Autism and Aspergers.
Autism is a very complex disorder. It is characterized by the inability to reach out to other people. This may manifest itself in many different ways - the avoidance of eye contact, retreat into a different world, unusual ritualistic behavior such as clapping or head banging, unusual language patterns and sometimes obsessions with inappropriate or unexpected things.
Some autistic children may possess some exceptional ability in one or more areas, in the same way that a blind person might develop more acute hearing to make up for the short falls of not being able to see. There is much ongoing research into the cause or causes of autism. Researchers have identified that autistic people generally have slightly bigger heads and brains and believe the neurons in certain areas of the brain are wired differently.
Other researchers have discovered a link between autistic children and food allergies, as with ADD. Milk, wheat, peanut, egg and soy allergies account for 90% of food allergies in children. Because food allergy is greatest in the first few years of life and can affect up to 6% of children below the age of three, it is always worth considering. Thalidomide and epilepsy drugs taken in the first trimester of pregnancy have also been linked with autism.
One article also notes autistic-like behavior in many of the children from Eastern European orphanages and street children. Working with autistic children brings about mixed results. "Applied behavioral therapy" is one-on-one teaching that breaks down learning into small, repetitive tasks. One ten year old Evan could make eye contact after three months of intense learning, 20-25 hours a day. There are other studies like these where autistic children have responded to teaching.
Other uplifting and inspiring information comes out of the Option Institute in America. The Option Institute, founded in 1983, is based in Massachusetts. They run personal growth programs and seminars and have a publishing wing. Option Indigo Press has several books available outlining success stories treating autism. "A Miracle to Believe In" by Barry Kaufman (co-founder of The Option Institute) is the story of an autistic boy called Robertito and the journey he goes on with his parents to find a way into his world. Robertito exhibited the characteristic weak brain waves in the frontal lobes of his brain often seen in autistic children. It is thought that the neural connections are wired differently in certain areas in autistic children. The frontal lobes help in processing complex information such as understanding, memory and in Robertito's case where the left frontal lobe was affected, language.
Robertito spent the first six years of his life without facial expressions, without any language skills and avoiding all eye contact with other human beings. By his seventh birthday he could make eye contact and speak in sentences. He had been turned into a responsive and loving human being. This was as a result of an empathetic, accepting approach being taken to his condition in the hope of bringing out the desire in Robertito to come out of his world.
Another book listed on the above mentioned site, Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues, is about Barry and Samahria Kaufman's own child Raun who was diagnosed with autism. This is a story outlining Raun's journey from a totally disconnected toddler who would spend his time spinning in circles and flapping his fingers with an IQ of under 30 to an outgoing, enthusiastic young boy with an IQ at near genius and a university degree. It is this work that the Kaufmans did with their son that formed the basis of their Option Institute.
Autism, like ADD and dyslexia, is not fully understood. The cause or causes are generally not clear nor consequently the treatment required. Although the medical profession tends to dismiss autistic children as irreparably brain damaged and unrecoverable there are cases out there of autistic children being cured. This is, therefore, a complex issue that needs an open mind. It looks like if the faulty wiring of neural connections in certain areas of the brain can be rewired through early and appropriate intervention, then many children with this condition, like many children with ADD and dyslexia, can be turned around.
Some Autistic and Aspergers children have has success with readingMaster true to life images and presentation:
Reshmi Singh - Bucklands Beach Auckland: I am a true believer of the ReadingMaster System. A year and a half ago my only child Sanjay was diagnosed with mild Autism. As any other parent would feel, our hopes and dreams came crashing down as we all have high hopes and expectations of our children being able to succeed.
At the time of diagnosis Sanjay was three years of age, his only language skill of saying, "Let's go" and "Dodo" ("milk" in Hindu). As parents we found it very hard communicating with him as he had very little verbal language skill. Everything ended up being a big fuss and a whole lot of tears for both Sanjay and myself. One thing Sanjay did do was watch the ReadingMaster ad on television religiously.
When the ad finished he would cry and cry. One day I sat with Sanjay and watched the ad. The phrase "Your child knows best so just go with your child" really stuck in my mind. I knew what Sanjay wanted. I bought ReadingMaster a month before his 4th birthday and gave it to him. His eyes just lit up with so much excitement. We showed him the videos first, then the ROM and then later the books. Within 3-4 months Sanjay had managed to cram in 27 books into his mind complete with sound effects of the animals from the CD ROM. This was a big leap from the 2 words he used to say! He gained so many new words. There are 27 books in ReadingMaster and so many words!!! My partner and I were left wide eyed and amazed, and still are now.
Sanjay goes to kindy now. We have better knowledge of his learning style (visual) and are using visual card systems for his wants and needs along with his day to day activities. I have had a lot of help from Sanjay's psychologist, the SES worker and the kindy staff. They are all pleased because his learning has to be consistent. ReadingMaster was the key for us to know that not all our hopes and dreams have been shattered. It has taught us that Sanjay can learn and be successful. It's just a whole new way of doing things. I still use ReadingMaster with Sanjay. I mainly read him the books. He still loves it. We are very interested in your new book with its coverage of special needs. Our group would love to have you come and talk to us about it and how else to help our children. Thanks a whole bunch Grant and Denise. You have definitely created a fantastic product which has influenced our life for the better. Really words cannot describe how I feel when Sanjay says words to me. Yours faithfully, Reshmi Singh.
K. Thorby - Auckland, New Zealand: I have been using the Reading Master with my children for about 4 months now and it has made a huge impact on not only my elder son's reading but also both of my children's pronunciation and vocabulary. This is especially important in our household as my eldest little boy, Christopher, who is 4 1/2 copes with autism and has only been speaking for 8 months. Both of my boys love the videos and the books. Chris always asks me for Sounds 6 and I have to explain it only goes up to 5! We are very pleased with your product and can see the ongoing educational value it will have in our household as the boys progress through the readers. I am so impressed that I have been passing the word on to other friends.
IJ & NK Hagan - Waiuku New Zealand: We have a daughter with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder and I don't know if you remember me but I am on your current Reading Master add. I would like to say that Sherilyn is now reading way above her age and I can happily say it is totally due to this wonderful reading program. Sherilyn has been at a main stream school from the beginning and we chose a small rural school thinking this would be the best option with small class numbers and well funded. But this has not been the best and we have struggled for two years with this school telling us its our parenting and not allowing teacher aid time and also allowing other children to bully and torment Sherilyn on a daily basis. This is why Sherily so badly needed the Reading Master as she was not provided with the specialized teaching she required. We even had to fight them to allow Speech Language Therapy and help from an Educational Psychologist. So last year we decided to change schools. This is a much larger school which has quite a few children with special needs and learning problems. This is not a rich school but since Sherlilyn has started they have bent over backward to help her in every way and are providing teacher aid hours out of their own pocket. Sherilyn loves the Reading Master books and it would be brilliant if she could use the same program at school as well. Is it at all possible for our school to get a set of the Reading Master This would not only benefit just our daughter but all the children with problems with reading in the school. And please let the Fords know how wonderful the ReadingMaster has been for us. Sincerely Mrs Nina Hagan