Special Needs Children
By Dr. James
MacDonald - www.jamesdmacdonald.org
Perhaps the main reason I have worked for many years to build the Communicating
Partners program is because for over 40 years now I have seen over and over
again the worst problem children with developmental delays (DS, Autism, Apraxia,
and many other concerns) have is not cognitive delays (the focus of most schools
and therapies) or to talk just right---- The major problem is LONELINESS...
We have known many children and adults who learned to be social and imitative,
enjoyable playmates and turn-taking partners-- but never developed the cognitive
or language skills hoped for. They are still happy because they are social.
But what does it matter if your child does well in school and shows increases in
an IQ, if his daily life is lonely?
I have a suggestion.
Spend three times a day for ten or more minutes doing nothing....except being
with your child in what he likes to do and acting just like him. Don't teach,
don't correct, don't take the lead just act and communicate in ways he can do,
show a little next step. Respond to his interests, be a playmate not a teacher,
and tell your self...absolutely nothing has to happen other than my child being
happy with me.
You can't buy that and that is what your child needs. Aren't you tripping over
too many toys? And aren't we all embarrassed at how many things our children
have (and ignore) and how little intimate time they have with us???
The mom that started this discussion did us a big service wondering about her
lonely child. That is a travesty and I see it all the time with children with
DS, Autism, and many other delays.
We have found that if we stop making children 'school smart' and make them more
social instead, I promise that they will eventually become more cognitively
smart--IQ-- since we all learn much more from our social interactions than from
what we are directly taught.
Another idea, when Grandma or Uncle Joe ask what to get your child, suggest they
get him a card, and in the card is a voucher for so many hours of play in your
child's world, without teaching, without the TV on, and one to one.
The more matched partners your child has, the more he will communicate and the
less lonely he will be.
James D. MacDonald, Ph.D./CCC