Monday, June 26, 2017

Thinking Out Loud

Pervasive Parenting
By Kodey Toney
Thinking Out Loud
I want to talk a little bit about a new concept, well new to me; it’s actually an old concept, that people on the spectrum lack. I hope that this helps you understand a little about why we should never assume things, especially with those with autism.
Theory of mind (TOM) is the concept that I’m talking about. I first heard about this, or at least the first time I remember hearing about it, was when the Pervasive Parenting crew traveled to Oklahoma City for autism screening training. Liz Moore, with the Oklahoma Autism Center, mentioned it in her presentation. Last week we held a training on autism behavior, and I decided to throw it into my presentation, so I had to do a little research. It is an interesting concept.
TOM is defined as the ability to attribute mental states, beliefs, intents, desires, and knowledge to oneself and others, and understand that other have beliefs, desires, intentions and perspective that are different from one’s own. Ok, so to simplify that, people on the spectrum often lack TOM and think that what is in their mind is what is in your mind. If I’m thinking of the color red then you are thinking of the color red.
For all you phycology buffs out there, this actually can trace back to Descartes’ Second Meditation. However, Simon Baron-Cohen really dove into this in 1985 when researching autism.
One test that helps explain TOM is the Sally-Ann Test. For those of you not familiar with this, the presenter has two dolls, one named Sally and one named Ann. He explains to the person taking the test that Sally has a ball and a basket; Ann has a box. Sally decides to go outside to play, so she places the ball in her basket. While she’s gone outside, Ann decides to take the ball and place it in her box. Then he brings Sally back in from outside and asks the person with autism where Sally will look for the ball first. The test results show that around 75 percent of the people tested with autism said that she will look in the box because they already know where the ball is. However, Sally should look in the basket because that is where she had left it.
It's an interesting concept that because in the child’s mind they know that the ball is in the box that is where Sally should look first.
For the record, I tried the test on Konner and our new intern Nick, both on the spectrum, and they both passed the test. They said basket.
I found a great video blog (vlog) on Youtube called Agony Autie, which features a self-described “30 year old Autistic woman, reaching out to others on the spectrum and their parents, carers & society in general.”
She gives a unique perspective in that all people should actually be more detailed in their words to people on the spectrum. Otherwise, they don’t understand how you really feel or what you are really trying to convey.
This is why idioms, sarcasm, and figures of speech are confusing to those with autism.
This is something I will continue to research, but it has been interesting so far. I hope it helps a little. Oh, and here is the link to the video:

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