But tonight, I've been thinking about the use of 'scripts'. I've just finished reading, "Life, Animated" by Ron Suskind. It's the story of how he and his wife 'found' their child, who regressed into autism at about age 2.
When he was first diagnosed, Mr. Suskind states that they tried ABA and Floortime, but did not see any progress. They may have tried a few more things also. Eventually they got him into a private school for children with learning differences, and together the family watched an awful lot of Disney animated movies because their son Owen loved them. He scripted a lot of phrases that sounded like they were from these movies, but they could not decipher exactly what he was saying.
At one point, Owen was saying something that sounded like " Juice yer voys" over and over. Eventually, his mom, Cornelia, recognized he was repeating a famous line from The Little Mermaid:
"Just your voice". And eventually they recognized that the lines he repeated over and over had meaning for him. He used phrases such as "Just your voice" as a way of trying to communication with them, as if saying over and over "Just your voice" was telling them he wanted to talk. As time went on, they began to recognize phrases that signaled anxiety, fear, fright, happy, sad. and they would respond to his 'scripting' by following his script with the next phrase from that dialogue. And eventually, they began to comment to him how they thought he felt when he was saying these phrases. They learned to 'interpret' his speech as if it were real communication and not just a script. Over time, and after doing this hundreds of times, he began to reflect on his own use of each phrase. He was using "just his voice" to communicate that he was trying to talk to them. He didn't have the words to explain that he wanted to talk, and eventually he began to expand on his simple phrases, combine phrases from different movies, and engage in meaningful communication. As an adult now, he is aware that in certain situations he will script and manage to tell what he is really trying to say.
So the family never 'banned' his Disney movies, never made him earn them for 'doing his work', but they incorporated these well-learned lines into his academics, social skills, and communication. He told them that he was a 'sidekick' and not a hero, and that the job of 'sidekicks' was to support the hero.
Well, this does sound a little like DIR/Floortime, in which you support the apparently nonfunctional scripting and try to make meaning from it. Sometimes I simply repeat what the child is saying with rich affect, and even the littlest ones suddenly look at me as if I am speaking their language. And maybe I am!
So it was with great interest to me to read this post on the many functions of scripting and the uses people with autism have for them:
And then I followed up with this post:
So perhaps for some kids we might try imitating their scripting and/or giving it meaning as a means to begin to tease out true, intentional communication? And perhaps if they see that their scripts have a meaning for the listener as well as the speaker, intentional communication will grow.
Here's a link to the book, although I picked mine up at the library;