Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Relating past events

One of the developmental delays that we see in a lot of children on the autism spectrum is an inability to describe an event that just happened the way that same-age peers are.

Here's an example: What was your Sunday School lesson about today? It's a question that is sometimes asked in the car as we are headed home from church on a Sunday morning.

Active participation and engaged learning are two keys that are needed for the child to be able to comprehend, make meaning and encode the events. The child must understand that there is something in his/her mind that is not yet in Mom's mind, and be able to bridge the gap between what is in the child's mind and what is in Mom's mind when Mom asks the question. And the child must have the language skills to put the thoughts into words into a sentence or two as well. It's a lot of work.

We tried (using ABA, years ago), to have our daughter memorize an answer at school so she could begin to tell me about something she did there. But that was about rote memorization, not engaged learning, meaning making, comprehension. It was about memorizing the right answer and providing it to Mom when prompted. It did nothing to help her be engaged at school or to grow joint attention. (I didn't know better at the time!)

On our ride home from church, I asked "the question". "What was your Sunday School lesson about?" Remember, she's going into a class for preschoolers because we (parents and teachers alike) believe she's able to comprehend more there in a simpler format. (She's not the only older child in there.) And my princess with ASD took a moment to pull it all together into a summary sentence: "We learned about prayer."

Yes, we did! :) That's what the adults in "big church" learned about, and it was the topic of the middle schoolers' lesson, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a great achievement. You post makes my really begin to understand why my dauther could not answer my questions about what she did. It's not because she does not want to tell me. It's actually because she has difficulty to tell me.

I really love your blog. Did you ever think about to be a RDI consultant? You will make a great consultant.

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