This is a guest post by Jude McCanse. If you are interested in guest posting on Makobi Scribe, I would love to read what you have to say. Please, see what I am looking for here: Guest Posting on Makobi Scribe
As a school district speech pathologist, I work with children who display many types of speech and language disorders. One of the most puzzling and profound is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As with all children, every child with ASD is different and requires different approaches in order to teach the “whole child.” I have worked with children who are non-verbal and academically challenged in self-contained classrooms. I have worked with children in the regular classroom who require a one-on-one aide to help them focus. I have worked with children in the regular classroom who are very bright, but may need help with critical thinking skills. Hence, the word spectrum; this disorder affects children in many different ways.
One thread that binds children with ASD, however, is a lack of social skills. Autism is a social communication disorder. Children with ASD do not acquire the social cues and behaviors that come naturally to typically developing children. They may not make eye contact. They may not greet people or initiate conversations or interactions. They may not respond to social interactions, like a classmate’s invitation to play. Children with Asperger Syndrome may think that it is perfectly OK to tell a classmate that he/she is fat, “because they are.” It is not that these children do not want to be social or to have friends, it is that they do not know how.
Working with the “whole child” means that social skills must be addressed in the schools. They are critical to the child’s social development. These skills can be learned, but many parents cannot afford to take their children to special clinics or programs. The school setting is it…and the earlier that the training begins, the better. I highly encourage any parent who has a child on the autism spectrum who does not have a social skills program in the school, to speak with the speech pathologist and/or social worker about starting one. One source that I use and highly recommend is S.O.S. Social Skills in Our Schools: A Social Skills Program for Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Including High-Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome, and Their Typical Peers by Michelle A. Dunn. This program involves four essential components: entire classroom lessons, pull-out lessons, peer mentoring ( a must!) and parent –involved homework.
Working with children with ASD is challenging, yet extremely rewarding. You can learn more on my Facebook page. As a writer as well as a speech pathologist, I find I can best express myself using poetry. “Ethan’s Eyes” is about one of my former students.
Ethan, your eyes
wide, blue and bright
as changing as the sea
more expressive than
your words to me.
Words often spoken
beautifully, but just as often,
varied jumbled snippets
of books, videos or TV.
How do I reach behind those eyes
and bring to light what’s hidden there?
What’s the key?
Ethan, sitting with
your shoulder lightly leaning into mine,
I look to see those expressive eyes questioning me.
A child’s intelligent, searching eyes.
So much responsibility.