I feel this title ” How Did I Unravel My Child’s Hidden Special Autism Talent?” is a very controversial title to me as a autism parent. Why did I write it? I wanted to discuss how “wrong” this title is and how it puts undue pressure on a Autism parent.
From the time, Niam was little, people have come up to me and said “Autism children have special talents like Rainman, what is your son’s special autism talent?” I usually begin my response explaining Autism children are not all like Rainman. The spectrum is quite large and every child is different and unique. The same as two fraternal twins personalities are different and unique. My education on Autism continues with not all children with Autism have special autism talents, otherwise known as Savant Behaviour.
WHAT ARE SAVANTS?
Savants ” display special abilities as a result of their condition. These special abilities commonly coexist with the other severe disabilities that characterize moderate to severe forms of autism. Not all savants are autistic. However, the number of savants with autism is far greater than the number of savants without autism.
ONLY TEN PERCENT OF INDIVIDUALS WITH AUTISM EVER SHOW ANY SIGNS OF SAVANT TALENTS. ” (SOURCE: HTTPS://WWW.MENTALHELP.NET/)
This does not mean, for the rest of the 90% autism population, your child will not be successful, have a passion or have talents!
At a party over the weekend, a friend suggested, Niam , my Autism son of 13 years old, exhibits savant behaviour, ( his abstract paintings) which prompted this blog.
I wanted to share with you, how I feel I unlocked and developed my son’s artistic talent. Do I think my son is a natural savant? I don’t know, it is irrelevant, what is relevant is how I learned to listen to my child’s subtle hints and helped develop his talent.
Some may say it is devine intervention, the truth is, if I look back in time, Niam was communicating to me.
I just did not know how to listen.
Niam loves to look at colours. He can stare endlessly at small objects and fine details – looking at the rays of sunlight through the trees. Most of all, he loves to wander through museums. Looking back, as a family we visited many museums. Niam always walked by the paintings and art quickly, as if he was running, wanting to get over with the visit. I thought to myself, all this time I erroneously assumed Niam was not paying attention, as he was not displaying “typical ” behaviour. It was my fault I was not thinking or looking outside the box. My son was learning outside the box and I missed it.
This takes us back to the question, What is a autism talent? It can be anything from the love of reciting numbers, reading, art, reciting movies, and, for the non verbal or the child with minimal speech, those talents, or more correctly, passions, can be hidden from our view. We have to open up ourselves and learn to communicate with our children.
THEY ARE COMMUNICATING! WE ARE NOT LISTENING!
Niam communicates through his paintings. Check out Niam’s beautiful painting.
jain autism artist, autistic artist,
TIPS TO HELP FIND THE HIDDEN SPECIAL AUTISM TALENT OR PASSION IN YOUR CHILD:
1. EVERY CHILD HAS INTELLIGENCE.
Every child is intelligent! Don’t every forget this very important statement. Make it a mantra. ” My Child Has Intelligence” A positive outlook and attitude is extremely important in discovering your child’s special autism talent or passion.
2. LEARN TO LISTEN.
We have to listen. If we are not “hearing” we have to change the way we listen, or more so, maybe we have not learned how to listen.
3. EVERY CHILD HAS COMMUNICATION.
Every child has communication. Communication can be displayed in different ways. Communication is not limited to speech, typing or a voice machine. Watch for subtle hints, stimming, interactions, gestures and play. Communication can happen in so many ways. I sometimes wonder if I had paid attention to Niam’s subtle communication telling me what he liked, I may have found out sooner about his passion for abstract art. For example, in art class I was constantly told Niam did not like following directions and liked to do what he wanted – paint in different colours. He liked to use colours he wanted and not what was an appropriate colour for an item. Flowers were all types of intricate colours with pops of yellow – now I understand they represented the tiny rays of reflecting sunlight. Niam liked to colour outside the lines. How can colouring outside the lines be a sign? Niam’s artwork was beautiful but I never noticed it, the use of colours and blending. All I noticed was he was colouring outside the lines.
4. WHAT DOES YOUR CHILD GRAVITATE TOWARDS?
Pay attention to what your child gravitates towards. It does not have to be something concrete. It could be colours, music, puzzles, nature. The hints may look peculiar to some, but it is our job as parents to decipher them and make meaning out of them. Use your child’s passion and transfer it into an activity or develop it as a transferable skill.
5. How Does Your Child Learn?
The VARK Model is sensory modalities that are used for learning information. Fleming and Mills (1992) suggested four modalities that seemed to reflect the experiences of the students and teachers. VARK stands for Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic. For example, kinesthetic learners learn from hands-on activities, while auditory learners will remember information back after reciting it. Identifying what type of learning style your child responds is an important factor for motivation and achievement.
You can follow Niam at blog.able2learn.com