Friday, 30 September 2011

Autism ... communication.

Being Autistic you can sometimes be locked in your own little world, even though you sometimes cannot communicate verbally, it doesn't mean you cannot communicate in other ways from makaton (of which I know nothing myself, to usual visual pictures with simple words on.

The simplest thing that I have found that brings me joy to unlocking the silent world that lies within an autistic  is a tray with sand in it and a paint brush. Who knew that such simple items could break such pleasure.

Many children are unable to vocalize their emotional state because of their autism or if they are on the autistic spectrum . Incorporating the element of a familiar medium, the sand, allows a child to instantly achieve a sense of comfort and security. With little instruction from the teacher or a teaching assistant like myself , the child is free to play and develop his or her own expression of situations. Oftentimes the children will experience a sense of independent play and will begin making assumptions and behavior changes without cues from the teacher or teaching assistant. This method therapy serves as a valuable and powerful outlet for children and an incredibly insightful method of opening access to their world.

The way that I used it was that i said the sound and the child with a paintbrush drew the letter in the sand. Amazing with phonics going off all around us this served as reinforcement for the activity we were doing. A calming and pleasant activity, you will often find they will do letters that you never thought that they knew.


  1. There are many ways to get a child with autism to communicate and you need to expertise to open up those doors. I suspect you're doing a great job working as a support assistant, which is a particularly demanding job. But it is always a very rewarding job.

    CJ xx

  2. Also a great starting point or 'ice breaker' for when the student and teacher (+ TA) meet for the first time. It is easy for the student to accomplish the task, doesn't ask too much of them, relaxes them to their surroundings as well as building confidence. Plus, this also helps the student become comfortable with the teacher and assistant. I love the 'no pressure' approach =)

    Unfortunately, not everyone does things the way you do. When the wrong approach is used and the child becomes extremely stressed, it causes a lot more problems in the long run. . .

    My eldest son (7) has ASD. Tyson has only ever been to one speech therapist, whom he hated. her own fault, really, as she didn't make it a very enjoyable experience for either of us. Forcing a child to sit and look at a book, forcing them to do activities that they really have no idea on how to do and then losing all patience with the child, causing a meltdown, is not the way to encourage speech. We only completed 4 sessions before I called it a day for Tyson and ST =(

    This made it even more difficult for Tyson to handle appointments with the various health professionals that he had to see. Thankfully, he responded to early intervention and, after two years, was able to handle appointments and the like again. Today, he is going along okay.

    Over the past 4.5 years since Tyson's diagnosis (3.5yrs since youngest son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS), I have seen some therapists and teachers approach children within the spectrum the wrong way. This causes the child to withdraw, which makes it harder to get them to participate. Most times, the therapist has realised and changes tactic, boosting the child's confidence once again.

    What you describe sounds great and your students are SO lucky to have someone who is aware of their needs. You are a remarkable person, doing a fantastic job!

    you deserve it =)

  3. Thank you for these posts. My job in bringing me into more & more contact with families with children (and adults) with autistic spectrum disorders, and your posts are really helping me to gain an understanding of how it affects them, and how best I can do my job to support them.


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