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ICONz Associates, LLC

Why ICONz Was Developed

Brain-based differences in how people with ASD perceive, understand and react to those around them, can have powerfully negative effects on getting along with others — other children, teachers, spouses, coaches, employers, co-workers, first responders, their own children/parents, etc..  These brain-based differences often lead to confusion, anger and pain. For so many of our clients and students, there is resistance in accepting that what seems logical and obvious to them is confusing and discomfiting to others.   Using the ICONz, our clients and students learn how neuro-typical (i.e. non-autistic) people “think.”   They are prepared to respond without distress to expectations of others and without the surprise and confusion that they have so often experienced.  Things start to “make sense.”  They learn that the ways in which they experience the world may be different, but the problems they experience have more to do with not understanding other people than they have to do with autism per se.  At ICONz Associates, LLC we believe that autism itself is a genetic variation like blue eyes or being left handed.  As is well known, a significant challenge for people with ASD is interacting with non-autistic individuals.  The lack of understanding on both sides of the conversation is the true problem.  Learning to use the ICONz gives individuals with ASD the tools they need to navigate the neuro-typical world in a reasonably typical way.  This makes for much greater security and comfort for themselves, and interest and enjoyment in other people.  We take the position that “accommodations” by neuro-typical people for the benefit of people with ASD is fair, humane, helpful, yet insufficient.  We strive to help our students and clients develop the personal agency to manage daily life more successfully and more on their own terms rather than operating within the confines of “disability.”

There is often equal difficulty for individuals with ASD in accepting that their preferred quirks and interests can contribute to their overall anxiety, anger, disappointment, and problems with others.  The insistence that other people are the source of their problems, or a rigid insistence on routine in minor aspects of life, often leads people with ASD to become socially isolated and rejected by neuro-typical people. While potentially tragic, it does not have to be a permanent state of affairs. 

 The ICONz were created to give individuals with ASD, neuro-differences and social deficits easy to understand tools to address troublesome assumptions they often have about themselves and others.  When individuals adopt, practice and intentionally use the ICONz in their daily lives, they can successfully learn to comfortably modify their behavior and communicate more effectively.  And when those with whom they interact (parents, siblings, teachers, therapists, peers, employers, etc.) also learn the ICONz, the results are even more profound.  Those with whom we’ve worked: 

come to recognize and understand the nature and function of their brain-based differences in their lives

learn that some of their perceptions and social assumptions about themselves and others  can deny them the connections they see others enjoy

begin to achieve the goals they desire

The above is true regardless of age and situation. The ICONz have helped individuals from first graders to physicians because they can be applied in any social situation.  Our clients and students and their families report that their lives become easier as they experience more enjoyable and satisfying relationships.

How it Works

The ICONz Program teaches a content-free visual language that is easy to remember and can be applied to any situation. The curricula are comprised of social stories reflecting the situations and expectations that are typical of the targeted age group. The ICONz concepts are strategically embedded  throughout the stories. The student and a trusted other see the outcomes of using the ICONz successfully, and they also see the consequences of not using the ICONz to understand social situations and guide behavior. Individuals using ICONz and “their people” learn a common language that makes everyday life easier at home, school and the workplace. Each vivid image reflects a social concept that makes life more satisfying and enjoyable for everyone – staying calm and focused, sharing with others, recognizing similarities in situations that appear different at first glance, learning about others and more. The stories and characters are examples and serve as a vehicle to learn the ICONz. The great strength of the ICONz comes when a person applies and uses them in their everyday lives with the people around them. Our clients and their families speak of their relief and the hope that using the ICONz brings.