Thursday, March 19, 2009

Need a Laugh or Some Hope?

My post on Questioning my Intelligence this week is about Jack and demonstrates his progress in speech. If you want a laugh (or some hope that speech therapy can work!), check it out HERE.

The examples I give of Jack's speech right now show several typical characteristics of speech development in autistic children: repetition, use of scripted language from tv/movies/parents for effective and appropriate communication, and the awkwardness of the emergence of spontaneous speech. Note how Jack's grammar is perfect when he works from a good script, but it breaks down when he's speaking spontaneously or writing his own scripts. He also demonstrates poor receptive language (understanding what is said to him), very literal understanding of language, and non sequiturs.

Although I don't give examples in this post, he has difficulty answering questions and will often ignore me if I press him to answer something that he either doesn't understand or doesn't care to talk about. He also uses scripted language (from his favorite movies) as a form of self-stimulation. He is learning to control his verbal stimming and limit it to "private time" rather than, say, as he is walking into school, but movie lines burst out at odd moments, particularly when he is transitioning or feeling stressed or bored.

Jack receives an hour of speech therapy a week (30 minutes at school, and 30 minutes privately). His improvement in the last three years is amazing, but he still has a long way to go.

Feel free to share your own experiences with language development in the comments!


Anonymous said...

Andy was in speech, OT and PT for years. So I get a bit of what you are experiencing. I used to feel so sad, really grieved, for the child who wasn't born like all the other kids. But, I wised up and learned to accept that I got my own better version -- sometimes "normal" is boring....

Unknown said...

Noah (11 years) has his own set of repeating questions. They change through time, depending on his current obsession. We've explored light bulbs, power lines, pine trees and vacuum cleaners (this was and is a big one.) When these topics come up, I say "you know the answer", or "we've talked about that already", or "let's talk about something else." Of course there is no solution, but, as Joan says, in different words, adjust your expectations--so hard--and love the child for what he is.

Susan Raihala said...

Thanks, Joan and Susan!