Sunday, August 18, 2013

End Of Summer

Pervasive Parenting

By Kodey Toney

End of Summer

As the summer comes to an end for us I want to reflect a little onKonner’s actions. He has been typical in some ways, and yet in some he hasn’t. When I say typical, I don’t mean neuro-typical, I mean Konner-typical. What we have come to expect from him over the years.

Something to understand, and most parents out there do, is that there is nothing typical in the autism world. The only thing predictable is unpredictability.

Konner has truly become obsessed with the computer and iPadthis summer. He has always had a fascination, but this summer seems to be worse than ever. If he’s not on one you can find him on the other. This is not too unusual, but the level of his obsession has increased.

Now this is a tough predicament as a parent. We try to encourage him to, and sometimes make him, do other things.The problem is, when he’s on these things he seems to be stable. By that I mean, for the most part, he is not over-stimulated. If I make him get off the device he then becomes very frustrated. Part of this is from making him get off the computer, but part of it is that the computer allows him to focus on something.

This is the very reason many experts are looking to the iPad as a device to help children with autism. On an episode of 60 Minutes I was watching recently they said that children who were given a paper with numbers on it and told to count, or point to the numbers, were typically not interested either immediately or within a minute. However, if they were doing the same task on an iPad they were more apt to be engaged.

This year Konner will have to start writing in cursive, so Jen has used that lately as a way to get him off of the electronics. He will work on it. In fact, if he’s asked he seems to want to do it. That will last for only a few minutes though; usually 10 at the most. Then he’s asking to get back on the computer.

These pieces of equipment can be very useful though. In fact there are many are being used to break the silence in children who are non-verbal. They are unlocking the secrets inside many of these children that have been quiet for so long. This is ending the frustration within them and helping the whole family.

It is also helping us all to understand autism a little more. It’s helped us know that there is more inside. My mind goes back toCarly Fleischmann who for years was relatively silent until her team found a way to allow her to speak. She has now written a book and been featured on many news shows.

This success with the technology is particularly true in younger children. I think this is attributed to a couple reasons. Children seem to take to technology faster than the older generations.Konner can do things with computers and the iPad that boggles me. They also can learn things easier at a young age. It’s said that if you try to learn a new language it’s easier at as a child. This is what they are trying to do, learn a language. If they can hear the voice say something they may be able to mimic it.

The issue with mimicking is what they are impersonating.Konner, as I’ve said in the past, likes to get on Youtube and search for things he likes such as Thomas the Train, Roblox, andMinecraft. When you do that there is no filter and people post some crazy stuff that is not appropriate for children. Konner’svocabulary has increased lately, but not the way we wanted. The worst part is that he doesn’t fully understand that the things he is saying are bad.

Don’t forget that, like anything else you try with children on the spectrum, this doesn’t work for everyone. Some children will take to it very easily, and some will not like it at all.

We can’t let our children become so attached to these devices, but we can use them to their advantage. There is a happy-medium that we are struggling to find.

Disclaimer: I am in no way claiming to be an expert. I’m just a father who is trying to learn as much about Autism as I can to help my child. I hope that you all can learn from me, and I from you. I ask anyone who has questions or comments about something I have written, or autism, please contact me at I will try to answer questions as I have time, and if I find it interesting enough I may touch on it in my column. You can also find all columns archived at

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