria for ASD, I consider one possible contribution to the dramatic increase in the numbers of children receiving this diagnosis – “blatant misdiagnosis”. The hypothesis of “blatant misdiagnosis” is explored from the perspectives of the limitations in the diagnostic process as well as the experience and training of diagnosticians.

  • ASQ 21 – High and low functioning autism: A false (and harmful?) dichotomy – Winter, 2012
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    In this article, I take a critical look at the use of the categorical terms “high and low functioning autism”. Although these terms are used commonly, there are no accepted operational definitions. Furthermore, there are inherent inconsistencies in using these terms that oversimplify the complexities of the experience of autism. Alternatives to these terms are considered.
  • ASQ 22 – On Expressing Gratitude – Spring, 2013
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    In this article, I discuss the importance of expressing gratitude and to encourage parents and professionals to recognize that we are all working together to support children and older individuals with autism.
  • ASQ 23 – 24 – The Flexroom: Supporting Inclusion and School Success – Summer and Fall, 2013
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    In this 2 part article, I discuss The Flexroom , an important adjunct to a school-based educational program for students with ASD, and why the creation of such a setting helps to support success in the complexity of a typical school environment. The article addresses specific characteristics, and guidelines for use of the Flexroom.
  • ASQ 25 – To Advance the Mind We Must First Energize the Spirit – Winter, 2013
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    In this article, I consider the elusive concept of “spirit” when considering ways to engage, motivate and develop relationships with individuals with ASD. Winter, 2013.
  • ASQ 26 – 27 – The Magic of Music – Spring and Summer, 2014
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    In this two part article that came out of an interview with Music Therapist, Geoff Barnes, we discuss the power of music in programming and in the lives of individuals with autism.
  • ASQ 28 – On Earning – Fall, 2014
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    SCERTS Collaborator, Amy Laurent and I take a critical look at the use and overuse of contingent reinforcement in programming for students with autism.
  • ASQ 29 – Antiques and Asperger’s – Winter 2014
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    My wife, Dr. Elaine Meyer, and I share a true experience we had during our summer vacation, involving an intriguing encounter with an owner of an antique shop. This experience led us to reflect on how easily a person with clear strengths, but social challenges, could be so easily misunderstood.
  • From Aukids (UK) Publication – Winter, 2017 Conversation without Words                       An article that clearly emphasizes that all behavior is communication.           Download: Conversation Without Words B. Prizant, Winter, 2017