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  • Erica Livingston

Why Target Millennials?

As you’ve noticed, this blog is a millennial’s guide. Why do I specifically target millennials? It’s not because I am one. If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ve seen that I am getting my master’s certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Therefore, I not only have personal experience, but professional and educational as well. This allows me to be exposed to the research that is out there on autism and other disorders. The majority of the research that is used to teach and guide our children is ridiculously out dated in my opinion.


For example, I had to analyze a study done in 1990 by Sundberg & Sundberg about how many nonverbal autistic children found better success with sign language over other forms of communication, such as a binder with pictures in it. The argument discusses how binders were bulky and a pain to carry around, whereas they can learn sign language and have success. While this is true, I very much disagree with this study in the present day. First of all, my son used a binder currently, but we will eventually move to a device/iPad for his communication. That right there is what is different. Back in 1990, they didn’t have iPads with the world of pictures in a standard tablet. Children would have to tote around a large book full of photos to communicate anymore. Also, the technology we have now could even read out whatever picture the child touches, so the people around them would not even need to see what they pointed to.


Sign language is amazing. It absolutely is an important tool for many individuals. However, not everyone knows sign language. That provides a boundary if that’s the only way your child can communicate. You would only be able to leave your child with someone who knows sign language, or else they would not be understood. Everyone who is not visually impaired can understand a picture for the most part. Therefore, I find this study completely out dated.


Also, my son is a complete visual learner. When he began occupational therapy, his therapist instantly tried teaching him sign language. It did not go well. When his ABA therapist introduced pictures, he took to it instantly. There was a very minor learning curve, but it was probably one of the easiest skills I’ve ever seen my child pick up. Also, let’s not forget autistic individuals do not have the best imitation skills. That is often what leads to delayed motor skills. Imitation is not their strong suit, so teaching them sign language is not the easiest task.


This study is not the minority, either. Many of the ones I am studying professionally are out dated. While the rate of individuals diagnosed with autism increases, the studies for this do not which is a shame. We should always be pushing to learn more about our children with special needs. Just because they are not neurotypical does not mean they do not deserve to be heard and understood.


This is majorly the reason I want to target millennials. I think millennials are so eager to question and change things that we can actually make a real difference in the research out there for special needs. This blog is my way of beginning that change, and as my education increases, so will my voice. Also, I think millennials raise their children to speak up more so as well, too. My son cannot speak, but I respect his boundaries with his body and mind. I will only work with therapists that do as well. He does not like to be touched, so I will not let a therapist continue to touch him in any way if he is not okay with it.


While I have great parents, I was quick to learn that I couldn’t question them or their decisions. I think many of us were taught that. “No” was a bad word. As an adult, I still struggle to say no. I refuse to let my son grow up to be the same way. What we do in our children’s childhood truly impacts them. I see millennials doing a lot of things differently that will allow their children to have a voice, and I think that is beautiful.


I hope y’all find this as interesting as I do and hope you continue to tag along as I take on my mission to change the narrative around special needs and fight for newer research to be done! I target millennials because I think we will change the world. ✨


-Erica

Here’s the article I mention above: Sundberg, C. T., & Sundberg, M. L. (1990). Comparing topography-based behavior with

stimulus selection-based verbal behavior. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 8, 31-41.

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