The Waldon Method derives from work in the 1970-80s by child neurologist Dr Geoffrey Waldon on early cognitive development. His unique insights led to a new understanding of how cognition develops as well as the challenges of children with learning disabilities and intellectual disability, autistic-like behaviors, autism, developmental delays, and/or communication difficulties.

The Waldon Method is based on a system of ideas and play activities to help children 'learn to learn' by building their 'general understanding' as the foundation of all further learning.

Waldon practitioner question traditional teaching methods as hindering the learning of the student with such learning difficulties, whose focus is on teaching and the idea that the recognition of the educator is crucial for learning. In reality, this situation produces stress and anxiety, and tempts the child to perform mechanically without understanding or emotional involvement in order to 'get the job done' with the least amount of effort, and make a habit of it, 

In contrast, the activities and materials in a Waldon lesson are aimed at providing satisfying intrinsically motivating activities that invite doing them for their own sake and because the doing itself is enjoyable, i.e. not to be praised for it or to satisfy the educator's expectations. In fact, it is precisely when unexpected things happen (so-called 'mistakes') that real learning and new understanding takes place. When we provide the student with the appropriate guidance and adaptive play materials, we help them form their basic understanding as well as develop visuo-spatial awareness through the active exploration and discovery of similarities, differences, patterns and regularities in the world, i.e. learning to learn.

 There are 2 types of UNDERSTANDING: 

General understanding


Specific / cultural understanding

= the foundation of all other learning, cannot be taught, only happens through active movement


= taught to help child to conform to the rules of the society in which he lives

Learning from experience: spontaneous trial-error exploration of 'how do things work?'


Teaching by adult of 'this is how we do things', discouraging spontaneous exploration

No right or wrong: before rules


About right and wrong: Rules must be followed

Self-motivated + curiosity to experiment


Told what to do and how

The more effort, the better.   


The less effort, the better.

Child does it for his own enjoyment


Child does it for adult's approval

The Asocial Lesson allows the child to experience movements/activities that develop his general understanding of 'how things work'.

  •  The facilitator is behind/beside the child to show, prompt and assist, initially hand-over-hand, - without praise.
  • Child may resist at first, because he has never done it before. After a few times, he will begin to understand.
  • AVOID talking (too much) as it distracts the child from figuring out for himself how to understand.
  • Best progress: up to 1 hour every day.
  • The aim is to allow the child to feel and have new experiences about the world, which he may be able to use spontaneously at other times, i.e. avoid testing or teaching.


 Geoffrey Waldon distinguished between a 'primary impediments', the initial physical/mental problem affecting development, and 'secondary impediments', which are learned behaviors as a result of the primary problem. 

  •  Avoidance behaviours such as tantrums, stiffening the body, avoidance/repetitive behaviors, e.g. throwing, screaming, running away, ...
  • Self-delighting behaviourse.g. rocking, spinning, twiddling and other 'comfort zone behaviours', - could also include throwing, screaming, head banging, ...