EIKONA BRIDGE: LIVE Communication with the Autistic Species
Make no mistake about it. This is a serious book on autism that challenges the reader emotionally and intellectually, and it will shatter the conventional wisdom on this subject. Going beyond a feel-good narration, the book serves as a practical reference manual with concrete solutions and explanations for parents and educators. Written by an autistic person as a proud parent, this book is thoroughly unconventional from its cover to its last page. It will touch your heart and challenge your head.
Title: Eikona Bridge: LIVE Communication with the Autistic Species
Author: Jason H.J. Lu
Year Published: 2014
Publisher: Eikona Bridge
Please see Q&A for a discussion on the book, and Autism Made Simple on the theory behind the book.
Excepts from the Book
Eikona (pronounced eye-koe-nah) means “image” in Greek. Eikona Bridge aims to build a connection between children with autism and their parents, through visual means. Hopefully this bridge will help many frustrated parents and children out there. Why a Greek word, you ask? Did you know autism itself is a Greek word?
LIVE (rhymes with five) is an acronym which stands for Letters, Images, Voice, and Experience. Together, these four elements make up the essence of the Eikona Bridge.
This book is the story about two children: Mindy and Ivan. They are both happy children. They are also both clinically diagnosed with autism.
Eikona means “image” in Greek. Eikona Bridge takes you on a journey to a world that you have never been to before: the inner world of people with autism. This bridge helps parents, educators and the public in general understand today's children with autism. You will learn to discover these children's talents and ways to communicate with them. You will come to see autism as a communication problem, and that once the communication problem is solved, everything else falls in place.
This book will show you that raising children with autism can be a beautiful journey, with breathtaking scenery at every stretch.
Chapter 1 – Background
Section – Autism: Weakness or Strength?
... Similarly, at first sight it is easy to dismiss autism as a weakness or even an illness. But I will argue here that the truth is more complicated, and that when we look at autism more closely, it may turn out to be well in the plans of Mother Nature....
... So, I don’t view autism as a sign of weakness. I view it as a sign of strength. Children with autism need special care when they are young, but they are our future, and they will be the ones to save our world....
Chapter 3 – Pro-Video Children
Section – The Real Message behind Repetitive Behaviors
If pro-video children exhibit a repetitive behavior and are obsessed with certain objects or actions, the wrong thing to do is to try to suppress their obsession. This repetitive behavior is a fundamental entity in the momentum space, a building block in their native language. It is a way for these children to tell others, “Here is the door to my world, please come on in.” ...
In diagram below, I illustrate my understanding of repetitive behaviors by using another copy of the street map of Brain City.
Repetitive behaviors are processes unconnected to other processes
I identify repetitive behaviors with processes unconnected (or weakly connected) to other processes. In that sense, they are isolated: they are Dirac deltas in the momentum space. They are the building blocks inside the brains of pro-video children. Repetitive behaviors are like highways running through a city: the taxi cabs cannot simply make a turn and hop onto a perpendicular street, if there is no exit ramp....
... when you want to drive your taxi cab through a megalopolis, you will appreciate the presence of a few highways. Highways without exits are useless, but with a few exits here and there, they become the backbone of transportation....
... And it’s our job to provide such connections for our children... I’d rather spend my time connecting my children’s repetitive behaviors to those vital skills that they still need to learn....
Section – Stimming Time is Learning Time
... There are two detrimental things that adults can do in response to their children’s repetitive behaviors. The absolute worst thing to do is to try to suppress these behaviors—we shouldn’t interfere with the fundamental signal units of pro-video manifestations. The second worst thing to do is to ignore these behaviors. The children are pleading with you to come into their world, and you are ignoring their pleas!
... (Regarding modulation) With this operation, we achieve two objectives: (a) the vital concepts now resonate with our children and are readily digested, and (b) the modulated process diverts energy from the stimming behavior, connecting it to other areas of the brain....
... Without modulation, our message is noise to our children, and their stimming behavior is noise to us. With modulation, our children learn, and their stimming behavior stops. Is this magic? You bet!
Section – Video Clips to Teach Echoing and Verbalizing
... The following is a video clip I made for Ivan to teach him to say the word No. I modulated the message into one of Mindy and Ivan’s favorite daily activities: to sit on the hammock we had in our living room. Ivan used to make a nonsensical uttering that sounded like Oi, oi, ay-o-wah and he followed that with a really cute burst of laughter. Mindy picked it up, too. So I captured and recorded their voices, and drew a cartoon representation of them sitting on the hammock. It took me about 40 minutes to make the video. I played it over and over again for Mindy and Ivan. They loved it and could watch the video forever. My wife said that those 40 minutes that I spent were totally worth it, and I agreed. Whenever I played the video, Mindy and Ivan would go sit in the hammock and repeat their uttering and laughter concurrently with the video, and I would ask Ivan the same question as in the video: Ivan, are you a bad boy? and Ivan would then reply in sync with the video: No, I am a good boy! Seriously, you cannot get better quality family time than that....
Section – Lining Up and Waiting for a Turn
... Now, mind you, asking Ivan, a hyperactive, pro-video child, to hold nice and still in a fixed spot was akin to asking a cat to swim: it’s against their nature. How in the world could I make a video to teach Ivan to hold still and wait for his turn?
... Notice that I intentionally used “LINE UP” instead of “LINING UP,” because I also wanted to use this term as a verbal command for Ivan. For children with autism, functionality trumps grammatical correctness....
... Ivan went from being totally incapable of staying in line, to staying in line most of the time. The teachers immediately noticed the change: Ivan was staying in line by himself, at last, and for a very long time! ... The cat was swimming in the water now....
... Best of all, he didn’t roll on the grass anymore. That’s zero, nil, nada. Voilà: success....
... I did not go to the next session, but from my wife’s description, Ivan was probably 95% compliant... Ivan’s behavior was the same as the normal behavior of many boys in the class....
... From a seemingly impossible situation, there was now a solution. Ivan could finally participate and enjoy the gymnastics class by himself, and no more headaches for the teachers....
Chapter 4 – Pro-Picture Children
Section – Behavioral Problems: Lion or Lamb?
... Children with autism have long memories and do keep a double-entry ledger inside their brains. You may have accumulated the negative point from an earlier incident, so you may need go back and cancel that precise entry, using proper picture-aided talking.
Again, I strongly believe that most tantrums are not behavioral problems per se: they usually originate from a communication problem. Having time to draw pictures to show your child would reduce a lot of these behavioral outbursts.... Once you solve the communication problem, the behavioral problem will go away....
Section – Socialization
... I think the root of the issue goes back to the ill-conceived notion that autism is a disease or a disorder. Since many therapists and parents consider autism an illness, they attempt to “cure” it by molding children with autism into the paradigm of typical children. Typical children socialize first, then speak, and then learn to read much later. That’s the typical sequence of development. So, many therapists will not attempt to teach children with autism to read before teaching them to verbalize and to socialize. I can understand the concern behind their hesitation: typical children just don’t do that!
Typical children: socialization -> speech -> reading
Children with autism: reading -> speech -> socialization
Frankly, given the visual way of storing information of children with autism, postponing the development of reading skills adversely impacts the development of their speech and social skills as well. The visual part of the reading process helps build the foundation of memory and brain functions of people with autism. So, by postponing the reading skills, we are effectively postponing all the other skills of these children, including the social part. Worse yet, as a result of the delayed development, these children may suffer self-esteem problems when they start school. There is nothing to gain by intentionally delaying the development of their talents....
Chapter 5 – Reflections On Autism
Section – Different Tunes: on Bugle and Recorder
... If you keep trying to play a recorder the way you play a bugle, you will get frustrated. You will get a single note, and you will get annoyed to no end.... When we learn to “modulate” the recorder by opening and blocking its outlet holes properly, it can play very nice music. The key is to learn its modulation techniques....
... Your children are perfectly capable of learning. You just need to modulate your message around their main note. Once you master the modulation technique, you will soon hear music from them!
Section – Traditional Approach vs. Eikona Bridge
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