At Sambhavam, we support children with autism to learn new skills, increase independence, develop communication and social skills, and decrease challenging/problem behaviours. We use ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis), which involves various behavioural techniques, to understand and manage behaviour and to teach new things to the children. Through meaningful, skill building experiences, we build on children’s innate strengths, so they can reach their fullest potential.
As we think about our work with children, for us to say “we help them” would not even be half the truth, for there’s never a day when these tiny, adorable human beings don’t bring joy and meaning to our lives. Here in ‘Inchstones’, we share some of our stories which have created change in our lives at Sambhavam.
Ranjani Seetharaman shares our first inchstones story.
A Melodious Success
This five-year old came to Sambhavam in June 2018. The way into this little boy’s heart is – no, not chocolates or toys but the letters of the English language! From the very first day his therapists were amazed at his strong interest to read, write and learn new words. While most other kids love sweets or playing outside, A prefers poring over books and absorbing the illustrations. Something else he likes a lot is music. He becomes a rapt listener when it comes to songs and enjoys the rhythm and melody. One can hear him humming some of his favourite songs all the time. Well, what better a time than Kalangana 2018 (a fest for children with special needs) to present his melodious voice to the world?
The song that was chosen – Que Sera Sera- is a melody suited to his voice but quite challenging to teach and learn because of the complexity and unfamiliarity of the song. The therapists had only a month to teach this song with three long stanzas. It was a rocky beginning to the learning process with some resistance and crying spells. We had a breakthrough of sorts when we noticed the child responding to ‘visual prompt’ (anything visual to help the child during the learning of a new concept/skill). Conventionally, we would think that listening to and repeating the lines several times would be the best way to learn a song. In other words, using ‘vocal prompt’ (support during learning a new concept/skill through verbal cues).
The lyrics of the song written on paper (visual prompt) worked wonders, of course, owing to his deep interest in words and reading. This would definitely be a good example of ‘building on one’s strengths’. With practice sessions every day at the center and at home and a lot of hard work from the child, within two weeks, A could sing the entire song independently!
That day on stage, it was a proud moment for his therapists and parents when he sang in front of such a large audience. But no skill is really useful until it adds meaning to one’s life. When he hums the song when he is enjoying a break at school or for leisure, we know that it has truly been a melodious success.