Autism: Sensory-Movement Differences and Diversity
By Anne Donnellan and Martha Leary
For decades autism has been defined as a triad of deficits in social interaction, communication, and imaginative play. Though there is now broad acknowledgment of the neurological basis of autism, there is little attention paid to the contribution of such neurological differences to a person’s development and functioning. Communication, relationship, and participation require neurological systems to coordinate and synchronize the organization and regulation of sensory information and movement.
Developmental differences in these abilities are likely to result in differences in the way a person behaves and expresses intention and meaning. The present paper shares our emerging awareness that people may struggle with difficulties that are not immediately evident to an outsider.
This paper explores the symptoms of sensory and movement differences and the possible implications for autistic people. It provides a review of the history and literature that describes the neurological basis for many of the so called behavioral differences that people experience. The paper emphasizes the importance of our acknowledgment that a social interpretation of differences in behavior, relationship, and communication can lead us far away from the lived experience of individuals with the autism label and those who support them. We suggest alternative ways to address the challenges faced by people with autism.
Autism: Sensory-Movement Differences and Diversity is a revised and greatly expanded edition of a book originally published in 1995. Between us we had over 40years experience in the field of autism and development disabilities when we started this effort in 1991. We spent almost four years studying and talking and learning from others, and slowly we found some of the pieces that had been missing from our perspective of autism, behaviour and communication.
Anne Donnellan and Martha Leary demonstrate the neglected discipline of seeking a new pattern of understanding. They carefully note anomalies, irregularities likely to be ignored or explained away in routine practice: irregularities such as the many accommodations people with disabilities have invented beneath the notice of the professionals who ordinarily control their treatment.
This book not only has a model of the discipline we must cultivate, it has the support of people with disabilities as full partners in the difficult search for better understanding and better accommodation.
Martha R. Leary and Anne M. Donnellan (2012)
NOTE : This is a revised and expanded version of Movement Differences and Diversity in Autism/Mental Retardation (2012)