Teaching Children with Autism
The Ontario government has recently announced some changes to its program for autism. In its attempt to provide IBI for for children at a younger age (Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention or EIBI), it appears that they have dedcided to stop providing it for children over the age of four – essentially leaving parents to pay out-of-pocket or provide the necessary therapy themselves.
I have written previously about how to deal with the wait list. Now it appears that someone will need to design a parent-provided program. Here are some thoughts. First, you will need some supplies. Then, accept that you are going to be engaged in a master/apprentice-in-living relationship with your child. Because “play is a child’s work,” understand that you will begin by playing with your child and, within that context, teaching communication skills by modelling (lots of chatter please, labeling things and talking about what the two of you are doing) and rewarding language/communication and any other kind of socially-acceptable engagement. Later, when you child might be considered an intermediate learner rather than a beginner, you may do more intensive teaching; but, in the beginning, it is more a case of “catch as catch can,” little bits of learning interspersed in your intensive engagement with your child throughout the day.
In my opinion, my own book, Teaching Children with Autism: An ABA Primer, is the best source that you will find for learning about how to teach children with autism. In my opinion, you should also buy Gabler’s Chaos to Calm as well.
You will need to educate yourself about child development, e.g., the sequence in which different skills typically develop: daily living skills, helping around the house, sound production, etc., etc., because learning tends to build step by step on what has been learned previously. And you will benefit greatly from guidance from someone skilled in Applied Behaviour Analysis – certification as represented by BCBA or BCaBA credentials can help you with finding someone like that – particularly with respect to the actual teaching itself.