It’s a tricky thing when you’re trying to engage with a kid - or anyone - if they don’t seem to pay obvious attention to you


But kids on the spectrum, as we know, often have intense difficulty with this. Don’t worry - it doesn’t interfere with their ability to learn. Let them run, let them turn their back on you and look away, let them interrupt you with seemingly irrelevant stuff and just keep engaging. They will reward you because you are in fact giving them the space they need to take the information in without becoming overwhelmed by a feeling of pressure or simple sensory overload. Over time you will see that they start to offer answers, or run back to you and re-engage right where you left off, and you will start to trust it. But it does take faith and time.


Rowan really hit this one home to me when I started reading him more complex books.

We got through Narnia with him moving around the room and sometimes interrupting me with other stuff but when we got to the hobbit he took to reading another book while I was reading to him! The thesaurus in fact! He'd stop me in mid-Smug to tell me the definition of 'to have' or just as Thorin Oakenshielf was raising his great hammer to... He’d cut in with the fact that a farmer is a person who raises food from the land for a living then it started to go beyond that - rowan started leaving the room. Then he started leaving the room and shutting the door! Then he started leaving the room, shutting the door and going to play computer games! All I could do was have faith, and project my voice louder through the door: "The paths of Mirkwood did twist and turn through the crowding trunks and..."

How could I know if Rowan was taking it in or blanking me out?

I asked jenny, rowan's genius teacher - or 'mentor and advisor' - as he calls her, to drop little bits of conversation into the following day - 'I wonder whether Bilbo managed to kill those huge spiders, Scub - or did they eat him?" shed do this casually while walking or swimming or driving and not insist on an answer. But eventually she got them.

And he'd tell her - and we knew. It takes faith. Even when they are non-verbal, talk to them as if they could understand everything.

One day they will reward you