“A child with autism has unlimited potential just like everyone else.” – Dr Temple Grandin.
Children on autism spectrum disorder are known to have unique strengths and abilities, and it is important to understand these unique skills. Although autism can be challenging at times, it does not make them less capable than other kids.
Consider Dr Temple Grandin, who invented the Hug Machine, a deep-pressure stimulation device for hypersensitive people. At the age of three, she was diagnosed with nonverbal autism. Her parents sent her to private schools against the doctor’s recommendation that she be placed in a mental institution. That extrinsic motivation was instrumental in her rise to intelligence and success as a scientist.
Although of course every child is different, children with autism are known to have brutal honesty and steadfast loyalty. So if you need an unbiased opinion on something, they will give you just that. Children with Autism have a natural sense of humour, and can brighten up a room.
Autistic strengths go beyond these, but the following are the most prominent:
1. Unparalleled Concentration
One of the best characteristics of children with autism is their exceptional ability to focus. They can even learn tricky subjects, especially in relation to their special interests. As a result of their outstanding concentration, these kids often end up as experts in their chosen fields.
Thus, it is not uncommon for children with autism to excel in art, music, math and technology. Consider Sir Isaac Newton, Amadeus Mozart, Elon Musk, and Nikola Tesla, each of which fell on the Autism Spectrum, and all of whom left their imprint on history.
2. Impeccable Memory
Children with autism have clear memories, recalling facts or events that others have forgotten. They also possess ‘splinter skills’, or abilities but are incredibly high-level. For example, a child may be able to recite entire TV show episodes without understanding the story.
These skills can help improve their academic performance and efficiency in extracurricular activities. Even though only 10% of those with ASD possess savant skills, they are still impressive traits.
3. Care for Detail
Children with autism frequently notice things others do not because they pay attention to small details. Because of their extraordinary visual abilities, they can recognise patterns that others cannot. For example, he can spot the hidden object in a puzzle within seconds. Or they can show you something you never knew existed.
Identifying The Capabilities of A Child with Autism
Discovering what your child on the autism spectrum excels at and is passionate about can promote their development. And if you want to gain a deeper understanding of your child’s cognitive abilities and academic strengths, you can use the following tools;
This formal evaluation determines whether a child requires unique treatments, early intervention services for challenging behaviours, or both.
A specialist will evaluate the child’s nonverbal thinking, language and communication, and movement abilities using one or more of the following methods:
interview or questionnaires for parents or guardians
This evaluation will help you see how your child’s intellect stacks up against other kids their age. IQ tests are however only relevant for kids who are older than four.
However, some children perform academically better than predicted by their IQ scores. It may be due to interventions, school time, and progress in language, social, and test-taking skills.
Empowering Autism Strengths
Here are some ways to help autistic strengths shine through.
Learning And Thinking With Images
Since children with autism tend to pay more attention to details than the big picture, they are typically visual learners. You can take advantage of it by strategically placing visual cues such as symbols, photos, written words, and objects throughout the house or during activities.
The human brain processes visual information more efficiently than auditory information. Hence, children on autism spectrum disorder may have an easier time processing data and making judgment calls with imagery.
A rule-based approach prescribes a set of rules or guidelines for behaviour. As a result of their firm grasp and aptitude for adhering to regulations, children with autism benefit significantly from this approach.
Furthermore, you can use this quality to help your child learn new skills and improve social interaction. One way to do this is to set clear rules about what should be done and when. Telling them to say thank you when they receive something is one example.
‘If-then’ statements are also helpful for activities with distinct steps and sequences, as they educate kids on the concept of cause and effect. It also aids in persuading your child to comply with your wishes. Nevertheless, use positive language.
One notable trait of children with autism is their exceptional memory recall. Therefore, you can encourage your child to memorise important information such as the alphabet, contact information, multiplication tables, etc.
No matter where they are in their development, children with special needs, such as autism, can benefit from the support from a Positive Behaviour Support practitioner, particularly if they are exhibiting challenging behaviours.
What is Positive Behaviour Support (PBS)?
Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) provides long-term support to people with a learning disability, autism, or at risk of developing challenging behaviour. It identifies factors contributing to a person’s challenging conduct, implementing strategies for changing it to improve their lives and those around them. It is relevant to both adults and children, but is particularly beneficial for children who are still growing and developing.
In other words, PBS is about creating individualised strategies for children with a disability or diagnosis such as (but are not limited to), high-functioning autism, anxiety, ADHD or intellectual disability. These strategies are responsive to their needs, reducing or eliminating the need for restrictive practices. With this strategy, their strengths and ability to function in a more positive and independent capacity in their everyday lives are brought to the forefront.
If you have a child or know someone whom you think would benefit from Positive Behaviour Support, here at St. Jude’s we would love to help. We have a passionate team of experienced PBS practitioners who are dedicated to supporting you and your family. Contact us for more information.