Monday, January 31, 2011

effects of the unprofessional 'professional'

I have heard that some kids on the spectrum are particularly visual. Erin certainly falls into this category. He aced the block design section of the WISK IV;  understands better if routines and personal responsibilities are presented visually. He even 'reads' via the pictures rather than the text. 

This is not in and of itself a disability, this can be a real asset, but, unfortunately only later in life when those skills have social and economic value. Currently this does not help him with his reading and writing the way that it is taught through the current pedagogy. There are ways around it of course and it involves money and extra parent teaching at home. The problem with this of course, is that when you add in Aspergers and sensory issues you have a little boy who does not want to sit and mould clay into letters every day after school. 

Last year, Erin participated in a program for visual/spacial kids to help them progress their literacy through methods that help them to attached a correct picture to their letters and words. Erin, it seems, is able to manipulate 3D objects in his mind, in fact, he has trouble NOT manipulating them. This causes problems for identifing and producing those pesky letters which are meant to stay stuck firmly flat - and one way up! A tool that is used to highlight the difference between how kids learn up until those pesky letter and numbers is through holding up a watch and asking 'what is this?' 'It's a watch', everyone cries. Then the watched is turned on its side and the question repeated. Of course it's still a watch not matter the direction, if it's bent, twisted or contorted: not the same for letters - anyway I think you get my drift. 

The program to help Erin was mostly fine, though maybe he was a little young as we couldn't use the computer program that came with the price the entire time because he was having such trouble with his letters. This was not the same program which cost thousands and they work on the letters with kids for two whole weeks. This was akin, but different.

I was desperate at the time that I contacted them. It was just before the official diagnosis and Erin was struggling so much in school - I was desperate to use his strengths. Unfortunately the woman who was our consultant undermined my confidence every time we met with her. Once Erin starting seeing his psychologist for CBT and I came along so that I could learn the techniques, I noticed how much better she made me feel about my ability to parent a child with AS and that this empowered me. The differences between these two women were stark - one positioned herself as the expert of Erin and the other gave me the power while also giving me the benefit of her expertise: we were working together for Erin rather than I being some kind of block to his potential. This stark contrast gave me moment to pause and I realised, that like so many of us who are desperate for the best for our children, I grabbed on to the first thing that offered me hope.

While our team of wonderful people does involve people who do not have masters and PhDs in child psychology I am much more careful now to learn about the person, their qualifications and talk to other parents; to do my research. Because, unprofessionalism in people who position themselves as 'expert' of your child can do much more harm than good.