What is the one thing that our children with severe disabilities lose early on that we need to help them get back?
Cause and Effect!
I’m not talking about cause and effect that a child can get if they scream and then get what they want. I’m talking about the kind of cause and effect that we can shape into communication.
Parents and educators have to help these children with so many things that they develop a learned helplessness. What does this mean?
The children with severe disabilities tend to not try as hard, if at all, to do something because they have learned that someone will do it for them or that others are not willing to wait for a response.
Let’s face it. It’s easier for us just to do something quickly for a student rather than to wait for a response. Right? Easier for us, but a disservice to our children!
One of the basic concepts our children need to learn is cause and effect if we want them to communicate. Language is learned when a young child experiences a response to an utterance. The child says “momma” and momma comes. The child gets what he wants and begins to see the power of communication.
The child says, “big truck” and dad gets him the big truck, not the little truck.
Cause and effect!
The power of communication! The more language a child uses, the more power he has and the more he can get exactly what he wants.
So where can you start with a child who has lost that cause and effect? With all of the amazing technology out there today, you can start with four very cool apps that can start you at square one with teaching your child the power of controlling something to get a response out of someone else!
Take a look at these apps in the video!
1. Pocket Pond
3. Drum Set
4. Preschool Memory Match
With very little movement, and I’m talking just a hint of movement, a child can begin to experience power over his environment!
You can begin to teach a child that learned helplessness is a thing of the past. It’s a new day and today the requirement is that the child must take action in a positive way to get something he/she wants.
You heard me mention in the video that I require my students to “play” the piano before I sing a song. If they stop playing, I stop singing! Even though I stink as a singer, for some reason they want me to continue so they just keep playing!!
Here’s my secret. I don’t let them “off the hook”. I wait them out. I don’t go away. I don’t do it for them. I make it clear that they must do their part to get what they want. These four apps make it so easy for me to get started with this concept, so that’s why I wanted to share them with you!
I have a story about a little guy who did not have a communication system and limited cause and effect experiences. I presented him with the piano app and I wish you could have seen his face when he realized that he was the one making the piano sounds!!! I took the piano away at one point and said, “If you want more piano, tell me “yes”. He vocalized and began to actually lean forward toward the ipad for his “yes!” He played and I sang for 45 minutes that day!!! His teacher was in shock. She had never had such responses from this child! We discovered that he is quite the “music man” and will do whatever it takes to play that piano, even if it means he has to “ask” for it!!
Give these apps a try with your students who have severe disabilities and let me know what you think!