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.