Need Autism Help? A Lesson from the Diet Book

Need Autism help? Three important lessons to help when working with individuals with autism.

I’m reading The Daniel Plan. It’s not a diet book. (That’s good because I don’t want to write about diets.) But healthy eating is a central part of the plan. Instead, it’s called “a healthy lifestyle program.” The program provides essentials for a healthy, balanced life (Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus and Friends) and then it describes in detail how they go together and how to implement them for life success.

Here’s the strange thing

I can take many principles from this healthy lifestyle book and apply them to working with students on the autism spectrum.  Here are some examples from the book:

“How do you learn to become a success? By learning what doesn’t work and not doing it any more.”

Well, The Daniel Plan was talking about lifestyle choices. That statement makes a lot of sense when you think about things like what you eat and drink and how you do or don’t exercise.

But it amazes me how my brain easily flips over to thinking about autism. I’m sure any parent or teacher can pretty quickly come up with an example of a situation where they had to stop handling something in a specific way because what they were doing didn’t work.

Here’s an example. Yelling. I talked with a Mom recently whose frustration over the school break caused her to start yelling at her child on the spectrum. The more he didn’t listen, the more she yelled. It didn’t work. When she realized how this situation was escalating, she realized she needed to change what she was doing and go back to strategies (using visual supports) that had worked for her in the past.

Autism Help – Thought #2 

“Change always begins with new thinking.”

In the context of The Daniel Plan, we have to choose to change. We can’t just sit around doing the same things we have always done and expect something in our lives to be different.

The “autism version” of this is very similar. I talk with many parents and teachers working with autism who desire change. The problem is that they want the change to occur in the student. It’s easy to forget that we are half of the equation.

When my thinking changes, my behavior follows. That is the beginning to a path of success because if I change what I say or do, the child will also change.  It’s a miracle.

Autism Help – Thought #3

“You have to believe you can get healthy even if you can’t see it yet.”

The book quotes scriptures encouraging hope and faith. The encouragement is to keep going, even when you want to quit.

Autism requires that same perseverance. Keep going, even when you want to quit. But it needs to be the “right kind” of perseverance. It doesn’t mean doing something that doesn’t work over and over. And it doesn’t mean never changing your mind.

I think it’s more like those chef shows on TV. They may start with a basic recipe but they have to make lots of adjustments based on what ingredients are available, the tools they have to work with and how much time is left before their challenge ends.

One thing I’ve noticed. I never see those chefs give up in the middle and stop cooking.

Putting thoughts in a new context

Just some interesting statements taken out of one context and placed into another. Teaching children on the autism spectrum requires learning what doesn’t work. It benefits from new thinking. And we quickly realize that we need to believe we can succeed.

Just some food for thought and if you need Autism help . . . get it here. . . .



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