Happiness is…

If happiness is the key to life, and that is what we all want from life, how do we design a support system for adults with severe autism that encourages happiness?

First we have to find out what makes an individual person happy.

To do that, the person must have a means of communicating to others what makes them happy.

That is the first goal, to encourage and respect the communication of those that we care for.

Behavior is communication. We must try to see past the unpleasant behavior to what is being communicated by the behavior. Medications mask the behavior and silence communication; that is disrespectful of the attempts of the person to communicate their needs and opinions.

If an adult with severe autism has no reliable means of communication we must help them find ways that work for them or we are not doing our jobs.

Happiness is  an  “unalienable right” according to the US Declaration of Independence. I think it is time that this right is applied to those of our citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

4 thoughts on “Happiness is…

  1. Insighfully conceived and beautifully written, Cathy. Absolutely accurate, moving, and of a terrific magnitude of importance.
    Not entirely related, but perhaps an indicator and guidepost of mood — and thus a communication tool — but what work has been done on biofeedback applications with non-verbal adults? I’ve been hearing/reading a great deal recently about its successful use with PTSD people and it seems to have remarkable promise for other communities. Love, A

    • I know that some people are trying neuro/bio feedback with some success with ID/DD including traumatic brain injury.Thanks for reminding me to look into what is happening with that locally again. I am currently searching for speech/language/communication specialists who like to work with adults with autism…most are at children’s programs.

  2. I’ve never run into that Lennon quote before, but I love the twist on “usual” perspectives… It makes me think of people who automatically use their job-titles to describe themselves, rather than pause to list the things that REALLY make them who they are… For most people, “I’m a lawyer” (or fill-in-the-blank with job) doesn’t describe them at all, but it’s their default response, isn’t it? How about “I am joyful” instead?

    or… “I am frustrated”… (That’s often where behavior-as communication comes in, isn’t it?) Thanks for making me think this morning. 😉

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