Friday, May 14, 2010
Autism and writing
We all seek a way to best express ourselves and let our feelings be known. For some the simple act of talking is the most common and most effective way to let others know what is on our mind. We first learn to talk when we are babies between the age of 18 months and 2 years old. The words we choose and the tone with which we say them is all registered in our brain and even when we are babies our ability for self expression is all mapped out perfectly so we can let our parents know when we are hungry, sleepy or sick. To understand the human mind and how it interprets,processes and responds to stimuli and transmits signals that allows us to express our feelings through words makes us realize how truly amazing and powerful the human brain is.
For the autistic child the art of self expression is much more complicated and the stages of development are usually delayed and the tools needed to formulate speech need to be developed and reinforced. Speech therapy is a necessity for autistic children because they tend to be limited and have difficulty relating to others and expressing themselves. If they are treated early enough they will have a good chance of developing normal speech and effective communication skills.
Another method of effective communication that provides us the opportunity for self expression which requires thought and a good command of vocabulary, spelling and grammar is the art of writing using words we know and paper or a computer application such as MS word. Writing requires effort and the development of ideas that can be formulated and expressed through words constructed in formal sentences that expresses how we feel. The advantage in writing is we can think of how we wish to convey our ideas and we can make revisions and we are not put on the spot. We have time to think of how we wish to express and communicate our ideas. We can be creative with our writing or we can tell it as we feel it in plain black and white.
Writing can be difficult because it does require a lot of thought and the ability to express what we feel in an organized and structured format. As we write and we feel good about what we are saying we gain confidence in our ability and it provides us a voice that resonates and touches others. The gift of the written word is special because it is a way of preserving our thoughts and ideas which can be read now and in the future if we wish to understand ourselves and how we develop over time.
For young kids writing can be difficult because it is so hard to put our ideas into writing if our objective is to tell a story. I believe a good writing exercise for young children is spontaneous or free writing where we just let the words flow on the paper without thinking about it. We sometimes become less inhibited by this process and can be very expressive of our ideas. When we write we like to put our personal touch to it and tell a story that has relevance and touches others and gets them to relax and enjoy the experience of reading it or we like to make it thought provoking and get the reader to question what we write. All writers usually have an agenda and a style that fits their personality. I believe it is necessary to teach autistic children alternative ways of expressing themselves and writing surely is one such option that allows them to find comfort and ease in expressing themselves effectively through written expression.
When I write I like to focus on a subject and I like to have a general idea of what I wish to say. I then allow myself to slowly let the flow of words come to me through my thought process and I then write from my perspective with complete and total dedication in writing something that can help my son and our family and others who are interested in reading my thoughts on a particular subject or the general subject of autism. I feel that if we can write regularly and tell a story that draws the reader's interest and makes them more informed then we have done a good thing and it provides us with encouragement and a drive to continue the process always seeking fresh and new ideas and subjects that will help lead us to further writing ideas and compositions.
I have encouraged my son to write and he learned that creating a blog and writing has provided him joy and comfort. When he writes he says he feels that he is maturing and growing and he loves to personalize each and every story he writes about. I am thrilled to read his writings and I always benefit from the experience and I feel he does as well.
As we learn to speak and write we all need to be patient and just try to express ourselves the best we can. We should never be hard on ourselves and we should always seek encouragement and advisement whenever we need to. We should also develop the skills we need and the friends so we can write and tell the stories that mean so much to us. We all are capable and have it within ourselves to write our ideas and experiences. I tell my son this every time he has doubt and then he feels a bit happier.
Edward D. Iannielli III