These are the list of crucial skills that are needed for the child with autism to focus on developing:
Requesting or Manding, is being able to ask for something that the child want or need. It is essential as it allows the child to have access to specific items, actions, activities and many more. Research has shown that when children learn to request, there is a decrease in inappropriate behaviour and an increase in spontaneous social communication and an initiation of social interaction. This is because children realise that requesting or manding will bring out a social effect that they want. For example, a child will receive help when he asks for help.
Requesting or manding for items/actions/activities that they really want will reinforce them to initiate a request as it is highly reinforcing for them. Additionally, requesting will expose them to different labels and eventually phrases that are essential for communicating. Likewise, a decrease in inappropriate behaviour will be observed as inappropriate behaviours such as screaming, crying etc are forms of nonverbal behaviours. The child displays such behaviours as they are unable to express themselves verbally. Therefore,when a child is taught to request/mand appropriately, inappropriate behaviours will decrease.
Intraverbal requires the child to be able to explain, discuss and describe an item or situation that is not happening at a point in time. Intraverbals is very important as it is involved in daily social communication. Not having intraverbals or having weak intraverbals will affect how a child communicates with others. For example, when a child is asked how his/her day was, he/she wouldn’t be able to answer as he/she either do not know how to answer the question or does not understand the question being asked. Therefore, it is important for a child to be able to understand the 5Ws and 1H (what, why, when, who, where and how) questions. Intraverbal is also important in academic skills so the lack of or no intraverbal skills will affect the academic skills of the child
Visual performance is the brain’s ability to understand what is perceived by the eyes. Having good visual perception is important as it is essential for imitation skills as well as speech and social awareness. Studies have shown that visual performance is crucial for the development of imitation skills. Imitation skills plays a key role in the development of social behaviours and it is a learning strategy used by younger children to learn new behaviours.
Visual processing as well as imitation is needed for the child’s day to day skills such as reading, writing, dressing up and many more. For example, looking at an adult buttoning his/her shirt and attempting to follow. Visual performance is also needed in matching and sorting task where the child is needed to visually discriminate objects and forms. It enables the child to be able to identify differences of 2D or 3D objects and if they belong together. When a child faces difficulty in visual processing, he or she may struggle with maintaining attention and focus, regulating emotions, avoid tasks that require visual perception and will be easily frustrated at the lack of ability to achieve or complete a task with visual perception.
Social skills are essential as it enables a child to know how to react in different social situations. Likewise, having social awareness is very crucial as it allows the child to understand what is going on around them. Social awareness provides the child skills to aid them in avoiding awkward situation as they will be able to understand that certain behaviours are appropriate for a particular situation and some are not. For example, taking their friend’s things without asking: the child with social awareness is able to realise that he/her friend is upset because he/she took something without asking. Hence, he/she will apologise to the friend. However, children without social awareness will not be able to avoid such a situation as they are unable to understand the implication of their actions. Thus, causing a rift between the child and his classmates which results in isolation or bullying. This may result in negative consequences in the child’s adulthood subsequently. The lack of social establishing when they are young is linked to unemployment and mental disorder.
Academic progress is important for children that are attending schools. For academic progress to happen, the children must be able to function well in school (e.g. Pay attention in class, follow instructions). Additionally, having active participation in academics in school and at home is crucial. Practicing school work at home help children maximise their learning of academics skills. When they are able to catch up in their school work, it increases the children’s self-esteem and self worth. When the children have increased self esteem and self worth, they will not view school negatively.
Self help skills are very important as it allows a child to be able to live independently when they are in school, at home and at work. When these skills are introduced to the child at an early stage, it will enable them to have increased self- esteem. Some of the self-help skills are personal hygiene, dressing and undressing, toileting and many more.
Having receptive language is the ability to understand words and language. It is important for a child to have receptive language because it is needed to be able to successfully communicate with others. Furthermore, receptive language is needed in order to be able to understand and follow given instructions. When a child does not understand a given instruction, he or she will not be able to follow the given instructions. This will upset the person giving out the instructions and a negative consequence will place on the child. The child will then be confused as he does not understand why a negative consequence is given and eventually becomes really frustrated. Thus, inappropriate and even aggressive behaviours will be displayed. For example, in a classroom, the teacher will tell her students to hand in their work after they complete them. A child with autism may not understand the instructions given. So, he or she may hand in his work blank or may have completed his work but did not hand it up or did not do his/her work and did not hand it up. As a result, his/her teacher got upset and he/she was scolded or privileges were taken away. The negative consequences therefore, resulted in an inappropriate or aggressive behaviour such as screaming or throwing of things.
In essence, having these crucial skills will greatly help the child with autism to achieve their learning and developmental milestones, and these early interventions will have a lasting legacy effect on the child's lifetime.
Written by Venezia.