I used the phrase “behavior is communication” in my last post, and since then I’ve been thinking about it. It’s a phrase I see rather often in blogs and articles talking about autism, and I am realizing that I find it rather dismaying. Not the message itself – that is fabulous. No, I am dismayed that the message needs to be sent in the first place. That people need to be reminded of this fact. Of COURSE behavior is communication!
People really like to parrot around that blah-de-blah percent of communication is via body language. What does that mean? It means that behavior communicates more than words. I talked about my horseback riding, and how my behavior is communication with the horse. Anyone who rides horses knows that behavior is communication. When I train my cats, I train via my own behavior far more than I train via words. In fact, any words I use to train them, I first have to train them to respond to in the first place. Anyone who trains animals knows that a) you communicate best by your behavior and b) they communicate right back with their behavior. I’m sure I could come up with plenty more examples, but I’m writing this a bit off the cuff.
In any case, there is really no good reason for a person to not realize that behavior is communication. So why is it that this lesson seems to get lost when it comes to those with autism (and possibly other developmental disabilities)? Is it because the behavior cannot be easily understood immediately? People with ASD think and feel differently from most people, so often our reactions are confusing to others. Yet anyone with a pet often encounters the same thing.
I am happy to join the “behavior is communication” chorus in my little corner of the world. While I do it, though, I will keep circling back to wondering why it is necessary in the first place. I find it very sad.
Ok, everything I write about gluten free diets is going to be a layperson’s perspective; that’s just how it goes when one is a layperson. That’s ok. I still haven’t done my homework about much of it, so no rant yet. HOWEVER, I have found two basic ways that people approach the gluten-free idea.
Way the First: People on the autism spectrum have a tendency to be hyper-sensitive in a number of different ways. Sensitive hearing, sensitive sense of smell, sensitive sense of touch, on and on and on. Along with this is the fact that many people with ASD have a sensitive digestive system. When one is having painful GI issues, that can exacerbate behavioral issues, or cause/worsen learning delays since it can be difficult to learn when one is in pain. So IF a person on the spectrum has GI issues, and IF those issues can be fixed by gluten-free or other special diets, then it can really help to do them. It is not a matter of a special diet fixing autism, it is a matter of a special diet removing an additional issue.
Way the Second: Apparently there are people who think that the sensitive digestive system, instead of being yet another symptom of ASD, is the cause. The idea seems to be that since a mucked-up digestive system is what causes ASD, then a special diet will cause the ASD to go away and be fixed.
I kind of like the first way of thinking. It makes a great deal of sense to me and seems logical and put-together. I do not believe that it applies to me, because while it’s true that my digestive system can be sensitive in ways, I have never noticed it being sensitive to processed wheat products. It’s primarily sensitive to heavy foods, and to stress. Still, I can see how a special diet could help some people.
I think the second way of thinking is the height of idiocy. It involves talk about toxins in the bloodstream and such, and I have never heard of any substantial research showing any causative link between digestive issues and ASD. This is why I need to go research it – so I can put together a really good argument as to why it’s incredibly stupid. I suppose it’s possible that looking into things would make me change my mind and I’ll decide that a faulty gut can create a developmental neurological issue, but it seems exceedingly unlikely.