Friday, 11 December 2015

A Robot, A Scanner, A Scheduler
-You can’t call me by these names

Emotions Intact; Expression Lack.

This is all about my son Ujjwal; now 19+, great learner, good human being who shows unconditional love to us, who argues, creates amazing sketches, can be witty and humorous, yet does a few things in very specific way.

A Robot: Gives out or expects specific answer to the questions posed to or asked by him.
For example:- When we close a file on computer, the last window asks us to save, don’t save or cancel a document, he too has specific responses before ending a conversation and that is his point of satisfaction.
A robot is a man-made machine which follows the instructions fed, now perhaps with more options, follows order; prefers predictability but does it laugh or cry- no, it can’t judge through right or wrong; good or bad, sad or smiling.

A Scanner- Reading a text without any punctuation, colon, semi colon or full stop in a MONO TONE has been observed since the early childhood. Initially, it was difficult to understand as why he was not able to perform in his exams, later I understood the reason. It so happened on one occasion, I read the text to him and he could answer all questions correctly. So, what is it? Visual acuity right?
If I call him a scanner, he screams at me “ You can’t call me a scanner”. Then “OCR”. No you can’t call me that either. I am sure many parents and professionals will align with my thoughts, Having the MONO TONE in speech is a handicapping condition as it affects the process of learning to a large extent.
I wish if someone could suggest as where can we use this ability of reading like an OCR.

A  Scheduler- Rigid or Orderly, Scheduler/ disciplined, one needs to analyse what we pick. Yes, predictability of future events makes life easy for my son too. I know that we parents go through this everyday. It was hard when he was younger and not understood by me but I brought in changes quite early in his life. I began giving a schedule to him only when he started understanding what I spoke to him.
I have always made sure that what I promised to him, completed or given to him. For eg- changing a route: I made it a point to show him the landmarks on the new route and when reached the familiar route he understood on his own that we were heading for the destination decided.
This developed faith and he allowed me to change his schedule.
Any routine task, given to him now is followed seriously by him. He is ten timer sincere than the normal typical people. He is accepting the changes quite easily, all he needs to know that he will complete his rescheduled routine at different time.

The reactive responses which arose in his younger years were indeed difficult. Now with the acquired language he has been able to argue and tell me that you cant call me by these names because we communicate all the time.

There is a comfort zone developed between us which allows him to express. But this does not happen with others. He hesitates. Some people do not even communicate. Just say Hi; How are you? Is not enough really!

One needs to make a rapport. In any human relationship, Communication is the key to sustain it. This applies to Autism too. A parent or a professional, a friend or a co worker should never talk to/ in front of the persons with Autism about them. Some, who are non verbal, also understand what is said to them or talked about them.

For me, as a mother, it was an eye opening statement when my son said “You can’t call me by these names”.

I end my thoughts by suggesting that Autism needs to be re explored.

It is indeed a phenomenon having “Emotions Intact; Expressions Lack”.   


Friday, 3 October 2014

How come you ask us to come at 9am and you come at 10?

Schedule and Order....

How come you ask us to come at 9am and you come at 10?

This was asked by an employee with Autism to his boss; the boss may have gotten annoyed but as the staff was oriented towards the modalities of these individuals, the statement was taken easy.

Does it not make us learn a lesson?

Yes, it does!

Also, this liking for order could be used as a strategy to teach concepts.

I would like to share my own experience...

When my son was only a six year old child, he was asked to get his Q&A done as the homework. He needed my help.

To answer one of the questions, I wrote the answer on a line, reached till the end and made a spelling mistake, cut the word and wrote on the top of the cut word and continued till the answer was complete.

My son did exactly the same.

Lesson learnt- The educator or the parent must be thorough in his or her method of teaching or training.

Follow the Facts....

Persons with Autism believe in looking at facts.

You may have many examples to share..... I am writing one with the evidence....

This was Batch II of Prayas, a lesson was given to kids where they were asked to write the names of things one needs for various activities of daily living. One of those activities was Brushing Teeth.

You have to believe me...

Three of the students wrote that we need TEETH to brush.

Mumma, you cannot scold me in the school.

Here we are.... Emotional Expression

It is a developed myth that individuals with Autism do not have emotions.


They do have emotions; it is the way of expression which is different from other neurotypicals.

One day, on our way back home, in the car, my younger son told me that Mumma, you can't scold me in the school. This was an expression which completely took me by surprise. He was only a 12 year old boy then.

In fact, I had reprimanded him in front of some of his classmates when they brought a complaint against my son.

Many such anecdotes made me realise that as parents, we should never talk about our kids in front of them, believe me, it is true for a non-verbal child too.

Train yourself

Equip yourself with the knowledge about Autism and train yourself to train your own child. I have many strong points to support this.

1. You can create a balance between teacher's work and its follow up, as most of the kids with Autism do not report completely; it becomes a guess work and ends up in a frustrated state.

2. You can easily build upon the strengths of your child as you have learnt the methods of training.

Eg. I had never understood as why is it important for a child to know the body parts but my training made me understand the same.

A child should know where does he stand in the space; in Psychology it is called "Perception of Position in Space" and it is related to understanding the environment at a concrete level and later in to building words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs.

A WORD will always be written as WORD not as WROD... right?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Simplicity and Autism

Are these onion flavored apples Muma?

When my younger son was only 5 years old, one day, during the busy schedule of a rushed morning, I had cut the apples with a knife which was earlier used to cut onions, asked me...Are these onion flavored apples Muma?

There I was, guilty of the act but thought that how simple is he, a neurotypical would have shouted or thrown the same.

Many more anecdotes..will be sharing soon.

Monday, 25 August 2014

My kids have been my teachers- My main source of Empowerment

In all the forums, where ever I go, I introduce myself as a mother of two kids with Autism; a simple reason, I would have been a Chemist instead, if I had not had Dhawal and Ujjwal.

Life has been a roller coaster all along, constant ups-downs, falls, slips and misses, takes and retakes, happiness and tears, aggression and humility, openness and aloofness, frustrations and successes, think of any emotion, it was there. What a mixed bag.

I still feel that I am an empowered parent; why do I say so.

Here it goes, my kids taught me to be honest, to be truthful and never lie. Say what you feel. Do not be materialistic.

Let humility be your virtue.

Do what is right.

Stay focused.

Do not be demanding.

This is what has empowered me as a human and I am proud of it.