Please reach me out through autism.india@yahoo.co.in with details of your contact if you are a professional/institution

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Calendar for my Son

 This is the calendar I am using to teach the concept of Months, days, dates and weeks to my son. I have found teaching time or date is very difficult. But thought will have to start somewhere and I got started.
Fig (1)
Here is a step by step way I had used to create the calendar.
 ' 
Fig (2)
Fig (2) is the Base sheet. Following are the steps to prepare the Base sheet.
          1. I took four A4 size paper and laminated it.
          2. Then I joined the all the four laminated sheet into a base sheet with transparent cello tape.
          3. I put Velcro in seven places on the top of the base sheet to stick the days of the week.
          4. Then I drew square (7*5) with equal spacing and put Velcro on each square to stick the dates.

 
Fig (3)
Then I printed the month names and also laminated it. I cut the month pieces into individual Months and put Velcro on the back of the each month.
 
Fig (4)
Fig (4) shows days of the week cards. Similar to months, I prepared days of the week also. But put Velcro on both the sides.
Fig (5)
Fig (5) shows the some date cards. I prepared dates from 1 to31 the similar way as months and days of the week. Similar to days of the week cards I put Velcro on both the sides of the date cards.
                                     
In the Month beginning all the days of the week card and Date cards are flipped with written text not visible. So none of the printed text will be visible. And every week I reset the Days of the week card to flip it back.
I get our son to the calendar every morning and ask him to flip the day card to make it visible and ask him “what is the day today”? I expect the response or prompt him with the word itself to respond. Then I do the same for the dates and ask him “What is today’s date”?
The Blue pouch on the right hand size is to put the months which is not in use.
When the next month starts I adjust the date cards across all squares and we are ready for next month. As this activity involves some action from my son, he has slowly started understanding the concept. Also my husband uses the opportunity to inform, “Today is Monday. Monday, Daddy goes to office”. And on Sunday we say, “Today is Sunday. Let’s go bye bye”.
Tips:
In future I have thought of introducing special cards for family member birthdays, festivals and occasions.

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Please click the following link for a comprehensive documentation of my journey with Aakash: Click Here
Here is the link to the playlist of Activities done with Aakash, in YouTube: Click Here

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Autism………………………Tantrum (Part 2)

 In Part 1, I expressed how I made my son use the word No and tried to express his feelings and reduce his frustration(http://autism-contacts-in-india.blogspot.in/2013/10/autismtantrums.html ). Now I want to record the approaches I am following.
  1. I made my son’s world predictable
By setting up visual schedule, my son knew what was going to come next and plan for the day. With this, I was able to reduce his anxiety and hence tantrum considerably. Many of us have telephone indexes and diaries to control our schedules. A visual schedule similarly became a diary of appointment for my kid.
  1. Ignore
Sometimes ignoring him also works and is needed. For example, he sometimes asks for Chocolate. But if there is none in house, I would tell him, "Wait for daddy". Daddy would get it, but my son would repeat the request continuously until he becomes hyper himself. In those kinds of situations, after responding a couple of times, I will ignore the repetitive requests.
  1. Isolate
Sometimes when he is really upset and throws a tantrum, I used to isolate him (courtesy: Super nanny* https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=supernanny for some time, say in his bed. I will not do this isolation in a closed room or dark corners. I will keep him stay put in his usual spots, sofa or bed. And I will ensure there are no dangerous things around e.g. fragile items near him. In Super nanny program this isolation used to be done little differently. But as my son does not have that much understanding as a normal kid, I followed this simplified version.

*Super Nanny is a UK based TV program about a well-educated Nanny(one who looks after kids) addressing behavioural problem with kids. Please note these kids are normal kids without any special needs, but definitely misbehaving. This nanny comes home (real life stories) structures the family affairs, educates the parents, helps the kids and leaves behind a peaceful family. This program made me realize all the kids or same, whether normal or special. It is up to the parents to create the right environment to change things. This program is available in YouTube as well. Search with the key word “Super Nanny”.
  1. Say strong No.
In very dangerous situations when my son’s misbehavior is totally unacceptable like crossing the road, playing near balcony ledge or with electric items, I used to say a strong “No”. But before this I used to constantly prepare him for accepting the “No” as an answer.
  1. Distract
This works when my son is in a little bit listening mood despite his tantrums. At those times, I used to offer him his favourite food, play bubbles or offer to play Rhymes DVD or songs etc. This used to distract him and cool him down.
  1. Prepare
Preparing him adequately for something to come is one way to reduce a known tantrum that is going to come. For e.g. Hair cut is a no no to my son owing to his sensory issues on his head and leads to tantrums. We used to prepare him with head massage, haircut pictures, constant communication that we are going to do haircut on a specific day. This made him accept the activity (haircut in this example) and reduce tantrums.
  1. Routines
Routine is another way to reduce anxiety and tantrum for some specific activities. My son’s Brushing was one thing that got sorted out this way. He used to cry and shout for brushing. When I consulted my visiting therapist, she told me that do it as a ritual and one day my son would understand. So we did this everyday morning. And slowly my son got used to it and eventually agreed to do this activity as a daily chore.

However tantrums were better manageable at my home rather than outside were lot of distractions and unplanned things could happen. But with continuous training at home, I realised my ability to soothe and bring my son under control in outside circumstances improved.

But before all this, I had a big change in some of my perspectives.

Managing Anxiety
Initially when my son threw tantrum, I would get anxious and tensed. Being anxious I realized I could not manage my son’s anxiety or tensions. It was a bit of contradiction. Anxiety cannot soothe the anxiety. I decided that I should overcome my emotional barrier.

Ignoring the public comments
I learnt to ignore the public comments or staring. Once when we were on vacation, a European couple stayed in a nearby room. Seeing my son’s behavior, they understood there was some issue with him. They approached us and said they were priests of some faith and told us that they would like to pray for our son. We told them we were not religiously inclined. But they said that would not matter. We could not say anything further. But it was a complete invasion of our privacy and a help that we didn’t seek for.

And once when my son complained of chest pain, we rushed him to a Paediatric emergency ward of a well-known hospital in Bangalore. But my son was not co-operative to walk in and let the doctor do the tests. The doctor (who liked like a fresher) coolly said us to come the next day with some “proper plan for handling him”. Just because my son had a psychological difficulty can he be denied of medical support during an emergency like chest pain? Myself and my husband were shocked by Apathy.

I realized all categories of people cutting across professions, across the world were just the same, they were all “unaware” and could not help. So I decided to ignore them.

Listening to my son
Whenever my son screamed, the one thought that recurrently occurred on my mind is “why me”. But after a point of time, I realized it was neither my mistake nor my son’s. Trying to take control of my child whenever he threw tantrum was very difficult until I trained him in controlled circumstances at home. I realized rather than making the communication unidirectional with my son, that is me giving directions, I should also listen to him. When I listened and interacted with him, he started listening to me. This helped me take control when he lost his.

I strongly believe that every tantrum has a triggering point. Recently for 2 days at a go, he was hyper continuously. Eventually I realized a medication that I was giving for his cold symptoms was the reason.

And also on working with him on various methods, I realized the better he was at understanding my communication, the less tantrum he threw. And improvement in his communication lead to better understanding of my communication. This was a key to control his moods as he grew up. When he was three years old, I used to put him into a buggy (a controlled space) to reduce his anxiety and tantrum. But when he was 8 years old, his needs got sophisticated and I could not control his tempers by a physical space. Good communication between both of us was needed. So today I mainly work on making him express/communicate his needs, discomforts, likes and dislikes.

I know there are lot more challenges as my son grows up. But with better understanding between both of us, good communication and relationship, we will outgrow all troubles.

Tips
  1. Expose the kids continously to new situations , if unacceptable things happen, take it as a goal and work on it. If they are not taken to the outside world, there needs and difficulties will be hidden. So take kids regularly to park, relatives/friends place, long trips etc.
  2. Routinue will help the kids to learn. But if the kids are on a routinue then they will find difficult to cope with the sudden changes. So break the routinues at home at regular interavals. For Example change the study activity places at home like doing it on the bed, another day in the balcony instead of always sticking to the study table.

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    Please click the following link for a comprehensive documentation of my journey with Aakash: Click Here
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Autism………………Tantrums(part 1)

After I entered the world of Autism when my son was formally diagnosed, everywhere I turned, I kept hearing one word again and again - Tantrums. Kid’s Tantrums is the most discussed subject by parents of kids with Autism, books and websites dedicate quiet a lot on this subject. Of course, I have the same experience with my kid. During the initial days I was really clueless when he screamed or went berserk.



If I recollect following are some of the situations where my son could lose his control. For e.g., Haircut, nail cut, Brushing, Eating his unfavorable food, sound, smells, change in routine, visiting new places/person.



When my kid threw tantrum, the immediate situation was very difficult to manage. However I realized behind every scream/tantrum a hidden message or feeling is communicated there.  Let us recollect

our first day at a new school,

our first visit to a posh hotel,

our first interview,

our first day at work etc.



All our firsts would be accompanied with some tension and anxiety. So is for any kid and a kid with Autism. All our first experience is accompanied with tension and anxiety, even though we know to communicate, know how to behave, know how to make decisions. Our Kids have limited communication, limited socialization, and sometimes limited understanding about a situation and the anxiety is natural and inevitable.



My insight on this came when I was talking to my son’s speech therapist.  I was sharing with her that my son was screaming through the day and for everything. I was tensed and worried a lot. But she said softly, “I think he is on the verge of talking”.  That response made me think and then I started to interpret` his screams and tantrums as sensible communication. So whenever my son screamed, I learnt to hear it in my mind as



“Mamma, I am scared”,

“Mamma, I don’t like this”,

“Mamma, I don’t want this”.

“Mamma, I want this”



Here I want to mention an experience about another special child’s communication challenge. When we were in UK, my husband got speech therapy training. As a part of the training, the speech therapist visits home and takes a video shoot with our kids and how we parents train our kids. Then she used to display the videos in the training session, so that each parent had an opportunity to see other kids and how other parents work with their kids. In one such video session, my husband got an opportunity to see a mother who trained her little kid diagnosed with autism and with other difficulties too.



This kid always had to lie on his bed because of his other difficulties and he was non-verbal too. His mother flashed a visual card of the activity she was about to do before doing that activity with the kid and then did the activity. The mother could not detect any response from the kid and neither the other parents who were watching the video. The therapist rewinded the video to the place when mother flashed the card.  The kid’s eyes went wide as if in a grin as his mother’s activities were of liking to him. That was the interaction and communication that kid was doing.  The therapist reminded to be aware of all possible avenues that the child uses to communicate.



If “look expression” is a communication in the above example, what about the story of Helen Keller who could not hear, see and speak. And yet she learnt to understand and communicate her wonderful experiences to the world. This all prompted me to think, why I can’t teach my son to communicate. I thought if he communicates his basic needs or his positive/negative emotions it will reduce his frustration and hence tantrums.



When I started to manage his tantrums, my son’s only communication was to lift my hands to point something he wanted to eat. So I decided to give a word whenever he screamed, hoping he would use the word and reduce the screaming. Actually we adults could be saying things like, “I don’t want this” or “I want that” or more lengthier and complex sentences to express our wishes.  But my son had not begun to speak a single word and he had many suppressed emotions. So the first simple word that fitted most of the situations was a “No”.



Whenever he threw tantrums, I said “No”, sweetly to him as if prompting him to say that rather than shouting.  After a point of time he learnt to say “No”. Whenever he felt frustration, instead of screaming, he started using the word “No”. I respected his “No” and changed my actions that would suit immediate need. E.g. Like withdrawing the food that made him tense. This negative word “No” gave me a positive approach with my son for communication or speech.   After this training, he flooded me and my husband with enough No’s to sink the worldJ. The number of No’s he said in a year or two exceeded all the No’s I would have said in all my whole life. But that “No” was like a life raft to him in a sea of confusion and frustration.



So according to me the so called “Tantrum” is because of the inability to express the kid’s anxiety, feeling, dislikes and don’t wants. The magic word “No” helped channelize many of the situations positively. But was “No” adequate to help all the situations, defintitely it was not. I will share more of other approaches that I am doing to manage my son’s tantrums. 

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iPad and my Son

iPad is the most wonderful tool I have found for educating my son. In fact rather than me educating, he educated himself. The IOS(operating system on the iPad) controls are so intuitive that he learnt to use all the gestures like swipe, pinch, tap, escape on the screen in no time by himself. The apps on iPad are also very well designed.

These apps became important for my son for two reasons 1. For repetitive lessons 2. Pronunciation and 3. Self-engagement.

Repetitive lessons
My son needed to be run through with some concepts many times before he could make a connection and start grasping it. But it took infinite time, patience for both me and my son as we had to cross every tiny little lesson this way. iPad easily solved this problem, because that was a toy for him, it was not trying to coach him J, and he himself repeatedly played on it. For example there is a wonderful app called “First Words” which taught words like Cat, Mat, and Apple with spelling, pronunciation, left to right sequencing etc. He would run through these words hundreds of times in the course of his play which is very difficult to achieve in face to face coaching. And later on I bought a paid version of the apps which includes abstract words like, “If”, “Shall”, “It” etc. and he is getting that too.

Pronunciation
My son had lot of difficulties in getting some sound like “ra”, “ka” and “fa” when he started verbalising and I was teaching him more sounds and words.  By many wonderful apps on iPad which repeat the words with clear pronunciation, he started getting these words. This was one of the biggest boost for his spoken communication.

Self-Engagement
I occasionally needed a break and iPad gave it J.Period.
Now I will get on to some of the apps. Most of these apps are free. And I did buy many apps which were interesting to my son as it enabled more features and choices.

Apps Listing

Wooden Jigsaw:
Puzzle games are wonderful for developing logic and here are some good ones for it. And the software design ensured that it corrected my son gently when he wrongly fitted a piece. I found my son doing a physical Jigsaw with much more interest after playing in this app.
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/wooden-jigsaw/id654091392?mt=8 https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/wood-puzzle-hd/id381583071?mt=8 https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/my-first-puzzles-alphabet/id408435398?mt=8 (alphabets) https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/christmas-jigsaw-puzzles-123/id484022505?mt=8 https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/farm-jigsaw-puzzles-123-fun/id439568730?mt=8


For Spelling:
"First words" is one of the best and unmatched apps in iPad for any kid.
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/first-words-animals/id294536447?mt=8 https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/first-words-deluxe/id337462979?mt=8 https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/first-words-professional/id507560748?mt=8

Phonics:
This is a wonderful app for teaching phonics
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/first-letters-and-phonics/id346591226?mt=8

My Play Home:
This is very interactive and lots of fun and my son learnt a lot of things about a home here J
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-playhome/id439628153?mt=8
http://www.myfirstapp.com

Build it up:
It bought out the little engineer in my son. Its self-correcting mechanism is so difficult to teach in real life.
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/build-it-up/id421839260?mt=8

Sorting:
All kinds of sorting that I didn’t imagine that was there for my kid to teach.
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/sort-it-out-1/id501939025?mt=8
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/sort-it-out-2/id501952788?mt=8
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/sorting-game/id665696008?mt=8

Matrix Game and Series:
Complex logic made simple and fun
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/matrix-game-1/id684669498?mt=8
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/series-1/id501937796?mt=8
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/series-2/id501938262?mt=8

Matching:
This matching is a little advanced one and yet it was absorbing for my kid for some time.
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/match-it-up-1/id421840435?mt=8 https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/match-it-up-2/id421841614?mt=8

To Learn Colors and Numbers:
My son’s favourite. It has a wonderful concept of teaching colours and numbers. Lovely.
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/candy-count-learn-colors-numbers/id454950461?mt=8

Memory:
I could have never believed that my son could play the little memory game that I used to play as a kid. Arranging Playing cards on the floor face down, opening them up as a pair at a time and trying to match them. But it happened. This is the app that pulled my son’s interest on iPad.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kids-match-all-in-one-memory/id492544069?mt=8 https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/awesome-memory-match-fun-matching/id535014207?mt=8

Clock Puzzle:
I introduced this to make my son understand about clocks and time. Though it has not happened yet, he has got his first understanding about the clocks in our house in some form.
https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/clockwork-puzzle-learn-to/id541556830?mt=8

Maze:
This maze is amazing. It has lot of variety of mazes, all fun and educative.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/toddler-maze-123-fun-learning/id569328780?mt=8

Tips

1.      All the apps need not be educational. Your kid needs to relax himself too. Give them a good variety, so that they don’t reject this form of education.
       2.      If your kids get too obsessed with some apps and that if fun is lost and they do it because      of  some repetitive behavior, remove the apps before giving it to your kids the next time.
       3.      Give the iPad to play in a lighted room in good sitting posture so that they don’t spoil their eyes and back.
       4.      Give them at some planned, appropriate intervals so that they play with other things as well. 

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Please click the following link for a comprehensive documentation of my journey with Aakash: Click Here
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How I taught Colours to my son

Introduction
Colours colour our life. For any kid, colours are the biggest source of inspiration- rainbows, painting, toys, dresses all contain exciting different colours. As my kid was growing up, I wanted to make him appreciate the same exciting world of colours around him.

My goal was to make my son understand that there are different colours, how they are present in real life objects around him, names for them, ability to identify them by picking it himself. When I progressed on teaching colours, I got unexpected rewards as well. My son used to be impatient and agitated when we used to go out for a drive and were stopped in a signal. After he got introduced to colours, I simply point out the traffic signal to him. And he calls out “Red” and then he himself calls out again (as we had taught him using that opportunity), “Red says Stop” and becomes patient/quiet.

Using his strengths to teaching
I searched for his interest/strengths to teach him colours. When doing activity he used to like matching pictures. This was one input I used to design the activities for my kid and another was his love for alphabetic characters and his growing ability to read.

How it started\
Below shown picture was the file folder material I prepared for my son to teach colours. On the left hand side of the page, I had taken a print out of big squares of colours. And on the right hand side the same colour squares are there, but cut out and kept as single pieces ready for matching. I always use Velcro where possible and make file folders self-contained as my son would not like cluttered desk. Also when matching, sticking on the Velcro is convenient.
Figure 1
Let me explain how I prepared the above material
1.      I prepared a word document for some basic colours. I took the above colours
2.      I added words under the colours. You would find I have withdrawn these words in the later figures
3.      Took two print outs of the document
4.      Laminated both the copies
5.      Cut one of the laminated print-out into separate colours
6.      Put velcro
In the beginning, when I started to use the above material, I asked my son to match the colours. Once finished the matching, I just pointed out the colours and read out the colour name. For ex. Green,Red and so on....
Once he was comfortable with matching the colours with the above material(figure 1), I introduced some more materials as a first step to Generalization.(The below one is only one of the many materials. Some more materials are in the section “Other varieties so that child will not get bored”)
Figure 2
In the above figure I have used geometrical shapes, which I had taught him in a different context(circles, triangles) etc.  Now I used them for matching colours.
Now I pressed towards more generalization of colours as the real life that we see around is colourful.

Figure 3
The above Figure 3 material is also similar in concept to the Figure 2 material but I have used some known objects and abstract images.

While doing the above materials, once he finished matching, I pointed out the colours and read the colour names. After sometimes he started to say the name of the colours along with me.
Now I introduce the flash cards as shown in the figure 4.  I had by this time reduced the proportion of matching activity and have also withdrawn the written text under the colours.
Figure 4
Pictures in the figure 4 are the individual flash cards of different colours. As my son had some knowledge about colour from the previous matching activities, I moved to simply asking him questions about colours and expecting the response.  
Steps involved
I flashed one colour card and asked, “What colour is this?”  I initially prompted him to say the colour name as the answer, .e.g. “Green”.   Over a period of time, I faded out the prompt. If he was not able to say it at any time, I used to prompt him.   I repeated the progress till he was able to the name of the colours comfortably.

Other varieties so that child will not get bored
I had mixed, matched materials at different stages and I did not always follow a sequence. It was all dictated by my son’s interests and his ability to progress with one material. If he was getting bored/agitated with one material, I used to keep that short and move to the next material.

Figure 5

Figure 6
Note: One interesting thing about the above Figure 6 and Figure 11(down) is that hear I have used the fonts in the respective colour(The word “Blue” in blue colour font) to create strong association of colours and words in my son’s mind.

Figure 7

Figure 8

Figure 9

Figure 10

Figure 11

But as I started moving towards generalisation, I have removed the coloured fonts in the above (Figure 11).

Figure 12

Figure 12 consists of individual flash cards to generalise the colours to real life even more. To avoid the confusion between the name of the object and colour, first ask the object name and then go for colour name. For E.g. If I flash the Shoe card I will ask “What is this?” Get or teach the response as “Shoe” and then move to the colour related question i.e. “What is the colour of the shoe?” and get the answer as “Brown”. Eventually now he has moved to a stage where he calls out, "Brown Shoes", "Yellow Capsicum"....

Tips:
  1. Lots of Colour related books are available in markets. Use them.
  2. Colours are everywhere. Do not restrain educating or interacting with your child about colours only in an activity session. Do it everywhere:
At home you can say
  • Brinjal is Violet in colour
  • Sofa is Red in colour
  • Soap is Pink in colour
Outside you can say
  • Car is White in colour
  • That bird is Black in colour etc etc…
That is, there is no rule or sequence to teach colours. Use all the opportunities.

  3. The materials I had shown above are designed to my son’s strength of matching and reading. You can design activities suiting your kid’s strength and interest.

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Please click the following link for a comprehensive documentation of my journey with Aakash: Click Here
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Parent's Experience

I live in UK and we special parents meet up on coffee mornings arranged by local health professionals who help the children with diagnosis of autism. Our guest speakers for this month is a family who has a 23 year old son who has autism diagnosis. They brought their son's pictures when he was young and recent etc.,. When they had diagnosis for their son, there was not much therapies and not much support group etc., He was non-verbal up until 6 yrs and he speaks very limited now as well. He has 2 sisters, one elder and one younger. He had been very hard work initially as loads of tantrums, meltdowns, sensory issues, aggressiveness and obsessiveness etc., Both mum and dad, never speak in front of him about his disability and kept the house rules same for all 3 children but had gone through the night mares of how he will be when he is grown up, what he will do etc.,But they kept it together as a family and had only speech therapy for their son, no ABA, no bio-medical and not any alternative therapies too.

He has studied in special school, went to college for 4 years in that 2 years computing courses. He has applied for his own job and attended interview without telling parents and got the job then informed them. He has got driving licence!!!!! UK driving licence is one of the hardest to get as minimum 150-200 hours training needed to get license. He himself asked the parents about the driving, they were so scared about it but gave a try. He is doing a cleaning job in a school, he chose that because he doesn't need to speak a lot to the people. He is earning his own money and can cook, look after himself. As he is so smart looking, girls approached him asking him phone number in college, but he told them that he can not give the number. Ha ha. But there is a girl who is persistent and approached the family, they are going out now for last two months. So mother said that there is a possibility that he will settle down with his own family too. 

We may be reading this kind of story every day in the internet but seeing somebody who had gone through it in person has boosted my confidence and belief enormously.

What else you need other than having a confident child who can be an asset to this world and take care of themselves. How many abled lazy people doing destruction in the world and getting the benefits from the government without going to job.

We have so many therapies now, so much knowledge in this field, inclusive schools and endless kind hearted parents coming together and helping each other. We all have light at the end of tunnel. My son surprises me every single day that he knows more than that what I am thinking that he knows. If we treat them as normal, expect high and give them some space like what we do with so called 'typical' children then they get the chance to be a 'typical' child as well.
by Kasthuri Subramanian

Pictures for communication

A picture says a thousand words. Yes, that is very true in the case of my son. Being a visual thinker he can understand anything very easily if it is in the form of picture.
Here I want to say an interesting story which happened when he was 2 years old. One day when we took him out for some shopping, he was playing near the parking lot. Suddenly he went near to a shop, looked up and saw something, then ran towards a nearby sign board on the platform and looked it up. The running became like a loop. We parents were little confused and not able to understand what exactly he was interested in. So we followed him and found that the nearby sign board also had the name of the same shop he was running to. He has been comparing the sign board on the platform with the board above the shop, as the same brand names in same styles were present in both places. This was before he knew to read any alphabets or speak.
Today I teach him everything by matching pictures even after he started to verbalize. However when we started it was challenging. Using pictures for communication would mean he has to request for something by giving a picture, for e.g. give milk picture (picture of milk in a sipper) to get milk. Initially this was little difficult and he was not able to get it easily. I will now go into full details of how I made it happen.
Again I listed down his interests. E.g. visiting shopping mall, drinking milk etc… I found he needs milk immediately after he got up from the bed. So I put a milk picture card near his pillow. Around his waking time one of us would be near to him and other person would be in the kitchen with milk ready. Once he got up I gave him the picture card without saying anything and made him to walk straight to kitchen and made him to give it to his dad. His dad would immediately give the milk sipper to him and he would walk away happily. We did this for some days like ritual hoping he could understand the concept one day.
I also made some picture cards of his interest like snacks, water, Mc Donalds, Shopping mall, park etc. and put it in places where he can access easily(like sticking pictures with Velcro in Fridge doors). One evening suddenly he rushed to the place of picture cards and handed over a picture to us. To our surprise it was Mc Donalds picture. Immediately we rushed him to Mc Donalds as a reward. When we shared to the experience to our speech therapist, she was delighted with our son’s progress and appreciated our effort to immediately reward him. She said you could have run even in your night dress. It was worth it. Yes that was true
Also soon he started using the milk picture card for requesting milk
Before he started to verbalize I used pictures for communication a lot with my son. Initially if we took him to places like park, shopping mall he was not able to associate it with picture. So I took photos of the particular place and used it as picture card. Before we start from home I showed him the picture card (say Park Picture) and tell him “Park”. I did not speak big sentences like “we are going to park”. This was to ensure he did not get confused with too many words and focused only on the key word “Park”.
Once I reached the park also I flashed the picture card once again and said “Park”. Like the milk and park examples, I used different approaches for different situations.
Pictures have been the wonderful first step in my son’s communication. Other babies communicate to mothers from the time they are born by crying for milk, food, experimenting little words as they grow up etc. But we missed all these phases for my son. But because his strength was visual, I got that phase again as he tried to communicate as much as possible with pictures. I had a huge list of photographs and pictures which were generally from his interest areas and he happily started using these to tell us what he wanted. Soon I was able to tap this picture communication to speech as well.
Tips
  1. Keep a set of pictures in your handbag, child’s bag, in your vehicle etc.
  2. I initially used photographs
  3. I also added words along with pictures. For e.g. Park Picture + “PARK” word at the bottom of this picture
  4. I faded out those pictures where he became comfortable with words. So no problem for generalization
  5. You can even have a set of pictures in your mobile.

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Extend Stress-pause-fill ups in the day to day routine

In the topic “How I made my child speak using Nursery Rhymes” I explained how I used the stresses and pauses to encourage my child to recite the Nursery Rhymes. Here I am going to explain how I adopted the same method for the day to day routines. That is to make him learn words that are used in day to day routines.
To accomplish this I observed the day to day routines he was used to at that point of time. I also tried to segregate the routines he was very interested or liked very much. Some examples are taking bath, drinking milk, going to park, saying bye bye to his dad when my husband leaves to office, watching me cook etc. All these were his favourite routines.
To start with I selected some 10 to 15 routines the way I have mentioned above and made some standard phrases for each routine like
  1. Daddy bye bye
  2. Let’s go Park
  3. Mamma is cooking
  4. I want milk
Whenever the routine happened, I kept mentioning the phrases and also flashed a relevant picture card. It could be the picture of a park or the picture of his sipper from which he used to drink the milk. After some time when that routine was about to happen, I just flashed the card, said part of the phrase like “I want….”. If he missed to say the word, I prompted him or filled it by the correct word “Milk” and proceeded with the routine. In course of time he started saying the word and eventually the full phrase. I also gradually faded the flash card.
I list down some examples
  1. Mamma is “Cooking”(Asked when what was I cooking)
  2. daddy is “Eating”
  3. You are “Eating”
  4. Mamma is “Eating”
  5. Mamma is “Cutting”(Asked when I used to cut the vegetables.
Since above actions are routines and I asked while it was happening, my son picked up very fast. This helped him to learn action words in later. And also he generalised without any problem.
Since my goals are very close to the day to day routines, it helped me to prepare him for the routine also.
I applied the same thing for Body Part also. After my son learnt parts of the body I took targets like
  1. you see with your “eyes” etc.
Then the objects like
  1. you write with “pen”
  2. You play with “ball” etc.
In this way I taught lots of words to him.
Tips
  1. In the beginning instead of “you”(you are going to “brush”). We can use the child's name also
  2. If the targets are close to the day to day routine the child will benefit a lot. Please ask the child only during the time of action. Don't confuse the child with same target during the Table top activity time. Keep separate list for that.
  3. Give the list to other family members.

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