Looking at the same thing at the same time with Andrew

This may be a post only parents of autistic children and adults can really ‘get,’ but here goes.

One of the most painful aspects of autism for the parent (and no doubt for siblings and others close to the child) is the profound deficit in shared attention:

Joint [shared] attention occurs when two people share interest in an object or event and there is understanding between the two people that they are both interested in the same object or event.

Joint attention should emerge around 9 months of age and be very well-established by 18 months of age.

A 9-month old baby points. (Right? It’s been a while.)

A 9-month old baby points, and, when you point, s/he follows your finger to see what it is you’re pointing at. Parent and child look at the same thing at the same time, and they do so on purpose because people share. 

But autistic babies don’t point. At least, neither of my autistic children pointed. Nor did they react when I pointed.

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Teacher proofing and RTFM

Turns out Andrew and I haven’t been following directions. (See: Syntax is not so easy.)

I wasn’t actually aware there were directions, but now that I know I still haven’t read and/or watched them. 

This goes to one of the requirements of teaching apps–of any app–which is that people don’t RTFM

If you need a beta tester to help with that, I’m your person. 

This reminds me of a friend of mine whose husband was a composer with, she later suspected, the same learning issues their son had. 

She once told me that his studio work was a marvel of intuitive button pushing.

Request and protest

I’m making headway on my New Year’s resolutions (7,000 steps a day for me,  GrammarTrainer for Andrew, and possibly for Jimmy, too).

This morning I showed the folks at Andrew’s day program how he uses Katie’s program. They were amazed. Everyone is always amazed when they see Andrew using SentenceWeaver (must get videos loaded): thanks to SentenceWeaver, he is one of the few people on the planet who knows what a function word is.

This is a nonverbal person with severe autism. Knows he needs a function word to connect red to green when he’s saying an oval is red-and-green.

I’m still amazed myself, watching him.

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Facilitated Communication: up close and personal

Time for my promised close, critical look at specific instances of facilitated communication—FC for short.

But first, a preliminary note.  In being critical in what is an extremely sensitive area, I don’t want to reveal names of kids and parents. I’ll provide links to material that’s been made publicly available–stuff posted on the Internet, mostly by or in collaboration with family members. But in what I write here, I’ll be avoiding names or abbreviating them.

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