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With a few words on each page, "Why Is He Doing That?" explains the many questions typical students may have about students with autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who are mainstreamed into general education classrooms. "Why Is He Doing That?" is presented in a way to encourage acceptance, kindness, and inclusion of students with autism with simplicity and love, because we are all different, just like everyone else.

Blog

A Relationship with Ability

Rachael M Cuellar

    As a student, working full-time, creating a small business, serving volunteer, and nurturing relationships with families and friends, it is overwhelming to experience God in my growth. I am searching new experiences through job opportunities, volunteer hours, grieving through failure, and blessing success. The best way to approach potential career goals comes from an internal perspective: What inspired me to pursue my passion?

    The career goals I make are realistic and ambitious because if I do not try to be ambitious, I will not know if I could have done more than the realistic. In the aspect of fear, the word quitter comes to mind. In the vision of joy, the word faithful comes to mind. I want to change the world for the better to not be hesitant to talk about intellectual disabilities, but bring desire to learn about intellectual disabilities so we, as the world, can further their opportunities and understandings. My career goals steam through pursuing an education that thrives in teaching, whether I become a Special Education teacher,  Applied Behavioral Analyst or Behavioral Therapist. I could thrive in pursuit of becoming creative with my small business as a published author & illustrator of the book, “Why Is He Doing That?” educating and uplifting children about autism awareness as an advocate. It could turn into becoming a physical therapist and building a studio to allow dancing and creativity for individuals with intellectual disabilities, experiencing challenge and joy. The greater challenge of serving in special needs ministry is the be creative with glorifying the Lord the way the individuals with intellectual disabilities perceives the world is incredibly challenging. The real target is that I do not want to just pursue one potential realistic goal, but thrive in potential ambitious goals.

    The steps to succeed in these goals is to take the necessary actions to the requirements of education, internships, and experience to know the inspiration. The most relevant aspirations to my passion for serving in special needs is the desire to study Psychology major over an Education major. The ruling of special needs is through physical, mental, and/or emotional difference for each individual. The individual with an intellectual disability is diagnosed by birth or caused in the future diagnosis. The chances of studying more how the mind develops and works is a greater purpose to understanding behavior, even though I would learn more about teaching in a special education class. The choice was made carefully knowing what I study will still glorify God. 

    The most relevant aspirations in specifics to areas and subfields are close to Basic Research, Applied Research, and Community. The basic research is the addition to the knowledge base in the field, which is closest to an ABA and Behavioral Therapist. The Applied Research, which solves practical problems, used in business and schools, is a position for Human Resources through behavioral therapist and small business owner. The Community, which is a social cultural aspect of how an individual affects society is applied to special needs ministry, special education, ABA, and Behavioral Therapist. The community is for my ambitious goals to open a dance studio and help families through therapy when a child is diagnosed with an intellectual disability.

    The way psychology is intertwined with growth in faith is by prayer and petition. The built relationships through your career is more about improvements than the financial stability. The way my understanding of Gods creation through serving individuals in special needs is not by helping them discover their abilities, but thriving in their disabilities, which is a beautiful gift the world has not grasped as a concept to further the world. God has created His Kingdom in mysterious ways and I believe that disabilities have a greater ability to our world than how a typical person is created. It is by studying psychology that will help them realize how their lives are working differently than many other people, leading them to joy internally and externally. The real target is that I do not want to just pursue one potential realistic goal, but thrive in potential ambitious goals. I want the same exact goal for the people I serve to.

Joyfully, Rachael M Cuellar

Questions & Inclusion

Rachael M Cuellar

So, what IS autism? and how could I be aware?? and why should I be aware??? 

    The brain develops differently and has trouble with an important job: making sense of the world. Their minds work so differently that it is quite possible a gift! A gift to change the word of technology, art, mathematics, literature, and quite possibly, history!

    First, say: AW-tiz-um & remember to identify the person before the disability, because let's face it- the disability is not the person's identity. Commonly, a person will not make you feel bad for incorrectly saying it and it is simply an act of respect saying you see the person first! I mean, you wouldn't say "loud laughing Rachael" but would say "Rachael who has a loud laugh." So, instead of "an autistic child", you would say "a child with autism."

    Second, it is okay to make a mistake. Spread that grace jam on the toast of life and realize how great that is about learning when you are trying. The world is changing everyday and I am quite excited for YOU to learn so much more about the importance of Autism Awareness! It will help many individuals with autism be included socially, mentally, and physically in their everyday lives. We all desire friendships and that is why inclusion is my favorite word and my favorite verb is love.

    Third, let me break down how autism is defined: Autism is a complex neurobehavioral disorder that includes impairments in social interactions and developmental language and communication skills combined with repetitive behaviors. So, everyone is different, just like everyone else! Some individuals with autism are non-verbal and others will talk your head off! Some will have a difficult time socially because they cannot understand facial expressions and jokes and others will not catch social ques that typically people will understand. Their behaviors could be very aggressive because they do not know how to process and reflect feelings and others may have a hard time channeling their feelings and not show feelings likely at all.

    The greatest part about being a human is that we all desire relationships and we all have feelings, but we are all different in our own unique way. It is about try to meet in the middle and sometimes, going the extra mile to understand their world and not just making them understand "the world."

 

Clues:

-Lack of eye contact

-Ask repetitve questions

-Misunderstanding facial expressions

-Difficulty catching jokes

-Difficulty making friends

-Obsession with an object or thought

-Sensitive to possible lights, sounds, smells, textures, touch.

-Difficulty to be flexible with change of schedule

-"Happy Hands" which is my way to describe them stimulating energy by flapping, clapping, or move arms dramatically

 

Highlights:

-They won't bail on you, which means you can really depend on them to come through!

-They retain so many incredible facts and create ideas that change the world forever! Check out Temple Grandin and how she is a consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior! 

-They're pretty honest, so they won't laugh at your jokes unless its actually funny. They're your best critics!

-The way their translate sentences into visions is so fun! If you say you are getting up with the hens, meaning you are waking up early, they may vision you on the roof with the hens in the morning, literally. quite the imagination~

-They're very passionate! Music! Art! Movies! Television! Dance! Theater! They really stick to what they believe in!

-They are not afraid to be themselves- how much confidence do you have?

-They really do like people... they do acknowledge your effort to get to know them!

I hope this was helpful & more importantly, uplifting. 

Joyfully, Rachael M Cuellar

Spectrum in Retrospect

Rachael M Cuellar

    In social settings, the “elephant in the room” is usually detected when a person does not follow appropriate social cues and another person thinks in their mind, “Why Is He Doing That?” An individual diagnosed with Autism or Aspergers is commonly found in a situation similar to the elephant in the room. The person may be interrupting the conversation, changing the conversation consistently to what he or she wants to talk about, or may not understand how to politely share a conversation the way most individuals learned. The person could believe the person in question simply has a habit of displaying impolite social graces, and this could lead to a misunderstanding of the individual’s responses. Understanding the similarities and differences of Autism and/or Asperger’swill lead to compassion, tolerance, awareness, and kindness towards an individual with a diagnosis. 

    The word Autism, in and of it self means, “Escape from reality,” which provides an excellent understanding of what Autism truly represents. In the age range of two to three is where a child begins to socialize and build character. During this time, parents may notice that the child is meeting their typical milestones of expectation in growth. They may also take note of signs in the child’s development that indicate he or she may be delayed in their growth, such as their cognitive, social, and behavioral abilities. Once parents have concerns, the earlier a diagnosis is made, the better services will be provided to help the individual succeed with their disability. Autism cannot be cured, but it can be treated with the services, therapy, and medication to improve an individual’s quality of life (Ehlers, 1998).

    Autism is an intellectual disability genetically to the brain which affects the individual’s social and developmental interactions. The impairment affects behavioral responses, interests in activities, occupational routines, refusal of affection, severity of the five senses, and other important areas of functioning. Many individuals diagnosed with Autism struggle with social interactions, making eye-contact, motor coordination, learning disability,  abstract concepts, sensitivity to sounds, and asking repetitive questions. Commonly, individuals with Autism tend to be borderline obsessed with an interest, insist on orderly fashioned organization, and are not adventurous to try new things. Individuals with autism tend to be weaker in social skills such as understanding sarcasm or irony, misunderstanding social rules, showing lack of empathy, and unable to read facial expressions (Medovich, 2011). However, they excel in their gifted creativity through art, music, and imagination. They can also be incredibly intelligent and proficient of information by skilled memory.

    In the 1940s, a pediatrician by the name of Hans Asperger’s, best known for his research and studies as a behavioral therapist for young boys focusing on social and communication skills with typical intelligence and language development. In 1994, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders added Asperger’s Disorder on the Autism Spectrum, thereby differentiating it from the Autism Disorder (Kirby, 2015). As an observation, professionals consider Asperger’s as a higher functioning form of Autism on the spectrum. Studies of the number of incidences of Asperger’s not been conducted, but research has shown that the difficulties with socialization and communication continue in later years, after formal education is done. When an individual is diagnosed with Asperger’s, a child must have normal language development as well as normal intelligence (Medovich, 2011). Generally, typical people do not recognize an individual has Asperger’s because of how high-functioning the interaction is. The similarities in Asperger’s is similar in the symptoms of Autism.

    A professional who diagnose individuals with Autism and/or Asperger’s will go through two steps: Developmental Screening and a Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation. Developmental Pediatricians, Child Neurologists, Child Psychologists are all professionals involved in the individual’s diagnosis for the Autism Spectrum Disorder, which is under the umbrella of Asperger’s Disorder (Lord C, 2006). The many techniques to test a child if he or she is on the spectrum will be the same tests for Autism and Asperger’s. Behaviors that are common in both Autism and Asperger’s are obsessive interest in activities and objects, inappropriate social rules, lack in eye contact, and in high-IQ intelligence. High-functioning Autism and Asperger syndrome are both part of the Autism Spectrum. In 2013, DSM-5 is the reason why Autism and Asperger’s categorized together because it’s similarity. It’s only the severity of functioning that differentiates the Autism and Asperger’s (Kirby, 2015). 

    The main difference in Autism and Asperger is a speech delay in Autism; where-as in Asperger’s, there is no speech delay. Individuals with Asperger’s have well-spoken language skills compared to an individual with Autism who may not be able to speak a word during their lifetime. The language deficiency is caused by how severe and how much therapy has been implemented after being diagnosed. Asperger is less severe symptoms compared to Autism. Overall, to the untrained observer, a child with Asperger’s Disorder may just seem like a typical individual behaving differently (Ehlers, 1998). Autism is an early intervention diagnosing at the age of 3 years old and Asperger’s diagnosed at school age of 6 years old. 

    The greatest difference between Autism and Asperger is the risk of mental health issues and higher depression rate of suicide in Asperger’s, because the individual has a difficult time accepting he or she is different. The depression is rooted to lack of community in friendships, feeling misunderstood, figuring out how to live life to the best ability, and being identified by their disability before their identity. The difference in social behavior is how an individual with Asperger’s could communicate their feelings better than an individual with Autism. The similarities in social behavior is how the individual with Autism and Asperger’s guides what they want to talk about: they do not understand the adequacy of sharing a conversation, rather than controlling the conversation, to have each person enjoy the conversation. The social skills is a considerable need for the individual with Autism or Asperger’s to be practiced with reminders, patience, and consistency.

    Why does it matter that they are different disorders on the same spectrum? Individuals function uniquely when adapting to life with their disability, yet the disability is still practiced by its ability. As a metaphor, the Autism Spectrum is like a machine: it is not broken, but it has a missing button that does not allow the machine to perform to its highest degree if merely function differently, than other machines. The machine will find a balance to work accordingly and correctly once solving the complication. The similarity of Autism and Asperger’s so in-sync, it could correspond altogether as Autism Syndrome Disorder based of the determined severity of the disability. It could change the services provided for the individual as well as a better understanding of the Autism Spectrum Disorder. The awareness matters when learning and understanding the diagnosis of the Spectrum Disorder.

Joyfully, Rachael M Cuellar

The R-word in Reality

Rachael M Cuellar

    When two people are having a conversation and one person says an offensive remark, typically, the other person will also respond in retaliation. In habit, we choose to say something smart, witty, practical; something to an extent of an insult. When a person finds an appropriate usage of the word “retarded” in a setting of typical individuals, it’s harmless. When a person is in the presence of an individual with intellectual disability, the word retarded is completely out of context, yet is still a poor habit in their vocabulary. In regards, it must be “retarded” to even think of others feelings towards this word. There is practicality in the power of words and brilliance in the compassion of awareness when thinking before speaking.

    In engineering, the word retardant is an adjective defined as “having a slow affect” or “terminating” in appliance to the word flame retardant. In 1952, the noun was adopted as “retardant substance,” which is commonly used as Fire Retardant to explain a function in engineering and computers. Retardant explains the technical structure of chemicals and is correctly used in the term of definition. The word retardant is used as a non-offensive connotation to its’ correct usage form. In music, the word retard is defined to gradually slow at the end of the piece. The word fire retardant and retard in music is used correctly for indicating a definition.  The appropriate indication of the word retard is tolerable because the terms are not abused, misused, disrespected, and shamed. It is not associated to an individual with an intellectual disability. 

    The word first originated in 1895 as a medical term for the Latin word retarder, which means “to make slow, delay, keep back, or hinder.” The word retarded is defined in the dictionary as “less advanced in mental, physical, or social development than is usual for one's age”. As an informal offense, the word is considered “very foolish or stupid.” The word was not used as a derogatory term until the 1960s, which changed the entire connotation of the word. In October 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Rosa Law, which requires the term retarded to be replaced with the politically correct term, Intellectual Disabilities. The word retarded is officially removed from federal records and no longer used in medical terms. Today, the term retarded is replaced because of the negative stereotype as an intellectual disability, special needs, or developmentally disabled. Today, the language change is considered when mentioning a person before the disability, which gives respect to their identity and not the disability. 

    In the past, we called African American descents the N-word and the Japanese the J-word, because these words were acceptable in the timing. Today, the words are viewed as derogatory, insulting, offensive, and looked down upon because the words were not used in a positive way. The word retarded is the same by how the word began: a term used to define a preface with the change of language in connotation, which is alternated by informal speech. The word retarded today is characterized as a stereotype, a word with no praise or positivity. The word is not only offensive to an individual with an intellectual disability, but a family member, friend, coworker, or a person who has been negatively affected by the word. Yes, the bible uses the word “lame” for an individual with a disability or crippled which is another ableist, informal speech. Yes, the word “gay” was first defined as happiness, then the language changed to labeling homosexuals and used also as a derogatory word as an insult. Yes, these two particular words is a poor habit in our usage of vocabulary, but the change caused by awareness has improved.

    The world needs to build new vocabulary to replace derogatory words and understand the correct usage of the word. If it is acceptable to use the word retarded around typical peers, then why is the word unacceptable in front of an individual with intellectual disabilities? The time in decades has changed and today, the word retarded is an exclusion, than an inclusion with the world. When a person decides to use the word retarded, it is how the other person chooses to respond, which determines their character. People don't need to scoff at people in defense to make a point when choosing the phrase retarded. Therefore there is practicality in the power of words and brilliance in the compassion of awareness when thinking before speaking.

Joyfully, Rachael M Cuellar