There are proven, effective ways to help children learn the art of dialogue. Conversation takes place between two people. Children can and do learn to stay on topic while they converse with adults and peers when equipped with the right tools. Learning to respond appropriately and spontaneously to questions first and then learning to initiate questions has been very effective. Simple, easy-to-understand methods have been proven to be most successful. Keeping subjects fresh and interesting helps children stay on task with learning the art of conversation. You never know when a child will want to start the initiative of learning the art of conversation, which it’s why it’s important to always be prepared.
Read more about EASY WAYS to teach language, concepts and comprehension.
Teaching children who have autism, aspergers, PDD-NOS, and speech & language delays can be a challenge, to say the least. What seems like common knowledge to most, is baffling to others. Pictures with questions and answers have proven to be powerful tools for teaching children this so called common knowledge.
Where, why, when, what, which can be so frustrating for parents and caregivers, one would almost want to ask “why me” to themselves! Frustration is not going to help children learn this valuable knowledge. I have been amazed hearing what parents are saying as their child begins to answer questions by themselves about all the things we do at home all the time.
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Navigating through the hospital, education and community relationships was difficult to say the least. I learned to always ask questions. Access to school systems and understanding the process, as a mother of a child with autism and five other children was challenging. I found it very difficult to understand autism, let alone discover all the options available to parents to help them along the path. I would try new and innovative tools, though the doctors warned me that the studies weren’t complete yet and I was taking a my chances. I figured that Jonny would be grown by the time the studies were finished, so I tried them anyway.
One such intervention was the DAVID machine, which is piece of equipment that has light and tones and changes your brainwaves. During the 6 week period we monitored his use, his eye contact improved, he became more social, less echolaliac and his communication improved. I then began to think of a way other parents and professionals could access similar information, offering a wide variety of choices so they could make more informed decisions about the treatment for their children. I didn’t leave any rock unturned. This led to the development of “The Official Autism 101 Manual” with 44 top experts, caregivers and parents which won the Independent Publishers Book Gold Medal in New York this month!
The Ultimate Resource – The Official Autism 101 Manual
….“Oh”, he replied and apologized to her. I then explained to Mrs. Spaulding that Jonny had autism and sometimes he understood things quite differently than you or I and this is true whether Jonny is listening to someone read to him or when he’s actually reading something because he tends to look through or around the words or the words look distorted when he reads. He didn’t mean to hurt her; he was just not used to sitting. It was like a light bulb went off in her head and she said, “oh, you’re right, I had taught a child with autism once before. I forgot that it could look differently and I wasn’t even thinking that could be the issue here. Thank you for reminding me”
I tell you this story because I think it demonstrates how through clear and concise communication, relationships are built. Yet it’s virtually impossible to run around and explain Jonny to everyone in the hopes they will understand. But by sharing with all of you about the importance of understanding and communicating about autism, you can help me to get the message out. This is also the reason I wrote my first book, Little Rainman, to help people see autism through the eyes of a child.
Have you ever wondered what the non-verbal person with autism is thinking or have you ever been too afraid to talk to the person in the wheelchair because you don’t know what to say? Well I have! But Mr. “blunt” Jonny doesn’t hold any punches. When I signed Jonny up for football when he was in Jr. High School, his coach was in a wheelchair from a truck roll-over. When Jonny finally met the coach face to face the first thing out of his mouth was “Hey what happened to you? Did you fall and slip in the bathtub or something? The Coach Dave nearly fell out of his wheelchair because no one had ever dared to even mention his condition. We laughed. We should all learn to adopt some of Jonny’s clarity, honesty and wisdom in our approach to special needs people.
And I keep learning more every day. There is no instruction manual for being a special-needs mom. Truly, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
My relationship with my sister in law wasn’t great at first. She was the first to suggest that Jonny may have autism at the age of 2½. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with him, even though looking back; he didn’t interact with the 3 older kids. He was content to stare at the fan, being a quiet “good baby”, or so I thought. I thought she was just comparing him to her same aged daughter, Julia. You know – the ‘my kids better than yours’ game. How naïve I was! But, being a good and responsible mother, I reluctantly took him to the doctor, while he kicked and screamed all the way, to have him checked out. Surprisingly, he said Jonny had autism and to bring him back in a year. Thank God, Anna convinced me to get a second opinion. I would have had to wait that year and miss out on the most important early intervention year of his life. Talk about swallowing a little pride. I made up for my attitude though and began the diligent quest for information, attending as many conferences as I possibly could and became a sponge, soaking up everything I could, which ultimately was the foundation for Autism Today. If he turned out to have autism, which I still doubted, it would put him ahead of the game.
(continued) No sooner than Mrs Spaulding called on my son, did the words shoot out of his mouth. “Mrs Spaulding, he said” “I think this is boring!” I knew in my heart that he was just being truthful, but ohhhh the glares I got from the other parents, and of course Mrs. Spaulding. “You know young man, she scolded, that was very disrespectful”. How could I explain his autism in this desperate situation to everyone that was there? I felt like grabbing his hand and leaving, but I hung in there.
After the moment cleared, and the air seemed to settle down, once again his hand flew in the air. Mrs Spaulding, “What kind of dinosaur is it?” he asked in regard to her book? Thank God! I was so relieved he could also ask something that was appropriate. After the class was dismissed and the library event had come to a close, I took Jonny by the hand to apologize to Mrs Spaulding, trying to explain to him that while he may have been bored, saying it out loud still probably hurt Mrs Spaulding’s feelings.
(To be Continued)
As a mom, wife daughter, sister, friend, aunt and colleague, I know that relationships are everything! Relationships are built upon communication, which is also one of the largest deficits that those with autism and special needs children face. Whether they are able to talk or not, they are still able to communicate. Yet they need us, as caregivers, instructors, parents, siblings and peers, to help them bridge the relationship between them and the world. Through the power of effective communication mixed with empathy and understanding, we can facilitate and enhance the quality of these relationships. Here is an endearing story of a librarian and my son Jonny, and how a relationship was strengthened one day in our community.
To paint a picture for you, my son Jonny was in the 4th grade when his class took a field trip to the library to hear a famous author, Andrea Spaulding talk to the class. She had all the kids sit on the floor while she read them tales from her latest book. When she was done it was time for questions and answers. The kids eagerly popped their excited hands up into the air to ask questions. After about three questions, there was Jonny’s hand frantically waving. I cringed, what could he possibly want to ask.
To be continued…
Of course we were laughing harder than they were! Everything that could and would have gone wrong, did, but that was somehow okay. Jonny was accepted for who he was and is. A child with autism. When their song was over, his classmates filed off the stage as they had rehearsed, but not my Jonny. He was still doing his “thing” weaving in and out of the kids having a grand old time and the audience applause became very loud. Jonny all of the sudden became very aware of the audience, walked out to center stage and shouted at the top of his lungs. “Spank you, spank you very much!” and bowed. Afterwards, Caraly pointed out that maybe he had some sensory issues and the clothes were probably bothering him which is why he was acting out. From then on I dressed him in more comfortable clothes for him to wear, especially before going on stage! Sometimes as parents the obvious is oblivious to us and we miss it. Does anyone else ever have situations like these happen with their autistic children?
Certainly, these are stories to cherish, as we all grow in knowing what works for our children and what doesn’t!
Well the night of the concert I decided to dress him up nicely in a little blue suit, white shirt and tie. He looked adorable, but he kept wiggling and fidgeting around and I thought he was just excited. We arrived at Millennium Place where the concert was taking place, dropped Jonny off with his aide, Caraly and took our seat amongst the other 500 parents. When it came time for Jonny’s class to go up on stage the class marched out in single file, except for Jonny who was darting in and out of the other kids throughout the line totally oblivious to the crowd of people. All of the children walked to their appropriate spots on the bleachers, except Jonny who kept jumping off the top bleacher, ran around the front of the bleachers, climbed back up to his spot pushing the kids out of the way and did this at least twenty times during their performance. Moms and dads were laughing hysterically and carefully glancing around to see if we minded because they didn’t want us to think they were laughing “at” him.
To be continued…