Lack Of Finger Pointing And The Autistic Child...

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Many children who are autistic have are unable to point to an object with a finger.  This is something many children can accomplish well before the age of one... yet in the autistic child, it can take well past the age of three or more.   Why is that? 

It isn't that the child's finger can't physically make the motion.  The autistic child's hand works perfectly well... physically... able to move and bend just fine.  Therefore, if not a physical impairment, why can't so many autistic children point with their finger?  If not a physical inability to point, then, the inability must somehow lie in the "refusal" to point.  It's not that the autistic child "can't point", it's that he "won't point".   There is a huge difference!

This is another issue that is so easily explained based on what I believe is the autistic child's inability to properly process the parts that make up the whole... the inability to understand the whole without first understanding the parts that make up that whole... the inability to process the "partial" or "in between" situation.   

To "point" would necessitate that a child separate "a part" from "the whole"... "a finger" from "the hand or fist".   Therefore, the key lies in showing your child that a finger is "but a part"  to the "whole"... that a "finger" is "one fifth" of the hand... that's why the whole concept of using fractions to show a child a "part" versus "the whole" is, in my opinion, so so critical to helping these children cope with everyday situations or things that come so naturally to the rest of us.   Zachary developed this skill on his own... but it took a long time (see below).   If my child had not developed this skill, I would use do the following to help him learn "how to point".  I would use fractions to teach him the concept of "parts" making up "the whole" as I have explained in the section on using FRACTIONS.   Then, I would take his hand, and count out the parts, saying: 1 finger  = 1 fifth of a hand, 2 fingers = 2 fifths of a hand, 3 fingers = 3 fifths of a hand, 4 fingers = 4 fifths of a hand, 5 fingers = 5 fifths of a hand, 5 fifths = 1 hand.     That way, the child can see that "parts" have labels too and can "stand" on their own as an entity in and of themselves... that they don't always have to be part of the "whole".  :o) 

Zachary figured out how to point to an object on his own... as I'm sure many autistic children eventually do.   The Christmas tree I had put up that year fascinated him.  He had seen a Christmas tree in some of his children's videos (i.e., Seasons by First Impressions, 800-521-5311,  http://www.small-fry.com/babfirim.html) and was totally fascinated by this object now in our living room.  His fascination overtook his desire for "wholeness of the hand".  The Christmas tree, as labeled in his video, and now physically in our living room, provided an "entity" in and of itself - Zachary understood a "Christmas tree".   He made the "connection" between the trees in his videos and that in our living room.   Out of the blue, he walked up to the tree, pointed to it and said:   "a Christmas tree".   That was on Dec. 23rd, 2000... he was 2 1/2 years old at the time.   After that, I practiced making him "point" using an "I Spy" book and an "I Spy" software program (as explained in my first book).  From that time on, Zachary has been able to point "on command"... when asked to show me something... he still prefers not to point on his own unless asked but, if asked to point to something, he can now do it easily and with absolutely no stress.

Yet another issue explained so fully by the autistic child's inability to understand the whole without first understanding the parts that make up that whole!  :o)

 

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