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As You See It, As They Experience It - Autism

Children with autism experience the world differently. They carry with them innocence and truth, combined with a total involvement in whatever they do. Parents need to understand why their child acts in a particular way, instead of trying to fix his or her behaviour. This would then make a world of difference to the child. Ms. Usha Ramakrishnan explains how

As You See It, As They Experience It - Autism

Meet persons with autism; get to know the world the way they do.... and you'll never be the same again. This is the magic they create!

They carry with them a certain innocence and truth, combined with a total involvement in whatever they do that absolutely fascinates an observer. No casual superficial person can get to really know them, but if one does truly care, they sense it out and bring you into their world. For unaware parents, many a thing their child with autism does, is embarrassing, and, may often leave them in stress, not sure of what their child may do next and how to manage her.

"Why does she not act like other children" they may wonder.

"Everything would be all right if onlyshe would make eye contact, listen when spoken to, smile, say please, thank you and sorry, at the right times."

"If onlyshe would respond when spoken to" they may think and run from pillar to post, from specialist to specialist to 'fix' their child to normalcy.

And yet, if they would only spend their energies more on understanding WHY their child acts in a particular way, instead of trying to fix his or her behaviour it would make world of difference to their child. For when we act with understanding the other person's point of view, we act better and more appropriately, and when we act appropriate to our child's needs the child will respond better.

Towards the understanding of these fascinatingly lovely children and young adults no two of whom are alike, this article is directed. I call it "As you see it - As they experience it - Autism"
  • As you see it

    Your child is shutting his ears and screaming loudly, or humming to himself and rocking, when he hears the neighbour's friendly voice, or the phone ring, or for no reason at all.

    As he experiences it

    A sudden unexpected LOUD or SHRILL sound hits him from out of the blue, and he just cant take it, it's hurting his ears too much he has to shut them, he screams because it hurts, he hums and rocks to soothe himself.
  • As you see it

    Your child is shutting her eyes tightly, or poking at them for no reason at all, or stands in front of a light, puts her fingers across her eyes, and keeps squinting at the light all the time

    As she experiences it

    A Bright light suddenly hits her eyes, it blinds her, and she has to shut it off. Sometimes particular colours are seen extra sharply, and they can hurt the eye. She needs to shut it off. When she presses a part of her eye, white light gets split into fascinating colours of the rainbow that is irresistible. When she waves her hands in front of light she can see almost kaliedoscoping images different at each point and so clear
  • As you see it

    He goes around smelling people's hair, or other inappropriate things and does not listen when asked to stop.

    As he experiences it

    Some things smell very interesting, and make him feel good, and while he's doing that he hears your voice saying things that he does not understand. He doesn't understand your disapproval. Children with autism may have hyposensitivity to smell, which means they need strong smelling things to be able to get a sense of smell. On the other hand, some children are extra sensitive to smells and react adversely and violently to some smells. Likewise to touch and taste. Autism affects the child's social and emotional development. Socially he is like a much younger child who does not as yet understand what is done and what is not done in public and so he does not listen .It does not make sense to him. He does not understand why some things are not right in public.
  • As you see it

    She uses only one word to communicate, or by taking your hand to show you what she wants, or talks in a monotone. She doesn't understand some things when spoken to, but understands others and speaks some phrases clearly.

    As she experiences it

    She is learning that when others want something they make a series of sounds She is still learning that when she wants something she can ask for it by making a particular series of sounds However, when she focuses on the sounds she cant handle the tone. We use speech to represent objects, or people or feelings, or place etc. because people with autism have a communication disorder. Some words, which can be seen like cup, or bed, are easier than those, like happy because, please, which cannot be seen. It often sounds like a lot of noise, and doesn't make sense to them. In their communication as in their social behavior they are like much younger children.
  • As you see it

    She doesn't look at you when you speak to her, and yet when you say something to someone else she follows the command.

    As she experiences it

    There are words, some of which she is trying to understand, but when the tone keeps changing she does not understand, looking at your face gives her no clues as to what you are saying, and if she looks at your face she can't concentrate on your words. When she can just listen to your words its easier to follow.

Point to consider

We look at people, and simultaneously listen to their words, their tone of voice, gestures, look at their facial expressions and make eye contact to get the complete meaning of what they say. Because children with autism have a social communication disorder they find this very difficult to do simultaneously, just as difficult as it would be for a visually impaired person to read the blackboard.

When we communicate we may be simultaneously using too many words, a changing tone of voice, too many facial expressions and gestures. This becomes an overload for the child with autism, and she switches off, just as when we plug in our TV, V.C.R, washing machine, computer, radio, and table fan all to the same plug point its an overload and it switches off.

When we speak slowly and clearly, and use simple language in an even tone without forcing her to look at us its easier for the child.

As you see it

She is exceedingly good at some things like drawing, or singing, or remembering dates, in gymnastics or on the computer, with math and yet so childlike in others.

You are right and that's why this child is special

The now famous Theory of Multiple Intelligences says there are different types of intelligences They are the Linguistic, Musical, Logical Mathematical, Bodily Kinesthetic, Spatial, Interpersonal, and intrapersonal Intelligences. In everyday life they work in harmony, and so we do not see each of their unique natures, but if we look carefully we can see them functioning in isolation and nowhere is it more apparent than in autism.

People with autism, may have strong bodily kinesthetic intelligences and spatial intelligences, and sometimes musical or logic mathematical intelligences - because of their poor social communication skills, they are unable to convey to us their abilities - but they are there. We need to stop, and look carefully For when their abilities surface they are extraordinary.

We must not at any point in future date feel 'If only I had focused more on his strengths and let him show me the way rather than focus on teaching him his please and thank yous which he would have learnt when he was ready socially.

We need to stop, and reflect .We need to observe and guide our child correctly. We need to understand our child and enable his abilities surface -For when those abilities surface they can be truly extraordinary.

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