Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Little About 'Scripting'

I know, I know, I abandoned this blog much too long ago. There are times when I used this blog to think things through, and there are times when I actually am too tired to do that.

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.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Great Resource

Someone in my Google Group sent a link to a set of videos called, "Ask An Autistic". What a wonderful idea! This young woman, Amethyst, describes stimming, echolalia,  and many other autism-related issues based on her point of view as a young woman with autism.

And in this particular video, she comments on ABA and then describes DIR/Floortime. Amethyst states that she thinks ABA should not be used with anyone (Well, I can't really agree with that, although I've made it clear several times that I do not believe ABA should be the only intervention) and then does on to talk about Floortime.

I am going to make it a point to watch all of her videos. I find that the insight gained by listening to people with autism is expansive and really starts me thinking about how  we approach teaching and being with people on the spectrum.

In my own experience, working for about an hour a week at the most using DIR with children in sub-separated classes results in limited but useful progress. For many of these kids, I dream about seeing them in a full-day, school-based DIR program. I know that is very hard to imagine, (and it is also difficult for me to imagine), but I'd love to see a school where children are not seen as 'having behaviors' and where we limit our adult thinking about the functions of their behaviors in strictly behavioral terms. Can't we successfully think both about specific functions of behaviors that include pain, medical issues, hunger, anger, boredom, and many other issues that are functions of our neurotypical behaviors?

Outside the box? A more comprehensive approach? Yes, let's try!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back To the Blog

Well, I know I took an unintentional vacation from this blog.....since July 5, 2014.

And it was good. The vacation, I mean. I am hoping to start some interesting discussions about treatment and intervention.  And points of view!

So, I really would love folks who read this to comment. And argue.  And present some different opinions....

I stumbled  upon this little video which I like a lot.

Check it out:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Powerful Mother/Daughter Pair

Wow. I can't stop reading this blog. It makes me wonder if we are severely limiting our students by not trying typing with them (since the evidence-based zealots refuse to think out side the box!).

Where would the harm be in trying? In getting trained in Soma's method? If it can work for one child, where is the harm? This mom is not touching her child while she types, so we can be sure the words are the child's. I have met people who type independently to communicate; so what if they started with someone holding their arms back and providing support, eliminating frantic, impulsive and random typing? Isn't communication  something we have to learn?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Excuses, Excuses

Well, apparently I have not attained my goal of posting regularly.....I have my reasons, which included a week and more of household upheaval while workmen installed new wood floors, a trip to Connecticut to see a Bruce Springsteen show,

(And I FINALLY won the lottery to stand in the Pit, right in front of the stage, so I was THIS CLOSE to the was a lot of fun!)

and then hospitalization and 14 days of IV antibiotics for an infection that started as a UTI and became an infection in my kidneys and blood....and that infection sapped my strength and energy, so getting through the end of the school year was a challenge....

But I did. And one thing I learned about working with the kids with ASD....I do my best work when I am fully present with them, not distracted by having to take notes or data, not concerned about if they were making progress toward my specific goals, but when I can delight in them in the moment, respond to them honestly and intuitively, and be WITH them (with uppercase letters!).

And this experience flies in the face of IEPs, writing annual goals and objectives, taking data to determine if they have met their goals and objectives, and pre-planning what it is they are supposed to learn. What if teachers were absolutely present with their students, responsive rather than directive, following up on the child's initiations rather then telling the child what to do and how to do it? What would that education be like for our kids with ASD?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Random Thoughts

As far as my absence from this blog, I have made a trip to Senegal. You can read about that trip on this blog:

I have been loving this particular blog:

The mom and her daughter write so beautifully and convincingly. It gives me hope to keep on listening to the students I serve.

Then I read this blog, which makes me a little crazy. These writers are totally anti-vaccinations, and consider any article that states that vaccines are necessary for all kids to be outrageous!

And Autism Awareness Week or Month? I have mixed feelings about it. We do a wonderful week at a school where I work, and we really celebrate our students with autism and their friends. I am only sorry I can't post anything here about it because I do not have permission to post those photos or interviews. But what good is awareness without action? Education?  Simple awareness is not enough.....we have to educate!

I hope to be back on this blog on a regular basis.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Taking a Break

Hi all,

There's been a lot going on around here...and I am leaving tomorrow to take a trip to Senegal with students from one of the schools I work for....No, the students with autism who are included are not coming with us. They could if their families wanted them to do so, but they did not apply. We are taking our multicultural group by train to DC tomorrow in the morning, and then catching a flight to Dakar at 7:30 PM.  So I will not be blogging here for at least a week.

Take care and enjoy your April vacation!