What is the Point?

Posted by: Admin Tags: There is no tags | Categories: Autism 101, School


learning styleMany people have asked me what is the point of teaching Ethan or any child with special needs Algebra, Geometry, or Biology. They seem to imply that these kids will never amount to much and will never use these skill, so why teach them and especially why teach the nonverbal kids?

Ethan is allergic to casein (dairy) and gluten (wheat, barley etc.) When he eats dairy his behavior changes to the point where “there is nobody home” and his sleep pattern is disrupted to where he only sleeps 2-3 hours a night. He gets bloated and gassy and has extreme stomachaches and headaches and cycles between diarrhea and constipation.

Learning how his digestive system and immune system work helped him understand why he shouldn’t eat dairy and gluten and taught him all about his food Allergies. Once he understood the REASONS why he could not eat dairy and gluten, we solved many of his other behaviors. He no longer grabbed other people’s food and he no longer ran in the supermarkets and shoved food into his mouth so fast that we couldn’t get it out. We used to tell him not to eat certain foods but he got upset, had a tantrum, and still ate it. Today it is so much easier to go shopping with him. All we do when we go shopping with him is to tell him that the food has “gluten or dairy” and he knows he cannot eat it. He knows and understands that these foods make him feel sick.

Algebra helped Ethan to learn about problem solving using a systematic step by step approach. He now applies the same logic to some of the more functional tasks such as menu math, making change using money etc. The other key factor is that he enjoys learning math and that motivates him to want to learn more and more.

There seems to be a double standard when it comes to our kids with special needs. The schools insist on teaching neurotypical aka normal or average kids subjects such as biology, algebra, history or even Latin? The majority of them will never use any of these subjects once they have graduated high school, yet these subjects are still taught in every school in the country.

The long and the short answer is that Ethan loves learning Math and Biology and he finds both very interesting. We chose to keep developing his brain and stimulating his love of learning. The net result is that he keeps surpassing our expectations (which for us were very high to begin with.) My advice to the naysayers is that instead of questioning why and what is the point, go back to fundamentals. Researchers keep discovering that if you have high expectations for your child or student, then they will rise to your expectations and achieve more. On the other hand, if you have low expectations for your child or student then they will meet your expectations and fail.

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