I’m not sure if Screen-Free Week is an American thing to get children away from watching TV and playing video games or if it is worldwide, but my children have been challenged by their school to get creative to keep all their screens (iPad, tablet, computer, and television) off. One day in an attempt to keep them busy, I attempted to teach them how to play charades. In the beginning it was fun trying to figure out what someone was gesturing in hopes that we would guess the correct word without them using their voice but it quickly became challenging and frustrating trying to explain just one word without any verbal cues. After I calmed everyone down, I couldn’t help but think of my interview with Margret Eriksdottir (cofounder of the Golden Hat Foundation) and her non-speaking son Keli that told me how Keli had no way to verbally communicate for over ten years until she went on a journey to make a documentary and on it learned of a sensory based approach to communicating called Rapid Prompting Method. Margret was brave enough to publicly admit that she had given up trying to communicate with Keli and trying to find a way for him to communicate because the experts told her that his cognitive ability would never pass that of two year old. There are countless parents that have shared this frustration but what about the person that can’t communicate? I want you to seriously consider how frustrated you would be if you couldn’t communicate your basic needs, your preferences, your problems, your interests? Honestly, charades helped put a small piece of the frustration of people not understanding me into context.
My dream is that no parent gives up on their child and that everyone presumes competence of everyone. Hopefully, communication becomes the major priority and resources become more affordable for parents every year so that finding a way for your child to communicate will be easier to access. I really can’t encourage people enough to respect and presume the competence of all people. Hopefully, we can start a new kind of thinking which will stop people as treating others as less.
In speaking of people as better than or less than, in this month’s News section we discuss how students are being subject to electric shocks as a form or punishment. I try to remain positive and hopeful in the issues of the magazine but some information must be shared to warn and inform parents of the possible mistreatment of your child. Honestly, after several days of researching the topic from both perspectives, I don’t understand how people can justify their actions. If these students tense their bodies they get shocked again – really?! Have they never been shocked? Your body naturally tenses when met with electricity! But besides that, let’s think of the humanity of the situation. Do we shock prisoners to correct their behaviors? No. Why not? Because it is deemed as “cruel and unusual punishment” so why does it continue to be done at the Judge Rotenberg Center? As a former educator I feel morally obligated to tell you that you need to be cautious and aware that children are usually too scared to communicate abuse or other inappropriate behaviors done by adults for fear of what will happen to them if they say anything. Please be prepared and educate your child on what is and isn’t appropriate behavior, as well as, when they should report someone’s actions to you.
Besides the interview and the news article, we have many great articles in this month’s issue covering topics of reading comprehension, using a token system aptly, tips on flying with children, the whys and hows of head banging and so much more. After reading through the survey results we decided to stop doing themes every month and instead focus on providing a variety of content each month that our readers have requested. Hope you find it helpful and hopeful. Have a great month!
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Issue 18 features:
- Potty Training Your Sensory Sensitive Child by Steinberg Behavior Solutions
- Flying with a Child on the Spectrum by Becky Horace
- Interview with Margret Ericsdottir of The Golden Hat Foundation
- Improving Reading Comprehension by Phil Crary
- Autism in the News: Banning Torturous Electric Devices in schools
- Book in the Spotlight: The Other Side: Living with Aspergers Syndrome by Willow Hope
- Product Review of ChewiGem
- Infrared Spa May Provide Natural Relief for Some Autism Symptoms by Maayan Jaffe
- Q and A Section: Head Banging
- From Pica to Porterhouse by Lori Alexander and Colleen Hordichuk
- Back in the Saddle by Kimberlee McCafferty
- The Aesthetics of Autism Treatment by Dr. Michael Cameron