A neurodevelopmental disorder that makes it difficult for children afflicted with ASD to learn and develop at the same pace as majority of children.
In a fast-paced city like Singapore where time is of the essence, we are constantly bombarded with the message of “faster, faster, faster!” Culturally, this creates an environment which is hostile to slow learners and those with special needs. It also creates an underlying belief equating speed with goodness, superiority, and intelligence. But is that true? I beg to differ.
While our society prizes the ability to respond quickly, I think it is far too shallow a measure to define one’s intelligence simply by how quickly they can respond to something. Consider Science. Advances in Science have been built upon a foundation of repeated testing and persistence in reaching a hypothesis that tests true rather than how quickly one can reach the ‘correct answer’. It is a process that takes years and decades of time to probe, investigate, and test. And it is not just Science alone. Competence in Philosophy, Literature, Math, and many other subjects, cannot possibly be measured based on the speed of response. The quality of it also matters.
Parents brought up with such beliefs, however, naturally become anxious about the future of their children who may seem on the slower end of learning or have been diagnosed with a developmental disorder, like autism. After all, they have gone through the educational curriculum themselves and know exactly how tough it can be.
As a result, parents may often be impatient and expect to see astounding improvements right after ABA therapy for autism begins. When their child gets one answer right, they start to demand for more and more; more correct answers, and in a shorter time. Why should they be happy with only one correct answer when he can get two or three of them? Why would they wait an extra 5 seconds for a response when he should be able to answer in 3?
Yet, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
As ABA therapists, we must maintain a positive mindset of challenging our kids beyond their status quo, and at the same time, balancing realistic expectations in view of the unique challenges they face. Parents need to try to maintain such a mentality as well.
So, celebrate your child’s progress one step at a time!
Celebrate small success with your child to help them understand that they are progressing in the right direction. As they continue moving forward, that’s when we can start to push them beyond what they think they are limited to and take bold, new steps in unknown territory. That is what learning is.
Encourage, learn, and push their limits. The fact is, this isn’t a mentality that should only be reserved for our students and children. We, too, should be doing the same.
As we continue taking steps forward, let us keep our minds and hearts open. Surely, we will pave a path to a better society this way, one success at a time.