Exposure to Hula, musicals, and theater events has improved her social skills, appropriate public behaviors, as well as language and memorization of songs, rhythms, and the ability to verbalize recall of people and places. This is an example of using her preferred restricted behaviors to teach beneficial skills.
She prefers to sort blocks by color rather than typical stacking & building play.
The Hawaii Autism Project: Our Story
Kianna was eventually diagnosed with Autism . I found the ordeal of diagnosis excruciatingly long and painful. Then after the diagnosis I was left (like many other respondents to my survey) with out referrals or assistance. Her diagnosis at age four was past the age for early services from Easter Seals. I did not know what to do or where to turn and neither, it seemed, did anyone else I knew. Children with ASD do not look different from non-ASD children. Negative public comment from strangers in the community toward her typical ASD behaviors inferred I was a bad caregiver or she was a bad child. This led to stress and anxiety. I believe if more people are aware of ASD we will have a happier, healthier, kinder, and more inclusive society. Consequently, I developed a strong desire to improve knowledge of ASD and ASD resources. I hope you find benefit from this website.
Kianna was born in 2007. Through a series of events I took over as her legal guardian and assumed custodial care. Even though I have an extensive background in healthcare it was easy to rationalize away her differences. I had no other small children around to compare her to. She was just slow, not ready, preferred to be held, her needs were well anticipated so she did not have a reason to ask (talk), she didn't play well with other children or really play at all, except for her intense fascination and preference for Hula, hawaiian music, and instruments. In hindsight I now see these are typical signs of autism.
Other symptoms she has experienced include chronic constipation even with a diet high in vegetables, anxiety and meltdowns with changes in routine and exposure to high sensory environments such as stores, aversion to clothing on her skin but lack of pain response, and no sense of danger including fire, cars, or strangers. She insists on order and tidyness, everything must be in it's place. She will shut any door that is open, at home or in public.
Kianna has taught me more about love, patience, and appreciation than I could ever have imagined.
I dedicate this work to Kianna and all persons with autism who bring unique perspectives into our world.
Modification of an approach from focusing on what other kids can do and trying to teach her these "normal" skills to focusing on what she can do and enhancing her skills has been beneficial.
For example: switching out a tricycle with pedals (difficult concept) to a bike that moves with Kinetic energy and no pedals (easy concept) allows her to be successful and enjoy a bike.
She eventually learned to walk about 24 months of age (one year late) and still has difficulty with both fine and gross motor movement. Her language skills began at age four. She still has some problems expressing herself, using pronouns, adjectives, correct versions of verbs and talking in sentences. However, her language abilities continue to grow and with her increasing abilities there is a signifiant drop in her anxiety and meltdowns.