The developmental educator on our team works to build your child’s preschool concepts, such as numbers, colors, alphabets, etc. She will begin with the very basics such as recognizing common everyday objects and matching a picture to an object, and gradually progress to numbers, alphabets, coloring and writing. Like all other intervention at Com DEALL, this also follows a developmental framework. So, the child is assessed to determine the current functioning level and then intervention is provided to develop the next level. Developmental progression ensures that no child is asked to do something he/she is not ready for, like writing an alphabet before he/she can hold a pencil. It is important to the program that the child experiences success at every stage of learning.
Thus, the therapist will meet the child at his/her level. Parents often want to know why we teach pre-academic concepts. Generally, this is an area where our children are quite strong. As they cope with other difficult areas such as communication, social skills and motor learning, working on pre-academics gives children an opportunity to do well. This is an area where they progress quite quickly, building their self-esteem and internal motivation. Further, our focus is to include the child in a regular school. We want to ensure that the child is on a par with peers in the pre-academic area as well.
Social and emotional development in Autism
Every therapist in the team contributes to the development of the child's social and emotional skills. Children in the program are introduced to emotion-based words such as happy, sad, and frustrated very early in their development. The speech and language therapist ensures that children begin to understand their own emotions and those of others around them. Much later in the program, cognitive verbs such as think, know and guess are introduced. These are important to develop the children’s ability to understand another person’s point of view (perspective taking) which is often underdeveloped in Autism.
Children are also taken through the various stages of play, beginning with solitary play, combinatorial play (play with blocks, rings, etc) and pretend play (imitating actions of others around them using dolls and other props). The developmental educator with inputs from the speech therapist and occupational therapist would work on these skills.
Social skills include skills such as greetings, turn taking, smiling in response to another, conversation, etc. The speech and language therapist and developmental educator work together to develop these skills. Celebration of various festivals through the year, circle time activities carried out every day, visuals and explanations regarding social skills ensure that these are well stimulated.