Don’t confuse schooling and Intelligence!

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problemsI remember the psychologists sitting with us and telling us that we had until Ethan was 7 years old or we would miss the opportunity to take advantage of his brain’s development. They told us that if we missed that opportunity it would be too late. My issue with these professionals is that they talk with such confidence as if they know everything and everything they do know is fact. No wonder most of us parents lose the hope when our kids with autism reach that age and don’t progress. We think “this is it, this is the end.” I started teaching Ethan at the age of 10 and he has blossomed ever since. All I did was change the way we teach. Our brain is always growing, and the more you stimulate the brain the more it will develop. If they keep torturing our kids with the same program, yes, they will ensure and prove that our kids are unable to learn.

There are 2 important elements to teaching namely what you teach and how you teach. In teaching the autistic child these elements are even more important. Here are the initial steps to teaching an autistic child especially a visual learner.

  1. Teach independent typing—not FC. Start this as soon as possible, even the same day you get the diagnosis. This is better than most methods especially for kids with fine motor issues. For kids who really struggle, there are keyboards with large keys for them to practice.  We have an App in beta testing that is based on these methods that we will give away to parents for free.
    • At school they tend to concentrate on writing. At age 12 they gave up trying to teach Ethan to write because the research says that if they cannot write by 12 they never will.
    • We also tried to teach Ethan sign language but because of his fine motor issues it was hard for him to form the signs. Also, the majority of people do not understand sign language so the audience for sign language is very limited.
    • This generation of kids are different. They all type and text and some schools have even started requiring kids to bring laptops to class.
  2. Turn on the closed captioning on the TV. This helped Ethan and other kids to pair the written words with the spoken words and help auditory processing.
  3. Use a portable small white board and  dry erase pen to communicate in very simple sentences to begin with. For example “Go get  shoes” (I omitted the word “your”).  Read the words out loud while you are writing them. If your child gives you a “I don’t understand look” go with them and get the shoes. Do this a few times until your child pairs the auditory instruction with the written instruction with the actual instruction.  I did it for everything and after a while you can fade the written words.
  4. Teach in the moment. If you child has an obvious ache (stomach, tooth, head etc.) At that moment take a photo of them and then write it on the white board. For example write only the word “stomach ache” and have your child  copy the word by typing the same word (after you have given them something for the pain but before it has started working.) Use this technique for emotions and feelings as well.  It really helped us when Ethan was a teenager and was able to express his emotions.
  5. Teach English as a second language. Teach words, not letters and use photos to illustrate concepts. After your child has a big enough vocabulary, teach sentences.
  6. Every moment is a teaching moment. When you walk around, write everything you see on the whiteboard and the point them out to your child. Bed, car, tree, plane etc. Whatever you write on the white board have your child copy it by typing. After a few times, see if your child has memorized the words and can type them from memory.

A mother of an autistic child does more research than the FBI.

Don’t  believe the experts until you have seen the real evidence!

By Dalia Shkedy – Ethan’s Mom

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