Questions & Answers In Jakarta

Questions & Answers In Jakarta


Ibu Karen, won’t a communication device stop my son from learning to be verbal? Asked a father of a 6 year old.

In my experience, a device provides the opportunity for our children to express themselves, now & that is important to reduce frustration, increase connecting & checking for understanding. I have seen a device calm the child & reduce anxiety so that if they are going to be able to use verbal language they can learn more easily. I have seen the visual picture on the device help them articulate the words. I have seen where typical mothers teach their son or daughter’s sign language when they are very little & it never stops them from verbalizing, only provides earlier communication opportunities. Finally, if a child has apraxia, verbal language will be very difficult to learn so a communication device may be the only answer for the most positive future outcomes.

My child only leads me by the arm to show me what he wants. Sometimes I am unsure of what he is asking. How can I expand his communication?

How wonderful he has learned to guide you towards his need & want. Make sure to acknowledge his communication intention. Say,” thank you for showing me that you want (book, drink, food or walk)”. Then take his finger & place it on or close to the item you think he wants. Again, say, “Oh you want milk, water, apple, toilet, toy). Do this for many weeks. Then when he guides your hand towards something, without pointing, tell him you are not sure what he wants. Ask him to point & show him how to point. Then help him point.

If your child is only looking at items, it is important to acknowledge that they are looking towards an item & then shape it to a point.

You could take pictures of the real items your child seems to want. Cover them with plastic paper for protection. Put them on the table. Teach him to point to the pictures when you say their names. Teach him to take the picture & place it on the item, like a game of matching. When he can match it, then you can use the picture instead of the pointing. Put the pictures he can match on a board or table & when he is trying to communicate ask he to choose the picture he wants. He will learn that if he gives you a picture of desired object or activity you will respond.

You can also use the pictures to play a naming game. What is this? Have him say first sound of picture or whole word. Have him match it to the real object too.

These are all ways to increase communication from a gesture

My son only counts to ten. How can I expand his math?

I asked can their son give them ten items if they ask. They say no, he just counts in order. I let them know it is more valuable if he can give you quantity of items. It is better if he can give you two bananas at the market or three eggs or 10 stones from the pile of rocks.   Then he understands what a number is & will be able to add & subtract when he understands quantity.

So, when he is helping to set the table have him count how many in the family & tell you how many plates, or forks or napkins you will need. When you are at the market have him get a certain number of items & put them in the bag for you. When he wants cookies, chips or fruit, ask him how many he wants & count them out to him. Use every opportunity to have him give you amounts.

Then write each number 1 through 5 first on a separate piece of paper. Have him draw one item under the number one, two items under the number two & so on. You can do this up to ten. You could also play a matching game. Have many items on a table. Have him put 1, 2, 3 etc. items on the correct written number.

Once he understands quantity you can add & subtract with him.   Mommy has two apples. She gives one to Daddy. How many does mom have left? Mommy puts five dirty shirts in the wash, how many are still in the basket?

The teacher says my son is touching himself & others in school. What can they do?

First everyone must be able to say “No or stop touching to your son” when he is in public. Let him know this is not appropriate & does not make people happy or comfortable. He must understand that it does not make teachers happy, or friends happy or family members. He must learn that if he wants to please he must learn the expected behavior.

Teachers must teach the concepts (Private & Public) to him. You can do this by using pictures to tell him a story about the right way to touch people.

You teach that when he is in private places, like his bedroom or bathroom he can touch himself. He may not touch himself in community places in the home, in the community or in the school. People will look at him & be unhappy & move away. His teachers will be disappointed. His parents will be disappointed. His friends will be uncomfortable & so he will not have friends or family around him.

He must understand the consequences of his behavior.   Then you can give him behaviors to replace them.

You can tell him he may shake their hands, dance with them or clap hands with them (give a high 5) . If he wants to do something with them, he must ask permission.

If he doesn’t follow the rules, he must leave the area & perhaps sit alone for a while to think about having kind hands. He must know that when he uses kind hands he can be around teachers, family & friends.

One of our parents wants to place their autistic son in a school where English is only spoken. The child does not speak English & only knows a little Bahasa at this time. Is it good for the child to go to an only English speaking school?

I asked what language the family spoke in the home. They said Bahasa. I wondered why they wanted their son to go to the International school but the teacher did not know. It is hard to give advice when I do not have all pieces of the story, but here is what I offered.

Research says that our children first hear communication when they are in the womb at around the 7th month. They hear the language spoken by the mother & family. This prepares them to listen to the sounds & acquire speech when they are born. Our children with Autism already have difficulty processing sounds they hear. Learning their home language first would be important as they have heard this for a longer time & the words are used more frequently in the home & they can practice more.

The child shouldn’t have to try to learn two different languages at the same time. This can be difficult & challenging. Once the child learns Bahasa then perhaps a second language. Just like typical children. They learn first their native language then another.

Karen Kaplan
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