Moving From a Deficit Model to a Strength Based, Efficiency Model
Autism has notoriously been approached with a deficit model. The strong focus on treating the deficits leads to a lack of recognition for the strengths and gifts that the child possesses. The diagnostic criteria for autism are almost entirely based on deficits and symptoms that comes with negative connotations. As a result, the support we end up providing is often driving the child to change and mold into a model that is ill-fitting of their nature. By constantly placing the child into a mold measuring their deficits, they are led to feel inadequate, insecure, and anxious. Rather than concentrating on who the child is and helping them develop the strengths that they have, we often end up focusing on what they are not as well as what we would like them to be. We think that we can “cure” their autism by changing their actions and behavior.
It should be recognized that each child has unique strengths and weakness, talents, and interests. We cannot try to suppress their nature which is what happens when we focus on their weaknesses rather than their strengths. If we focus on the later, we are able to help them improve their self-esteem and gain confidence.
Children have the desire to feel accepted, safe, and competent. Human beings are all motivated by mastery and success in activities that develop our interests, strengths, and efficiency. Children grow and develop when they feel that they’re valued for who there are. Consequently, it is vital to recognize and work to develop a child’s interests and strengths, regardless of a label.
There are 3 Areas We Should Focus On:
- What helps the child to feel they are safe?
- What helps the child feel valued and accepted?
- What helps the child feel competent?
Each of these principles are universal to all human, regardless of differences. If is important to ask how new strategies help a child feel safe, accepted, and competent. Should you find that it doesn’t help, get rid of it. If it is beneficial, continue integrating it. If this is done, the child will be able to grow, develop, and learn more efficiently, helping them to develop a strong self-worth.