"Breaking The Code©"... The Key To So Much!
Perhaps the best way for parents to think of everything presented in my materials as it relates to the need to understand "the parts" before "the whole" can be understood, is to think of all these issues in terms of the autistic child's need to "break the code".
By this, I mean that in order to understand almost everything in his world, the autistic child must first understand how every part fits into that world. This is true in everything from language to emotions, socialization to process completion, sensory (visual, auditory, touch, etc.) input processing to issues with potty training. All these things - be they behavioral, social, emotional, or sensory - must first be broken into their respective "parts" for the whole to be understood.
Thus, for the autistic child, in my opinion, life consists entirely of "breaking the code" or breaking things down to their lowest level. Once each part is understood, the whole can then be "put back together" and understood for what it is. Until that happens, everything in the autistic child's mind will be perceived as:
A when it should be perceived as B
The key, therefore, in my opinion, lies in helping the autistic child "break the code" to get from A to B... and again, this is true in absolutely all areas of life for the autistic child! :o)
Strength In Math…And Language…
Once The Code Is Broken
Not surprisingly, the autistic child, once the code is broken will show great strength in those areas that are very ordered and based on a building blocks approach… those things such as math and language. This is also true in terms of activities in which the autistic child is strong… anything that involves “a code” will be an area of strength. This would include putting puzzle pieces or train parts together … two areas of intense fascination for the autistic child… two activities that make parts become “a whole” once the parts are “put together”. These activities, in and of themselves, trains and puzzles, may very well also provide a coping mechanism for the autistic child in that it helps to “order” his world and to “get rid of the parts”.
Weakness in Areas Where There Is No Apparent Code To Break
It will come as no surprise that the autistic child, by the very fact that he needs to “break the codeã” to understand his world will be very weak in areas where there is no apparent code to be broken… areas such as socialization, conversation and to some extent, process completion. The key to these areas surely will lie in “providing a code” for these activities… a list of “things” that go together to help the child understand the overall situation. Concrete examples of “things to say” or “things to do” will undoubtedly be necessary to gain strength in these areas. As such, role playing, in my opinion, is critical for the autistic child to understand socialization. Conversation and Process Completion, luckily, can be somewhat broken down into their “codes” or “parts” too, in the form of nouns, verbs, etc. and sequences. These issues are discussed in much greater detail in my sections on Language and Process Completion.