7 Simple Steps to Help Your Child Emerge From His Shell

The vibrant colors from Sanjeev’s art work stand out to engulf me in their brightness.

 

Renuka, Sanjeev’s mother is excited about his foray into painting. The engagement and independence is encouraging too.

 

They’ve progressed from painting together on one sheet, to Sanjeev painting independently.

 

Today, Sanjeev does not need anybody around him while he paints.

 

children with autism success
 

This wasn’t always the case.

 

Earlier, Sanjeev would stop an activity if Renuka wasn’t around.

 

But now, he is so engrossed in painting that it doesn’t matter whether someone is around or not.

 

From setting up the painting station, to fetching water and colors, to painting and finally cleaning up – he does it all by himself.

 

The icing on the cake is that Sanjeev shares about his artwork and interprets it for his mother.

 

success story children with autism

 

For this painting, Renuka asked him what he had painted. He said, “house”. When Renuka nodded, he added, “plane”.

 

Renuka realized that was how houses looked when airplanes took off or landed!

 

Isn’t it incredible how he threw light on his perspective?

 

Sanjeev is vocal and always communicated using words. He reads and writes and attended school up to grade six.

 

While language developed early, it was need-based. Sanjeev wasn’t able to articulate his thoughts and emotions.

 

45 minutes of painting a day created the bridge from need-based communication to experience-sharing communication, besides giving Sanjeev an outlet to be his authentic self.

 

Renuka put in the effort to build a relationship with Sanjeev. She used experience sharing communication while engaging with him. The results are there for us all to see.
 
Dear Parent, we are under the mistaken belief that more language and speech training will enable children with autism to share their thoughts and feelings.

 

It may increase their repertoire of words and sentences. But it doesn’t guarantee an increase in emotional sharing and authentic communication.

 

Sharing comes from awareness and knowledge of self.

 

Art gave Sanjeev a means to discover and connect with himself.

 

Every child needs an avenue where he is free to explore and be himself. It could be any form of art, music, sport or anything that the child is interested in.

 

You and I need this too, isn’t it?

 

Here’s how you, the parent, can develop for your child, what Renuka developed for Sanjeev.

 

1. Expose Your Child to Creativity

 

Watch your child carefully.

 

Does he seem to have an ear for music or songs? Does he enjoy dabbling in colors? Does he like to feel things? If so, pottery may be something to explore.
 
creativity in children with autism

 

Figure out what your child enjoys and expand it for him.

 

2. Don’t Limit Your Child’s Thinking

 

A mother told me she did not enjoy art. So she did not expose her child to it either.

 

Can I share something? I’m not too artistic either. But both my children are artists.

 

Don’t let your own limitations come in the way of your child’s empowerment.

 

3. Appreciate His Effort

 

Appreciate your child’s creativity, even if it isn’t what you expected.

 

The initial efforts may not be great. Don’t go by the product. Focus on the fact that your child took the effort to do something. Do not be fixated about how it should be.

 

4. Don’t Try Controlling the Outcome

 

Let the child be himself, even if it doesn’t make sense to you.

 

One of my students makes beautiful paintings. He doesn’t use brushes, but he uses his hands. The results are spectacular.

 

Who says we need to go by the ‘norm’ or convention?

 

5. Let Him Take Decisions

 

If they paint, they can develop the sense of self by choosing their own colors, the medium etc.

 

Sometimes I see Mohit use vibrant color combinations which make me go, “Wow!”

 

And then he covers his entire painting in black or grey.

 

My mind screams, “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?”

 

But it’s his creation and not mine. In the end, he does something spectacular with it!

 

6. Academics is Not the Only Way Ahead

 

There’s much more to life than academics.

 

Hobbies and creativity could add so much joy to life.

 

 

7. Shift Your Mindset First

 

Move from resistance to acceptance.

 

This is the most crucial step. Once you create this change in yourself, your child will respond by building a better relation with you.

 

I’ve worked with Sanjeev and his family since the past 6 months.

 

Renuka has implemented each of the points mentioned above.

 

When we started working together, she mentioned, “Sanjeev has a lot of untapped potential.”

 

Isn’t this how you feel about your child too?

 

Your child has shown you glimpses of his potential. It’s now up to you to help him achieve that potential.

 

Here are words of wisdom from a person with autism:

 

I have seen a process in the ability to adopt an attitude of autistic empowerment for some persons. It begins with the idea that autism is a thing to be eradicated. This is ignorance. From this emerges the idea that one might be able to accept autistic persons but has an attitude of pity and feels bad that they are different. This is tolerance. The next stage is where one is able to see autism as not a thing but a mode of being of the person. This is awareness. Beyond this one begins to focus merely on challenges but to also see strengths. This is acceptance. One then starts to understand the diversity in means of communication. This is furtherance of acceptance.”

 

“From this point, once is able to incorporate respect, dignity, presuming intellect, embracing diversity and promoting self advocacy. This is empowerment. So one moves from ignorance to tolerance to awareness to acceptance to empowerment.

 

Dan L. Edmunds, Ed. D

 

Dear Parent, Where are you on your journey with your child?

 

Remember, communication is not just about words. There are many avenues through which communication can be strengthened.

 

That’s the diversity in means of communication that Dr. Edmunds mentions above.

 

We want our children to be independent and navigate this world competently. The onus is on us to make the leap from acceptance and empowerment.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. If you also have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with me.

 

5 COMMENTS

  • Dr. Renuka Nambiar says:

    Thank you so much, Kamini! It means so much when Sanjeev’s success becomes all our success too. This is a very well written article, and so touching too. It makes so much sense not to go after speech, as the only form of communication. There is so much he communicates non verbally too. Sometimes, I feel words hinder him. What I have noticed ever since I started RDI with Sanjeev is that, the less I demand from him, the more he gives me! Something beautiful happened this evening. We were both sitting in front of the PC, he was with a snack packet. I was busy typing on the PC, and he suddenly fed me a piece of his snack! Totally out of the blue, totally spontaneous and totally natural.

    • Thank you for sharing yet another beautiful experience, Renuka.

      It’s wonderful to see this lovely reciprocity emerging between the two of you.

      Sanjeev will reach his potential. This is just the beginning.

  • My Era says:

    Loved this post!
    I have been working on all the points you shared, but the one step where I’ve stumbled most has been #4
    It took me sometime to let my child paint the way she visioned it and not try to alter it suiting my perceptions.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post ME.

      Awareness is the first step. It’s courageous of you to admit this. It is something we all struggle with from time to time.

      Thanks for stopping by….

  • Gwynn Torres says:

    What I find interesting is that your suggestions for bringing children with autism out of their shells are not unlike the suggestions for nurturing creativity in all children. There’s a common process for letting children discover what they’re capable of creating, in any medium. And you show how it is especially beneficial to children with autism.

    Gwynn Torres
    The Creativity Institute

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>