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You're Doing Great! : When Essential Supports for the Autistic Individual are Removed

A great way to help someone on the autism spectrum is to identify layers of supports to put in place. These supports may include schedules, social connections, school or work accommodations, medication, timers, a weighted blanket, a sleep routine, and more.

How do you know when the layers of support are adequate? When the individual experiences more well-being, better health, increased interaction with others, and improved performance at work or school.

So far, so good! The individual is doing well -- no recent crises.

Warning! Here comes the tricky part. The biggest mistake I see is for individuals to notice the improvement and make the wrong conclusion. They decide that, because the individual is doing well, the layers of support are no longer needed.

Now, consider the photo of the pier above. Would it make sense to say that, because the dock is stable, it's time to take all the supports away? No! The pier is steady BECAUSE of the underlying supports.

We can expect that the individual with autism will always need layers of support. The form that the supports take may vary across seasons, but resist the temptation to reduce supports just because things are going well.

If a reduction of support is essential, try achieving this in small stages rather than all at once. What pieces of the puzzle are not necessary for the stability of the tower? Make small changes over time and monitor the outcomes.

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