I am a strong believer in Early Intervention for children diagnosed with autism and, in fact, any other condition that a child is diagnosed with that requires extra support.
Early Intervention doesn’t have to mean thousands of pounds forked out by the NHS or the LA for access to specialist treatment. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the child has to have XYZ therapy to be able to access life, as we know it. Although that would be fabulous, wouldn’t it?!
Let’s go back to basics here, because all these children really need is support and understanding from the people who are with them the most: parents, teachers, grandparents, peers and siblings.
Children who are forced to conform into a society that they do not understand are going to lead a very confused life. It will create greater problems and difficulties for those being made to conform to anyone’s idea of normality. Suppressing a child’s way of life is creating a monster. A great big monster that, one day, simply will not be able to cope in the world that they were forced to live in.
Entering their world and seeing things from their perspective will only create a positive outcome. Before you can lead a child into “our world” or “your idea of normal,” it is crucial for you to experience their “normal.”
Experiencing the things that the children take great pleasure in will enable you to form a trusting bond with that child. In time, when the child knows that you understand, they will begin to WANT to enter your “normal.” Tell me, please, instead of trying to make children sit still on their chairs, hands in their lap, looking alert and taking everything in, why can’t you lay on the floor with them and roll cars backwards and forwards for 10 minutes?
“It’s fun watching these wheels going ’round, the colors on the metal are creating pretty patterns when they hit the light shining through the windows and are spectacular to look at out of the corner of my eye. The reason I do it so much is because I am enthralled with how these wheels work, and absolutely mesmerized by how the light shining on this piece of metal can create rainbow patterns on the wall that is otherwise colorless. I want to show you what I see when I lay here. I want to tell you, but I cannot find the words to express how I feel. Sometimes I just wish you’d lay here with me–is that too much effort? Is it too much to ask? Do you not see what I see?”
“If you cannot see what I see, how do you expect me to see what you see?”
“Life is a two-way street, you know. I don’t want to be outside the classroom because I cannot sit still whilst you read a story. I really don’t want to be over here on my own, lining up these books whilst everyone else is taking part in group work. I really just want to be included somehow, but that’s up to you because I’m still little, you see, and I haven’t yet learnt how to problem solve. Could you help me, just a little? I promise that soon I’ll try the things that you’re asking of me, but I just need you to understand and accept me first.”
The number of children being diagnosed with autism is increasing rapidly. As research grows and more is understood, more children are identified as having autism than ever before. We really need to change our outlook on “normal.”
Children need extra support in schools; the SEN budget has been crippled to such an extent that even the children with more severe needs are being turned down for extra funding. Early intervention, early understanding and acceptance are all vital. If the child doesn’t get these important things early on in their life and in the educational setting, their behavior may spiral out of control. The child may end up being excluded for behavioral reasons and moved to schools with policies that completely defy the techniques that are necessary for our children.
It’s quite simple, really. We need to stop making these children suppress their natural instincts, their natural abilities and their outlook on the world. Their way isn’t wrong, or bad–it’s simply theirs. Who are we to take that away from them? Why should we force them into our world without fully experiencing theirs first?