Yesterday at the son-rise room Nathan asked for the (wooden toy) spoon. As I gave him various toys, I asked, “Is this a spoon?” He answered firmly and appropriately “no!” Until he gave me a big “yes” when I showed the spoon.
Nathan has used the word “no” before especially if he doesn’t want to pee in the potty. But it is not as consistent as I would want and not used in many scenarios. So yesterday’s firm and appropriate use of “no” in a new setting was amazing to hear.
Today, Nathan finally answered my “What do you want to do?” appropriately. We were enjoying a series of spinning. I would pick-up Nathan, spin him, put him down as he smiled and laughed at the sensation. Then, without prompting, I waited for him to ask (with body language or key words) for his next spin. At one point I just put my arms out. He came closer and got ready but did not say anything. So I asked him, “What do you want?” He answered, “Spin please!”
When my twins were 2-years-old, Amor would be able to answer “What (did you say)?” While Nathan would respond, “What?” And laugh…echolalia. I gave him more time mature and be able to answer such questions right, without prompts. It never happened…until today, Nathan is now 6.
Saying “no” or being able to answer “What do you want to do?” does not seem like much. It is just an emerging skill. But what I have found are perfect scenarios to practice his new found skills and if we keep at it, he will master answering with no prompts.
Build on a what he already knows, add only one thing at a time. Celebrate every little step he takes.
Sometimes, kids are expected to be able to answer a series of questions like: What’s your name, how old are you, who is your Mom/Dad, what’s your school, etc. etc? Since we’re in a hurry for them to learn and catch up with their peers, we go ahead and coach them all the answers. Every time we ask we have to keep coaching or prompting. Sometimes it seems we’ve been working on this string of questions for the past year, and you still don’t get it (I felt like that before I found son-rise). But, just as you might not want to memorize all the names of the presidents in order, autistic kids might find all your questions irrelevant, at least from their point if view.
Some kids will seem to be able to handle and memorize all the answers. Sometimes, they will answer not because the know or want to answer but because they simply want you off their backs.
Sometimes, the way autistic kids answer is somewhat robotic because they are answering from your prompts or simply memorize the answer you want to hear and not what they really feel or know. Being “robotic” is not an inherit trait of autistic kids as seen in stereo-types. It has only become their characteristic because of the way they are taught…memorization not actual understanding.
A lot of autistic kids going through their Son-rise programs are more spontaneous.
Loving our Son-Rise journey trough autism!