This is a shortened version of a video we made for the Denver school district in 2007 (Eric was eight) --just before we moved from Florida to Colorado. From previous experience we knew Eric would be withdrawn in a new environment with new teachers and classmates. Because of that we were afraid that the school would set low expectations for Eric. We wanted to show what he was like when relaxed and comfortable. We found that videos like this were very useful since they helped school districts and teachers find the right placement and support for Eric more quickly than they would have otherwise.
There are several things that were significant at this point in Eric’s development that are evident in this video. When I “interviewed” the different stuffed animals, Eric was giving each a voice and answering for them. This ability to role-play comes naturally for typical kids at an early age. But for Eric, this was a delayed skill that came much later with deliberate practice.
At one point, I ask Wilson the rabbit if he belonged to Eric. To which Eric replied,“yes” giggle-giggle. This was a lie --Wilson belongs to his little brother. I’m sure some autism parents will relate to my experience of secretly rejoicing the first time Eric lied to me. Lying is an abstract concept that is difficult for some on the spectrum to grasp. Why would someone say something if it is not true? is their thinking. Lying is yet another skill, if you can call it that, which came late for Eric.
Math had been extremely difficult for Eric since starting school. When he was 6 years old, a psychologist who evaluated Eric recommended a learning method called Touchmath. With this method, Eric finally started to make some headway. The addition and subtraction Eric is doing in the video uses Touchmath.
After hitting all the milestones of development in infancy, Eric began to slowly regress at age two. He was almost four by the time he was diagnosed with autism and had stopped laughing. After Eric lost many of his early abilities, every little thing he did recover was amazing to us. In the video, he is being naughty and laughing about it. Other parents might say, “he’s being mischievous, so what?” We say, “Look! He wants joint attention! He wants to engage in multiple verbal exchanges! He is looking in my eyes!!!” But most important of all, he was capable of being happy again.
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