I see desperation writ large on your face.
I feel your pain as a mother who thinks she’s been given a raw deal in life.
Your child does not ‘talk’ to you like other children.
She has limited communication skills.
He does not share with you about what happened at school or in his day.
Your lovable, cuddly son prefers to spend hours on his ipad, but does not display his affection towards you.
It breaks your heart to see your daughter lining up toys, but not connecting with you.
You wonder if s/he ‘knows’ or ‘understands.’
Let’s get one thing out of the way immediately.
Actually one more thing we need to push out of our way:
Take a moment to let these sink in.
Now, have you pushed all the doubts of your mind?
You’re not alone, I struggled like you did.
Then I decided to push all the doubts out of my mind.
I used diverse methods of communication for Mohit and my other students.
We relied on the following methods:
1. Experience based learning
Dr Gutstein of RDI Connect emphasizes heavily on experience based learning.
We apply this at SAI Connections, by working on simple experiences such as cooking together, engaging in a variety of challenging (but not over challenging) activities.
We build up something our students can relate to.
This is the basis of our teaching and you’ll see it in some of the videos below.
2. Communication via pictures and typing
We encode experiences using writing, assembling sentences and typing.
Watch these amazing videos with a 9 year old and his father.
Since the student’s strengths lie in reading and typing, why not capitalize on these?
3. Communication via writing
Take a look at the interesting description by Sanjeev.
Sanjeev’s mother, Renuka had a different perspective as she drew the picture.
Her interpretation was: The girl dropped her mobile in the river, so the police had to be called to retrieve it.
Via expressive writing, Sanjeev was able to share a totally different perspective.
How wonderful is that?
4. Working through typing skills
This is an alternative way of communicating.
If the student is better with typing as compared with writing, it is worthwhile developing these skills too.
We have students working on Microsoft Word and Excel functions.
This will stand them in good stead at their work places.
5. Communication via texting
Texting is also an additional aspect of communication.
I like to use it as it slows the thought process down for my students.
It feels good to stay in touch through texting.
6. Creating self awareness via selfie videos
Aahan was averse to sending solo selfie videos, so we decided to do it together.
When he comes over to work with me, we work on a variety of experiences and we encode them via selfie videos.
This is a wonderful way to create short term memory chains and enhance a student’s competence.
Take a look.
7. Communiction via reading and assembling sentences
Watch Vishal and me, working on assembling sentences to encode an experience.
I find students who are sight readers, enjoy this method immensely.
We also typed together.
This was an amazing development.
A year ago, Vishal shied away from looking at a computer screen directly.
Today, he enjoys his assembling sentences and typing time. He looks forward to it!
Your child is here to help you expand your perspective.
I hope you decide to listen to your child and teach the way she learns in 2020.
To not listen, is too high a price to pay.
Kamini Lakhani is the founder and director of SAI Connections. She has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 20 years and is the authorized director of Professional Training for RDI in India and the Middle East. She is also the mother of a young adult with autism.