How To Develop Your Autistic Child’s Literacy Skills
“He was doing well, but I don’t know what happened. As he went to higher grades he just couldn’t keep up anymore. Now he suffers from anxiety. I have to force him to study. Reading and writing is a struggle. His classmates also bully him.”
– A Mother of a 14 year old
Dear Parent, have you experienced the same thing with your child?
Your child’s progress has plateaued. He was doing well earlier. But now he’s anxious and engages in odd behaviors.
You keep breaking your head to teach concepts. But he just doesn’t get it.
Yes, he reads and writes but not meaningfully.
If you try to make him do something differently- it ends in anger and frustration.
You could be missing an important element here.
Dr Gutstein of RDI Connect talks about ‘experience based learning.’
I have seen miracles happening in my students’ lives by applying this concept.
Watch this video of Rideep and Dipali making kites together.
That was a beautiful piece of teaching. It didn’t look like ‘teaching.’
Dipali was a co participant. She put Rideep on the spot for thinking. She slowed down and gave him time to problem solve.
It looked like a well co ordinated dance.
I wanted to capitalize on the experience with Rideep. So I linked writing and typing with it.
Watch how we shared the experience by writing about it.
We took it one step ahead with Rideep typing his experience.
The unique quality and potential functionality of Experiencing Knowledge is seen when we retrieve saved episodes to vividly re-experience past events – putting ourselves back in our own shoes again.
– Dr Steve Gutstein
Here’s how this process was beneficial for Rideep.
1. It helped him to encode the memory
We relived the experience by writing about it. The pauses helped Rideep to think about the experience he had just had.
He re-experienced the event.
Every time I paused while writing, he looked at the kite on the wall and thought about what he had done to come up with an answer.
2. It created an emotional connect
Taking pictures, writing, typing- all create a link with the experience.
They build short term memory chains.
You have spent some memorable moments with your child, isn’t it?
What does your child remember of those experiences? Does he connect emotionally with them?
Try this exercise. Show your child a family photo taken during a vacation.
What does he say when you show him the picture?
Does he name people in the picture or give you information about the place you were at?
Now ask yourself how you feel when you see the same picture.
Do you remember how you felt? How excited you were?
You remember with emotions. Your child remembers details.
Note how I encoded emotions while writing and typing with Rideep.
Doing this on a regular basis will enhance emotional sharing.
3. The exercise explored alternative means of communication
Rideep writes and types independently.
I wrote the experience to connect it for him.
He typed the experience out eagerly.
We explored writing and typing- in addition to talking about the experience.
That widened the communication base.
This exercise helped many nonvocal children on the spectrum.
It has given them a way to connect without speaking.
Just because one particular channel of communication may not be functioning at an optimal level, it doesn’t mean the others don’t work.
Are you ready for this amazing quote?
“I’ve listened enough. It’s time for me to speak, however it may sound. Through an electronic device, my hands, or my mouth. Now it’s your time to listen. Are you ready?”
– Neal Katz, Self advocate
4. It enhanced competence and created motivation
Rideep felt good during the experience of kite making and while encoding it. He was happy and took over the ipad to type.
He did not have to be coerced into anything. He wanted to do it, because it was linked with an experience.
We hit the sweet spot of intrinsic motivation.
5. It created a multi channel experience
The experience, writing, typing, reading- addressed and integrated multiple channels of communication.
I visualize several areas of the brain being lit up- due to this form of teaching.
It created a package of learning for Rideep.
It brought together splinter skills that had been developed in the past into a cohesive, meaningful experience.
Dear Friend, back your child’s reading and writing with experiences.
Slowly, but surely you will see a transformation happening.
Your child does not learn conventionally. But that does not mean he cannot learn or continue to progress.
If you need help to set up a customized program for your child, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We understand your daily struggles. We’re here for you.
Don’t lost hope. Ever.
“Within every living child exists the most precious bud of self-identity. To search this out and foster it with loving care; that is the essence of educating an autistic child.”