Autism & ability

by Eric Chessen – Autism Support Network

Success in anything doesn’t just happen.

For children with autism, learning new skills is often made more difficult because of sensory processing issues. There may be too much noise in the next room for Jill to concentrate on the directions, or Marcos may not be able to look at numbers on a computer screen and relate them to those on a page of homework. It all has to do with contingencies.

Contingencies are “if-then” relationships. All individuals with autism have some level of difficulty with contingencies. The most obvious are social contingencies, but cognitive “if-then’s” are just as important to consider. Does Ricky make the connection between Mom saying “Press down on the pedal” and the action of his foot applying pressure downward? If not, his mom can say it over and over again, and both can grow frustrated in the process.

Some of my athletes are nonverbal, but understand just about everything that is said. Others are verbal to an extent, but have enormous difficulty attending to or following verbal instructions.

It is absolutely critical to ask the following questions:

1) Is the individual a more auditory or a more visual learner?

2) Has he/she had prior experience with the words I am using right now?

3) Is he/she motivated to perform this particular activity? (Does he/she like it?)

4) If not, what would be motivating? Continue reading