By Preeti Dixit

Using Teachable Moments to Teach My Son with Autism

  • When my son was younger, I wondered how to teach him in a way that was interesting and easy to understand. I started with picture books, flashcards, games, and activities, but found them lacking. I realized what was missing with them was a tangible connection to the real world. Once I realized this, I dropped the books and games, and took my son out into the real world. I replaced theory with practicals. Instead of using a book to teach my son about fruits and vegetables, I took him to the nearby fruit and vegetable vendor to look at, smell and touch the various fruits and vegetables. We learnt about colour, texture, size, weight, characteristics, benefits, and pricing, all at the vendor's. We would go off peak hours so that the place was not crowded and we were not rushed. My son was absolutely delighted to learn this way and would eagerly soak in all the information. After some time, I designated him as my helper and he would help me buy fruits and vegetables. I would name the fruit/vegetable that I wanted and he would run and pick it up and drop it in my basket. It was like a game to him and it allowed me to complete my grocery run.


    I took my son to various places over the years to teach him various concepts - grocery stores, streets, gardens, hospital, fire station, police station, post office, bank, and so on. After a point, it became so ingrained in me to use these teachable moments to teach my son, that I found myself doing it all the time, whether it was while cooking or cleaning or doing any other household chore. I was always pointing and explaining things to my son along the way.


    This way of learning had several other benefits apart from gaining knowledge for my son. It helped develop my son's vocabulary and encouraged him to talk. It improved my son's thinking and reasoning skills. It developed his problem-solving skills and it made him more confident and resilient.

    I realized then how important it is to understand that children with autism are not incapable of learning, they just have a different way of learning, and once we find out what works for them, we can teach them everything.


    DISCLAIMER: Please note that I am neither a doctor, a therapist, or a special educator. I am the mother of a teenager with autism. Everything I write and share is based on my personal experiences with my son and should not be taken as professional advice.


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