Nathan says “under”, his Son-Rise volunteer echos, “under.” He says “Piccachu”, his volunteer repeats, “Piccachu.” He says words as random as “Hotel”, “Chips” and “Flashlight”, his volunteer happily complies and returns each word back as Nathan requests.
To the naked eye, the exchange might make zero sense. They might even ask, “Between the two, who is autistic again?” 😜
But if you examine it closely:
1. For a good 30 minutes, Nathan looked straight at his volunteers eyes. As he spoke each word, he anticipated her response.
2. He anticipated her response! He maintained his happy demeanour towards her for the whole 30 minutes.
3. The whole echo game was initiated by Nathan. He wants to play with people!
4. At some point, Nathan practiced asking questions like, “Do you want more chips?”
5. In several occasions, if the response did not meet Nathan’s expectations, he patiently guided his volunteer to say the word correctly (note no tantrums). It’s amazing watching Nathan teach his volunteers his autism language!
Nathan has all the elements needed to be able to hold a conversation: eye-contact, initiation, engagement and flexibility. Yes, his language at this point may be far behind…but it’s not bad for someone who did not have intentional speech age 5. Praise God we found The Son-Rise Program® and Nathan learned to speak.
Some people might say this child will never be able to hold a proper conversation…I say he already has the foundations for it! It’s only a matter of time.
Photo: Not the best photo from a one way mirror…but there he is, having a conversation with his volunteer!