Saturday, December 20, 2008

Opportunities to learn

"Blending skill is one of those things you cannot hurry in children. You can't sternly shake your finger at Johnny or promise him cake if he gets it right. All you can do is give him opportunities to learn it, and one day you will see he is beginning to catch on. That's a great day. The major hurdle to reading is about to be crossed. Nurture his beginning skill. Help it grow."

Dr. Ruth Beechick, from her book, "The Three R's"

Choosing curricula, products, resources for a child with unique learning needs is not something I take lightly, and over the years, I have gained much experience about how to determine a next step in a given area of development. (I am thankful to have a consultant who provides strong support to me in my decision making, as well.)

Sometimes, you have seen me write in a review that my daughter might be able, at some level, to use a resource, but I prefer to wait for a later time to fully introduce that resource to her in order to give us time to finish foundation work. I think Dr. Beechick's quote does a good job of describing what I mean when I say I choose to wait.

In the early days of an autism diagnosis, I relied heavily on professionals who guided me to push cognitive learning and academics via a behaviorist route to my then barely-two-year-old, while ignoring social learning. That was a mistake. Finding a developmental approach to remediating the developmental delays commonly seen with autism has given me insight that those professionals from early in our journey never offered.

Explaining what I mean about "developmental" and "timing" to another parent is sometimes challenging. How do I sum up something so big into a few sentences? Recently, the excerpt at the top of this blog entry jumped out at me from the book I was reading, and I saw that, even though Dr Beechick is referring to a skill associated with learning to read, she is describing quite beautifully a developmental approach to all kinds of learning, both social and cognitive: offer lots of opportunities, wait for a discovery to happen, and then move forward to the next step of offering new opportunities. Build foundations and grow them--for lots of "great days". ;)

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