autistic children…, I certainly had a big thought about it. My effort here has been to highlight how the time I spent with these children changed my attitude on what autism is and how to deal with it.
I did not have high expectations about my visit to We CAN with ‘We Challenge Autism’ project members for a regular interaction session with some autistic children. Neither did I have a proper idea on what autism was. By that, I mean that I didn’t have an essential idea of what autistic children face difficulties with, how they respond to such setbacks and how we can help them overcome these. What I had was the vague idea that most of us have about autistic children- introverts, communication problems, no proper response – the same things that keep making rounds in the society. What I saw was different. Or to put it more correctly, what I saw was that there was more to it than such superficial remarks.
One of the things that I learned during the interaction was that these children can learn, but only that it was very differently. In today’s educational research, one of the main things that we hear is that every child has a different method of learning. It is up to parents to find this method and help children build upon their capabilities via knowledge channelled the way they like it. The changes in many previously hyperactive or difficult children have been promising. This is the case of children who are not so different. In the case of autistic children, the difference is just too vast to be bridged with the mainstream schooling method.
They just happen to look at learning and life in a very different way. This does not mean that they cannot be taught.
Sitting there and watching Wafin, a seven year old who had never been sent to school, or for that matter anywhere, enthusiastically following his lessons with his personal tutor, I just realized that there was nothing wrong with them. They were just different. To call them wrong, would imply that...