Seeing Is Believing

Children with autism are said to be concrete in their thinking, here’s an example to substantiate. During one of the Environmental Study (E.V.S) classes Student A (12 yrs) was taught that the root of a plant grows under the soil. In order to test this, he pulled out a new plant from the school garden. When he was called by the Principal for destroying a new plant, he boldly admitted, “Yes! I did it, I wanted to see if the root is growing under the soil.” This incident revealed that as a concrete thinker, seeing is believing!

“Yes, I have Autism, but I am not Autistic,” this was the cue I got from Student A when I first met him as a student of class 5. He hardly had any eye contact. Having an aloof manner towards other children, he did not respond to my verbal requests. I could notice he had difficulty in dealing with interruptions of his routines. Another distinctive character that he possessed was obsession towards certain objects, for instance he would sharpen his pencil constantly only to involve himself in drawing.
I started with the task of getting him to respond to my verbal requests. With his limited vocabulary, the message he often keeps reminding me is to focus on what he knew rather than what he did not know.

I knew I had a long way to go. Slowly but steadily I made use of his obsession of drawing lines in a constructive way. I taught him to draw geometrical shapes. Associating lines to form an alphabet was my next attempt; thereby I helped him to write his own name.

Getting him to socially interact with others was the next thing that followed. I introduced him to one of his classmates Student B, to sit with him and perform an activity given along with me beside them. Student A began to like the company of Student B and slowly started to mingle with others as well.

Let me point out some of his unique characteristics which taught me the real fact that Autistic children are concrete thinkers. Once in the Environmental Study (E.V.S) class he was taught that the root of a plant grows under the soil. Applying this, from the school garden he pulled out a new plant and the matter was brought to the Principal’s notice pin pointing that Student A had destroyed a new plant. “Yes! I did it, to see if the root is growing under the soil,”was his explanation. This showed his identity that “I am a concrete thinker and for me seeing is believing.”

As Student A’s parents are working, he was put in hostel to taken care. Homesickness bothered him a lot which resulted in him showing several tantrum as breaking the mirror in the washroom. His behavior suggested that he badly wanted the presence of his dear ones. Through his acts the message he intended to convey to all was loud and clear, “If you are a family member, love me unconditionally, love me for what I am, but don’t love me only to teach me obedience and discipline.”

What else can I say, as a child he has taught me a lot. This child is a God of small things!


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