For reasons stemming from CAPD combined with one or more of the following (missing link, e.g. the unlearned behaviour of knowing that we must use language; a small verbal working memory; difficulties recognising facial detail), your child could behave in any of a number of ways:
1. If he is asking you to repeat your questions or verbal instruction (What did you say? Say that again. What? I did not hear you. I can't remember. I have to think), and if when asking for repetition you detect an 'absentee' look on his face, then it is likely that he is experiencing difficulty focusing on your spoken word. He can hear all the other background noises and your words 'get lost'. Discriminating between what sound is important consumes much energy and most of your child's attention. Therefore a silent environment where only the spoken word is heard will help your child hear your voice and words. A classroom filled with many sounds makes it hard for your child to focus on the teacher's spoken word. By the time he focuses on her words she has probably finished talking.
2. If he is using echolalia (he repeats words but doesn't use them for communicative purposes), then he can hear the sounds that make up speech and reproduces them, but those words still make no sense to him. Therefore away from a crowded room you must constantly interact with him so that he can repeat more and more words. You want him to realise for himself that he is talking.
3. If his speech sounds immature (childlike) or he is 'shouting' when he means to whisper, then it is likely that he hears your speech distorted or he cannot hear the volume of his own voice. Therefore you have to model the whispering voice (or any other intonation) and ask him to repeat it. In time he will make his own log of that voice.
4. If he responds incorrectly to verbal instruction, then he probably cannot hear them, hears only half of them, or hears something that doesn't make sense. Thus his responses will not match your expectations. Therefore his first need is to build his meaningful vocabulary before he is punished for not following rules.
5. If he apparently hears you and seems to ignore you, then he is experiencing a delay or 'lag time' in processing speech; as in hearing what was said, thinking about it, formulating a reply and voicing that reply. Therefore in a one-to-one situation, he can take all the time he needs to understand what is required of him. Within a formal environment he must behave according to the clock.
6. If he doesn't talk at all, then he can't recognise speech as speech. Therefore within a silent environment you need to talk to him until he hears it so that he may repeat it.
7. If he is talking at you as opposed to with you, then he doesn't feel confident around people, feels afraid of being interrupted and/or not remembering where he was interrupted. Therefore your first call to action is to help him relax around you.
8. If he cannot remember the right names for the right people, then he cannot see those faces and/or cannot hear the intonation that belongs to those people (a combination of audio and visual sensory input). Therefore he has no means of recognising that person. The input from the surrounding environment is overwhelming. One-on-one play is the first call to action.
9. If your child talks in more than one voice, then he is using them to take care of himself. Those voices sound the way he wants them to sound, which is friendlier than the voices of the real people. Therefore you have to listen to all those voices, make notes of what they are saying and when he is using them, understand what he is doing and help him function without them.
10. If your child behaves in a 'normal way' for let's say 20 minutes and then that ability disappears, then he is telling you through that behaviour that he is tired. Therefore he would be grateful if you could let him be until he recovers and can function again. His hearing system has become tired. (I have witnessed a friend of mine falling asleep in mid-sentence, waking up after ten minutes and continuing the conversation from where we left it!)
Exercise Ask yourself:
• What is my child's behaviour trying to tell me?
When trying to reply to these questions, match his behaviour with the list above.
I will borrow the diagnosis format of CAPD and expand it to include the entire sensory system and some of the cognitive system. Therefore:
CAPD = Central Audio Processing Disorder
CTPD = Central Tactile Processing Disorder
CtPD = Central Taste Processing Disorder
COPD = Central Olfactory Processing Disorder
CVPD = Central Visual Processing Disorder
CPPD = Central Papillary Processing Disorder
These lead to what we might term:
CRPD = Central Reality Processing Disorder
CMPD = Central Memory Processing Disorder
CEPD = Central Emotion Processing Disorder
Hence unique thinking takes place. That in turn could be termed: CThPD = Central Thinking Processing Disorder. Therefore one could legitimately say that an autistic child who thinks differently and learns to behave 'normally' does so because he has developed his own Added Ability Processing Order.
AAPD = Added Ability Processing Order
I used the above model to explain the multitude of ways in which autism presents itself. It also explains the roots of your child's behaviour and shows you how hard it is for him to behave 'normally'. If faced with a child who behaves autistically, the non-autistic child seems to either avoid social interaction or bully the autistic child. That avoidance could translate in our autistic child's mind as 'social interaction is not something that I need to learn' and/or 'I must avoid other people' - protective reasoning.
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Whenever a doctor informs the parents that their child is suffering with Autism, the first & foremost question that is thrown over him is - How did it happen? How did my child get this disease? Well, there is no definite answer to what are the exact causes of Autism.