Out of the Box

A known trait of autism is the relative lack of imagination and this rang true with Raiyan, as everything he knows and thereupon communicates are derived only from things he himself has seen, observed and learnt and not from what he has thought of himself. The rigidity trait would often worsen this lack of imagination as even if we try to "teach" him to imagine and free himself from what he is only familiar with, his resistance to change would always get in the way of him even attempting to think of a different picture, let alone an "imaginary" one.

Raiyan is also a very visual person which is why flash cards have worked wonders for him and his language but once you take away the flash cards, then it becomes a whole new battle altogether!

But slowly over the last year, we have seen Raiyan beginning to overcome the need to stick to things "as they are" and also we've seen his imagination starting to flourish, such as:

- During our Singapore trip and right after visiting the zoo, he himself changed the lyrics to "Old MacDonald" to go "Raiyan went to Singapore Zoo, e-i-e-i-o. And on that zoo, he saw an elephant, e-i-e-io. With a trunk trunk here and a trunk trunk there, here trunk, there trunk, everywhere trunk trunk... etc";

-Instead of just thinking and articulating just one verb connected to one noun, such as kick the ball, sit on chair, he can now easily say other verbs such as, bounce/throw the ball and move/sleep on chair. This is also in line with my earlier post on how we gave him a small item and he has to think of different ways to interpret it;

-He's correcting us less when we steer away from the usual course of a familiar story whereas before he would just NOT be able to accept it and he would insist we tell the story as how he's used to hearing it;

-We've been going through flash cards with simple pictures and a "speech bubble" on it and he is supposed to think of what is being said. For example, there is a picture of a barber and a girl with really long hair and Raiyan is supposed to "imagine" what is being said. His visual and literal mind would immediately just say "the barber says "I'm going to cut your hair" and the girl says "Please cut my hair." (zzzz boring right?). But NOW, (and because he just finished reading Rapunzel) he actually said with a giggle "the barber says "Hey! You look like Rapunzel!"

-Instead of just piling up building blocks on top of another, he has started to actually make them into functional shapes, such as a rowboat, a helicopter, an airplane, a car- and all of these independently too! Look at him proudly showing them off!

I accept the possibiliy of some parents reading this and wondering what's the big deal with all the instances I have described but trust me, it means a whole LOT to us. We really feel that it is important for Raiyan in this early stage to train himself to start thinking outside the box (as they say!) and hopefully open himself up to new and endless possibilities!

Which is why I'm feeling exhilarated with what happened this morning. See, we were doing this colouring activity last night and even with this one below, he kept asking me in the beginning, what colour is a diplodocus and what colour a torosaurus was etc. He even wanted to look for a dinasour book for reference! But I told him that it's okay, there is no right and wrong colour- just use your imagination and colour them with whatever colour you want! Which he did! How cute is the pink and green ankylosaurus btw?!

So I left him to finish that off last night along with more activities at the back of the page (for him to get 2 golden points!). But this morning in the car and on the way to school, I saw that he didn't do the last part:

Of course Raiyan just said "I don't know how to do it!". Clearly, being the visual person that he is, this was something that I needed to coach him on. At first even I wasn't so sure if he was able to do this. But I tried and asked him to close his eyes and imagine all the scenarios above and tell me what colours he sees. And he answered:

a rain storm: Grey

a beautiful sunset: Pink

a flower garden: Green for the grass and multicoloured for the flowers

a forest fire: Orange

your favourite ice cream sundae: chocolate brown

your favourite holiday: multicoloured. (I wanted him to be more specific and asked him what is his favourite holiday which of course is the ZOO so of course there are many colours in the zoo!)

a walk in the woods in the autumn: Orange

a farm: at this point, he was being more descriptive than just "multicoloured" and he answered red for barn, black and white for cow, pink for pig, green for grass and white for sheep!

a jungle: brown for trees, green for leaves and green for grass

a parade: red, blue and yellow just like in a circus!

Here's hoping for more progress in the future! Amin!


Tanya @ Teenautism said...

Wonderful! Raiyan has come so far, and I am smiling after reading this post! :)

Pweshes Mama said...

thanks so much Tanya! It's always soo nice and reassuring to have comments from you :D thanks so much

Aryeen said...

You guys are a true inspiration to our society! Have just started reading your old entries, all so Amazingly & beautifully written. To Raiyan - you're an Amazing little soul!

PURPOSE:Hoping for more understanding and less judgment from all.

 To show the importances of early intervention and an evidence based treatment to help reach the full potential of the child.

 Offering other parents hope to have faith in the positive progress of their child.

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