According to Barker, J. (2001), people with autism often have language and attention issues which interfere with their ability to learn from verbal explanations alone. Visual aids, becomes a useful tool to back up verbal explanation.
This is because visual pictures (p.xiii)
can make abstract verbal concepts more concrete
remain stable over time while auditory information can be missed as students’ attention fluctuates, and
provide a more powerful means to engage attention
I first talk about the ‘The Social Skills Picture Book‘ in June last year when I first started out my blog. This book, by Barker, uses a visual strategy to teach social skills.
Endless research studies have been conducted on phonics instruction. Apart from highlighting that phonics instruction can help all children to read, it also improves spelling ability.
Generally, spelling development lags behind reading development. What this means is that often our kids are able to read a word before being able to spell it. In order to spell a word, the child needs to have the visual attention to see the word, store the word in his or her memory and retrieve the word out of the memory when asked to spell it.
While my child has a strong visual memory, he tends to be able to read more than spell. As such, I believe that phonics becomes an invaluable tool to improve spelling because it emphasizes on spelling patterns, which become similar to reading.
I come from a time when learning the spelling of words meant writing one full page of the same word over and over again. It is mundane and not necessary useful in teaching our kids (or many others) who tend to learn in more kine-static ways.
In Alix’s entry, she has a picture of one of their ‘gardeners’ in her school and she purported that functional activities help to increase our children with autism ‘autonomy, self-help and daily living skills’. In Growing Independence, it was also written that daily routines and assigning responsibilities are great ways to inculcate independence in our children. It also states that assigning responsibilities are a great way to increase their self-esteem.
For those who have been following me, you would know that I have struggled with C’s penmanship from day one. I believe that good penmanship is important, and through it will form and accompany the other necessary skills that a child need to master.
Looking at these photos, I am really heartened to see the changes. The photo on the left shows his initial pencil grip. Back then, he was using left hand, and grip method. The picture on the top is titled ‘Family’. A year ago, I was rather amused that what I saw. I couldn’t see the family in the picture but he said he could.
A year on, C is now using his right hand to write. Actually, he can use both hands. Predominately, he will use his right hand to write and colour now, but when his right hand gets tired, he will use his left hand to complete the task.
This year, I wanted to do something which will incorporate what we have been learning the past year, from Let’s talk, to the writing and the art lessons that he have been going for. (You can find out more about what I have been doing with him the past year from this link.)
I am pretty sure many parents out there have an area for their child to study or do their work. However, often, this area might be a common area shared by many people in the house. To study well, we should have an area designated for the child to do his or her work and necessary tools which will facilitate in them studying.
I know there are a lot of articles that recommend that we should take away all forms of distraction for any child in their study area, like bare walls and rooms. Sadly, I don’t stay in a palace. :p Since our home isn’t very big, C’s study area is shared by all of us in the house. I have our study desk, book shelves at one side of the room, C’s bicycle at one end of the room and our bags hanging in the other side.
However, with a little organisation and imagination, I believe it is still possible to have a ‘Everything-is-there’ study station or desk, which is conducive enough for the child.
Today’s entry is really random. I was on my way to send C to Speech Therapy at the hospital. Normally, I would not give C my cell phone when the car is in motion. However, he wanted to call granny before heading off to the therapy as we were going to meet granny and cousin after the therapy.
So, the cellphone was in his hands as we journey towards the hospital in the car. For some unfounded reason, C decided to use the camera and he started to take photos of our journey to the hospital. Initially, I told him to stop using the phone as the car was in motion. However, I stopped when I realised he was verbalizing the journey. It was nice to hear.
He would say,
Okay, now we are at the lights. See, see the blue car.
Next, we turn.
Ohhh… we are on the fly over.
See mummy, there are much trees…
wow… there are much more trees…. see see… like Tarzan.
This went on all the way till we reach the hospital. I thought it was hilarious. Especially the Tarzan bit.
C has really strong visual memory. What was interesting was that at night as we played, ‘Let’s talk about’, C could still tell me the sequence of the journey to the to hospital. I think his visual memory aids him in remembering the journey.
I will try to find more opportunities to use photos as a means of teaching him to speak, recall and relate events.
Sometimes, we need to let them teach us how to teach them 😮
Following up the art lessons that we have been having, I thought of getting C to do a birthday card for his grandpa since his birthday was around the corner. We glanced through the IPad for pictures that he likes and this is the one he chose. You can read through the artsy tips given by the teachers to help our kids to draw and paint by clicking on this link.
While it is important to impart communication skills to our preschoolers with autism, I think as parents, or educators, we acknowledge the importance of teaching the calendar as well as writing to our child since they are definitely essential once our children enter mainstream/formal school settings.
This is a series of activities that I will be adding along the way once my child has master the the concept (objective/s) of the lesson.