It is never too late to expand the mind of a person on the autism spectrum.Dr. Temple Grandin
April is Autism awareness month. Today, I would like to use this platform to raise awareness for my family and friends. I also take this opportunity to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism.
First and foremost, my humble gratitude to my family and friends. Without their encouragement and blessings moving forward is unthinkable.
Nonetheless, there are a few pointers from them that make me pity my people as they are not yet aware of many things occurring in the autism world where my son resides.
This is the most common statement that I often hear :
“This activity (for eg., staying calm) is a challenge for even a typical kid at the age of 8 so how can you expect your son to stay calm”
I hear this often from my friends and family. I sometimes wonder are they trying to give me assurance or is it their lack of awareness.
In this blog post, I would like to address this issue and oppose the statement.
Even if your kid hasn’t mastered an activity at an appropriate age they will soon master it may be in a year or two because Learning is Natural to the neurotypical child.
Although the same statement cannot be stated for ASD kids. The reason is if we don’t teach the ASD kids now, they may never learn as they are usually in their world.
When I say teaching them, I mean teaching them everything; right from how to look at you, ask for a snack, wash hands, eating on their own and much more which is a never ending list.
A simple action that comes naturally to your neurotypical kid is a challenge for my ASD child.
A neurotypical child simply will gather knowledge from everywhere, family, peers, videos, books, neighbors and many other resources. “They will learn on their own” with the guidance of their cognitive skills they will perceive things efficiently.
However, ASD kids are not that fortunate, “Learning is a challenge”. They cannot process many details at one time.
Given below are just a few life skills that my ASD child, Girish has been taught right from the time he started therapy which was from 16 months till today at the age of 9;
♣ Labeling “mom” comes naturally to a child. I never taught Krish, my elder one how to call me. He just did it. Although for Girish, this was not very easy. Might appear unbelievable, to label me as his mom, his dad as daddy took us 3-4 months of rigrous ABA therapy. Oh! I can never forget the day he called me “mom” without any prompt . It was such a huge celebration.
♣ You might know that Girish’s first accomplishment was to point at his favorite toy which appears to be a simple thing however what you may not know is that it took him persistent hours of Occupational therapy sessions to achieve this task that is otherwise supposed to be a “natural” act.
♣ If you are surprised that he is taking a bite of his cookie and putting back in the bowl then it is because of our therapist patience and creativeness to teach him how to release things smoothly. Because Girish never knew to release things nicely as he only threw items.
♣ It was months of practice to teach him how to ‘request’ for a cookie. I also know many ASD kids even with hours of therapy they have the inability to convey to their caregiver that they are hungry and they are around 10 yrs old.
♣ Did you know that it was a part of ABA goal to teach Girish ‘how to ask for help’? because all he knew was to cry if he didn’t get anything.
♣ We regularly encounter meltdowns for no apparent reason. And not to forget the silly laughter that can last for hours if not intervened.
♣ Girish is verbal but have you noticed that he cannot communicate the reason for his meltdown?
♣ Girish is verbal but he is being thought how to identify and express his feelings.
♣ Can you believe that he is having a program in his ABA where they are teaching him to recall at the age of 9?
He is having this goal for the past 1 year and yet he can’t recall an event that occured a few hours ago. A neurotypical child around this age can go non-stop about their daily activities naturally.
What has been written here are just a few achievements we have made. I can keep going on and on about every success my son has achieved with the help of his therapists but then you have to keep scrolling down.
My ASD son has to be trained to master every single action. While a neurotypical kid will learn naturally if not at this age then maybe in a year or two.
Appreciate the fact that it took countless hours of hard work from school teachers, aides, occupation therapists, speech pathologists and many more for the progress he has achieved today.
So think before you say this, “This activity (for eg., staying calm) is a challenge for even a typical child so how can you expect your son to stay calm”