Why you should never be keen on an institutionalized autism center for an extended period of time
The perception of parents who go to an autism treatment center is straightforward. Therapists who don’t understand autism often have the same perception. It’s not uncommon for therapists to recommend prolonged, intensive, institutionalized therapy because they think more is better. I’ve seen kids spend all day in centers, from morning to evening, taking different therapy classes.
What shocked me the most was that a private school removes the child from home and runs the treatment program like a boarding school. The child only goes home on the weekends and is trained by therapists for the rest of the week. The child is isolated from the family. I think it’s child abuse, not therapy because they misunderstand the nature of ASD.
ASD is a social disorder. It’s mainly the challenges of interacting with people. Where is the best place to develop social skills, and who is in charge? Math is best learned from someone good at math. English is best known by someone good at English. But social skills are not best learned from someone good at socializing. I say the best social people are con artists or politicians. Will learning from them makes the child better at socializing? Can you learn socialization from someone who knows what socialization is? Not. Socialization is not something that a therapist can teach.
Social skills are internalized through social experiences where you interact with people. The most significant part of this is the family. The accumulation of interactions within the family is the starting point for social development. It’s the accumulation of interactions within the family that the child has with their parents and peers from a young age, and then the child goes out into the world and extends that to their friends.
Long-term intensive care in an institution means being separated from family for long periods. Sending a young child to a boarding school probably perpetuates socialization distortions rather than cures autism. We must remember that the parents drive the treatment of ASD, and the best place is within the home, where the child is most comfortable. This is because the child understands the signs the parents give the best. Therefore, the more severe the autism, the less time the child is separated from the parents and, conversely, the more pleasant interactions they experience at home.
A center specializing in treating autism should not separate children with autism but instead, educate parents and guide them on how to be with their children with autism.