Progress must start with a relationship. We want to support children to become happy, secure, social and creative people, who can think outside the box and think on their feet. We must respect and support each child's unique profile while promoting development through meaningful, relationship-based experiences. The relationships that support this development are built on respect and trust. For children who experience the world in an often disorganized and sometimes fearful way, these trusting relationships require patience and nurturing. A key component of our approach is the involvement of families in the intervention. Sometimes this simply starts with helping the parent and child get back to a place where they can enjoy each other again rather than solely focusing on the challenges. Once we have taken the time to get to know the child and learn about the unique way in which they experience the world, we can support them in reaching higher levels of development. Autism is a sensory-processing disorder, not an intellectual disorder. Many ASD children are highly intelligent and often gifted. Therefore, if we can make a connection with them, we can tap into all the wonderful gifts they have to offer. We target development from the foundations of self-regulation and engagement, all the way through emotional and abstract thinking and reflection. The most recent research in the field of autism now supports the notion that critical neurological connections are made when children are engaged in pleasurable and meaningful interactions with their caregiver.
Research identifies engagement, joint attention, as required in order for language and cognition to develop. We also know much more about how all kinds of learning occurs. We understand that we learn with our minds and our bodies. For example, we need to incorporate the understanding of how the ability to see things from different views supports the gestalt of what we are discovering and learning; how the ability to plan and sequence motor actions is related to initiating and sequencing ideas. This whole-body approach to learning is progressive but, at the same time, so fundamental in the world of developmental approaches to learning. When children learn to master and integrate their emotions, ideas, and bodies, the sky is the limit!
- Monica G. Osgood 1998, 2011