“Joining” a child’s autistic, repetitive behaviours, works wonders!
When Nathan was unable to say meaningful words (in 2012), I joined in his crazy language and he gave me so much meaningful eye contact, smiles and laughter! Prior to that, he couldn’t communicate but would tantrum to get his needs met, he wouldn’t even look at me or respond to his name.
Joining was an important key. Nathan soon gained meaningful speech with Son-Rise(r) and easily and spontaneously expressed his wants and needs.
The joining changed as Nathan progressed. At one point he started scripting TV lines like “Visit Sesame Street on the web at www dot Sesame Street dot com.” I loved joining him because his sense of humour came out as we changed some words, melody, volume, or tone as scripted the lines. He would burst into laughter whenever he approved of my alteration, or whenever I would be able to say his alteration as exactly as he said it.
The joining continued to help me reach Nathan and bring his communication to higher levels. Last year I started asking Nathan questions like “Do you remember Lola Dolly?” That soon became a game of simple question and answer. Without teaching his grammar, our Q&A game helped him master the ability to return the question in perfect answer form like, “I remember Lola Dolly.” I asked many questions and he would answer back perfectly. In the beginning I wasn’t sure if he was simply practicing grammar and sentence construction while answering back. But that didn’t matter. I was having fun “joining” him the way he wanted me to join him in his semi-exclusive game. That is, the Q&A had to go his way, otherwise he would stop talking to me. “Joining” was very much needed still.
Sometimes “Joining” could look less like joining and more like actually interactions. I would ask him a questions and be ready for a back and forth, rigid Q&A session. But at times I would ask him a question like, “Do you remember (Son-Rise Teacher) Kim?”. Nathan would actually pause for a while, process the question and reply, “Kim gave me rice cakes.” Celebration!!! Nathan actually answered my question!!!
Thought those spontaneous answers are not as consistent as I wish. I am mesmerised with the power of “joining”.
“Joining” helped Nathan gain intentional speech, it nurtured his sense of humour, it helped him construct his sentences into perfect question and answer form, and now it’s helping him move forward to having conversations!
God created us perfect! I know He wants us to have a fruitful and easy life. For Nathan who started with severe autism, it only took something as simple, fun and easy, as “Joining” to be able to go towards meaning communication.
Learn more from the Autism Treatment Center of America.
Or reach out to Son-Rise Parents in Singapore through Embrace Autism.