Here is a mother, Kristine Barnett, who decided to buck the system of spending hours of therapy per week focusing on what her autistic son Jacob could NOT do, and instead, she gave him freedom to explore his interests, and supported them.
Jacob engaged in, what were considered to be “repetitive behaviors”, but instead of discouraging them in favor of teaching him to play like his peers, she supported them. When Jacob would play with a glass, twisting it in the light for hours on end, instead of taking it, she would give him 50 glasses, all filled to different levels with water, and let him explore.
She let him show her what his interests were and by supporting those interests, they became his strengths. When Jacob was a boy, more than one teacher and therapist told Kristine that he would never speak or read or do math or function typically in any way. Today, Jacob is poised to become a future Nobel Prize winner.
I am of the belief that Kristine’s method is a huge step forward in understanding autism and how to support it. Because this is a topic in which there are currently more questions than there are answers, the best way to approach it as parents and teachers of those who are living within it, is to let them teach us.