A few weeks ago I got a comment on a post I wrote about a year and a half ago. The post called Novel Treatment for Autism, was about how Duncan's natural maturation coupled with parenting appropriate to his learning and living styles, was responsible for his development, as opposed to any 'treatment' or 'therapy'. The comment writer, Lynne, had a major problem with my attitude towards my son. She wrote (referring to my post);
This article cracks me up. The author ostensibly wants to give her child time to "just play or ponder." Then cites how her child uses a TV/DVD player which he watches a lot.
It's scary this mom is rationalizing letting her kid watch TV endlessly and then do video talk as an educational process. Wow. Yeah, I bet that is a lot more effective than those crazy moms who are trying to keep their child engaged.
Be sure to forward this article to all the lazy moms so they can feel better about not taxing themselves or their child. No need to spend your time trying to teach your child, do like her and lock those internal doors to avoid unnecessary battles. Apparently no effort is the key to expanding a child's reading ability, vocabulary and even, diet.
I doubt that Lynne, having been so scared and cracked up by what I had to say, will be back to see any reply I might make. It's odd how she makes the leap from what I wrote to calling me a lazy mum who makes no effort. She seems to have real issues with my son's use of TV as one of his learning tools.
It's like this Lynne, and anyone who might think she's right. Duncan is a highly visual learner. TV and DVDs are great tools that optimise his individual learning style. The worst thing for Duncan would be for me (or a series of strangers) to sit across a small table from him, armed with a bag of sweets, training him to respond to a series of discrete trials in exchange for a reward. For Duncan, the rewards are intrinsic to the task. He wants to find films about cuckoo clocks, so he has to spell the words properly on YouTube, rewarding him with a fun film about the manufacture of clocks in the Black Forest of Germany, or whatever he digs that day.
Duncan plays and ponders much. I came across him sitting on the floor of my bedroom this afternoon, dressed only in a pair of pants (he was playing at being Tarzan) and staring into space in a daydream with a pile of Lego spread out in front of him. Who knows what he was thinking about just then. I left him alone to his thoughts, and turned quietly away. He was standing beside me soon after helping me cook a fried egg.
In the past few years Duncan has continued to develop and I stand by everything I wrote in that post. I no longer have to lock any internal doors. I can trust him not to stuff food or toys in the DVD player or to throw something at the expensive speakers. I have moved all the boys' toys into their own room so he can access whatever he wants. He no longer throws every single toy on the floor when he's playing. He can help me put them away at the end of the day too, though he doesn't like doing this!
He now enjoys books and will frequently approach me with a book to read to him. His computer activities, including looking up his topics and characters of interest on YouTube and Google, his CD Roms and online games, together with a few short teaching sessions with myself have all helped him learn to read and write. Yesterday, he read a Hansel and Gretel story for me. It was entirely new to him, and he was able to decipher and understand almost all the words himself.
His speech has come on so well. Repeating scripts from films and games has helped him make sense of different words and sounds. He used to try to say the lines, in a garbled, mixed up way. Once I figured out what lines he was on about, I would say them for him, slowly and clearly, giving him time to hear the components of the words and learn how to say them for himself. That, combined with lots of time spent together, playing and getting on with life, have given him many chances to hear words, for me to listen to him and to interpret and if needed show him how to pronounce things. I'm now finding that his writing, much of which is still using 'invented spelling' ie, phonetic spelling, is showing me what words he has heard wrong. When I show him correct spellings, he gets a better idea of how to say these words. His reading, writing and speech are all helping each other and are going to make communication much easier and more successful for him.
He plays more complex games, enjoys being with his siblings and extended family as well as a few close friends. He has developed an individual and amazing ability for computer produced art, creating a few lovely pictures every day.
All in, he is a great boy, loving and mischievous, clever and committed, with a love of learning about so many divergent topics. He makes me smile, laugh, worry, rant and proud, sort of like how all children affect their mums.
This process is called parenting and education. There's no need for therapy.