This guest blog post was originally published on the saiconnection’s blog page. You can read it here.
This 8 year old and his mother were working on reading skills. He didn’t have a problem with reading words. He was good with encoding.
They took turns. Individual piles of flash cards were placed before the young child and his mother. She picked up acard from her pile, read it. Then she picked up a card from his pile, had him read it and she put it away for him.
This went on, till they both finished reading their individual piles. He was calm and collected, he read his cards and mom put them away.
Nothing is out of the ordinary in the situation above, right? Now I want you to visualize something else.
Imagine your child understanding it’s his turn. He looks at you and checks with you. You nod your head to reassure him. Now imagine him reaching out for a card from his pile. He reads the word and smiles at you. He’s proud of himself. You encourage him gently with your gaze. In his excitement, he reaches out for a card from your pile and hands it to you to read.
You’re both happy. You fist pump each other! What incredible satisfaction!
There is a stark difference between scenario 1 and scenario 2. Scenario 1 focuses on encoding and reading words which falls under static intelligence. Understanding a situation, taking turns (without being specifically told), taking responsibility to keep the interaction going, fall under dynamic intelligence. This is what scenario 2 is about.
Unfortunately, we tend to focus on static intelligence. We think dynamic intelligence will take off on its own. But it doesn’t. Take a look at what happens if you persist on the static intelligence route described in scenario 1.
Two years down the line… Your child is in 2nd grade
You taught your child to read words. He knows his colors and shapes. He knows to count and he knows his numbers too. You have worked hard to teach him all these years.
Your child is enrolled at a regular school. He can read and write. You are not allowed to go into his classroom to guide his attention, so you hire a shadow teacher. His shadow teacher monitors him closely takes him from one class to another. He disturbs other children. He doesn’t have friends. In fact, the other students make fun of him. He speaks out of turn. He cannot regulate himself and runs around the classroom. The teacher is exasperated! So is the shadow teacher. He doesn’t realize the impact he has on other kids. But yes, he can read and write.
5 years down the line… Your child is in 7th grade
The situation has not improved. You console yourself, as you’ve managed to teach your child even more. You’ve changed several shadow teachers by how. You’ve also hired a tuition teacher to help him get through all the subjects at school. But he still does not have friends. Other students continue to bully him. You’re sick of complaints from his teachers and principal. The saddest part is he has become anxious. In addition to the odd behaviors, now you have to deal with anxiety issues. He can’t deal with any changes in his schedule either.
It didn’t go the way you expected, did it?
You did everything you could. You persisted with teaching him, even when it was so difficult for you.
I commend you, dear parent.
Now I’d like you to reflect on this question.
What do you want for your child 10 years down the line?
This is what most parents come up with. I’m guessing you want these exact things too.
1. Live as independently as possible
2. Hold down a job
3. To enjoy meaningful friendships and relationships
Dr Steve Gutstein from RDI Connect, shared some important stats. He says ‘IQ points do not help.’ As autistic individuals grow into adulthood,
Only 10% find employment.
Only 3% live independently.
Real friendships and marriages are less than 1%.
Is this what will happen to your child after all your hard work? Have we lost the plot?
You cannot achieve independence by just developing reading, writing and academics. It requires working on a totally different aspect. An aspect you thought would take off on it’s own. You have worked on developing Static Intelligence only. You need to work on dynamic intelligence too.
It is something every person on the autism spectrum requires. There is nothing wrong in teaching your child academics. Indeed, it is much needed. But unless you also develop dynamic intelligence, you will not reach far in your goals of independent living and happiness.
This post is not about how to develop dynamic intelligence. This has been covered extensively in other articles. Your best resources are Dr Gutstein’s book.
This post is an attempt to reach out to you.
You are not alone, dear friend. I’m with you.
It’s time to shift towards Dynamic Intelligence.
Lakhani is a, RDI® program consultant and the Director of SAI School (ABA Center) and SAI Connections (RDI Center). She has over 19 years of experience working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and currently serves as the director of our RDI Professional Training Center in Mumbai. She is the Director of SAI School (ABA Center) and SAI Connections (RDI Center).