I wanted to break down this myth about autistic people wanting to be "in control" of everything in their environment, from school to home. I recall working with a teacher back in New Jersey when I was a classroom paraprofessional talking about an autistic elementary student, and they said that, "This student wants to be in control of everything and doesn't listen to me." I knew from my own experiences growing up with autism that this statement is so not true!
Teach others in school and home about autism! People should learn how to adapt to getting along with autistic people, such as initiating conversations. I've been coaching teachers in my current role with the school district in FL about disabilities and ways to increase inclusion in the classrooms. One way is having a peer engage in a conversation with an autistic peer as an example. We should be teaching people to get along with autistic people as much as autistic people learn in our world, too.
Develop a structured routine in home, school, and community environments! This can be done by using prompts, such as checklists, visual schedules, etc. Autistic people strive on structure while it ties with opportunities to engage in special interests, such as music. Structure and consistency are key for success!
Provide choices! It's so simple that we often forget how things can get accomplished for the day for autistic people. It's important for parents, teachers, therapists, etc., to follow through on the schedule in place while being flexible and giving choices of how things get done. A big strength for autistic people is independent work. During my school years, I preferred working by myself rather than in groups since it helped with my focus. It wasn't that I didn't want to do group work all the time, but when the choice was offered to complete the assignment with others or myself, I often chose myself, so I get the assignment done with quality and without distraction. All in all, provide choices to autistic people.
Most importantly, be flexible! We have to model that it's ok when we can't get everything done as parents, teachers, therapists, etc. Autistic people are really observant and see how people interact in the environment. Growing up, I would see how others interacted cause it helped me develop some of my own skills that didn't come naturally to me. By showing flexibility, autistic people who struggle with rigid thinking like myself growing up can learn to be flexible when situations occur.
What are your thoughts on this topic when it comes to "control issues"? Share your thoughts in the comments section!