A Unique Approach
Autism Speech is educational therapist Rob Bernstein’s unique cognitive approach to treating individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Rob diagnoses individual’s learning processes, and remediates learning and behavioral problems. He is able to help clients with ASD break out of their autistic tendencies and gain more typical functioning. He facilitates meaningful speech in children with limited and, in some cases, no speech, many of whom have not progressed in other therapeutic settings. His work often provides relief to families who have experienced years of frustration.
Rob’s approach views each client first and foremost as a unique individual, with a unique set of strengths and challenges, within the context of typical development. As he observes and interacts with the child, teen, or young adult, he discovers where the gaps in his or her thought processes lie, and then provides opportunities for him to access his own innate capacity to develop more typically (e.g.; using meaningful language and becoming more socially aware and engaged).
Rob does not teach isolated, generic language or social skills. Typical children develop language and social behaviors in the context of daily life. Why should autistic individuals be expected to learn them in isolation, without meaningful contexts?
No matter how low functioning an individual may appear to be in particular areas, Rob knows how to facilitate, capture, and build on their small moments of normalcy (as one mom recently called them) so that they eventually overtake the autistic tendencies. Once progress begins it is often self-reinforcing; clients often feel better when they can function more typically; and there is often a cascade effect with accelerating progress.
Rob’s approach focuses on the individual gaining self-awareness, as appropriate to his functional level; and gaining a perspective of himself in relation to others. This is possible at almost every stage of development, from a small child realizing that the shoe he is trying on is way too big or small for his foot, to a teenager understanding how he appears to another person whose question he has just ignored. Rob’s approach often produces results that are more dramatic, and that require less time to achieve than traditional methods.
You may ask: If children with ASD, like typical children, are exposed to learning opportunities in the normal course of their days, why should this approach make a difference? The answer is that routine opportunities are not opportunities for the person with ASD. Rob’s approach creates real opportunities for the individual with ASD because they come from Rob’s understanding of each client’s unique set of developmental strengths and needs.
Children with ASD are often directed to therapists and schools that use a behavioral treatment strategy that often produces limited benefits, and in some case, actually makes things worse. Parents are often told that it is their children’s limitations that cause them to make so little progress, not that the therapy has limited benefits. In stark contrast, Rob has successfully enabled fundamental positive changes in many hundreds of clients with ASD, many of whom have landed in his office after little progress with traditional behavioral techniques.
Autism Speech identifies clients’ underlying underdeveloped cognitive processes and uses everyday interactions, normal speech, and real-life situations to help them break ASD patterns of behavior and thinking. Once more typical patterns are established, clients feel better. Typical behavior is self-reinforcing.
I often feel that there is a window of opportunity that presents itself in the current situation and now is the best time to make things better.
Based on clients’ individual strengths, interests, and needs, Rob has collaborated with yoga instructors, music therapists, oral musculature therapists, computer game designers, therapy dogs, and magicians. He is always willing to explore new ways of helping clients grow.
As they become better able to engage with other people, they become better able to communicate, learn, and take in and contribute to the world around them.
Most importantly, Rob has introduced clients to potential friends who have gone on to establish genuine, healthy, relationships.
Robert J. Bernstein has devoted his career to improving the lives of children, teenagers, and adults with autism spectrum disorders. He developed his cognitive-based, intuitive approach over more than thirty years of in-depth one-on-one work with clients ranging from nonverbal toddlers to high-functioning adults.
He has consulted for the pediatric neurology department at Bronx Lebanon Hospital and the medical clinic Pediatrics 2000 in New York City, is an educational consultant to the National Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies, and has provided expert testimony at hearings on behalf of young people on the autism spectrum. Rob conducts evaluations and studies for neurologists and neuropsychologists around the country and for thirty years was coordinator for special education and science for the New York City Department of Education.
He also conducts workshops, seminars, and support groups for families of persons with autism spectrum disorders and appears regularly on WVOX radio in New Rochelle. In 2012, he founded the Table Tennis Therapy Program for Aspergers Individuals in Pleasantville, New York, the first program of its kind. He also has a child and a brother on the autism spectrum.