Learning: A Process of Discovery

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Estee on 20-02-2009

I want you to watch this video presentation by Will Wright: “Will Wright Makes Toys That Make Worlds.   Take a few minutes to watch before reading the rest of this post. Wright creates video games that enable people to create worlds. He praises his Montessori school for the method in which he learned — which is a process of discovery — and uses the Montessori model in his games. 

Adam goes to a Montessori school. At first, I was told that “autistic kids shouldn’t go to a Montessori school because it has little social interaction opportunities.” Then, there was a Montessori school built here in Toronto that used ABA therapy — totally antithetical to the Montessori process. Needless to say, I never sent Adam there and I believe the school is out of business. The classic Montessori school has been a blessing in our lives and a boon to Adam.

Adam has more friends in this Inclusive school than ever. He is into the creation of his own creatures and has launched into a realm of pretend play that didn’t obviously exist for him when he was three. I say obviously because learning for Adam has taken a different path — no less important or valuable than traditional methods. Obviously might replace the world “typically.”

It is here that I will speak out against Applied Behavioural Interventions for autistic children. My child is barely verbal, yet he’s social. He loves pretend play which he didn’t “display” when he was younger. I cringe at the attempts of one former speech pathologist who made Adam “feed the baby,” each and every single day in preschool, but completely ignored the way he played on his own. I mean, how does that expand the mind?  Adam seemed so angry with her. He was probably thinking, “here comes that boring lady who wants me to feed the baby every day when I’ve got better things to do.” Today, I watch Adam progress and evolve, watching others and wanting to learn so badly. This can only come from within him. The environments we expose our children either nurture or squash the desire.

The bottom line is this: autistic people learn. They discover. They have their own path. I want this game for Adam. It has no set conclusion. It is open ended. It enables him to keep discovering, as does his wonderful school. He can play this with any member of his family or his friends.

While Adam does get lessons in structure, sequencing, motor planning and much much more, there has to be a balance to let children be and discover. People do not fit into little boxes. If we put them there, we may never understand their true potential.


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.