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Child & Teen Health

A strengths-based approach to autism

April 20, 2017

About the Author

photo of Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor

Dr. Monique Tello is a practicing physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, director of research and academic affairs for the MGH DGM Healthy Lifestyle Program, clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, and author of the evidence-based lifestyle … See Full Bio
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June 9, 2017

I would like to understand it well. Does It mean that if my three years old daughter loves to play with the mobile phone and she uses it easily I should let her do this and join?

Please excuse any typing errors.

Susan Cherian-Joseph OTReg.Ont.
May 13, 2017

Hello Dr. Tello

Thank you for the article. As an Occupational Therapist and a mom to an amazing boy with ASD, I have always emphasized that we need to focus on strength based approach as we always hear about the weaknesses of the child but we need to elloborate and focus on our child’s strengths. As an OT the focus is now on positive psychology and strength based approach so that we build kids up and don’t break them down leading them to low self esteem and secondary mental health conditions. Susan Cherian-Joseph OTReg.Ont.

Cathy Pettigrew
April 27, 2017

Thank you for posting this – it is so good to see that this approach to teaching and interacting with children on the Autism spectrum is gaining ground and that the word is slowly getting out there. Seven years ago, when my son was in early elementary grades, this was the approach to his education that I ultimately chose, after several years of trial and error, and many failed school “experiments”, where everything the schools tried ultimately failed – and he failed – and it eroded his self-esteem and self-worth daily. It was desperation to see him smile that led me to this strengths-based approach, and we have not looked back since then! Today, he is a fully-functioning, happy, social young man who is very aware of his great gifts and strengths, as well as his areas of weakness, and he is so motivated to succeed in life! I, in turn, have created an education business based on this philosophy, and we are rewarded constantly with the successes of children who struggle with all kinds of learning and developmental challenges, including autism – children who have never experienced success before adopting this strengths-based approach to learning. Wonderful work! Please continue to spread the word!

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
April 27, 2017

Thanks Cathy, Yes, this approach does feel alot more natural and healthy. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

Mona Delahooke
April 21, 2017

Thank you, Dr. Tello, for such a lovely and succinct post about your experience with your son. As a clinical psychologist, I had the opportunity to train with Dr. Greenspan and Dr. Serena Wieder almost 20 years ago. Their compassionate and respectful views on treatment for neurological differences changed the way I view and support children and families. My hope is that all parents have the opportunity to know that there are choices in autism treatment, with critical implications to social and emotional development. Thank you for writing about your experience!
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
April 27, 2017

Thank you for sharing your experience, especially considering your expertise in this area! I did check out your book for special ed teachers and parents of children on the autism spectrum, and feel I can recommend it here:

April 21, 2017

Very well put and well written. Thank you for a beautiful perspective on this challenging condition.

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
April 27, 2017

Thanks, Eve, for your kind words!

Eileen Nicole Simon
April 21, 2017

Our autistic son is now 54 years old. We had high hopes when he began to speak just before his 6th birthday. Sadly he now lives a dismal life in a group home, where since 2003 they have criticized me for asking about employment training.

Understanding the neurological problems (brain damage) of autism has been my life’s work. I hope neurology (not neurodiversity) will soon be the focus of autism research. I posted a website 17 years ago (April 2000) on the brain disorder in autism I hope you might take a look at .

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
April 27, 2017

Thanks Eileen, for sharing your difficult story and what you have learned from your experience, much appreciated!

April 21, 2017

thanks for this helpful article , I think this link that explain Analyzing Autism Spectrum Disorders may help the readers

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
April 27, 2017

Thanks for reading and sharing!

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