Most children on the autism spectrum do not focus on socially relevant information as they learn throughout the day. Typically developing children watch their peers and copy their peers throughout their waking hours. They are always learning socially relevant information. The development of language is often key to building social understanding and language development often comes easier when a child is young.
It is often hard for parents to understand why a child does the things that they do. What makes one child listen to a teacher and another child disrupt the class? Understanding why a child does the things they do provides some insight. Understanding a child’s motivation is the key. A child is either motivated primarily by the sensory/motor world or by the verbal/social world. Once a child’s basic needs are met, he or she begins to do things in the world based on incoming sensory stimulation and the child’s own desire to move. When sensory information is easily processed, a typical child will become bored with the sensory stimulation and will move on to verbal and social interactions with others. If a child is having difficulty processing information in the sensory/motor world, he or she is not ready to move on to processing information in the verbal/social world. ABA therapy is designed to address this gap in development and to give the child the skills he or she needs to make that transition. Until a child is ready to learn like typically developing peers, parents often choose to delay entrance into school or consider home schooling or shortened school days.